Cycling your way

London’s Underground network is the lifeline of the people staying in and around London. Never had I wondered before, that what would happen if the whole thing came to a halt? Well, it seemed to be a nightmare and unfortunately (well not completely though) a similar situation was faced by Londoners a few days back. Though it was not completely stopped but almost 80 percent train network was shut down for a strike which many of you might be surprised to know that it cost the government almost a loss of £200 million. Whoa! That’s a lot of money one might wonder. Well, that is not the thing which I am about to describe in detail but wanted to share a fact.

I would say I got to explore London like never before. A two day strike was announced mid week which is like the peak days of the week. People say that London literally comes to a halt when the so called lifeline stops working as people have very limited choices to travel. Of course, there are buses but one cannot rely wholly on them partly because it takes like ‘ages’ (not literally!) to travel by a bus as compared to the London’s very own underground ‘Tube’.

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So, I decided to plan ahead because of the planned strikes and I couldn’t afford to miss college a single day. As, we receive email newsletters from the TFL (Transport for London) regarding the alternate routes we can plan our journey for, TFL encouraged to make use of the famous ‘Boris Bikes’. Well, for many of you who might not be aware of the Boris bikes, these are the bicycle systems introduced by the Mayor Boris Johnson in the year 2010 which was modeled on a similar system implemented in Paris. It’s also called as Barclays Cycle Hire as it is the main sponsor for the system. A quick fact about the bicycle hire: A record, 47,105 cycles were hired on a single day during the Olympics of 2012 in London.

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Well, anyways this system was specifically quite new for me and I was pretty amazed by the system. Well, the system works as follows: We can hire the bicycle at a mere cost of £2 (I would say mere because it’s relatively still cheaper than the other modes of transport in London!) for a period of 24 hours and you can use debit card to make the payment. You can use the bicycle for free up to 30 minutes and if you happen to cross the limit of 30 minutes, its £1 additional. Though, after my experience you can reach any destination in less than 30 minutes if it is located in Central London.

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So, I decided that I’ll do part of my journey by bus and part by the bicycle. I was reluctant initially, as first of all, I wasn’t used to the roads in London and riding a bicycle after so many years made me nervous. But, I decided to stick to my plan and go for it. I had planned to that after the college hours as I didn’t wanted to be late for the class and as I said, I was not that accustomed to the London roads. So, after the class, I walked up to the nearest cycle dock at Victoria Embankment and hired a bicycle with the help of a kiosk which is again pretty easy to use.

With a lot of hesitation and reluctance I put headphones and tuned it to my favorite playlist. I rode upon the bike and forgot everything else. The initial reluctance was soon forgotten and I lost into the beautiful weather and the ambience of the beautiful Victorian architecture. I decided to go via the Waterloo Bridge which is one of the many bridges across river Thames in Central London. I had to stop here to get the beautiful view. The free flowing Thames and the boats on one side and London eye and Westminster Abbey on the other side…the view was scintillating. This made me feel that I was indeed in London. I saw the city from a complete different perspective. This was the first time when I actually could appreciate the beauty of this city.

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As quoted by Dr. Samuel Johnson, a famous writer

“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford”

I could really feel the meaning of these lines when I had one of such an unusual yet a beautiful journey through the streets of London. It was then I realized that people at times really don’t appreciate the beautiful and small things in life they have around themselves and meanwhile running after other irrelevant things in life. Though, that would be quite philosophical on my part but it was only after I experienced this I could realize. It had been almost 5 months and I have travelled the same old path since then travelling via the underground. Of course, that made my journey comfortable and convenient but although the path I had treaded that day may not have been of such a convenience but I must say that it was worthwhile and a treat to my heart.

 

 

Rise and Shine

I got up this morning to a very beautiful day today. Yeah it’s Saturday after all and I want my piece of cake after a hectic week and here it was. But just not that, as soon as I open the blinds of the room my eyes are nearly blinded by the bright sunshine which was a cherry on top of the icing. For the whole week earlier, it had been raining nonstop. And here it was a beautiful sunny start of the weekend. They truly say that you can’t know the importance of sunshine unless you stay in London. Well, I don’t know whether they really say that but it is indeed a true story here.

A Beautiful Sunny Day

A Beautiful Sunny Day

The weather in London is so unpredictable, that even stock market seems pretty simple. You see a beautiful and clear sky one moment and just after a couple of hours the whole thing said before begins to seem a contradiction. Black clouds, winds followed by a downpour. Yeah, its London and this is the real picture of it (at least) for some time of the year. But, then again man has been designed in a way to adapt to any surrounding condition and this is what happens to people staying here; you get used to that weather and somewhere subconsciously, you start loving it. Again, this might come as a surprise but it’s a true story!

Fog in London is very common

Fog in London is very common

Of course, it is difficult initially especially for the people (like me) coming from tropical countries, because they are used to seeing sun almost every day of their life around the year. I remember when I came to London; the weather so got on to my nerves that some days I used to feel depressed the whole day. But, as I said before, man has the capability to adapt. You slowly start loving things which you hated before and as they say, one becomes institutionalized to those things when they are exposed to the same things everyday for a longer period of time.

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I would say, it’s a good thing which happened to me. Sometimes, you never realize the importance of some things unless they are no more (in this case I would say less often). The same thing implies for the sunshine. I never felt so happy, looking at the beautiful sunshiny day today which I never would have cherished if I would have stayed in my own country. I’ m happy that I am here with new experiences, new people, new places to explore and of course striving to be even a better person as I am today.

 

London Calling

The first question which is bound to popup into anyone’s mind while choosing a place to study is ‘why..?’ So, I would like to begin with answering one simple question one is bound to ask while coming to London, ‘Why London?’; London is truly among one of the world’s best cities. Not only it has one of the greatest infrastructures but it has always been a home to great people who have been noteworthy around the globe. London is home to 4 universities which are in the top 40 universities in the world and I am happy that I am a part of one such university.

Personally, I have been quite dubious about coming to London before I made the choice. But, when I actually came here I realized that I would have regretted my whole life for not coming to such a beautiful city if I hadn’t decided to come to London. There are many factors which may lead one to think that they should make an another choice rather than choose an University in London, but trust me it’s worth every penny spent.

I would like to give some major reasons one should come to London to study:

  • One of the biggest Multicultural City in the world:

London is considered as one of the biggest multicultural city with over 300 different languages spoken on the streets of London. There are people from nearly all parts of the world, India, Poland, US, Turkey, France and the list is simply unending. You can hardly find such a diverse and a city with such a rich heritage all at one place. The Trafalgar Square is one such place where you can experience the richness of the culture from different parts of the world. Here every year plenty of such festivals are celebrated by people of different regions and one can experience the true culture of London.

 

  • Education:

King's College London Strand Campus

Whether its Science one wishes to study or the art, London has one of the best universities in the world. London has seen many great people who have been great artists, great literary figures, great scientists and also great sportsmen. So, one can expect top class education in London. Of course one may have heard that London is also one of the costliest cities to live in, but it’s not really that much if you are a student here. Being a student gives you access to various discounts right from shopping to travelling and many more.

 

  • Food:

london food

There are many people in the world (like me) who live to eat. If you belong to this category, then you are surely in for a treat here. London being a multicultural city also offers a diverse food variety. It has got some very fine and authentic cuisines of the world. Right from the street food at Berwick Street Market and Borough markets to some very fancy restaurants in Mayfair, London is a heaven for food lovers.

 

  • Social Life:

Freshers party at Ministry of Sound

Man is a social animal but today the definition has changed and we know that man is a party animal. London has one of the finest night clubs offering more than 50 % discounts to students. Of course, the first week itself will introduce you to some awesome fresher parties which is surely going to exhaust you (though not literally). With Ministry of Sound and other fantastic party destinations, one may hardly find himself lonely in this lively and happening city.

 

  • Plenty to explore Stuff:

The famous Piccadilly Circus at Night

London is also a place known for its world famous Museums and Art galleries. And the most important thing is, they are free. You heard it right! The Naturals History Museum, Science Museum, Tate Modern, The national art gallery and many more such places which are priceless indeed. Also, the famous Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar square, parks (Hyde, Hampstead Heath, etc) which are surely the best experiences while as a student you may get. Not to forget the famous Southbank for its riverside view of the Thames.

 

  • Shopping:

Flooded streets on Boxing Day

If you are a person who likes to shop till you drop, then there’s no other place than London itself. With some or the other discounts going on around the year, you will find plenty of shopping destinations in London. Especially in Christmas you will find huge discounts at various places in London. The top destinations are the Oxford Street, Regent Street, Mayfair, Westfield where you’ll rarely not find the thing you need.

 

Well, there are plenty and many more reasons for people to come to London and study. It’s quite easier to find part time work here while you study, because students coming to London are allowed to work part time. The national minimum wage being £6.5 its quite easier to at least pay your bills and also save some. Also, London is a true global destination from the career’s point of view. It gives a global and commercial outlook and exposure for the people working here. And being one of the powerful currencies of the world, you’ll definitely earn more than your counterparts in other parts of the world.

 

Lastly, I would say, what I described above is just an overview of London as a destination to study but you’ll discover much more when you actually come and experience the true spirit of London yourself. And I would say coming here as a student is the best possible way to come to London, if you wish to settle in the world’s most global city for your lifetime.