Re-emerging into the summer

31 May 2022

As we look towards the summer, if you’re staying in London (or nearby) you might be wondering what to do. Read on for UCL student Allan’s tips.


A lot of us are probably re-emerging into the sunlight for the first time in weeks, having spent the past exam session curled up in uncomfortable positions in front of our desks, desperately smacking our foreheads onto textbooks in hopes of absorbing more key facts through the process of osmosis. And now, we’re at a loss for what to do with our sudden excess of free time. For those staying in London over the summer, here are a few suggestions for places to check out! 

Photoshoot, pose

Did you know that for £5, you can experience the breath-taking views of the London skyline and soar across the River Thames in your own private cabin? Head down to Greenwich this summer and hop aboard the Emirates Air Line Cable Car to snap some aerial photos or simply take in the view. You can even make a day of it and visit the O2 Arena right by the cable car station — with concerts, arcades, shops, and restaurants, you’re bound to find something for you at O2. If something quieter is your thing, see what’s on at the NOW Gallery.  

If your idea of scenic involves less of the city’s sweeping views and more of its beating heart, Brick Lane might be the place for you. As a hub of street art, thrift stores, craft vendors and international cuisines, these lively streets are brimming with colours and secrets to discover. Take some photos of (or with!) the vibrant murals and see if you can spot any Banksy pieces in the area!

If you’ve thrifted the perfect outfit from Brick Lane, why not take it for a spin at God’s Own Junkyard? A neon junkie’s paradise located on the end of the Victoria Line, the Junkyard is a free-to-enter art gallery filled with neon signs, wacky mannequins, and other eccentric showpieces. It is an assault on the senses in the best way possible, and arguably one of the best locations for an impromptu photoshoot in London. Tucked in the corner and bathed in fuchsia neon light, it even has its own coffee shop for you to sit down and take in the installations.

Cheap eats 

Just behind our campus, in Fitzrovia, you can enjoy a perfect cup of coffee in a loo — yup, you read that right. Find the Attendant Cafe by taking a flight of stairs down the public toilet entrance and grab a seat by one of the porcelain urinals. Don’t worry, although this was originally a functioning bathroom, it’s long since been fully refurbished, and is absolutely safe to eat at.

If you’re looking for a heartier meal, visit Marugame Seimen to build your own udon bowl, from the broth to the toppings. With the freedom to customise your bowl however you want, either grab a simple meal or go for something more lavish depending on your mood.

Of course, Camden Market is a staple of good food, with options from all around the world. Grab something from the market or adjacent Hawley Wharf and walk it off with a stroll down the scenic Regent’s Canal.

Day trips 

If you’re looking for an escape from the hubbub of London, you can easily book yourself a day trip to the coast or visit someplace a little more historical. Head to the Seven Sisters or the White Cliffs of Dover for astonishing coastal views. For those who fancy learning more about some of England’s grandest and most historical architecture, York, Bath, and Canterbury will surely not disappoint. With historical sites dating back to the Romans, you are bound to be amazed by the rich history that England’s buildings hold.

If you haven’t already, remember to buy a 16-25 Railcard before booking any train tickets: it will save you 30% off any train ticket, and 30% off any off-peak journeys you take on the London Tube if you link it to your Oyster card!


Finally, summer is the time to reflect and recharge. Look back on the year and congratulate yourself for all that you’ve achieved. Make a plan for your next goals. Most importantly, however, remember to take the rest that you deserve. For those who are away from family over the summer, or those who might be living alone, remember to stay connected with friends and family. Schedule a Zoom party every now and then, stream a TV show together, or even keep in touch the old-fashioned way with postcards!

Although the sun doesn’t set until 9pm now, don’t be tempted to stay up too late. Try not to stray too much from your term-time routine and stick to a regular time for sleeping and waking up; your body will thank you for maintaining a regular sleep pattern.

And, if you need some support, UCL remains open for current students. Make an appointment with one of our caring advisers.

Once again, well done for getting through another year of learning. Enjoy your well-earnt summer so you can move upwards and onwards when you return!

Allan Yeung, BA English