Saturday, September 29, 2012

lessons from London--

It seems that I'm always typing up these "Lessons from…" posts. I guess I've just really taken the "live-and-learn" saying to heart. Today's lesson came was taught to me during my sad attempt to catch a train to Oxford.

I spent the beginning of this week hanging out in London—I arranged to arrive to the UK a few days before orientation so that I could visit with my brother—and Wednesday I made the transit from London to Oxford with him. I had a really laid back couple of days in London, and on our day of departure I realized that I could/should have been much more productive.

First off, purchasing tickets: We were unsure of what the best way to get to Oxford would be, so we kind of dilly-dallied. Obviously, the best plan would be to buy the tickets in advance, but we completely neglected to do so. Sort of. As it turns out, buying just one week in advance can produce prices as low as £1.50. We found some the day before for £10.50 and decided that was good enough. 

Second, phones: I decided to bring a US phone with me and have it "unlocked" [for a fee], rather than buy a whole new phone, so I was feeling really great about thinking ahead and getting ahold of that. What I didn't think ahead about is that big, busy London would likely offer cheaper unlocking fees than small Oxford (where thousands of international students in need of unlocking services would be arriving at the same time). My brother's flatmate told us of an easy, cheap place that was "just around the corner," so about an hour before we needed to board the bus [to the train station], we set out to find it. 45 minutes later, we still hadn't found it, and decided to give up. Now I'll pay ~£35 instead of £5. Sad face :(

Third, public transit: We looked up which bus to take to the station, how long it would take, etc., so we arrived 10 minutes before the bus got there. The route map said it would take 17 minutes to get to our arrival. We still needed to pick up our tickets from the kiosk, so we got on the bus 40 minutes before our train was set to leave. Plenty of time, right?

Wrong. An hour-long-traffic-jam later, we got to the train station. My [non-UK] debit card didn't even work in the ticket kiosks, so we waited in line to buy new tickets. I was already bummed that we'd wasted £21, so you can imagine how I felt when we found out that day-of tickets cost £22.20 each. Therefore, instead of booking in advance and spending a [sarcastically] whopping £3, we spent a [literally] whopping £65.40. That's $105.40 for what could've been $5. Shucks magucks.
Google image searches are the best. [In a non sketchy way.]

But no one said it would be smooth sailing, and I arrived in one piece, so here's to that!

PS- it's been a beautiful first couple of days in Oxford (a rarity, I hear), so pictures are coming next, I promise!

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