A College Student
Amy Anderson is a writer from Chicago who spent half of 2003 bartending
in London before finishing journalism school in the States. She
2003 I applied for a work visa, bought an airline ticket and packed
my bags. I was moving to London. And as a single college student
who'd never been away from the States for more than two weeks,
there was definitely a challenge. Although I read all the books,
magazines and guides I could find there was still so much I didn't
in such a cosmopolitan city I was able to meet women from all
over the world, and quickly joined forces with Emily from Wisconsin.
We spent the next six months sharing adventures and traveling
mishaps. We traveled together to Greece, Scotland and throughout
England. In the end our best times were spent enjoying everything
London has to offer and I recommend it highly.
Although I had a great time
in London, there are some things I wish I'd known early on. I
hope that the following five tips ease the strain of getting settled
in a foreign country. Perhaps they'll give you more time to relax,
enjoy yourself and make the most of being single in London!
pack everything you own...
||The number one thing to remember when going to London is
-- pack lightly. Lugging a heavy, awkward suitcase around
London is a pain. A lot of the tube stops require a trek up
quite a few stairs, and the heavier your bag, the more pain
you'll be in later. Didn't bring enough stuff? I promise you'll
be able to find plenty of cheap, stylish clothes at H&M shops
which are located right across London and very easy to find.
Shopping here will allow you to dress like the locals and
help you to fit in.
||If you're in London for an extended stay, make sure to bring
a few pictures of family and friends, a couple of your favorite
snacks and a comfort item for when you have a battle with
homesickness (trust me it happens to everybody). My favorite
beat-up sweatshirt not only helped combat that cool London
air, but it was also perfect for wrapping myself up in memories
are not for museums...
||The next thing we learned and one that's almost as important
as the packing is to stay away from the tourist spots on the
weekends. That includes all museums, anything having to do
with the Royal Family and most outdoor markets. Look to the
locals for things to do. We quickly learned that the best
weekends were spent playing volleyball and frisbee with new
friends in Hyde Park or taking a short jaunt on the tube to
Zone 4. Only an hour or so outside of central London the calmness
of life outside the city was perfectly refreshing.
||Lesson number three -- If you plan on taking a weekend trip
on a Bank Holiday weekend, beware because every other Londoner
is planning the same thing. Make sure you have a place to
stay before leaving town. On one sunny, three-day weekend,
Emily and I ventured up to Manchester to catch a concert.
Thinking we would easily find a hotel or hostel once we got
there, we were surprised to find ourselves sleeping in the
local train station later that evening. Not fun especially
since the train station was home to the only public 24-hour
bathroom in the city.
yourself to locals...
||Tip number four -- Make friends with the locals. While people
on the streets are usually in a hurry, making friends with
people at your local pub, market or kebab shop will prove
invaluable. Not only do they know the best places to go in
London, they also know the best ways to get there and the
cheapest ways to do it. The barmaid at one London pub directed
me to one of the best views in the city (Primrose Hill), she
also gave me a list of nearby bars open past 11 o'clock, directions
to the nearest fish and chip shop (chippy) plus the best times
to catch sales at London's exclusive Harrod's (www.harrods.com)
and Harvey Nichols department store (www.harveynichols.com).
don't have to see everything...
||Finally, the fifth thing I wish I'd known is -- relax! Don't
worry about time constraints, sightseeing or fitting in. Simply
experience everything and enjoy yourself while you're doing
it. If you don't make it to London Bridge, who cares? The
hours you spent in the pub with that old English bloke who
worked for the queen was probably far more entertaining and
memorable than looking at an old bridge you can always see