It’s the final stretch. At all hours around campus, you can hear the frantic typing of dissertations being written, the sound of fizzy energy drinks opening on a worryingly regular basis, the small whimpers of despair as our degrees come to an inevitably stressful close.
Despite whiling away my time pretending to read thick academic texts and becoming unnecessarily fascinated by people I barely know on social media, there is a thought at the back of my head that won’t go away. Have I really seen all that London has to offer? Did I really just spend the last three years barely venturing out of Mile End, describing visits to central London as ‘going into town?’ Have I really been having the London experience? It certainly doesn’t feel like it.
This is the problem with London. Whether you were born and bred here or not, any attempt at trying to sample everything that is on offer is often futile. It’s undeniably an overwhelming city, with so much to offer that it can sometimes leave you feeling a little dissatisfied and uncertain.
You’ve sampled all the tourist hotspots at the beginning of first year, become wryly scornful of anyone who tells anecdotes about going to Brick Lane and having a bagel at the end of the second year, and by third year you’ve become annexed in your room by a huge tower of books and the impending sense of your own inevitable failure. There are still exciting places unexplored, exotic food that’s yet to be tasted, achingly cool club nights that you haven’t danced drunkenly in. And time is seemingly ticking away until all these amazing experiences might not be as accessible to you.
This is why, at the conclusion of my third year, I’ve decided to make a London bucket list. A list of all the places I’ve yet to go to and the things I’ve wanted to do. There’s still that pressure to do everything, but as long as my activities are dotted across all different parts of the cityscape I will feel that I have achieved something.
Whether it’s trying out that bar entirely made of ice (it’s a thing), sampling the food on Broadway Market, visiting the often forgotten Salvador Dalí museum, or even being a traditionalist with an extortionate trip on the London Eye or up the Shard, London has something to offer that you haven’t tried, but have always meant to – and now is the time.
Though it’s somewhat taboo for anyone who has lived in London for more than a year, its time to embrace the tourist trail, temporarily stop moaning about people walking too slowly, and laugh heartily at being ripped off by that separate currency that we’ve become accustomed to – ‘London prices’.
Even if you’re fortunate enough to know you’ll be comfortably staying on in London after September, it’s a fitting send off to the city that you’d probably dreamt of living in for years before you got that UCAS offer. I for one hope I will be spending those precious days after university has finished doing (or trying to do) all the things I had considered but never got round to. It’s a fitting, but hopefully temporary goodbye to a city that manages to be astounding, infuriating, beautiful and ugly all at the same time.
We’ve all heard it, but Samuel Johnson’s quote ‘when a man is tired of London he is tired of life’ rings true, and it’s time to give up the apathy and fall in love with this incredible city once again, perhaps for the final time.