My Travels So Far

Since I’ve been in England, I’ve travelled to many different countries in a short amount of time. For anyone who does want to travel, I recommend booking all of your plane/train tickets and hostels/hotels/Airbnbs far in advance–and by that I mean the first or second week of your arrival. It might not all work out, but this will allow you to find the cheapest tickets and also save you a lot of stress in the coming months. When I first got here, I made an amazing friend named Alexa who has turned into my best friend here in England. She is from California and we planned all of our trips together. My third week here, my best friend from New York, Marissa, came to stay with me for a week and a half. The first weekend she was here, we went to Barcelona, Spain. It was my first trip of my study abroad experience, and by far my favorite. It all felt surreal, and by the time we got back I was ready for more. I’ll post a picture at the end of us in Barcelona eating hot chocolate–yes, eating. Barcelona specialized in tapas and the thickest hot chocolate you’ve ever seen, and they even made it special for me with soy milk.

The second weekend Marissa was here, Alexa joined us on a trip to Amsterdam which was arguably the strangest place we’ve ever been. This trip made me realize how exhausting travelling was. After my four day trip in Barcelona, my birthday during the week, and traveling to multiple places in England, my body was completely done and I ended up falling asleep on a canal cruise before 4 pm. We went back to our Airbnb early and I slept for what felt like an eternity. When I got back to my house in England, I fell asleep again for hours, and had to force myself to get up and take a walk.

During our mid-February break, Alexa and I went to Prague for 4 days and Disneyland Paris for one day, and took the train back to London at night. Prague was the most beautiful city I’ve visited so far, and I honestly felt high on life while I was there. The first day it was warm and sunny, and the second day it snowed. I cannot even put into words how beautiful it was to experience Prague in the snow. I’ll post some pictures of the gorgeous Prague Castle and one of me so you can see how much it actually snowed. After a beautiful day of running around and sightseeing, Alexa and I came home and watched some really old Disney channel movies like Smarthouse and I felt more at home than I had in my whole experience, and Alexa made me laugh so hard I cried. This trip was a huge bonding experience for us and made me realize how lucky I am to have met someone so similar to me who lives on the other side of the United States. We’ve already been to so many countries together and our friendship is the most unique I’ve ever had with someone. On our fourth day in Prague, we got up and started to get ready for our plane ride to Paris. Unfortunately, I caught a terrible stomach bug that messed me up pretty bad for the next few weeks. I had to skip Disneyland Paris, and the train ride(s) back to my house in England took over 5 hours. It was the most miserable experience I’ve had here, but I now know that I can do anything since I’ve done that. I had never been so happy to be in my bed in Surbiton.

The next weekend I was feeling much better and went to Wales with Alexa and our friend Meredith. We had early mornings and days jam packed with activities, which was exhausting but so much fun, and the Wales countryside was breathtaking. On our two and a half hour drive back to England, I did not look at my phone once and just stared at the beautiful sunset over the rolling green hills, and for the first time I felt extremely proud of myself. I allowed my emotions to take over, and realized how much the experience had affected me up until this point.

The next weekend, my dad came to visit and I caught a terrible cold, and my stomach virus relapsed. Somehow, I managed to crawl out of bed everyday and walk 6-7 miles, see Les Mis in the heart of London, and have amazing dinners with him and his girlfriend, Renee. It was strange to see my dad after two months of being abroad, but so good and I felt at home again. He couldn’t stop telling me how proud he was of me and as I lead him around London and Kingston, I felt like I’d been living here for ages. It was a strangely rewarding feeling. After he left, I did not leave my bed for four days, except to go to a doctor all by myself in the town of Teddington, England. Being sick in an emergency clinic in a random town in England made me extremely upset and nervous, and I wished so hard that my mom would just appear out of thin air and hold me. Again, I thought I had gotten the sick over with two weeks before, but it only got worse. I’m now writing this healthy about 4 days after recovering, and I have never felt happier about being healthy and able to exercise and eat again. Being sick during study abroad is the scariest and most upsetting thing that’s happened to me here, and honestly, it will happen to everyone who travels as much as I did. I felt so homesick and helpless during the duration of my sickness, but, again, I feel like I could take on the world after managing to recover in a strange town in a strange house where I felt very alone. I cancelled my trip to Berlin this weekend to allow my body to recover for my upcoming travels, and am catching up on some much needed sleep.

I will be travelling to Scotland, Iceland, and Paris (again) before I leave, and I feel more prepared and more excited than I did for the first few trips. I’ll update everyone after.

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Alyssa Schwartz, an English major and Music minor, is studying at Kingston University in England. She loves to write, and cannot wait to share her upcoming experiences!

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