London never sleeps
Salut les frenchies,
Fière diplômée d’un bac ES, j’ai intégré la rentrée dernière, le cursus londonien de l’université Dauphine-Paris (le GBD). L’acclimatation pour moi, Fanny Gavelle, ou Fann pour les anglais (la signification de mon prénom laisse à désirer dans la langue de Shakespeare), est une étape houleuse et loin d’être terminée.
Fraîchement arrivée dans la capitale des buveurs de thé (et de pintes), mon quotidien se résume à prendre des bus rouges et à me protéger de la pluie, mais pas seulement…
… This is my story
After a couple of weeks in London, I realised that I was never alone. At home, it seems normal because I’m in a house share with two other students. But more surprisingly, I’ve never found myself alone in the streets of London. There is always someone doing something, going somewhere at anytime of the day or the night. I wonder where they are all going. Are they going home or to work ? Do they need to go shopping or are they just visiting ? My questions stay answerless and I guess that somebody could ask themselves the same question about me. I mean in the middle of the day, it’s normal : Everybody has stuff to do. But at 3 am on a Tuesday, there’s not supposed to be a soul about/around, especially in Kennington which is a quiet suburban neighborhood compared to the City centre. Where was this man going ? Late at night, you consider different options, creepy options. I actually found myself considering that he was about to commit a crime and hoping that this crime would not involve me being injured. I felt ashamed, my paranoia was silly, especially when I walked past him and realised that he was an old man wearing a sort of coverall that I didn’t see earlier because of the semi-darkness of the night. He was probably going to work or going home. I guess it’s true, some cities never sleep.
During the day, it’s even worse. It’s over-crowded. People are just intertwining on the sidewalks like a chaotic mass. And sometimes, we can see bubbles form when an incident occurs, most of the time just a collision which ends with a nervous smile. But when you count the number of people that you walk past everyday, you realise that these incidents don’t happen very often, against the odds. How is this possible ? How does London successfully control this flow ? For example, if you take a place like Saint Pancras station. People are in a hurry, most of the time carrying heavy bags. They are all stressed they’ll miss their trains. People are going left, others are going right. Some of them are slow, some of them are fast; and they miraculously never bump into each other. I guess that London is a very well organised chaos of busy people.
Moreover, I feel like the city tries to avoid all collisions. This came to me in the corridor of some underground stations. My station, Kennington, for example : You need to turn right, walk up stairs, then turn right again, go left, take the elevator and you’re finally out of the maze. That’s not what I call efficient (especially when you are late for class). I guess that TFL realised too late that they needed to do something to reduce the crowd, and were just like “Oh! Well, let’s make them lose their time in ridiculously long corridors!”. For me, the city just tries to make “the walking down the street” experience of London the smoothest possible for everyone. It gives you one choice : the loneliness of your apartment or the jam-packed streets.
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