It’s crazy to think my first trip abroad began in the Summer of 2016. I’ve learned a lot since then, and my writing style has changed significantly in the past few years. Perhaps that’s why it’s so fun to look back at this story and see how much life has changed. For your enjoyment, in all it’s chaotic glory:
Mind The Gap: My First Trip Abroad
When I arrived, I was beyond the point of physical exhaustion. I had been unable to sleep much on the flight. The airline seats weren’t doing it for me, and I was too flipping excited to sleep, so I threw on a Ryan Reynolds film to pass the time. Deadpool is a sick flick, but I was just jazzed to be crossing the pond.
There’s just something about taking in an environment for the first time that gets my blood pumping. When the pilot announced over the PA system that we would be flying over London shortly I was wide awake and ready to get going. I made my way through the Heathrow Airport trying to take it all in as I went.
Customs was an odd experience for me. I’d never set foot on European soil. Hell, I’d never even set foot outside the continental United States before, so the whole passport procedure was new, to say the least. I pre-purchased a train ticket from London to Nottingham while waiting for 16 hours in Jetblue the day before, thinking it would be a breeze to get to my friend Jedd’s place. Boy, was I wrong!
An hour and thirty minutes. That’s how much time I had post-passport-stamping to make my way through the underground rail. Plenty of time, right?
Running around like the Yank I was, I tried to find out where I should redeem my ticket. I asked a few different people directions, only to find myself heading back the way I came. I finally managed to make my way to the rail after a fellow traveler informed me I would need to take it to the train station.
I allowed a momentary sigh of relief to escape my lips upon passing through the rail. Setting my stuff on the floor I realized I had no clue where I needed to exit.
At this point, I flat-out panicked.
Grabbing two suitcases and my laptop bag, I threw my tennis racquet over my shoulder and jumped off the rail at the next exit.
I ran like a maniac trying to find an information desk. I can only imagine what I looked like to the regular commuters, but I really didn’t want to miss that train. 15 minutes later — and down a pair of headphones, I got back on the rail, relatively certain I was heading the correct direction.
This really sweet English couple about my age sat next to me. They were both doctors in different medical fields on their way back from a music festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. After a short chat on the rail, they got me “back on track”.
T-minus ten to departure I exited the rail scrambling for my train. I was gonna miss it, so I ran. Sweet baby Jesus, did I run. Sprinting through the station towing over 60 kilos of luggage in my hands, I made it up to the third set of stairs. I was dying but oh so close! I could see the train.
I set my roller bags on the ground and sprinted towards the caboose feeling like Quasimodo running towards the Notre Dame de Paris. I rolled up in front of the ticket lady a minute past departure time.
I missed the train, didn’t I?
A knowingly sympathetic look greeted me followed by a simple nod in reply. Luckily for me, another train left 15 minutes later and in the same general direction. I made it into Nottingham… Just not quite on schedule. I called Jedd and told him the news. My first night in Europe was an eventful one.
There’s a lesson to be learned here. Next time? Plan the details around the itinerary a little better.