Casey Through Customs
This post is coming to you from the UK! London, to be exact! Yes, you read that correctly: London. I’m not in Cardiff yet! Let me explain; IFSA-Bulter (the program I am studying abroad through) has an orientation of their own for all 190 students studying on the island of Great Britain (Fun fact: out of the 190 students, I am the only one studying at Cardiff University!). So, here I am, staying in a nice hotel one street away from Oxford Street–one of the places I was told I had to see. Despite the minor jet lag I experienced, I’ve already had one heck of a trip, starting before I’d even left the country!
Having experienced the fastest check-in and security check in an airport ever, I had plenty of time to hang out before boarding my Icelandair plane. While waiting, I noticed a man who kept walking back and forth in front of me, occasionally stealing a glance my way, and then a woman doing the same thing. My red flags were flying higher than ever before when the man and woman, now together, approached me and asked if I knew a “fun woman” named Monica Hoel (Shout-out to Monica for being a fun woman!). Well, of course I know Monica, just like every other Emory & Henry College student and alum! The couple proceeded to explain their stalker-ish behavior–they were trying to read my t-shirt and tag on my bag to make sure they read “Emory & Henry College.” They had both graduated from Emory years ago! We chatted about the school, different people we knew, the study abroad programs, and much more! What a small world!!
Since arriving in the UK, I’ve met even more nice people, seen more cool things, and been to more neat places. The guy I sat next to on my second flight told me all about the different places he’s been, making me envy his world travels. He recommended lots of different places and things to do, and told me that Wales is one of his all-time favorite countries–Italy and Chile being the only two that top it! The nice man who stamped my passport told me the ins & outs of London–what to and what not to do while here, and to take the train everywhere I go, especially when I head to Cardiff–in the 2 minutes it took him to make sure I was legit. After getting lost, walking around looking for the hostel I had a reservation at, on the hottest day of the year (literally–it said so on the news later last night), the woman at the reception desk greeted me with a smile and kept the smile on her face every time I came back to the desk with a new question. She even called me a cab for this afternoon when I couldn’t because of not having a phone plan here! My cab driver today chatted with me about my Religion major while waiting in traffic, advising me to keep up my studies, “even when the world seems to hate people who like studying religion.” I’ve got to say, so far, my trip has been worth every penny, and I’m not even a full 48 hours into it yet! All of the people I’ve met and advice I’ve been given has been wonderful, and has helped to erase my nerves.
Now for some advice of my own: If you’re going to fly to Europe, fly Icelandair!! They’re cheap to fly; you get glacier water on the plane, along with a pillow, blanket, complimentary drinks, and awesome movie choices; the overhead lights aren’t like normal, boring, yellow airplane lights–they change colors and mimic the Northern Lights; and you have a layover in Iceland, where you get off the plane on cool stairs like Lindsey Lohan does in The Parent Trap when going home to her father in Napa, CA, so you actually step foot in Iceland and can say you’ve been in Iceland–by far, my favorite perk!
That’s all for now! Friday morning, I’ll get on a train (thanks to the man who stamped my passport) to Cardiff, where I’ll officially move in to my flat! Thanks for reading!
Want to know more about me? More about my adventure? More in general? Check out my travel blog “Casey in Cardiff” by clicking here or typing the following into your browser: www.caseyincardiff.weebly.com.