a little nervous about arrival in uk

Old Sep 15th, 2000, 09:16 PM
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a little nervous about arrival in uk

i have posted a few questions on this forum before, all in attempts to answer my questions about living in durham, england during the next school year. people have been so nice and helpful that i thought i'd try once more...

i am an american student who will be studying there and i am leaving in 2 weeks. the closer it gets, the more nervous i am becoming. so, i a have a few questions- any responses would be much appreciated.

first off, any suggestions for calming my nerves? do i have any reason to be nervous? i'm not stupid, and i have been trying to educate myself as much as possible, but i have never been to europe and so i feel like i am walking into the situation a little blind.

secondly, suggestions on what i can do to make myself blend in as much as possible? necessity dictates that i carry an obnoxious red suitcase and i'll have a backpack... but don't worry, no fanny pack here (or bum bag, i guess for instance, i've heard practically everyone wears black- is this true? and i'm bringing my laptop- anyone have creative ideas for making your laptop bag look like something else? or should i just leave extra room in my back pack and hide it there when i arrive? (but i'm a little nervous about not having it within my sight).

and thirdly, my travel plans are that my plan is to land on a fri at 9:05am. i am then planning on taking the piccadilly line to kings cross station and from there catching a train north to durham. i have read other posters who have run into lots of unforseen problems during this sort of route. does anyone see any possible glitches in my plan? for example, is it going to be hard for me to find the train station once i get off of the tube at kings cross? and also, i know people can become annoyed when individuals are traveling with luggage... by the time i leave heathrow at say 11am on friday, how bad are the crowds on the tubes? a friend told me that i might avoid annoying too many people since heathrow is sort of the end/beginning of the line. is this true?

one last thing i just thought of- ideas on how much a train ticket from kings cross to durham might cost? (or websites?) i've been to a few of the websites that others have mentioned in seperate posts, they've had timetables and stuff, but i can't find actual prices. i'm planning on buying my ticket that day, but i'd like to have a ballpark figure.

i'm sorry if this comes across as me being a complete ditz. i promise i'm not... i've just never done this before. and definately never done this by myself. thanks much, in advance.
Old Sep 15th, 2000, 09:48 PM
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I just wanted to say that it is perfectly normal to feel nervous before a major step such as this. I wish I was so brave that I had tried to go away to college in another country! I can't help too much on anything else, as I haven't been to England yet. I'm sure others will have better tips for you.

Hope you have fun!
Old Sep 16th, 2000, 12:09 AM
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Hi Lisa,

It's been a couple years since I was last in London but each time, I've had very good experiences with it all.

The Heathrow loop is pretty much where the Picadilly line starts... Baggage is *supposed* to be left at the front of the car. Nowadays, with theft and such, some may not recommend this but I never had a problem doing so. Be oriented (i know there are terrific tube maps on the net) as to where you need to get off for Kings Cross. It's not very difficult to find though.
Dont worry bout annoying people, as most people from the terminals will have their baggage as well... The center of London at the end of the work day on friday would be a LOT worse!

Being nervous is expected, but let it turn into excitement as opposed to anxiety... you're going to have an amazing time there.
And even if you are nervous (I still never forget every time coming out of the tube into London...what a great city)...
You are doing something great for yourself... taking care of you.
10 years from now, you will remember this as one of the best times of your life (as I do, to this day... look back at myself the first time i was there)

Fitting in... travelers always worry about that... most people have thought about that to some extent.
(I consider travel a drama club.. a very large drama club.)
You are a student, which right there helps you fit in quite a bit...
As for dress and the like...
About the laptop bag, I don't know.
Dressing... yes, I've heard that black is in (i leave for paris next week) throughout Europe. People do tend to dress nicely.

Bottom line I guess.. Dont create expecations or worries...just let yourself relax and let things happen...
and they will happen nicely for you.
One thing in mind... staying a nite or 2 in london would be really nice before venturing to Durham if possible.
London is one city that I would move to in a heartbeat, no questions asked.
As for the prices of your ticket... and should point you in the right direction.

Have fun!!
til the next
Old Sep 16th, 2000, 03:05 AM
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I'm sure you're going to have a great time, and from my advanced years suggest that you stop trying so hard. Be yourself. Remember Polonius' advice to Laertes. "Unto thine own self be true, and thus it followeth as the night the day, thou canst not be untrue to any other man". Or Something.

You have no reason to be nervous. People like people and it matters not a damn where they are from.

Do what makes you comfortable with your luggage. See, I'm old and grizzly and don't give a stuff what other people (certainly strangers) think of me. So, if you want to carry your laptop in a laptop carry case, do so.

On the cross London thing, the route you have chosen is without doubt the most direct but there might be an easier (if more expensive)way. And I can feel the Ben haines; Nigel Doran diatribes beginning now. Sorry guys.

Instead of taking the tube, take the Heathrow Express. It's dearer; £13 or thereby from memory. And it doesn't go to King's Cross. It goes to Paddington. But it's bigger, cleaner, has better seats and plenty space for luggage. It also only takes 15 minutes. When you get there take a cab to the right terminal at King's Cross. Again, more money, but you will be where you want to be and not at the bottom of an escalator along way from a destination you are unsure of. I wouldn't (actually I might, if were luggage laden); but then I've been flying in and out of Haethrow for years.

Lastly, whilst I am helpfully going on holiday from the 3rd till the 19th of October, if you e-mail me direct I'll give you all my numbers and you can call if there's anything problematic you want to talk about.

Old Sep 16th, 2000, 04:35 AM
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Hi Lisa

I live and work in London, if you want to ask any questions about the specifics of things just e-mail me, I'll be happy to help you. I'm in my mid 20's so if you want to ask about fashion and the stuff that younger women worry about I should be able to help

Its perfectly OK to be nervous, I'm sure you will be fine. The Net is an excellent research tool.

Just quickly, the tube will still be busy when you leave Heathrow but it shouldn't be rush-hour busy, especially not at Heathrow, where nearly everyone will have luggage. Believe me, you wont stand out The Heathrow Express is quicker but I don't know how troublesome the transfer is from the Express to the Circle line, which would take you to Kings X. If you get the Piccadilly line its a LONG journey, probably close to an hour, but at least you wont have the hassle of transfers with luggage. has the best train routes and schedules IMHO and has good tube maps which you can download. However, Gary has a good point about staying in London for a night or 2.

Old Sep 16th, 2000, 06:04 PM
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thanks much for all the suggestions... in response to you a few of your ideas- i can't stay in london because friday night is the beginning of activities for the international students at the university of durham. when i purchased my plane ticket, i decided that i would rather just get to my destination asap and spend time in london some other time. i don't know if that was a good choice or bad... but what's done is done, and i should get to durham on friday evening.

the idea of taking the heathrow express is tempting, but in my estimation, it will take just as long to get to kings cross (after getting off, finding a taxi, etc.) as taking the tube straight there. does this seem true?

as for my clothing questions, to me it's not necessarily being fashionable that i'm worried about. i just want to be as inconspicuous (sp?) as possible. i know that i'm going to be tired and i'll have my guard down cause i won't be entirely sure of what is going on. anything i can do to make myself less of a target is what i'm trying to accomplish. that's why i asked about the laptop- computer bags are such open advertisements of what is inside.

i tried both the and websites, but i still couldn't find prices. i'll check that last one that karen mentioned and see what happens.

again- thank you thank you thank you! just hearing your words of reassurance has helped a lot.
Old Sep 16th, 2000, 07:45 PM
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Lisa, if it makes you feel any better, my first solo visit to the UK involved the very itinerary you are planning, Heathrow by tube to Kings Cross and train to Durham. It really wasn't difficult. The first hassle will be at the entrance to the tube station at Heathrow. There will be luggage carts strewn all around and scores of people who have never been to London before, milling around the ticket machines, trying to figure out how to use them. Helpful to have the exact change for the 6 zone single ticket to get you to Kings Cross. Or go to the ticket window. On the tube you should be able to sit close enough to your red suitcase for it to be safe. It is pretty obvious how to get to the Kings Cross rail station from the tube station. You do not need to go outside; a wide staircase goes up into the left hand side of the terminal lobby. Tracks straight ahead behind a huge schedule board, ticket sales to the left. You can find ticket prices at You can actually buy tickets on this site, which you could pick up at Kings Cross. That might save you money but would add another worry, because you would have to pick a specific train time, and therefore have to take into account possible flight delays. etc.

The station in Durham is maybe 1 km to the centre of Durham, where the university and cathedral are. It wasn't a difficult walk- the destination is always in sight- but a cab would be cheap.

Have a wonderful year,


Old Sep 17th, 2000, 02:53 AM
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Since your concern is safety on the trip from the airport to the university in Durham, I'll add or repeat the following suggestions. With regard to the laptop: I recommend that you put it (case and all) into the backpack or into a separate, small, old backpack. Then, secure the backpack zippers in some way (e.g., those little key chains with ball-and-pin links)-- just something to make it more than an unzip to get inside. That is what I do when I travel with mine on business. If space is a problem, then move some of the less valuable backpack contents into the exposed laptop case, and put the "naked" laptop into the backpack. My only other recommendation is that you wear substantial shoes (e.g., light hiking boots) for the trip from the airport to Durham; potential pick-pockets do look at a person's footwear to size them up, and if it looks like a kick in the shins would really hurt, you are a less likely target. After the flight over, you will probably be looking pretty rough, and the rougher the better; clothes won't matter unless they are deliberately outlandish.
Old Sep 17th, 2000, 04:27 AM
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Good Luck Lisa - don't be nervous, at least we speak the same language as you do over there (well, almost!) A good place to find out prices for trains and times (doesn't cover tube times though) is You need to register with them to get the prices but its free to do that and you don't have to buy the ticket at the end of it.
Old Sep 17th, 2000, 05:36 AM
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I was an overseas student in the uk 3 years ago, and was excited about my journey out of LHR. I think the idea using Heathrow express and cab to King X is preferrable to Piccadily Line to King X station, because this line is so deep and need long escalators to move your lugguage.
Gytha has pointed you to the site you really need, and i would advise you to buy a return trip fare for your train to Durham, because on Friday it is the most expensive day to travel by train, and the one-way or rtn fares are comparable, and you can use for a london explore up to one month.
Enjoy your time.
Old Sep 17th, 2000, 05:50 AM
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Quick question-regarding the tube,when you insert your ticket dont you also retrieve it? It comes out when you exit. Is this important for her to know or not relevant! Just a concerned parent-who has not been to London in a few years.
Old Sep 17th, 2000, 07:44 AM
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Enjoy your time in the UK - it will be an experience you will remember fondly forever. I work with students and many do a year abroad and it's the best thing ever for the vast majority of them. That said, I'd really recommend the Heathrow Express to Paddington and then a cab to Kings Cross. Less hassle even if it costs a bit more. Also, less "watching" out for your luggage and personal belongings since you will have jet lag. The excitement factor will help you, but you can get caught off guard if you are not used to the method of doing things. Start the trip off the "easy" way, when you are used to your surroundings and comfortable you can travel about more cheaply when you go around in the UK. It will be a wonderful year for you, and it is normal to be a bit nervous, but relax and enjoy!
Old Sep 17th, 2000, 08:09 AM
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Everyone has something to offer don't they? Here's my 2 cents. I travel alone a lot, (to study in London in college). If there's one thing that I am willing to fork over extra cash for its taxis when I arrive in a new city. you have been given really clear instructions about Heathrow and King's Cross. I don't think you can factor how tired/overwhelming you may feel when faced with pulling your luggage around an unfamiliar place, trying tos tay alert to directions, people etc.. So....I'd take a taxi from the airport to King's Cross.Yeah it will cost about 40$, but,
someone else will be navigating for you while you're in a car just watching. No worries about the right stop, transfer, keeping your luggage, going up and down esclators. King's Cross is a big place, (and St. Pancras is right there too). A taxi can drop you right at the TRAIN part of the station, tell you where to go. You'd be able to figure King's Cross out, but remember, you'll be tired and unfamiliar with stuff. You'll be a veteran soon enough, make arrival as easy as you can.
Old Sep 17th, 2000, 08:56 AM
A Local
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Not sure about the $40 from LHR to King's Cross. I don't have an exact figure, but it will be closer to £50, which is about 75$. There's a risk that it will cost even more if you are visibly foreign, tired and inexperienced at travelling in the UK (if you follow my drift). Do yourself a favour and take the train or tube.
Old Sep 17th, 2000, 09:47 AM
Posts: n/a is the central booking site for train tickets in the UK. It gives prices and times. The earlier you book, the cheaper it is. You may need an address to which tickets can be sent in the UK (as I live here, it's not an issue).

Black? Many of us are pretty drab, but black is hardly de rigeur! Using public transport and looking like a student will be about as normal as you can get!

If you want to save money, you could go by bus ...
Old Sep 17th, 2000, 11:49 AM
Tony Hughes
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Lisa - good advice from all. However, don't get so hung up on the 'wearing black' thing - no-one in Britain gives a stuff, we dont, as a nation, go out of our way to wear black. It's a myth perpetrated by foreigners and/or black clothes salespeople (not clothes salespeople that are black!)

I dont know anyone who wears black consistantly, I certainly dont go to work in a black shirt with a black tie bring some 'coloured' clothing and you will blend in just fine!
Old Sep 18th, 2000, 03:06 PM
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Just my poor 2 cents to reassure you, Lisa. Two of my very dearest friends of 30+ years grew up very close to Durham. It's a wonderful place full of wonderfully nice people. Enjoy the differences of your experience rather than trying to "fit in so well." Part of the joy of travel is being able to recognize the differences and similaries between us Americans and citizens of other parts of the world and to find acceptance and humor at the same time. Have a great time.
Old Sep 18th, 2000, 08:10 PM
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just wanted to say thank you to each of you that took your time to repsond to my post. your words of encouragement have helped a lot. for now, i have decided to stick to my original plan of taking the tube from heathrow to kings cross. knowing me, i'll change my mind at least 10 times before i even get on the plane... i guess we'll just see what happens!
Old Sep 18th, 2000, 09:59 PM
Old Girl
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I know nothing of Durham but I have been to England many times.I find the Brits really friendly and helpful and if you slap a smile on your face, you are sure to have no problems. A young fellow who was attending Durham University and was in the choir at the cathedral used to correspond with me but when he found out how ancient I am, he stopped writing. He was 22. Name is Robert Woodford. Maybe you can find him. Seemed like a nice lad. Good luck in your new venture. I am on my way to England tomorrow. All the best.
Old Sep 19th, 2000, 10:49 PM
Nigel Doran
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My advice would be to take the tube from Heathrow, take your time, get to Kings Cross and then buy a single ticket to Durham. Just ask for the cheapest one at the counter. Then you can be sure you are not having to rely on your plane getting in on time etc. to catch an Apex-style train ticket.
Another idea would be to get the cheapest return ticket (costing just a little more than a single {single means one way}) and use the return portion to visit London within a month. That would then mean you would need a ticket to get back to Durham, but you will have had time by then to get your own address for tickets to be delivered too and will have been able to get a student rail card for further discounts. is the place to go.

Don't be too phased when the ticket costs ££! Just remember that once you are settled you can chase the bargains a lot easier.

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