A visit from a friend or family member is one of the most awaited events of the semester. This is especially the case once you can easily navigate around London and have rules like “walk on the left, stand on the right” ingrained in your mind.
Recently, I had the pleasure of being a host and tour guide for my mom for a week. Being a somewhat obsessive planner, I created a full itinerary to maximise our time together. After all, this not only was her first visit to London but also her first time being in Europe, and I wanted to show her every single thing in London that I love.
So what is the best way to start a mom’s visit to London? Besides purchasing a weekly travel card (which will save you a lot of £’s) and giving her an umbrella to always carry (even if the weather appears sunny), eating the best pancakes in London at Granger & Co. is always a good start to a trip.
After catching up over pancakes, I gave my mom a tour of Imperial’s campus and took her to the Union Shop to get Imperial gear for the entire family. We rushed from the Union Shop to the Business School to hear a lecture from the Secretary of State for Health of Portugal. It was a fascinating talk about reforms occurring in Portugal’s healthcare system but I don’t think my mom really got as much out of it as she could have since she was extremely jet lagged, and I kept on having to politely nudge her awake. Note to self: never take a jet lagged individual to a lecture…
The next day, I showed my mom the artsy side of London. We went to a free Andy Warhol exhibition, the Frankenstein ballet at the Royal Opera House, and dined at one of those fancy restaurants you only go to as a grad student if a parent is in town…to justify this dining experience, I explained how everything in London is “expensive” and it seemed to work.
Although the summer term is more relaxed in terms of work than the fall or winter, I still had to spend time during the visit to work on group projects. Luckily, Imperial’s location is close to three world-class museums—the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the Science Museum—so I could easily drop my mom off on the way to school and know that she would have a fun (and probably more relaxing) time without me marching her all across London.
When I met my mom at the end of the day, I was thrilled to not only see her but tell her the news of my employment. I had received a call from a recruiter letting me know that I was offered a position for the upcoming year. Through countless job applications during senior year of college and grad school, my mom had been my support system. It was the sweetest thing to have her here to share the good news with her in-person. We went to Sketch (the restaurant that boasts the most Instagrammed toilets in London) to celebrate over fish and chips. The next day, I took my mom to my future workplace so she could put a face to the name of the company and also see the area where I will be spending most of my time next year. Of course, my mom wanted to take my photo in front of the building, and I felt like I was in grade school again…but slightly more educated this time.
Other highlights of the week included showing my mom some of London’s best markets (where she learned about the wonders of free samples), enjoying a proper tea at the Sanderson, and having my mom finally meet and share a pizza with some of the classmates I’ve talked to her about all year.
Although my mom and I were not able to do everything on the schedule, we had an amazing week together. Things that were not originally planned, like watching the movie Paddington and having a chill night in, were some of the best parts of the trip as well. When she comes back for another visit, we still have lots of things on the itinerary to do but I promise to not have her walk quite as much…
Carissa is studying our MSc International Health Management programme.