Student Reflections

Boston to London: Exploring a New City

Clara McCourt
May 15, 2023

When I first got to Boston in Fall 2020 for my first semester, I had no clue where to find food, study, or meet friends. I had no idea that streets like Huntington Avenue would turn into hotspots of memories: good, bad, and ugly. Now when I walk down the streets of Boston, I can’t help but settle into my familiar spots and call to mind experiences I had there. That’s why I love going to new places — the unknown can be scary to some, but to me, a new city presents a blank canvas. 

Exploring My Block

Now, I’m adjusting to London just as I adjusted to Boston all of those years ago. So far, I’ve extensively explored my block and found my local pharmacy and grocery store. I found that I am constantly on the move, from class to group outings — my step count tracked on my phone has been off the charts for the past few days. This built-in workout is one of my favorite parts of living in a city — you can explore and exercise at the same time! 

But sometimes, walking is less than fun in tourist-filled areas. I’d compare the area of Big Ben, the London Eye, and Westminster Abbey to a juiced-up Fenway Park directly after a Red Sox game gets out. But to me, navigating crowds is all part of the fun, but isn’t for the faint of heart.


Unlike Boston, London is peppered with places to eat and drink — you can’t go down a city block without passing at least 5 restaurants, pop-ups, bars, and clubs. Gone are the restaurant lines, waits, and reservations of Boston — if you don’t get in one place, you’re sure to get a table at another. My dialogue has been traveling in large groups of 6 or more, and we’ve never had an issue getting a table at a restaurant.

Public Transportation

Public transportation has been another learning process. The London Underground, or the Tube, moves at lightning speed compared to the Green Line back home (Sorry, MBTA!). For me, the T was tough to learn. I was raised taking the subway around New York City, where the whole system lies on a grid and pretty much everything is numbered for your convenience. Boston’s squiggly spider of a transit map was hard to follow, but I had to learn quickly to get around the city. I’m thankful I did, because it made the London Underground a walk in the park. London, like Boston, has a series of overlapping colored transit lines. 

But I have noticed one major difference — Londoners tend to keep the tube quiet. I learned this the hard way, when my tour group was excitedly talking and laughing. We soon realized we were the only ones making noise on a crowded car. I realized that I prefer a quiet train, too.

I hope that one day I look back fondly on my first week in London, remembering how exciting it is to be in a new city for the very first time. Thanks to my time in Boston, I’m not a stranger to city living, but adjusting to life in a whole new place can be confusing, disorienting, and most of all, fun.