I studied at the University of London for a semester during my junior year in college. One of the biggest changes that I faced, aside for living in a flat with 5 other girls, was transitioning to public transportation. I wasn't completely naive, I rode the city bus system to and from high school, but beyond that, I drove. When I landed in London, I entered a world of public transportation that I had never experienced before, the tube. I grew up on the West Coast, and we did not have a subway system.
I remember when I got my pass and began to find my way to school for the first time. My flat was smack dab between two tube stations on the Piccadilly Line; one was Knightsbridge and the other South Kensington. I decided on Knightsbridge, because it was located on a busy street with lots of shops so I could browse windows on my way, one, a little ditty was named Harrods. After I shut the door to my building behind me and stepped out onto the walk I was greeted into a stream of fast moving people. I would pick up a coffee or a baguette on my way and keep pace. I always new when I was getting close to the station, because I could smell the earthy fragrance of roasting chestnuts from a street vendor that stirred them in a large barrel next to the entrance. As I descended underground into the station I could immediately feel the pulse of the city. Masses of people racing every which way. At the base of two levels of escalators, murals spread across the walls showing colorful spiderwebs indicating different lines and their destinations.
It didn't take long to get the hang of it, and the secondary component of subway living...you walk when you are not riding. About mid-way through my stay, I decided that I wasn't getting enough exercise, crazy of course, I had never walked so much in my life. My solution was to walk the stairs on all of the escalators in and out of the tubes instead of riding them. I can assure you, it was at that point that I was effortlessly in the best shape of my life. In line with that walking, if I was running a bit off in my time, I would head off to the South Kensington station. It was located at the other end of a lovely little neighborhood, and on my first trip I found these great street musicians. Needless to say I frequented this station if I was traveling at certain times of day, and I rode the escalators instead of climbing them just to be serenaded for a couple of minutes.
I learned to love the camaraderie of the underground. It never felt trapped or claustrophobic, it felt more social, not the
This post is part of the Scintilla Project. Being trapped in a confined environment can turn an ordinary experience into a powder keg. Write about a thing that happened to you while you were using transportation: from your first school bus ride, to a train or plane, to being in the backseat of a car on a family road trip.