All the research that came before studying abroad was overwhelming, but exciting. I remember researching all about London and its culture. Something that London is known for is their transportation system: the London Underground. Have you seen the famous red circle with the blue line running through it? That’s a sign of hope for many Londoners. Not really a Londoner yet, but it’s surely a sign of hope for me, too. As long as I see the sign I know I’ll find my way to my destination.
At first, I didn’t have a good relationship with the tube. Yes, that’s another word for it. Feeling very English using it. Anyway, it took me a month before I went on the tube alone because of my fear of getting lost. What helped me get over my fear was having the way to my destination mapped out on Google Maps. If you’re studying abroad in London, or anywhere really, having apps like Google Maps, Maps and Citymapper can help you navigate the new place easily. All you have to do is put in your current location and destination. There are many lines in London -the Underground is called the veins of London for a reason -and stations, so having it all mapped for you will have you feeling like a London local in no time.
I love London, but what I’m going to miss most about it is the convenience of the Underground. That thing can take you anywhere in the city flawlessly. Well, not too flawlessly since sometimes there are a lot of passengers depending on the time you’re commuting, but it still makes for an interesting time. The Piccadilly line is the one closest to me and it can take me all the way to and from Heathrow Airport in an hour and a half. It also takes me to some of the most beautiful areas in London including South Kensington and Covent Garden in minutes. Most stations have connections so for example I can get on the Piccadilly Line and then get on the Northern Line to the eccentric Camden Town area. Just follow the signs and if you’re confused, ask staff.
The Underground etiquette are a collection of unwritten rules, but are easy to follow.
- Make sure to always stand on the right and walk up or down the left side of the escalator. Some get ratty if you stand on the left side of the escalator since it’s the side for those who are in more of a rush.
- Another unwritten rule is the silence on the tube. Don’t think you can’t have a conversation or make noise. You can, but most are reading, listening to music, or even napping so the tube is pretty quiet for the most part. One of the reasons why I adore the tube is because of the silence. I enjoy getting reading done and some writing done as well. I usually pack a journal or book in my bag when I go on the tube. The stations always provide daily newspapers for free so you can sneak in some reading in that way too.
There’s nothing like the sound of the wheels on London tracks, the old seats, the red and blue sign, the pensive passengers with their unfinished novels or phone games, and the rush during peak hours. Experience riding the tube and apply for your student Oyster Card or purchase a regular Oyster card. Let the veins of London help you get around and know the brilliant city.
Crystal Lugo is a University of Nevada, Reno student who studied abroad in London, England.