Finding solitude in London gardens

Erin Elfeldt

Between trying the traditional “fish and chips” lunch, to visiting many of London’s famous sites such as Portobello Market and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, I have found London to be much more than what I imagined.

Anyone who has the impression that London isn’t much different from the states has been misled! Everything is different. The only thing in common is the English language, and even that has a completely different sound to it here, as well as different words for particular things. (What is called gasoline back home is called petrol here.) Even popular shows on MTV, such as “The Real World” and “Pimp My Ride,” are different in the sense that they all have a British touch. However, I have found all these small differences enjoyable to discover.

One of my favorite places here is the Kensington Gardens which is only a block away from my dorm. It is a gorgeous park, many miles long and filled with monuments of people such as Queen Victoria and Peter Pan. It is also the location of Kensington Palace, where Princess Diana resided, as well as her fountain and playground. (I have not been into the playground; only people with young children can). During this time of year Kensington Gardens is filled with more people than usual because the fall represents the season in which Princess Diana died. Many people decorate the palace gates from top to bottom with cards, pictures, balloons, stuffed animals and letters as a way to honor her life; which in turn makes the site quite moving.

I love the Kensington Gardens so much because it is the perfect place to do so many things. Everyday there are always hundreds of people inside the garden reading, relaxing in the grass, playing soccer, walking a dog, playing with children, going for a run, admiring the monuments or taking pictures with friends and family. You can also sit in chairs around a large pond where swans larger than any swan I have ever seen wait for people to come by with food.

Although the gardens are my favorite place in London today, I am just beginning to gain insight into London’s culture, and this semester long journey has only just begun.