I grew up in a town with a population of less than 5,000 people. The nearest city only had a 20,000 population. By comparison, Harlow has about 82,000 people and London has over 8,000,000. I never really knew what it was like to live in a big city until my semester abroad.
It only makes sense that with more people come more problems. Considering the increase of population, the fact that only 3 things happened is not really that bad. Besides, there are lots of lovely people in England (like the people who helped give us directions every time we were lost), and the place is beautiful and full of interesting things. And at least there was no full-on riot, like that one time last summer…
1. The Car/Bar Fire. I mentioned last time that our campus was in proximity of 3 bars. One night someone decided to light a car on fire, which was parked next to one of the bars. There was fire damage to the car and to the side of the building, but the fire didn’t spread that much. It was scary because of the proximity to our campus, but I don’t think the damage was enough to even shut down the bar for an evening.
2. The Train Confrontation. In England you’re allowed to drink in the streets. This can be a good thing and a bad thing. Still, considering the sheer amount of people in London at any given time, encountering only 1 crazy drunk person was good odds. A bunch of my classmates were getting on the train to go back to Harlow and one of them accidentally hit a guy with his backpack. This would have been okay, but the guy was drunk and took that as an invitation to try to start a fight. The good thing is that my classmate was very calm and didn’t let himself be provoked (another good thing was that there were about 10 of us from the class in the train so we totally would have outnumbered the drunk guy and his 3 friends). When the classmate couldn’t be provoked into a fight, the drunk guy backed off. Lesson: stay calm and carry on.
3. The Gang Fight. This I heard about second-hand, but it happened. Two gangs from neighbouring towns met in Harlow and a fight ensued. I think it was actually in front of the bar that had the car fire – we’ll call this one the Trouble Bar. This was the scariest thing that happened, but it was an anomaly. Nothing like this had happened the year before or the year after – it was just one of those things. This was also years ago, before everyone had a cell phone that could take pictures and record stuff. These days something like that probably wouldn’t happen (at least, not so publicly).
So yeah, travelling can be scary some times, but if you keep a level head and use your brains it can be okay. And then you’ll end up with a story that you can’t tell your parents but all your friends will be interested in.