Transportation was a huge concern of mine when I first was accepted to study abroad in London. The buses in Pittsburgh were relatively easy to figure out, due to the fact that the stops were clearly labelled, and the drivers are always nice when I ask them questions. My fear of getting lost in London stems from the fact that I have always had trouble navigating my hometown of Philadelphia, even after living in the city for the entirety of my life. I had seen pictures of the Tube map before I had arrived, and I was really scared that I wouldn’t be able to figure it out.
I brought my concerns to a couple of my friends at Pitt who had previously done the program, and they did a great job at calming my fears. I remember one of my friends telling me that if I had the ability to read, I wouldn’t get lost on the Tube. Luckily for me, I was placed in the flat located the closest to our academic building, it’s only a 10 minute walk away! My internship is about thirty minutes away on the Tube. It’s very easy to get to: I only take the Piccadilly line. The Piccadilly line is always a hit or miss. Since it’s the only Tube line that takes people directly to Heathrow International Airport, the biggest in the city, it can be really busy.
I work in Soho, an area in London known for theater and shows. One pretty cool thing about it is that the Palace Theatre, where Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is shown, is less than a five minute walk from my work. This causes the Tube station that I use to become overcrowded with people, which can be very annoying after a long day of work. Sometimes it takes twice as long to get home because the trains are so full of people that I can’t get on.
A huge tip that I could offer to future students studying in London or anyone who is traveling to London and will use the tube in the future is to stay quiet. In the morning, a lot of people are still in the process of waking up on the tube, or are getting a head start on their work. In the evening, people are tired after a long day at work: some even fall asleep. Another tip that I can offer to people using the Tube in the future is that it is a lot easier to navigate than it looks. Each station is clearly labelled with where you need to go, and the trains are equipped with maps of their routes inside of them. They also announce each station out loud, and the doors stay open long enough for passengers to get out even if the train is extremely full and you’re stuck in a back corner.
*Written on January 30