Have you just landed in London? Are you about to begin a journey to the capital of the UK? Here is our quick list of five mistakes to avoid when visiting the city.
1. Not knowing your ‘left’ and ‘right’
If you’re only going to learn two words before you travel to London, make sure that they’re ‘left’ and ‘right’. Traffic in the UK travels on the left-hand side of the road, so take great care when you’re crossing the road, waiting for a bus or hailing down a taxi.
When travelling down an escalator in the Underground make sure that you walk down the left and stand on the right. Londoners can get very irritated if you do this wrong, and you don’t want to learn this the hard way.
2. Always opting for public transport
As a non-native speaker, the London Underground map can be difficult to navigate with hundreds of different stops all with strange names to learn, while taxi cabs can be overpriced and slow in traffic. Many other first time visitors to the city will be confused with the transport systems.
A lot of the time it’s just as quick to walk around central London. What might be three or four stops on the Underground or a £5 plus taxi ride could be just a 10 or 15 minute walk. Walking and cycling are both cheaper and healthier, and you get to see more of this great city.
3. Shopping in the same old stores
London is renowned for its excellent shopping facilities, but be careful where you go. There’s no point in visiting more expensive versions of the multinational stores that you can already find in your own country, such as those on Oxford Street – you never see real Londoners here.
Speak to locals and search online for the more independent, trendier areas that are often out of the centre. There are plenty of excellent markets, such as Broadway and Portobello Road, where you can find much more authentic and interesting stalls.
4. Sticking to familiar eateries
The UK, unfairly, has a bad reputation when it comes to food. What many people don’t realise is that London is one of the best places to eat in the world – there is a lot more to it than fish and chips.
If you visit London, you might be tempted to stick to what you know and eat in restaurants that you recognise. However, you’re better off avoiding the chain restaurants. Take a risk and explore some of London’s brilliant food markets, such as Brixton Village, KERB and Borough, which all serve cheap and tasty food. Talk to the locals and they will help you out.
5. Conversing in familiar circles
It’s too easy to just hang out with people from your own country. When you’re together you’ll tend to just communicate in your own language. Try your hardest to make friends with some people from different nationalities when you’re in London. This way you’ll be forced to speak more English and gain more confidence doing so. You might befriend some locals that can teach you some cockney rhyming slang!
This post was brought to you by UIC London.