As I write this, I am waiting inside a train sitting motionless on the tracks in the middle of nowhere. I have spent the last two days attempting to make my way home from various airports and train stations after this amazing month in the United Kingdom. This homeward journey has now extended to over 47 hours and is only lengthening. But through it all I am trying to remember that it is this trip home that marks the end of my study abroad experience, just giving me more and more memories to attach to this incredible opportunity.
Now that it has come to my attention, I have realized that travel has been a critical part of the study abroad program and my experiences during it. In this short month, I have ridden six planes, two taxis, two double-decker busses, three tour busses, one Uber, four trains (or “Overgrounds” as they are called in London), two “Undergrounds,” or subways, one public transit bus, two ferries, three cars, and walked all around the cities of Edinburgh and London. Before this trip, I had not traveled much in anything other than a car, so I was nervous at first about navigating the airports, subway stations, and train stations and finding the correct platforms or terminals in time. But I am now confident in my ability to make it anywhere after such an extensive immersion. This skill is vital to have, as I could only make it so far on my feet or in an automobile. But I feel like the whole world has now been opened to me after gaining such experience with nearly every possible method of transportation.
It is also during these times riding various vehicles that some of my best memories have been made. The sightseeing tours on double-decker buses in Edinburgh and London gave me the opportunity to see and learn about each city’s most iconic buildings, statues, and natural landforms. The first two Fridays, I traveled with my classmates in tour busses to places like the ruins of Jedburgh Abbey, the important Scottish author Walter Scott’s home, and Scotland’s national poet Robert Burns’ hometown. The various plane, train, and subway trips on my weekend trip to London helped me to become closer with two of my best new friends who came with me. Perhaps most notably, being stuck on a tour bus with all my classmates and our professors for a week traveling around the Highlands and a couple Isles has given us a bond unlike any other, including subtle annoyances with each other but more importantly a unique sense of community that will last in our memories and hearts for a lifetime.
So as I read blog postings from other students about what it feels like to be back home while I’m stuck here on the tracks for another two hours now, I am remembering the wonderful memories and experiences each mode of transportation has introduced. In a way, these delays have given me a gift by allowing me time to reflect on my experiences and develop a deep gratitude for them. I am eager to get back home and share with my family and friends the memories I have gained, but for now I have found a way to become content waiting and reminiscing on my own.
Kathryn Smith is a freshman at the University of Missouri- Kansas City majoring in Psychology and Pre-Medicine, with the goal to become a psychiatrist. During the month of July, Kathryn is participating in the UMKC Honors College Program in Scotland.
Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.