London seen through the eyes of a young Italian student

By Giulia Dell'Albani

Have you ever seen the London Tube Map?

Well, the London Tube has 11 lines and 382 stations. This massive public transportation network allows people to know, live and visit the city.

The Tube map is a combination of different lines with different colours and many names to specify every tube station.

In this humongous city ist i very easy to get lost and even looking at whatever map you may have can be tricky but the chance of losing your way depends on your sense of direction; whether it’s good or not, you succeed or fail. You are your own guide.

In the worst scenario, you end up alone in a place you don’t know where you see many people in a hurry, walking and focused on their path without even noticing you. You stand still on the pavement, wondering how it is possible that nobody seems to care or tries to help you.

The answer is simple: London is for people-in-a-rush, in other words, for people that are ready, concentrate on their lives without any glance of hesitation.

What about “the others”?

They simply have to wait; the only thing they can do is try to catch the rhythm of the city, trying to understand how it works and become a part of the clock that beats the time of London. Unfortunately, the wait could be longer than what you expected to be and in the meantime your initial aims could dissolve and become less clear, leaving you disoriented. The same feeling you had at the beginning on that pavement among those runners.

I have been in London for nearly three years and I still don’t have a distinct point of view, because this city is a melting pot of cultures and traditions with hundreds of worlds within. This aspect confers the city many faces that don’t allow you to understand which is the real one.

However, this diversity doesn’t just bring you confusion but also knowledge. In this city, you can get to know many heterogeneous realities by simply going from one Tube stop to another. From the chaotic and crowded Oxford Street, where you can’t avoid stepping on somebody, to the relaxing and green-Greenwich where the time doesn’t seem to pass… “As if it stays on zero”.

During these years, talking to friends, relatives or workmates, I gathered similar opinions about this city and I realised that some of these ideas are not so wrong.

In fact: functionality, efficiency, modernity and entertainment often represent the best features of the city.

Even I, as a student, had the same impressions. I think it’s impossible to not recognise these qualities in London.

Nevertheless, the city is not perfect. Being part of one of the many public colleges in London, I can’t say I’m as satisfied as I would like to be.

Studying here, where everything is well organised, I would never have expected to feel left alone during my studies. Without any support from my college and finding myself in the situation where I had to research and examine in depth the subjects of my course of study.

Anyway, between highs and lows, I see London as a gym where – with the right sense of direction – you can train and develop enough strength to be able to realise yourself and build up the life you always wanted to have.

Here, freedom of speech is the engine that makes everything work, from the people to the economy, so… equip yourself with a map, a compass and a lot of determination and you will get off at the Tube stop meant for you!