Get the student oyster card when you get here. You will get discounts if you buy the month pass that I definitely recommend for the people who live at Harrow or Alexander Flemming. You also get a snazzy little card with a terrible picture of yourself as a memento. If you have visitors, it is helpful to get them a visitor’s card. They can top up/pay-as-you go, which is also an option for you on your student card.
Mind your Manners
Tube etiquette is a huge problem for Americans when we first move here to study abroad in London. Let’s face it: we are loud and obnoxious. Here’s a tip: When people on the tube see us talking to each other with our accent, they deem us target for mugging. I have a flatmate who had been mugged upwards of five times while on the tube. Best thing to do is just talk quietly or develop a slight British accent. I recommend the latter, but that’s not always the easiest.
Other Modes of transportation
The buses (and night buses) are fabulous. It is nice once in a while to take one, that way you get to see all that you miss whilst traveling underground, and it's cheaper. But you can always walk as well. I will be moving to Chicago before the 24-hour tube starts. I am jealous of that because it will be so much easier to get back home between the hours of midnight and six in the morning. There is also a boat taxi that you can take as well as others.
- When you have a free day, just get on the train and ride. See where it takes you; Northern will take you to Highgate, one of the most beautiful boroughs with the best tea!
- It is super easy, and you will feel very smug, when you know where the exits are in your home station. You will be able to get on and off the tube, avoiding the tourists faffing about.
- When a Tube is delayed, chaos is incited. So patience is key: put your head phones in or grab one of the many free papers because it will be an hour or two if you’re lucky. But there is always an alternative route
- I cannot stress enough how the app called “City Mapper” has saved my life. Which brings up another point: just get a cell phone when you’re here! The heart-wrenching stress when you get lost and cannot find wifi is terrible on you and on your friends. SIM cards only cost about £15 per month on a top-up plan. Just go to Virgin and get yourself something, you don’t have to get a contract!
Fun Tube Tips and Facts
- The Tube first opened in 1863, but each line was privately owned which is why it is easy to walk to the next tube station.
- It is cheaper to take the Tube in the off-peak hours
- Only 45% of the tube is actually underground
- Piccadilly will take you all the way to Heathrow
- All of the trains collectively travel about 43 million miles per year
- The longest escalator is 60 metres at Angel Station
- There is an Underground themed bar in Kingly Court called Cahoots, I definitely recommend going!
Hanna Neitzke is the Spring 2015 CEA MOJO in London, England. She is currently a Senior at Humboldt State University.
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