Maria's picture

My Student Neighbours

My decision to come to London was carefully planned: I chose a great school in a great city in a great continent. Little did I know then that the most rewarding part of my experience here would emerge from pure spontaneity and coincidence.

I met my neighbours months after my arrival, during a residents' pizza night at the International Students House. That night was all it took to realize they were an amazing bunch, and a few more meals together confirmed I was part of an incredibly warm and diverse community of friends that would change my life in London in unexpectedly wonderful ways.

Learning and Laughing

It is not hyperbolic to say that I have learned more from my neighbours than I have in the classroom at LSE. Through our conversations I have travelled the world as they know it, through our meals I have tasted their cultures, and through our jokes I have realized that differences become trivial when we all can laugh together.

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Celebrations at Notting Hill Carnival

As England enjoyed its last Bank Holiday of the year, Notting Hill Carnival hit the streets of London with its usual colour and vibrancy, as even the rain managed to just about hold off.

Europe's biggest street festival covered the Notting Hill area in West London on Sunday and Monday, as more than one million people turned up to celebrate Caribbean culture. The annual carnival boasts colourful parades of floats and costumes, dozens of sound systems and enough jerk chicken to feed an army.

Since 1964 the carnival has been arranged by West Indian communities in London, and takes place on the August bank holiday every year. This year, due to the recent riots, there was a special sense of both concern and anticipation. There was a huge police presence making sure the carnival would be remembered as a celebration of London rather than the start of a second wave of riots.

"True Spirit of London"

Indeed, Mayor boris Johnson revealed that he hoped that the carnival would 'let the true spirit of London shine through', adding:

"It's right that the carnival goes ahead so we can show the world that the overwhelming majority of London's people are decent, law-abiding citizens who respect the law, love their city and want to celebrate our vibrant, diverse and historical culture."

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Riots Focus Turns to Manchester and Birmingham

Last night marked the fourth day of riots in Britain, with the focus turning away from London, and towards Manchester, Birmingham and a whole host of other UK cities. Now familiar scenes played out as rioters looted shops, set fire to buildings and attacked police, leading to 479 arrests and, for the first time, three deaths.

The Spread of Violence

The long list of towns and cities affected by violence last night includes Manchester, Salford, Birmingham, Gloucester, Nottingham, Liverpool, Leicester, Bristol, Wolverhampton and West Bromwich, encompassing the South-West, Midlands and North-West of England. Whilst the biggest numbers of rioters were seen in Manchester, some of the most shocking scenes were elsewhere.

In Nottingham, a police station was set alight by a group of 30 to 40 men who firebombed it at around 10pm, though there were no injuries. Unfortunately, the same can not be said for Birmingham, where three men lost their lives after they were hit by a car. It is thought that they had been protecting their neighbourhood from the rioters, and their deaths are being treated as murder, although it is currently unclear whether the collision was directly related to the riots.

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London Riots Spread from Tottenham

London suffered some of its worst riots for years over the weekend, as hundreds of people clashed with police in areas of North and South London. Shop windows were smashed, cars and buildings set on fire and stores looted after a peaceful protest on Saturday turned violent.

How it Started

The seeds of the riots were sown last Thursday, when a 29-year-old man named Mark Duggan was shot dead by the police in Tottenham Hale, North London. The exact details of the event are still unclear but it was initially claimed that he opened fire on the police, forcing them to retaliate. However, family and friends rejected this version of events, and on Saturday organised a protest of around 200 people who marched on Tottenham police station demanding answers.

What started out as a peaceful protest led by community members, quickly descended in to chaos, as hundreds of others joined, with the clear intention of using the protest as an excuse for violence. As tempers flared, two police cars were set on fire, marking the start of a night of destruction which quickly escalated. By midnight on Saturday, dozens of shops in the local area had been broken in to and burgled, and a number of buildings and a double-decker bus had been set alight.

Maria's picture

My Favourite Things in London

London has so much to offer that it is hard to choose the very best. However, after thinking long and hard, I have come up with a list of my favorite places and things to see and do in the city:

- Coffee Shop: The Natural Kitchen (City, EC4 and Marylebone, W1)

- Bookstore: Daunt Books (Marylebone, W1 and others)

- Park: Regent's Park 

- Museum: Science Museum (South Kensington, SW7)

- Market: Camden

- Season: Spring

- Theatre Venue: Royal Albert Hall (South Kensington, SW7)

- Musical: The Phantom of the Opera (Her Majesty's Theatre, SW1)

- Gym: Regent's Gym (Great Portland Street, W1)

- Shopping Area: Oxford Street, W1

- Chinese Restaurant: Phoenix Palace (Marylebone, SW1)

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