Bloomsbury: Your Home in London

There are more reasons to stay in the Bloomsbury neighborhood than there ever are to leave it. Our students love this intellectual and literary heart of London for many of the same reasons that drew Dickens and Virginia Woolf to call the neighborhood home.



There’s something utterly cool about having The British Museum as the beating heart of your neighborhood. The museum tells the story of British power over the ages and around the globe better than any carefully crafted set of lectures ever could. Like all the great museums in the city, this one is free and thus allows students to peek in to see something new whenever the mood strikes.



The same can be said for The British Library, which is its own heart of hearts where Bloomsbury concerned. Not only are the greatest documents in British history on display or at least accessible here, but so are the legendary reading room and the astonishing special exhibitions that are always alive and well here.



When the weather is glorious as it occasionally is in London, our students do what the locals do and get out to explore the interconnected band of verdant and historic squares and parks that dot Bloomsbury. Majestic trees that have historic designation in their own right stand towering over quiet parks where Virginia Woolf and her circle wrote, painted and argued.



While just blocks away the magnetic pull of University College London soon reminds even a serious park sitter that there’s youthful energy and fun to be found on every corner here. Indeed pubs and cafes of all flavors abound in the neighborhood, as do lesser but still fascinating London landmarks that await discovery all around Bloomsbury and beyond.



London is an amazing city of great neighborhoods. Starting for our students with the incomparable Bloomsbury. And then expanding over our stay there to include Camden, Notting Hill, The City, Shoreditch, South Bank, Westminster and on and on.

Street Food Smarts in London!

Ok, so we’ve all heard that London is expensive. But what about the food? The short answer is that it can be. The Catalyst answer is that it need not be. So how do you eat well and save cash in our most expensive classroom city? Read on for our secrets!

Our first advice is to always eat the breakfast that’s provided for you by the program at our hostel. You might want to grab 20 extra minutes of sleep and come gliding downstairs with no time to spare before meeting your class. But don’t. Because about an hour into your morning of walking and learning you’re stomach will revolt if you’ve left it empty. And then when you break for lunch you’ll spend more than you need to while getting enough lunch to make up for the free breakfast you passed on.

The second wisdom for food success in London is to find “street food” for your lunch and take your cheap meal to a lovely park where you can call your lunch a picnic. This way you can get an awesome price and also settle into a pattern of enjoying your new city the way that its locals do!

The third tip for food-and-price victory here is to say this word three times: ethnic. The more you seek out Thai food at the famous Thai pubs that dot London, the better you’ll eat and the more you’ll learn about how global your city is in every way. Ditto heading with friends to try an iconic Indian place in Brick Lane. Or some of the amazing Indonesian food that’s all over Soho. Or the Italian joints that still sling stunning pasta and memorable pizzas around Notting Hill.

Finally, London is a great place to start a new tradition for yourself of finding the best markets of the city and buying some locally-sourced and artisanally-made foods from the farmers who do the growing or the bakers who do the baking. There are markets all over but the best one to head to on your Sojourn Day is for sure The Borough Market, on the South Bank of The Thames not terribly far from Shakespeare’s Globe and Tower Bridge.

If London restaurants can and do charge hundreds of Sterling for meals that are going to be remembered by diners for decades, it’s also true that our students who provision at Borough Market for an epic picnic in the evening shadows of the Tate Modern have the same experience.

The 2017 Catalyst Student Field Manual: Read on!

There aren’t owner’s manuals that come with life.  But maybe there should be?  On The Catalyst, we think of our manual as a field guide of sorts, because it’s meant to spur your thinking and planning before we get to Europe and to be something you can call up via wifi anytime and anywhere you are along the journey.  Take a look and start turning your dreams about the summer into concrete plans…