TRAVEL: London showed me how traveling alone can be fun

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Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the London Eye are all spectacular places to visit, but for my first day, I decided to roam the streets and see what I could find. (Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)

Last week, I traveled to Isla Mujeres in Quintana Roo, Mexico, but this week I moved my way across the pond to London.

This time, I was all alone.

I traveled here by myself to meet my sister who lives in Gravesend, England, a smaller suburb very close to London.

International travel seems intimidating at first, but it’s a task many can handle. Just have a good sense of direction, do plenty of research and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

I enjoy traveling alone. It almost feels freeing — I cam make whatever choices I want for whatever I needed to do.

In my earlier years of travel, I usually traveled with a large group of five to seven people, and in my opinion, that is where it gets more stressful. Without the worry of four to six other people to keep in touch with, I only had to care and worry for myself.

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Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the London Eye are all spectacular places to visit, but for my first day, I decided to roam the streets and see what I could find. (Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)

Many public transit options are also very safe, with a lot of security checkpoints and friendly staff. In all, going on an adventure on your own isn’t as scary as you would think.

Most of my struggles included picking places to go while I’m by myself. Just today, I had no idea what I would do after going to the London Camera Exchange and purchasing more film for my camera.

The train ride back into London was around 55 minutes long, and once I reached Charing Cross Train Station, multiple cabs drove up ready for new passengers.

I then grabbed a cab and headed toward the Punch Bowl pub. Lunch there was delicious, but I had work to do.

I researched all of the local camera shops and made sure to walk as much as I could around Soho, the name for a part of the West End of London.

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Cars and pedestrians pass by in the shady streets of London. (Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)

I then decided to take in the city at a more local level rather than focus on all the tourist attractions. In short, I loved it.

Drinking in the noise, daily hustle and overall ambience of downtown London was fantastic. In the past, when I traveled to big cities, we always made sure to visit the tourist attractions first. I’m glad I took a different approach this time.

I felt like I was part of the town, walking around with my simple camera and snagging pictures in the middle of busy streets with hundreds of pedestrians, taxis and buses all moving organically around me.

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Pedestrians walk in the shade of tall buildings on a hot day in London. (Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)

I passed fashionable business women and men, not people in fanny packs and Union Jack hats. I moved through Hyde Park while locals moved about to grab a late lunch after regular lunch hours were over.

I rode the trains in and out of downtown as though I fit in seamlessly; it was such a unique experience to me.

Although the pure bliss of local London was beautiful today, tomorrow I plan to conquer the busier tourism centers. You can’t visit London without seeing Big Ben, now can you?

Olivia Bergmeier is a sophomore in journalism and mass communications. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

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