As this week marks the halfway point of the GBI: London program, I feel like I have already become accustomed to the daily life of working and taking classes in such a busy city environment. Living on campus for my first two years at the University of Pittsburgh, I was so used to simply walking from place to place, occasionally taking the bus whenever I wanted to travel outside my normal commuting areas. However, now that I am living in such a large and spread out city, it is almost a necessity to rely on public transportation.
In order to get to my classes, it is about a thirty minute commute on the tubes. This also requires some tube changes, so I always have to pay attention and have an idea of where I am at all times. It takes a little under an hour to get to my internship location, which I have found is actually much longer of a commute than my peers. I actually do not find this to be a drawback, because my commute does not require many complicated tube changes, so I can spend most of my time sitting down reading or listening to music.
It is also important to note that there is no service in the Underground, so if there is ever a time I find an issue with directions, I either have to figure it out myself, or leave the entire station in order to find some cell service. I was immediately forced into learning this independence early on when the line I normally take to my internship was completely blocked and heavily delayed. This happened around the end of the second week, where I realized I would not be able to make it on time to my internship if I followed my normal route. Thankfully, I left early as always, so there was time for me to adjust my course to fit these unexpected conditions. I distinctly remember the panic I was feeling standing at the platform, feverishly hoping that the next train coming was the one I needed to get on. Despite my wishes, it never came.
I was forced into finding the nearest worker and asking him what the best way to get to my destination was; he very nicely pointed me to the right line to take so I would end up in the same general area I usually came to when following my normal route. Finding this alternate route not only helped me in the moment I believed I was absolutely doomed, but I believe it is also going to help me in future situations if something like this ever happens again. Although very stressful and nerve wracking, being forced into situations like this seems almost necessary to experience during the program; it taught me independence and the valuable lesson that it is always okay to ask for help. So if something like this ever happens again, I’ll always know exactly what to do!