“In for Amsterdam next weekend?”
“Paris the weekend after?”
“Why not Berlin or Barcelona one of these weekends too, they’re really not even that far away, we can do it.”
And how could I not be? After being stuck (lol) in California for the majority of my life, with a bit of travel to a few different states, and only having once been out of the country to Mexico for a few days, I’m finally here. I’m young, I have money saved up from years of preparing, and I am in a destination hours away from some of the most desired tourist attractions in the world. As someone who has always had a passion for traveling and a strong interest in different cultures, the thought of being able to explore those places that you hear so much about has still yet to cease from engulfing my mind.
Homework? Sleeping? Writing this blog post? Nahhhh, let me look up flights and Airbnb rooms and pictures of cities, because that’s way more fun. Traveling is way more fun than being here. And ultimately, that is why I’m abroad, right?
Having quite quickly developed a solid group of friends who all seem to share that same enthusiasm, and fresh off an amazing day trip to London last weekend, we were ready and more than willing to splurge on all these weekend trips to these destinations.
Saturday morning flights at 4 a.m. to save 20 pounds instead of the Friday night before, or skipping class on a Monday to give us that extra day while avoiding traveling on the more expensive Sunday.
Looking at single bed hotels for our group of 6 because hostels are regularly sold out on weekends (especially when planning this short out).
So many logistics, so much research, all for what would probably end up amounting to a full slate of one tiresome, uncomfortable day per city, per weekend. But it still all seemed so worth it and so necessary. Because we’re in Europe, and have to make the most of every free day, don’t we?
Then, in the midst of a group “research session,” and after what had to have been a few hours of working on our Amsterdam trip, and trying to find the perfect situation that simply didn’t seem to exist only a week and a half in advance, my friend Daniel from Texas A&M decided to say something.
“Hey guys, why don’t we just focus on exploring the UK on these weekends, and then worry about the rest of Europe when we get our 5 week break in April. I mean, we all decided to go to the school in England for a reason, didn’t we?”
What was first met by a consensual silence and a clear “OK, do what you want bro, I don’t want to waste my time here” vibe from the rest of us, eventually lead to a realization that he was 100 percent right. Why drop all that money to go back and forth to all these cities around Europe, when in April we get all this time off anyway (yes, they really get almost five weeks off for Easter). Then, we can really take our time visiting these places of interest, bouncing from point to point, planning everything out beforehand, and saving tons of money in the process.
But perhaps more importantly, this new strategy will allow us to really just sit back and enjoy our weekends here in the UK, while also finding ways to better understand the lifestyle here.
We can get invested fully in the University culture.
Play some cricket.
Go out to clubs and pubs, because us 20 year olds actually can here.
Have a Guinness.
Go to a few soccer games and see what that’s like.
Get really cold.
Meet some British people.
Make some connections with some British people.
Develop an accent.
Eat some fish and chips.
Visit Scotland a few times.
Get really really cold.
Head out to Wales to explore that sort of forgotten area.
Drink some tea.
The United Kingdom is oozing with culture and tradition, and I can’t let that be forgotten in the shuffle of looking forward to all of these exciting attractions throughout the rest of Europe. We’ll get there eventually, and my anticipation for that is no less. However, I made a decision to go to school in England, and it would be a shame if I was never able to slow down, look around, and actually experience what it’s like to live in this amazing place.
Because ultimately, as I now realize, that is why I’m abroad, and I know I’m right about that.
WITH ALL THAT BEING SAID, during that period where we were going crazy planning all these trips, we did give in and commit to a four-night trip to Iceland the first week of March. So yes, the UK culture is the main objective from here until April I promise. But hey, Iceland is cool too lol.
See you on the 23rd with my next post that will focus more on some impressions of this place, along with a few difficulties that I’ve come across adjusting to life across the pond!
Davis Elgin is a second year applied mathematics major. He is studying at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom for the entire spring semester.