Life on the Underground

The final week of this program is fast approaching, and the sadness is starting to settle in. The last month has been incredible and I will be so sad to leave London as the experience I have had here has far surpassed expectations. I have adapted fully now to life in the city and am incredibly grateful for the opportunities I have had here. It truly will be a time I will remember forever.

From my last few posts, it’s apparent that my friends and I have been traveling and exploring not only London, but parts of Europe as well. The obvious question, though, is how have we been getting around? Well, the underground of course! London is famous for its highly intricate, but easy-to-use underground tube system that has over 11 lines and carries up to a whopping 5 million passengers per day. The tube is my main source of transportation; I use it to go to classes, my internship, the airport, and any other small excursions through the city.

The public transportation system in London is far easier to use than back at school. In Pittsburgh, there hasn’t been many times when the buses have been on time – more often than not I have been stuck in the rain waiting for a bus than was supposed to come 15 minutes ago. With the transport in London, however, the tube or the buses are never more than 2 minutes late, and you are always aware of any potential delays, whether it is written on the whiteboards in front of the escalators down to the tube or on the screens that present any potential delays on all of the tubes. If only America had systems like these…

My morning commute to my internship is only about 25 minutes, but it is extremely, extremely busy. Sometimes I am waiting in line for a tube at King’s Cross St. Pancras (one of the busiest stations in London), and two or three tubes will pass before I am able to squeeze onboard. The evening is still pretty busy, but definitely not as cramped as the morning tube rides. One thing to note about these tube rides, though, is that it is completely quiet. In fact, if you make even the slightest noise, people stare at you wishing you would be quiet. This is not the same if you were in New York, per say, as there is usually some quiet commotion going on in the background. So keep in mind that if you ever come to London, be quiet on the tubes!!

Overall, the underground is extremely reliable and easily the fastest way around London. I highly recommend taking full advantage of it (especially since CAPA provides us with unlimited use on our Oyster cards!) since it goes virtually anywhere in the city. The directions in between each station are very clear, and if you do not know where you are going, there’s maps at every platform to try to assist you. Finally, there is no harm in asking either the underground staff or the locals who take the tube everyday, as they are always willing to help out and get you to where you need to go. Just remember to mind the gap!