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edited March 2010
Zaichev, read our
London City guide
for info on all there is to see and do in the city and surrounds, then see our
London Expat guide
for info on Pros and cons, prices, areas to live etc. Let me know what you think!
Ok, pros of London: amazing art, buildings and history everywhere you go; efficient public transport; books and food cheap; easy travel to other countries; safe...
Negatives: crowded and dirty; accommodation expensive and cramped; rush hour public transport very unpleasant; crappy weather for lots of the year.
One other thing: I found London really came alive for me once I started reading about it, and tuning into the history of the place. Read Peter Akroyd's bio of London for one. Otherwise its just a big, busy , grimy city.... but when you get to know it, London feels like the most interesting place on earth.
In my experience, London feels like a very international city, totally multicultural like NYork, there's not a lot that is manifestly "English". On the other hand, Edinburgh has a more distinct identity, and is far less colonised with migrant people... that is quite appealing if you want to experience a new culture differnt from your own. Weather is rubbish in Edinburgh though...
Such an enlightening topic to come across, I am literally dealing with the exact same dilemma. I have been accepted into both the University of Edinburgh and King's College London to study for my junior year abroad, however the choice is very difficult. I am currently attending Duke University and have only been to southern Europe. I've asked everyone I can for advice, including residents, and basically it has come down to the following:
London: A busy and vibrant city, with an unlimited amount of things to do. A great experience for native English speakers, and most likely a city that you've always dreamed of visiting. For a semester or year, London would probably be perfect. Also, I am an English major so London seems appropriate to study my subject. However, I have heard that Londoners are generally much less friendly than the people in Edinburgh, and the busyness can be intimidating, depending on your preferences. Furthermore, London is ridiculously expensive. But you shouldn't let cost be your deciding factor. I am from the southern United States, so big cities aren't quite my thing. Think about this: if you would enjoy spending a year in NYC, than you would most likely enjoy London.
As for King's College, it is one of the top universities in England. As you said, there are countless notable authors and academics who claim heritage at King's, and especially London. The Princess Royal of Britain is the university's Chancellor. The campus is located right in the middle of London. What better London experience could you ask for? Personally, I would be attending the humanities campus, Strand, which is honestly not that appealing.
Edinburgh: An absolutely gorgeous city, possibly the most beautiful city in the U.K. of that type. Medieval architecture, lots of open space (in Scotland in general), and also right by the North Sea. In Northern Scotland there are the highlands, several rivers and lochs, and beautiful scenery. From my understanding, the people of Edinburgh are warm and welcoming, and even have quite a fondness for Americans, unlike most Londoners. I've also gathered that Brits and travelers alike love Edinburgh because it still has the "big city" feel (around half a mil, I believe) yet maintains the home-like feeling of a tight-knit community. Also, coming from the U.S. I think Scotland would be a more new and unique cultural experience than London.
The University of Edinburgh, compared to King's, will probably feel more like a university. The campus is bigger and its students have a very close community. You might also want to take a look at some pictures of the university.
At this time, I'm assuming you've already made your choice. However, I wanted to post this for any future students who are struggling with the same decision. Both London and Edinburgh are great choices, commonly debated between, and I honestly don't think you could go wrong choosing either. Again, I have yet to visit either place but I've looked into them extensively. I haven't quite decided, but I believe I'm leaning towards Edinburgh.
Good luck to you and anyone else studying abroad! We are going to have an amazing time no matter what. Cheerio!
^ Another note: assuming you are like me and have been deprived of the right to legally drink by the U.S. government for 20 years, you will want to go out at night and have fun. Obviously, London has an unmatched nightlife in the U.K. Theaters, every type of restaurant, live music, fancy shopping, and clubs/bars. However, I have been told that Edinburgh has more than enough pubs and nocturnal activities to keep study abroad students on their toes for a semester or year. Also, you might have friends who are studying abroad in London, so you would have a place to stay in London on the weekends if you wished. Hope my posts have helped, good luck.
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