Graduation, Regent’s Park Theatre, and Hampstead Bathing Ponds

I’ve been packing lots of adventures into the past few weeks, and I haven’t been able to keep up with the blog posts!

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The first two weeks of June were packed with exam prep and final exams, and then all of a sudden it was over! My parents came over for my graduation ceremony, and it was great to have them there and introduce them to my wonderful teachers. My classmates are from all over the world and most will be going back to their home countries, some as far away as Kenya and Singapore, and I’ll be far away from those staying in Europe, so it was a very bittersweet day as we all said goodbye to each other.

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My flatmate AJ (a friend from college who I’ve known for 10 years!) also came to my graduation ceremony. He completely saved the day by waking me up 45 minutes before the ceremony after I had turned off my alarm in my sleep, by knocking on my door and saying “Um…isn’t your graduation today?” Luckily the ceremony was held right around the corner from our flat, so I had just barely enough time to shower and get ready before arriving exactly on time!

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Four of my six teachers, all looking very elegant

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My very international class

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That evening, my parents and I went to see On the Town at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. On the Town isn’t my favorite musical, but the open air theatre was a great experience. It reminded me a bit of the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, where Shakespeare in the Park is performed each summer, but it had more of an infrastructure. 

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Inside the gates, before you go into the theater itself, there is a picnic area, as well as a long bar area (because of course, it’s England.) We got Pimm’s cocktails, the classic English summer drink, at intermission. The show itself was very cute, with lots of great dancing, but the plot is pretty weak. I mostly enjoyed sitting outside in the theater, and I always love a musical!

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Meanwhile, London has been going through a heat wave for the past week, and while temperatures of 90˚+ are normal in NYC, almost nowhere in England is air-conditioned, including the Tube and buses, so it’s been a bit brutal!

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The mixed bathing pond in Hampstead Heath

One way that Londoners cool off is to take advantage of the bathing ponds at Hampstead Heath. There is a ladies’ pond, a mens’ pond, and a mixed pond. At first I was worried the water would be very cold or very murky (since it is untreated), but it was actually very refreshing. Both the mens’ and mixed ponds are visible from the walking paths, but the ladies’ pond is buried in the woods. It was quite an experience – ducklings swim right next to you! The ponds are deep, so you have to be a confident swimmer, but there are buoys scattered throughout the swimming area so that you can take a rest. I’ve been to both the mixed and ladies’ ponds and I definitely want to go back a few more times before I leave London.

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If you missed my Instagram post, I will be moving to Austin, TX later this summer! I have never been to Texas but I hear that Austin is a pretty cool city. I am sad to leave Europe, but my career is taking me to Austin and I am very excited to explore all that the city has to offer. Plus, there are 300 days of sun a year in Austin, so while London has been gorgeous and sunny lately, I don’t think I’ll miss those dark, grey English winters. As much as I complained about the heat in London, I know that Austin will be hotter – but at least there will be A/C everywhere!

I’ll be leaving London at the beginning of July and spend a few weeks at home in NYC before heading to Austin. The next adventure awaits!

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