Learning to love the Oyster card

London study abroad student Juliana Stahle

London study abroad student Juliana Stahle

By Juliana Stahle, special to The Campus Chronicle.

When I first arrived in England, I was lucky enough to have a taxi take me to my homestay.

My homestay is all the way in Zone 4 meaning it is far from central London.

When people hear I am in London, they think the city but, I am much further away.

I knew I would have to use the tube to get around and maybe a bus once or twice, however, I didn’t know how useful and handy a little blue card called the Oyster Card would be.

On the first day of university, my roommate and I set out for our 15-minute walk to the nearest tube station, which is West Finchley.

Once we got to the tube station, we touched our Oyster cards and got on the tube until Goodge Street station where we touched our Oyster cards to get out of the station.

We continued with a 10-minute walk to our university. Walking was not a problem for us but we noticed that a bus stop was quite close to the house we were staying at.

So on our second week we decided to be adventurous and try our hand on the bus system.

On our first attempt, we watched the bus drive past the bus stop since we showed up late to the stop. We then waited 12 minutes for the next bus.

The London Eye

The London Eye

When the bus arrived, we touched our Oyster card to get on the bus and tried to find a seat before the bus started to move again.

We sat waiting for the East Finchley station bus stop. When we arrived, we pushed the stop button that sounds like a small bell.

We touched our Oyster cards at the station to get on the tube and again when we arrived at our University tube station to exit the tube.

The best thing about the Oyster card is that, for us, it was free. We could travel within Zone 4 to the other Zone 4’s.

The Oyster card is like having your own driver but you’re just sharing the driver and vehicle with up to 50ish people in one carriage if you go on the tube or 40 people on the bus.

The only downfall I had was when I was waiting to exit the station and people would walk too slowly. The gate opened and shut on my knee. It was a little scary; I thought is this how it ends, I just leave my left knee in London. Luckily, I got my knee unstuck and was able to go through the gates.

So far in London my love for the Oyster card keeps growing.

Most recently I had to use it to ride the bus to get on the tube that would take some classmates and I to the Victorian station to take a train to Gatwick Airport for our trip to Rome.

I think learning or having to use a bus, tube, or train system to get from point A to point B is a good skill to have. I think you gain independence, patience, and an appreciation for having transportation when you do not have a car to drive.

The Oyster card offers this and is great for any foreign exchange student, especially ones from Iowa.

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