I will admit, Sophie knew more about trains than I did, but we were both still pretty clueless.
The first hurdle was explaining to people selling the tickets what kind of ticket you wanted - top tip, just tell them where you are going. It seems obvious, but to me it really wasn't. Everyone around us seemed to know exactly what they were doing, so I felt I was expected to confidently saunter up to the desk, look the ticket-seller in the eye and state proudly "adult return ticket to place X please", then at exactly the right moment place the correct amount of money under the metal slidey-thing and leave with my tickets in a short 20 seconds. This is not what happened to Sophie and I...
Each time Sophie and I attempted to ask for tickets, we weren't exactly sure what to say. It didn't help that the windows between us and the ticket-sellers muffled voices on both ends, meaning we spent half the time attempting to lip-read. Prices were also boggling, because it's not like a shop where the final cost appears on the til, instead the ticket-sellers confused us with prices and deals and questions... and one man, for some reason, kept saying "one pound fifty, one pound fifty" - I still have no idea where this number came from or what relevance it had to the tickets we were buying.
Buying tickets from actual people is no where near as hard as buying them from machines. We spent a good 15-20 minutes trying to work these things out. We would go up to one, press a few buttons, get confused and quickly walk away as to not disrupt all the busy commuters. Eventually we worked it out, but I can't remember how - we just sort of managed it.
Finding the right platforms wasn't so hard, a lot of the time we just followed the crowds.
However, at one point we found ourselves swept along in a flurry of fast-paced people, all going towards a train we didn't want to catch. We turned back the other way and awkwardly went against the flow of everyone - I hope we didn't make anyone late.
Sophie pointed out that everyone going that way was wearing black suits, and everyone going our way was wearing much more casual clothing. Perhaps office jobs in London are all crammed in to one small space.
On our way home, two very kind women, on two separate occasions, helped make our journey easier by telling us which trains to catch. If you are lost in London, but are two shy to ask someone for help, just talk about your issues very loudly and someone will overhear and offer advice! On both occasions, Sophie and I were very vocal about our issues, and we were rescued!
After this experience, I think I can pretty much navigate trains. I'm sure it will come in handy as I go to university, and I'm glad I had the issues I did now, rather than later when it really matters!