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Letters from abroad

Letters from a broad features letters from Mills women who are currently studying away from Mills. This week we have another letter from Michelle Ma, English major, Journalism minor. Michelle is studying journalism in London.

Londoners-or maybe the English in general, I really don't know-have a very strange relationship with distance. Which is to say, everything in London is actually down the street or around the corner from each other, but no one can tell because everyone just takes the Underground.

For instance, we once had a guest lecturer in one of my journalism classes. I don't remember his name or what he talked about, which just goes to show you the value of your college education. Anyway, after his lecture, we took a break, and the professor said he would put the guest lecturer in his car and drive him to the closest Tube station, Gloucester, because it was "rather a long walk."

The Gloucester Tube Station was about a ten minute walk away.

It's beginning to affect me as well. I spoke to a friend who's studying with a different program (one in which she actually interacts with British people, unlike me), and she told me that she walks to her classes every day. She lives on Oxford St., near the Marble Arch Tube Station; her classes are near Russell Square. Google a map of London, I can't be bothered to tell you any more than that.

"You walk that distance every day?" I said incredulously. "But it's so far!"

"It's about a mile and a half," she said. "It takes about half an hour."

"It can't only be a mile!"

"It's a mile and a half," she corrected me.

"It can't only be a mile and a half!"

So on and so forth. Things just look so much farther apart on the map here. Then you walk the distance and discover that Piccadilly Circus is only a ten minute walk from Oxford Circus. Circus, in case you're wondering, seems to mean something along the lines of "insanely busy intersection and/or square." Piccadilly Circus is much more interesting than Oxford Circus. There are very bright advertisements. It kind of reminds me of Japan.

The ability to walk from one Tube station to the next boggles my mind. You can't really walk from one BART station to the other, can you? Well, maybe you can, but you might get shot or run over by a car or offered drugs or suddenly find a freeway barring your progress.

But I just bought a discounted monthly Travelcard, which gives me the ability to take the bus or the Underground as many times as I want in one month for the low, low rate of 60 pounds. I may quite possibly never walk ever again, which is kind of a shame because I like walking. I like looking at the shops. I like looking at the architecture. I like the eternal challenge of crossing the street without going under the wheels of a double decker red bus. I am a born pedestrian.

Then it rains and I dart for the nearest Tube station.


Michelle Ma