My five week Easter break started a week ago on Saturday, and as a testament to my first post, “Getting Lost is the Best Way to Find Things,” I ended up getting lost on my way to Hatfield to see my friend Hannah, who studies there at the University of Hertfordshire.
To this day, I still have not acquired a phone here in England. I rely on Wi-Fi and for the most part, it hasn’t let me down. Until last week, that is. Everything was going fine until I reached the London coach station. I went to the receptionist for the Greenline buses and asked him where the bus to Hatfield was. The man looked up at me and said, “The bus doesn’t run on weekends. Sorry.”
My heart dropped to my stomach in panic. I had no idea what the address was for Hannah’s flat. I completely relied on this specific bus stop. I tried to contact Hannah about this unfortunate news but my phone refused to connect to the Wi-Fi provided at the station. To make matters worse, I was carrying a fifty-pound duffle bag with a small handle. Thankfully, it did have wheels. I also had my camera and leather laptop case around my neck. My laptop is fairly large, weighing about 7 pounds. I also had about four books in the laptop bag. Needless to say, I was running out of energy and strength quickly.
I rushed from one station to another, asking questions about where I should go. Most people did not even know where the University of Hertfordshire was. Finally, a woman at the ticket booth took the time to find out where the university was and gave me directions. Although most of what she said sounded like gibberish since I was unfamiliar with all the names, I eventually was able to get to the first place she said I needed to get to: the London underground Victoria line to King’s cross. From there, I went on another expedition to ask everyone the where/what/how details of getting to Hatfield from King’s cross.
I ended up taking a train. My first time on one of the trains was nothing fancy and it was also a bit of a blur. At this point, I was already sweating profusely and my arms were numb with soreness. At the Hatfield station, I was directed to a bus that took me to the university. I told the bus driver that I was meeting a friend there and he asked me a most unexpected, dreadful question: “Which part of the university do you want to get to? Dehav or College?” I literally just stared him. I was ready to fall to my knees and cry. Eventually, I replied, “I don’t know what that is.” The man looked at me pitifully and told me to get on the bus.
The only clue I had for where I was going was when Hannah told me that she was at the library with friends. Out of pure luck, I took the College Lane stop to University of Hertfordshire, where Hannah ended up being. I made my long trek to the library (not that long in retrospect, but extremely long if you’re carrying about 60 pounds of undistributed weight on you). At the library, I had a long chat with security about losing my phone, finding my phone, charging my phone, and eventually to using THEIR phone to call Hannah’s number since I didn’t have a number to call from. She ended up being at the table right in front of security. How she did not see me I have no idea. By the end of the whole fiasco, I made some pretty good friends from security and got to meet Hannah’s friends.
My week stay with Hannah at her university was a funny one, to say the least. Her friends were hilarious, quirky, and dorky just like her. It was great. We played board games, her friend Arturo cooked for us, and we had a late night walk through the forest by campus. Hannah’s friend Liam and I quickly convinced everyone that a walk through the forest was the beginning of every horror film and we should leave. Other than that, we spent most of our time safely in the library, with Hannah and her friends working on their visual effects projects. Their work is truly fascinating and if anyone is interested in 3D animation, visual effects, games art, or 2D animation, University of Hertfordshire appears to be the place to be.
In any case, despite getting so completely lost, having no access to the internet, and having no mobile network, I still survived and made my way safely to Hannah! I know I should have been more prepared. I am very disappointed that I wasn’t as prepared as I usually am when traveling, but I am pretty proud that I was strong enough to carry on and find my way without technology. That’s not to say I didn’t immediately check my phone the minute I got the school’s Wi-Fi password. Our glorious technology makes things wonderful and convenient, but it’s not the end of the world if we don’t have it. I will be more prepared from now on, especially when traveling, but the experience is a good one to blog about!
Take-away message of the day: No matter the obstacles in your way, follow the famous British meme: Keep Calm and Carry On – even if it is 60 pounds you have to carry…