After living in London for over a week, I feel confident in my ability to navigate through the city and can now easily travel to my internship, classes, and other nearby locations with little to no challenges. Getting around the city is so much easier than I had originally anticipated thanks to the London Underground, which has been my primary mode of transportation other than walking and the occasional bus ride. My commutes are made easy thanks to apps like Citymapper and the help of local Londoners. Commuting to class takes about 40 minutes on the train and only requires switching lines once. Work on the other hand, is only about a 20-minute ride with no switching necessary. I am unable to walk to either of these locations, which makes how I get around a lot different from when I was at Pitt. Although I do a lot of walking once I arrive in the general vicinity of where I need to be, I still have to get on the train for a while which is something that I’m not used to.
The location of my internship is right by the London Bridge, so it is a beautiful walk along the river every morning. I love walking to work and being able to see so many cool buildings every day, especially when the suns out. My internship supervisor insists that I take a one hour break each day, and I have loved being able to explore around the area and find new places to eat and parks to walk around in.
I really enjoy reading the local newspaper during my commute to and from work as well as class. I have noticed that no one seems to talk or looks at each other on the tubes, so my commute is a great time to catch up on the current events happening in the area. Free copies are passed out by the entrance of each station and reading them makes it a lot easier to join in on conversations that my co-workers have, especially political ones. It is an extremely interesting time to be living in London because of Brexit and the resignation of Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, and reading the newspaper everyday makes me feel so much more invested in the experience of living abroad.
On the other hand, I am not a huge fan of how hot and busy the underground gets, especially during rush hour which is when I have to commute to and from work. In addition to that, I always forget that locals ride the escalators on the right side and walk up or down it on the left. I have found myself getting pushed into the railings multiple times because I am in someone’s way. Other than that, I have no complaints about riding the underground or my commute in general.
For other students that want to study abroad in London, I would suggest that they too take time to read the newspaper each day and immerse themselves in what’s going on around them. London is such a diverse city with so much going on, especially right now, and being aware of your surroundings and the political environment around you helps take a lot of the stress out of living and working abroad. In addition to being knowledgeable about current events, I would recommend that students looking to study abroad here prepare themselves to be exposed to multiple different cultures and languages. I was under the impression that there would be no language barriers or culture shock living in London because they speak English. However, after a week I have realized that this is not the case and London is full of diversity and different languages which can sometimes makes it difficult to communicate. Overall, I would say that it has been an amazing first week and I am looking forward to the remainder of the trip as I continue to adjust to living in London.