London was nothing of a stranger city to us all, after all it is in fact one of the biggest and most important cities in the world. Despite the immense popularity of the city, due to our low exposure as well as perhaps being a little culturally ignorant, all we actually knew about London was that they had fantastic soccer, delicious fish and chips and a really bad transport system. All of our stereotype thinking was confirmed during the course of the 2 week trip.
We landed at the humungous Heathrow airport and began our arduous journey of lugging luggage to our rather remotely located hotel. Despite the moaning and groaning, the non chartered, luggage marathon allowed us to view many interesting sights and people on the way. The very first lesson we had about London was that it did indeed have a terrible transport system, probably due to the fact that it had one of the oldest transport systems in the world. The trains were extremely crowded and the tube (our MRT) had many flaws in its designs, such as a door that threatened to behead you if you did not bend in far enough. Despite all this, there was nothing to dampen our mood as we soldiered on through the cold night towards our quaint hotel which even had its own resident fox family.
The next day we left our hotel after a proper English breakfast, consisting of bacon, eggs, tomatoes and sausages. This was to be our standard breakfast for two weeks to come. We took the public bus to school, a middle-sized campus located in the middle of a quiet English neighbourhood. We were assigned student buddies who proved to be extremely lively and friendly. School days were extremely short and students had the liberty to select any form of subjects they wished to study, the absence of a compulsory contrasting subject made studying in the school based fully on interest and passion for the subject. The school system was both effectively nurturing students in their real interests as well as aptly preparing them for their future.
Aside from the various school day immersions, we were given much opportunity to tour London. There was so much to see and experience that it soon became clear those two weeks was hardly enough. In the name of independence, cost saving and being highly adaptable, we went everywhere via the local public transport, and despite periodic temptations to jump onto a London cab, our adventurous will prevailed. The London trip via public transport wasn’t as bad as we thought. Despite having no chartered bus and having to cope with a rather poor public transport system, the group managed to reach most locations on time. Thankfully, the stops were often near the landmarks, meaning it was easily accessible by public transport. There was not so much of beautiful scenery to gasp at, or cute farm animals to squeal at, but who needed them when we had such a lively and exciting metropolis around us? The cities played host to many big events such as the ATP tennis finals which a few of us got to watch, famous plays such as the lion king and many other big events. The large cities meant people of all races and nationalities, the diversity mean the infinite array of shops and restaurant, there was so much excitement at every corner we turned into. After a feel days, one gets the feeling of residing in a really important and famous place, a meeting point for various people and events all over the world.
Alas, all good things have to come to an end. Time was running out and the trip was nearing its finale. With a emotional and tearful concert to thank our buddies for their efforts as well as a bit of last minute shopping to grab purchases that would remind us of our wonderful time, we boarded the plane and started our 13 hour trip back to Singapore.