Year abroad travels

Being in the centre of Europe has made it much easier and cheaper to travel and I’ve definitely made the most of it!

It didn’t get off to a good start when my flight to Seville wasn’t shown on the departures board… After asking a worker who took me behind the scenes of security and a bit more confusion, I made it to the gate.

Once in Seville, I could just wander its streets for days on end. So pretty. One thing that did frustrate me was that I just hadn’t a clue what people were saying and I felt a little isolated without someone with me. I’ve done a lot of solo-travelling but mainly in German speaking countries so I’ve never really had that feeling before as I get a feeling of what’s happening around me ie. I can eavesdrop. I also feel incredibly rude and arrogant when I speak in English. Once when I asked for directions, I asked whether they spoke English and despite saying yes, she then proceeded to speak Spanish very quickly whilst gesticulating enthusiastically. I just nodded, smiled and walked around the corner so that I could try consulting google maps again.

Then it was back to Sheffield for St. Patrick’s Day. Being back was obviously nice but walking on campus with all the younger students about just made me feel very old and I’ll miss living in the ‘real world’ of non-students.

It was too long before it was time for my trip to Lisbon. That day my flight was on the departures board and things got off to a better start. That said, getting to the Airbnb was slightly more challenging. After asking a policeman, security worker and mechanic, walking up and down streets and a panicked 2% battery call to the Airbnb host, I finally made it.

Lisbon’s obviously famous for its steep streets and pretty tiles but the beaches were also amazing because they weren’t that full of tourists and had super impressive waves. Because I can’t handle heat above 22 degrees, I went into the sea to cool down and was pretty much pushed around by the waves like a rag-doll. One beach I was at had literally about 5 people there and what looked like a never-ending beach – it was stunning.

I wanted to try some authentic Portuguese food so went to a tiny restaurant where I got what I’d describe as a seafood rice stew served in the pot it was cooked in. The waiter was a grumpy, old man who staggered from table to table and when putting our bubbling hot pot of stew on the table, he stumbled and I had a flash of panic when I saw the stew pour towards me. Luckily it just stayed within the brim. More time was probably spent trying to remove the shells off everything than eating but it was worth it. Though when I cut into one prawn and I saw blood spurt out, I couldn’t quite face eating anymore. All in all, Lisbon was lovely – good mix of city life and beaches.

Next on the agenda was Switzerland. First I must mention that it is beautiful but my bank account (and heart) just can’t experience those prices again. 10 euro for a kebab is ridiculous.

After a night bus from Berlin to Zurich, I began exploring the cute little streets. It was nice but you could tell it’s a place for people with money so I felt a little out of my depth – you really do see businessmen in suits everywhere. I love a good lake so I ended up resting there, on a park bench with my eyes closed.

Anyway, I managed to see a bit more of the city before I caught my train to Lucerne, which was incredibly pretty with all its lakes and mountains. The hostel was awful though. It was ridiculously expensive plus everyone there was quite rude and not at all welcoming. When I came into reception, the person just looked at me expressionless and didn’t crack a smile during the whole check-in process. Then I got into the room I was sharing with 3 others and said hello to a resounding silence. Hmmm.

Before leaving Lucerne, I made my way to Tourist Information to charge my phone and found myself sat next to a guy from New Zealand. He was really friendly so we chatted whilst I was waiting for my train and the time flew by. After a somewhat unpleasant encounter with a guy in Zurich (a situation I’ve found myself in repeatedly when travelling alone), it was really refreshing to have such a nice talk with a man who clearly had no ulterior motive.

Once I’m back to university, I’ll certainly miss being able to travel around Europe so easily. My advice to you: If you have the chance to study abroad, grab it! It’s a brilliant opportunity to experience new cultures – also, travelling while you’re still a student means you get all those student discounts!

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