Even before coming to London, I was dreading having to learn how the Tube works. I’m notoriously terrible at directions, especially when it comes to public transportation. My hometown of Anchorage, Alaska doesn’t have much public transportation, so I first really experienced it when coming to Pitt. I got lost while trying to navigate the bus so many times over my freshman year, something that scarred me until the summer after my Sophomore year of college when I was forced to figure it out for my internship. Admittedly, it’s not nearly as difficult as I made it for myself when I was a freshman, but I was afraid that I was going to have a similar steep learning curve when it came to the London underground. Fortunately, I found the tube to be extremely easy to navigate from the beginning, and am now even able to get to a good amount of places without looking up directions on my phone.
I work at the “Walkie Talkie” building on Fenchurch street – a building nickname that only really makes sense once you see it in person. To get here, I take the District line straight to the Monument stop (about 35-40 minutes) and from there, it’s only a 2-3 minute walk out of the station. While at first I wasn’t too happy about the duration of my commute, (even though I know it’s actually pretty short for being in London) it ended up being beneficial because I can use that time to read for my Detective Fiction class. I have to read on average one book a week, a crazy change for being someone who admittedly hasn’t read a full length book in a long time. The only other time I have to read is at night, and instead of doing that and dozing off after every page, I’m able to knock it out on the tube. The only real complaint I have is that the tube is always so crowded in the morning that I can never move, and almost always have to stand for the whole ride. Sometimes the train cars are so full that even if I get to the station early, I’m not able to get on and have to wait for the next one. I’m actually very impressed with how well the tube system runs and don’t know how they would solve this problem as I’m sure it’s not as easy as adding another few trains.
Overall, I feel incredibly lucky for the location of my internship. Not only is it really easy to get to, but since it’s in an area with many other large businesses, I’m able to do a lot of fun people watching during my commute. Some advice that I would give to a future student doing this program is to leave 10 minutes earlier than you need to. Sometimes the trains get delayed or you can’t get onto the first one you want to. It’s definitely not worth sweating about being late to work when you could leave a few minutes earlier just in case.