I just got back from my first major solo trip and, with the exception of a few hiccups, it was very successful! It was a three day trip to London, England in order to spend some time with one of my best friends from UR as well as see some family that is based around London. The best part about this trip was the feeling of independence that was running through my system the entire time I was flying or on a train. A semester studying abroad has this kind of independence but so far I had travelled with other friends on my program, so I was never truly by myself. They were a welcome crutch to keep me on track and focused. Additionally, when you are traveling with others you can easily split up the responsibility of various legs of the trip between each other. A great example of that was this past fall break with Will and Chris. Each of us were responsible for one of the countries we visited (my responsibility was Prague).
This time around it was just me booking flights and trains. It was a brief trip, only three days, but since I flew into Gatwick Airport (over an hour outside of center city) instead of Heathrow it had its fair share of drama. You don’t realize how reliant you are on having wifi or 4G internet access until it is taken from you. That is exactly what happened to me and it caused me all sorts of issues. However, even with all that everything was going smoothly until I had to catch a 7:30 am flight out of Gatwick Sunday morning. I’m going to summarize this by saying I had to take three different taxis to get there because the train station was closed and I had no other options. I have never been so stressed from travel then I was this Sunday morning. But thanks to Christmas music in my headphones and a refined travel sense (due to the 10 or so other trips I’ve done in the last three months), I managed to stay calm and figure it out. Needless to say, I took a long and deserved nap as soon as I got back into Valencia!
With all that, I think I should probably talk a little bit about my weekend! Matt is one of my closest friends so I was very happy to see him again and spend a weekend in our collective favorite country in Europe. He’s always been an Anglophile for some reason, so we got along pretty quickly, considering my English heritage. This late in the semester he was happy I was visiting because it meant he didn’t have to do all of the cliché touristy stuff like Big Ben and the London Eye. We took a train out to my see my Grandpa Friday morning and see a little bit of a classic small English town, Ipswich. The rest of the trip was spent visiting various small pubs across the city. I couldn’t really have planned a more relaxing weekend in London. As much as I love the city, I would never study abroad there…my god it is an expensive city.
I have only one more trip away from Valencia planned, and this semester has blown by. Next weekend I will be heading to Pisa, Florence, and Rome. I’ve been wanting to see Florence for years so I am already counting down the days. I’m starting to think study abroad goes so fast because mid week is spent looking forward to the trips on the weekend. After this weekend, I only have one more weekend in Valencia. Things are wrapping up here pretty fast so I have to get to that Valencia aquarium (biggest in Europe)!