Students who attend the London Center are encouraged to immerse themselves in British life and culture. The ICLC weekly email will include information about free and low-cost events in and around the City. In addition, students have the option to purchase a discounted membership to Imperial College Students’ Union (a leading U.K. university within walking distance of the ICLC), Student Central (a students’ society of the University of London with its own gym), and International Students House (a residence for International and British students that offers social events and a travel club). These venues all provide ideal opportunities to join student clubs, meet other students, and/or find a place to study beyond the ICLC.
Orientation Week Whistle-Stop Walking Tours
Westminster & The South Bank
This whistle-stop walking tour provides a wonderful introduction to all that London has to offer during orientation week. It begins in Westminster, the historic heart of royal and political London, and continues to the soaring spires of Westminster Abbey, burial place of kings and queens since 1066. Cross the River Thames to take in the glorious views of the Gothic Palace of Westminster and the seat of the U.K. Parliament. Continue along the buzzing South Bank, which provides students an introduction to the thriving arts and culture scene that will be encountered during the semester: the National Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, and the Tate Modern gallery. Along the way, the opportunity may be given to enjoy street performances or stop at international food stalls for a small sample. The orientation walk is concluded with contrasting views of the Baroque splendor of St Paul's Cathedral and the cutting edge contemporary architecture of the financial district.
Secrets of Soho
Starting with the bright lights of Piccadilly Circus (The ‘Times Square’ of London), explore the beating heart of the entertainment district in edgy bohemian and colorful Soho; one of the 60 or so ‘villages’ that make up central London. Soho (originally a hunting cry) is a maze of narrow streets, alleys, and courts packed with independent boutiques and restaurants. From Italian coffee shops, Korean noodle bars, and traditional pubs, to the best French patisserie in London, Soho is testimony to the thousands of immigrants that have found their home in London over the centuries. There will be time to discuss the more colorful history in leafy Soho Square and some of its more famous residents including Karl Marx, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Bowie! Stroll along Old Compton Street, the heart of the LBGTQ+ community, crossing Shaftesbury Avenue (with 6 theaters on one street), and end in bustling Chinatown and the heart of the movie theater district, Leicester Square.
Throughout the semester there will be weekly coffee talks at the Center. They serve as an opportunity for staff and students to get together in a relaxed atmosphere to talk about their adventures, learning experiences, travel plans, and more. This time also gives students a chance to learn more about upcoming trips and events. In addition to tea, coffee, and hot chocolate will always be a selection of classic British biscuits, from squashed fly to jammy dodgers.
During the fall and spring semesters, students have the option of participating in day trips to popular nearby destinations, such as Bath and Stonehenge, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Wales, and Cambridge.
BATH AND STONEHENGE
A common trip offered by the London Center staff is to the cathedral town of Bath, coupled with a trip to the neighboring UNESCO World Heritage site of Stonehenge and the Neolithic stone circle at Avebury (24 miles north of Stonehenge). Students will be challenged with this comparison: Avebury is to Stonehenge as a cathedral is to a parish church. Students will see Glastonbury Abby as well as Wells Cathedral, Bishop’s Palace, and Vicars’ Close – the oldest continually inhabited street in Europe.
This trip includes a visit to Warwick Castle; a ticket to a current RSC’s (Royal Shakespeare Company) production; entry to Holy Trinity Church; Shakespeare's burial place; a talk on Shakespeare's life in Stratford; a brief walking tour of Stratford; and may include a two hour stop in Oxford - England’s oldest university town. (Mandatory for students of the following courses: Drama and the London Theatre, Shakespeare, London Theatre Immersion.)
This is usually an action-packed trip! One of the main attractions on the Wales trip is Caerphilly Castle. It was built between 1268 and 1271 and is the second-largest Castle in Great Britain (after Windsor Castle). Students may have lunch in the vibrant Capital City of Cardiff, where innovative architecture sits alongside historic buildings. The journey will pass through Rhondda Valley heritage site (chiefly associated with the Industrial Revolution), Taff Valley while experiencing both contemporary Wales and the historical heritage of the country.