Royal Holloway, University of London?

Are we really a part of London? Laura Dowse discusses.

As I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, you aren’t in London. However it’s much faster, easier and more impressive to nod along when family, friends and strangers assume that you are. Either that, or tell them that you live next door to the Queen in Windsor.

Even though we aren’t in London, we are only a stone’s throw away. A short walk to Egham train station, hop on a train to Waterloo, and you’ll find yourself in the capital in under 40 minutes. A word of warning; the 20 minute walk to Egham train station may sound like a doddle now, but as you become accustomed to student life that walk seems increasingly too far!

Nevertheless, some of you will use this opportunity to explore London, and it’s something that I strongly encourage. If this is your first real exploration of London, I’ve put together some suggestions on how to survive the city experience.

1. Share the street
Busy roads, narrow paths and lots of people mean that human congestion is almost avoidable. To make life easier for yourself and everyone around you, walk on the edge of the path. This is especially true if you are a slow wanderer; stick to the edges so that people can get passed you. Moreover, if you’re travelling in a group, I urge you not to take up the entire width of the path. I suggest walking in pairs as a maximum, allowing others to go around you.

2. Don’t be worried by workers
If you head to London on a weekday in particular, you will encounter vast swarms of commuters. This fact is unavoidable. It can seem a little overwhelming; hordes of suits rushing around, eyes down and arms folded. Please remember that there is no need to be scared or intimidated. These commuters are often tired, cold, and simply in a hurry to get to where they need to be. Follow rule number 1, and you won’t have any problems.

3. Look both ways before you cross the road
This may sound like an overly simple request; it is something that your Mum taught you when you were a toddler. But the amount of people I have seen nearly taken out by a car/taxi/bus/Boris bike is ridiculous! London roads are extremely busy, and usually fast moving. When crossing the road, always wait until the green man. Even then, double check that no crazy cyclists or opportunistic motorists are hurtling towards you (this happens quite often). The best idea is to follow the crowd; that way there are usually more people between you and the vehicles!

4. Stay out ‘till after dark
Okay, so I know this totally contradicts what I was just saying about following your Mum’s advice; you’re probably not used to someone telling you to stay out on the streets into the night. However, London is probably at it’s most beautiful in the evening. The atmosphere is totally transformed, and the city looks stunning. As the sun goes down, London comes alive.

5. Get lost
Again, I know this isn’t the usual guidance to be given. But honestly, the best way to discover London is to get lost in it. Wander down streets and around corners, and I guarantee that there is always something new and exciting to find. Heading off of the beaten track, away from the typical tourist spots, is usually where you’ll find a hidden gem.

We might not be in London, but we aren’t far away! Take the opportunity to explore the city, and discover what’s so great about the country’s capital.