When I thought about my study abroad experience before coming to England, I pictured going to class during the week, and casually jaunting off to exotic European locals where I enjoyed stress free travel, local cuisines, and explored artsy neighborhoods. Fast forward almost three months later, and here I am, on the cusp of embarking on hands down THE most complicated trip I have ever considered doing.
I have a month long holiday between the Lent and Summer terms. When I was first told that, I thought “What in the world am I going to do with all that time.” Well. Let me tell you, I have had NO trouble filling it up. Saturday I will leave to start the European tour of a lifetime. Over the next 29 days I will visit:
Dublin, Lancaster, Edinburgh, London, Birmingham, Barcelona, Rome, Venice, Vienna, Prague, Munich, Fussen (an extension of Munich?), and Paris. Now, as you might imagine, a lot goes into planning a trip like this.
For example, as a study abroad student, currently living in the UK, in the possession of an American credit card, causes quite a few problems. Euro rail does not like me. My train tickets have already traveled to as many countries as I had, before I came to England.
Then there’s the matter of accommodation, word to the wise, don’t accidentally book your hotel for Valentines day, when you really mean April 14th. Also, don’t visit a city during an international construction convention, as you will soon discover the prices will be roughly 3 times the normal rate (it would also be best to note that maybe you ought to book your train tickets, at the same time as your accommodation so that it is more flexible. But then that raises the age old chicken or the egg question. As one of them must be booked first.)
After you’ve booked your hotels, and your trains, make sure that you can get from the hotel to the train station in time to make your next train. Otherwise, you’ll be left awkwardly conversing with a German taxi driver about how much it would cost to get a taxi from small town Deutschland to the Munich Hauptbahnhof at 4am.
After you think you’ve booked everything possible, you have your credit card number memorized (but you still haven’t managed to remember your phone number…so awkward moments still abound. “Its not that I don’t WANT to give you my number, its just I don’t have the slightest clue what it is.”), and have yelled at every single travel based website on the planet, you then discover that you arrive in a city, and yes you have a place to stay in said city. But you don’t know how to move from the train to the place you are staying.
It is at this point in time I would like to say, Google Maps you are the greatest thing to ever happen to the world. The Public Transportation button, AND the walking directions button, are my favorite buttons in the world (well, its actually a toss up between them and the Celsius to Fahrenheit conversion button, and the *country of destination’s currency* to US dollars conversion button.) They explain so much, and are so helpful in orienting yourself.
I have spent countless hours not writing essays and planning for this trip so that when I step off the train/ferry/plane and I am surrounded by people speaking different languages, and signs that I don’t know what they mean, the urge to cry and go home is less strong.
I don’t know how well I’ll do with updating this while I’m gone…but I’ll do my best, and in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night!