Packing my suitcase for my internship in London was a daunting task. I’m pretty particular about shoes, and I realized I would need the perfect shoes for literally every occasion, whether it was working, sightseeing, going out or just random wandering.

My final inventory included Birkenstocks, sandals, sneakers, and black ballet flats. I also had a pair of cheap four-inch heels that I decided would transform me from a frumpy college student into a polished adult. I figured my impressive stockpile would afford me enough variety to meet any surprises London could throw my way.

I spent my first couple of days in London sightseeing, and my Birkenstocks served me well. I wandered around Southwark for hours with no pain or discomfort, including exploring the several, breathtaking floors of the Tate Modern, whose beauty deserves its own post.

As tempted as I was to wear my beloved Birkenstocks to the first day of my internship, I instead opted to wear the cheap heels, determined to appear the ultimate, classy adult. That was a grave mistake.

Shakespeare-mural-Southwark

Within ten minutes of leaving my apartment, the backs of my feet were completely torn up. I was keenly aware of my status as the ignorant foreigner as I passed local women wearing flats and low slingbacks. I hobbled off the Tube and managed to limp to a pharmacy to buy some bandages. After dipping discreetly into an alley to stick them on, I tried to continue walking as nonchalantly as I could.

Unfortunately the heels continued to shred my feet, with the bandages barely clinging on for the ride, completely failing to offer any protection. Fortunately, when I got to work my new boss took pity on me and actually bought me some flip flops because my feet looked so pathetically painful. Needless to say, from now on I’ll be wearing flats.

So, the moral of the story: when in London, wear comfortable shoes. I’ve learned it’s perfectly possible to look like a professional, competent adult in flats. The amount of walking required in London along with the busy, often cobbled streets can be a recipe for disaster in the wrong shoes. Surrender those stilettos if you want to avoid bloody chaos.