Shege: (Informal) A Nigerian term used to describe extreme and unpleasant situations or circumstances. I saw shege today. (Urban Dictionary).
Caught a 7 hour train from Aberdeen to London because the biggest Chevening Event that basically takes all year to plan, was calling, and I could never snooze on that.
Shege 1- OMOOOO!
After seven hours on the train, I really just wanted to get to my destination. I had earlier booked a hotel that was 26 (or so) minutes away from Kings Cross Train Station. The plan was to get a train to my hotel. Rest the night. Wake Up early the next day. Checkout the riverside by the hotel. Then head over to Chevening orientation. Great plan, I always have the perfect plan before omo decides to intermeddle. (Omo- an expression meaning a lot of things, this one means the topsy turvies of life, the unknown).
First time at Kings Cross, I was basically going with the wind and checking my map all through. Finally located the underground train platform. Hopped on a train, hopped out, hopped on another, hopped off again, I was a hopper for almost two hours because omo! I knew my location, they (the maps) said that was the way, then why were there many stops and many train changes? And why in God’s great name is a 26 min ride taking two hours? At a point I think I did get lost once or twice. Like I said, first time. Apparently my location was 56 mins away in reality. We all know online is filtered reality, but did you know that online times are that too? And that the distance you order for will not be the distance you get. Very plastic.
Shege 2- TO HOTEL OR NOT TO HOTEL?
When I arrived at the location of my hotel, without even seeing the place, I knew I wasn’t lasting long there. It was giving the absolute ghetto! (Okay I may have exaggerated a bit). In itself it wasn’t so bad. But the distance!
Because you can’t have it all bad in this life, I was blessed with an angel who housed me for the three more days I stayed in London. Hawa is a Chevening alumni from Nigeria and she is now my sister and my information plug. She is the darling.Donate
I had a new place to stay and I didn’t have to be alone. I was happy, the implication though was that I had to leave my location with my luggages. I honestly don’t know what I was thinking but I had carried a trail of baggage. A small box, big handbag and a smaller sling one. It would have been fine if they weren’t so heavy. So that was how yours truly dashed her riverside early morning viewing plan to head out early because I was going to the orientation with the boxes to meet Hawa then head to her place.
Shege 3- EXHAUSTED AT ExCel
The ride to ExCel London where the orientation will take place was meant to take 38 minutes but apparently it was a filtered, botoxed, social media, Karsashian time. Coupled with my train hopper-ation, it took me roughly three hours to get to ExCel. At a point in time I had travelled so much and was so sure I was close I was ready to take a cab the rest of the way. Then I asked someone and I could see it in his face that my cluelessness was at the least pitiful. ‘ExCel Centre? Where the exhibitions take place? That ExCel?. That’s like 40 minutes away. It is so far ahead” Omooooooo! Registration was ending in less than 30 min. He told me a route. I thanked him. Dragged my stuff back to the station, checked back in and located a new train. I was lucky to have got on the right one because it took me straight to Custom House. By that time, I was about 15minutes late, I was exhausted, I was dragging my baggage with a hand that felt so distended I could sworn it wasn’t mine, I was seeing shege in its daylight form. NB- As a social media ambassador I was meant to cover the event so it was not funny that I was late despite setting out early. I am just glad I missed only 15 minutes. (And group pictures, sigh!)
The only upside really which is a good upside was that I looked gooood in my green and white (repping Naija ) ankara gown and my Mama Africa headgear, I am glad that at least all that drip went around London Underground (and then some) to bless the people with a view.
At this point, I was getting a hang of it. I came to London alone and was touring alone becauseh I wanted to have an adventure, but also to challenge myself to test my adaptation capacity. More challenges ahead! I went to a few places alone, like the Tower and London bridges and I am glad I did, my previous travel and getting lost expedition helped with me being self-reliant.
SHEGE 4- TRAINED FOR TRAIN
The rest of my stay was largely uneventful. I felt like I had gotten a hang of it. So when I was leaving for Southampton, I casually noted my bus and train times, departing train name and platform and strolled out in time to catch my bus and head to the train station. I got on the train to take me to the closest location to Waterloo station and just chilled in. I gave a cursory glance at my phone to ensure I was on track but well, it was blank… lack of service. I was on the underground train, there is no service on the underground train. I was using Google Maps which needed a strong network to track my progress so I could know where to alight and which connecting train to get on. I had not taken a screenshot of my ride routes. Basically, I was in deep ….
And I thought I had trained well for the train, I thought I was qualified to write ”Train Rides Through London for Dummies and Cheveners Going Solo (which is basically the same as dummies)” Key thing to note: always take screenshots of your routes before going underground because no network service.
I had to get off at Kings Cross, it was the only familiar name, and it was a 10 mins walk away from Waterloo station, I could surely manage that, surely. I walked up those stairs, on and off the elevator and escalator and every elevating medium to reach the top only to discover that I had to go back down through all the depressing (literally depressing) platforms because my map lied to me that Waterloo was 10 mins walk away from Kings Cross, it was wayyyy longer distance than that.
This time though, I was sensible enough to check two routes and save the screenshots of all the stops and times and places and trains before burrowing back underground. I made it on my train to Southampton with a minute to spare. A minute!!!!
Lessons to be learned? Don’t be like me, discover London with a guide and enough battery life to not have a nervous breakdown in the train station in the middle of nowhere. I didn’t do that but boy was I tempted.
I hope you will learn a thing or two from my misfortune.
Have you ever been to a foreign place for the first time and you had to deal with their foreign system? How did you cope? What’s the story? Gist us?!!!