City Discovery: London, More Than Tea and Crumpets

London, England is host to the oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament in the world, The Wimbledon Championships. The tournament dates back to 1877 and is well known for its unique rules, such as only allowing players to wear white during competition. Spectators on the other hand look forward to cooling off by indulging in the iconic strawberries and cream served during the tournament.

London has an official center and all mileages in the city are measured from this spot. The official location is recognized as Charing Cross, which is situated just south of Trafalgar Square. There is a bronze plaque and a statue of King Charles I identifying the exact spot.



Intercultural experiences highlight exposure with the local culture, promoting a multilateral exchange of ideas, language and opinions.

Travel to North London, guided by ISA staff, to Camden Market, one of the many well-known and busy London markets. Visitors will enjoy foods from around the world, appreciate local and international crafts, browse antiques and pick up souvenirs. The market draws buyers and sellers from all parts of the city and highlights the many cultures and people groups of London.

Take part in a quintessential British custom of Afternoon Tea, organized by ISA, in the Tea Room of Harrods located in Kensington and Chelsea. Made popular and fashionable in the mid-1800’s by the country’s elite, it was originally a practice to alleviate hunger between lunch and dinner. Traditional tea consists of small sandwiches, scones with cream and jam and other small cakes, as well as tea grown in India and served in a teapot. While afternoon team is no longer an everyday social event, it is still very much a part of the English culture and can be experienced anywhere in the country.



ISA excursions and cultural activities highlight historical parts of the local culture to help students better understand their new environment.

As part of the ISA London experience, students will attend a performance at the reconstructed Elizabethan playhouse, the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Every year the Globe puts on multiple productions in this outdoor theatre of some of Shakespeare’s most beloved works in the traditional style of his time. The shows are performed as authentically as possible, including the actor’s costumes, staging, lighting and live music being performed on stage.  Additionally, audience members get to watch the shows “in the round” and while standing in the pit just like people did in the 1600’s.

Explore the Cabinet War Rooms, an underground museum in the preserved tunnels used by Winston Churchill and the British cabinet during the London Blitz of World War II. Many of the rooms have been arranged as they would have been during the war. The War Rooms are located near Buckingham Palace and provide insight into a very tense and pivotal time for Britain.



Sociopolitical discovery highlights social and political activities or experiences.

Participate in a guided tour of the Houses of Parliament, the center of government in the United Kingdom. Observe the stunning architecture and learn of the long political history of Britain including how it has formed and changed over the years and shaped the country today. Visit the Westminster Hall, House of Lords Chamber, House of Commons Chambers and even the Queen’s Robing Room. It is an excellent opportunity to experience British Parliament first hand and get a better understanding of how it works and the Monarchy’s role in modern day politics.

Stop by Speakers’ Corner in the northeast corner of Hyde Park and hear different opinions and discussions on current issues facing citizens and policy makers alike. Considered the original and best known spot for open-air public speaking in the world, Speaker’s Corner is a great place to hear different views on a range of subjects from government to the environment to religion and everything in between.



Professional experiences provide exposure to professional development opportunities during an ISA program.

Participate in an internship as part of a semester abroad at the University of Westminster, King’s College or the University of Roehampton. Placement areas can include business, government, performing arts, communication, media, non-profits and many others. An internship is a great way to get involved in the community, make local connections and gain international work experience that will set you apart in future job interviews.

For Sport Management majors, you can’t pick a better city than London for study abroad. Through ISA, students will have the opportunity to go behind the scenes at Stamford Bridge, home of the Chelsea Football Club. Guides provide access to areas normally reserved for players and officials such as the home and visitor locker rooms, the press room and even the tunnel that leads directly onto the pitch. After getting a glimpse of the inner workings of the stadium, you can catch a match and experience firsthand game day operations including everything from food vendors, to ticket sales, to media production and everything in between.


Environmental experiences expose students to different environmental aspects of the host country.

The Queen Mary campus provides quick access to the Queen Elizabeth II Olympic Park, home of the “greenest Olympics in history.”  Planners took careful consideration of everything from transportation to using recycled materials, water to wildlife and energy to food. Most noteworthy were the plans for the Olympic site and its building structures afterwards, which have since been turned into a park, a new soccer stadium and local apartments.

After a historical stop in Canterbury on the ISA excursion, students will travel to the sea-side town of Dover and before exploring Dover Castle students will get to see and learn about a national landmark, the White Cliffs of Dover. While gazing upon the chalky cliffs, students will learn about its unique geology, formation and how the natural erosion of the cliffs keeps them looking white. The cliffs are also home to certain rare species of butterflies, birds and wildflowers and many conservation efforts have been put in place to preserve the cliffs natural landscape and the biodiversity in the area.

Explore London for yourself


Get more information

The 2015 City Discovery Series aims to showcase one of ISA’s program locations each week. Facts about each location and several Discovery Compass activity examples are given, however they are not a comprehensive list. These activities highlight the areas of Intercultural, Historical, Sociopolitical, Professional and Environmental discovery. The Discovery Compass aims to help students have the best possible study abroad experience by helping them to gain a better understanding of the local environment, customs and people through a variety of experiences.

Author: International Studies Abroad (ISA)

Since 1987, International Studies Abroad (ISA) has provided college students in the United States and Canada the opportunity to explore the world. ISA offers a wide variety of study abroad programs at accredited schools and universities in 73 program locations throughout the world.

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