Mind the gap. That is something I hear at least once a day on my commute to class or around the city of London. Since I am only taking classes, I go to CAPA’s main building in Kensington four times a week. At first, I was a little nervous about having to commute during London’s rush hour which is typically when students are either going to class or returning home. At Pitt, I only walked to class or work since I was basically within a 20 minute walk from everything. On top of that, since I grew up near New York City, I had a bad perception of the subway. And from Pittsburgh, I did not have a good outlook on the reliability of timing of public transportation.
However, London’s tube and bus system is cleaner, faster, and more efficient than any other city’s public transportation system that I have experienced thus far. The times listed on the boards are always very accurate and trains to popular areas, such as where CAPA is located, come very frequently. Even if I am running late, I know that there will be a train soon enough that can get me to where I need to go!
One major difference of London’s public transportation versus others is that everyone is mostly quiet on the tube, especially in the morning. Most people have their headphones in or are reading the paper. While this was something to adjust to at first, I quickly learned that talking in groups immediately makes you stand out as a tourist. So, I do my best to remain quiet during the tube ride so I do not make myself seem different from any regular Londoner. At times, I do very much wish I could talk to my friends, however to be more immersed in the culture, it is important to remain quiet.
Thus, the best tips I can give other students who may want to travel to London are as follows:
- Remain quiet on the tube! Although it can be hard sometimes, especially while with friends, use this time to listen to new music or catch up on the news.
- Don’t worry if you are running late! There is always some way you can get to your destination as the trains run frequently.
- When exiting the station, if on an escalator, stay to the right! Only use the left side if you are walking up the escalator.
- Use the app, Citymapper! The app will tell you the best route to take and how often the trains will arrive down to the exact minute.
I hope these tips help anyone wishing to use London’s amazing public transportation system. Until next time, cheerio!