So far this “study” abroad experience has looked like spending time abroad rather than spending time studying. Compared to Tufts and other U.S. universities, most coursework occurs in 2–3 assignments. On the module (class) registration portal, the weightings are explained: 25% learning log, 25% source analysis, 50% research essay; 20% weekly activities, 15% each midterm, 50% final; 30% prototype, 70% final project. And these are the better-weighted modules. Most of the physics modules were 20% coursework, 80% final. Suddenly the weighting of Sliwa’s final in Physics 11 looks far nicer.
The result is that the average student can get away with doing very little work on a weekly basis. After taking COMP40 last spring and working a 9–5 every week this summer, I found myself blissfully in summer mode in the middle of October.
Unfortunately, all of that changed this week. I took my first BeReal in the library (and also found the campus library) while reading journal articles on Chaucer’s “Treatise on the Astrolabe.” But not all work can be done in the library — that’s what cafés are for.
Pret a Manger
There is quite literally a Pret on every block. You know how the blue light system works? In that you should be able to see at least two blue lights from any location on campus? That is true of the Prets in Central London. Only some locations have iced coffee.
A safe space to go if you are craving an iced coffee. However, there is still a chance that they will be out of ice. Or oat milk.
Both a coffee shop and functioning cathedral, this is a café meant for those working from home. You can reserve a table for up to four hours for the price of £10 and receive two free drinks (my drinks totalled to £9.30 so totally worth it).
A five-story bookstore with a bustling cafe on the top floor. There are no outlets, but this is a hotspot for students and young adults with an excellent selection of fresh baked goods, soups and sandwiches.
Crol and Co
Café by day, cocktail bar by night. A friend and I stumbled upon (well, sprinted through the rain to) this location after “Much Ado About Nothing” at the Globe. I ordered a hard hot chocolate and a toastie (essentially a grilled cheese) to warm me up. With only 10 or so seats, this was a comfortably intimate location near London Bridge Station.
At night this cafe turns into a bar and concert venue. I sipped a sour cherry saison while enjoying (?) an experimental music performance. I felt cool, to say the least.
Campus Coffee Shops
Finally, we arrived at the two campus cafes. The lines are long but always move quickly. With the cheapest prices, these are supposed to be the least pretentious places to get your daily caffeine fix, right? Yesterday, I ordered my iced latte with oat milk. The barista, exasperated and with a heavy French accent, responded, “a latte withOUT milk?"