I was overcome with a sense of sheer excitement coupled with joy when I realized that I would be travelling to UK for the first time. In fact, the excitement kept me awake for days before the trip. Finally, after weeks of anticipation, I boarded the plane on October 10 and reached London the same day at around 6.30 pm local time, after a long flight of 9 hours.
Just before arrival, a plethora of thoughts started running inside my head, from the first scene of the Bollywood movie Cocktail which showed an aerial view of London at night with all the glittering lights, to all the videos of London which I had seen on Youtube. I had difficulty believing that I was about to land in London, a city which had enchanted me for so long.
My first destination was Winchester, where I was to present a paper “Cost and Benefit Analysis of an Optimum Currency Area” in a conference organized by the University of Southampton. So, the next day, I started early morning for Winchester, which was the ancient capital of England during the medieval ages. I boarded my coach from Victoria Station in London, it takes about one and a half hours to reach Winchester. The bus was exceptionally comfortable, unlike my usual bus rides. Winchester is a cute little city. It has a small river flowing through its middle with lush green gardens on both sides and small cottages across the gardens.
Mesmerized by Winchester’s beauty, I set out for the Winchester Bussiness School. I met and interacted with delegates from all parts of the world. As a decorated soldier I played my part and gave a presentation. There were discussions on various topics. It was truly an enlightening experience. After two days of the conference, I headed back to London.
I arrived late afternoon and decided to go to the Trafalgar Square. It is a beautiful city center commemorating the Battle of Trafalgar. It has beautiful and striking statues and fountains. It is a popular gathering place. I spent the whole evening exploring the area and listening to songs sung by a local band right in the square. That was my first proper London experience which was quite amazing.
The next notable experience was the boat ride on the Thames, starting from the Tower Bridge to the Big Ben. The forty five minute on the two storey boat was a unique experience. I sat on the upper deck, and the view of the city was breathtaking. I saw most parts of Central London including Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London Eye and many more. The boat also goes under the famous London Bridge and Millennium Bridge.
Another amazing experience was my visit to Hyde Park. It’s refreshing to see such a vast green space right within the city and an example how we can grow with nature. There is also an interesting area within the park known as the speaker’s corner where public debates take place on various topics. A person stands on a small tool and debates on a predefined topic where everybody is allowed to speak.
During my trip, I travelled by Metro, the famous London Underground. This gave me a chance to know more about the locals and the city. The streets are remarkably clean and the people are more than willing to answer your queries and help you. A sense of discipline and moral consciousness is embedded inside every citizen which is reflected in the small acts of the public at large. You cannot even think of a situation where somebody would break the line and bypass a queue. The city is also under heavy surveillance, where even if you throw a paper on the road you will be caught. But there is civic sense amongst all that keeps it so clean.
After a weeklong exploration, I returned to India on the October 18 with priceless memories and learning. I fulfilled a long standing desire of visiting London and I hope to use the positive experiences to lead a better life.
By Akash Baruah
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