By Lilly Pandis
Traveling on your own can be quite an adventure sometimes. Here are a few student experiences that you might be able to relate to.
Melissa Wellman, a freshman political science and English double major, reflected on a bittersweet airport experience that will stay with her forever.
“After my finals in December, I was finally headed back home to see my family and friends for Christmas break. It was normal to see familiar faces in the Schipol airport in Amsterdam. It was an early, piercing cold morning in Amsterdam and I was going to meet up with one of my older sisters. We were supposed to meet by the eating area by McDonald’s on the second floor of the Schipol airport. Slowly, returning students from Saudi Arabia trickled into the eating area. Before we knew it, it was a huge group of us and we began to exchange hellos and talk about our boarding school and college experiences. My sister, after hours finally showed up – but came with the worst news possible. The weather conditions in Amsterdam had reached an all time high and we were snowed in – every single one of us. All we were doing was trying to get home to Saudi Arabia; little did we know we were about to sit in the same spot for 14 hours. It was the worst and best time of my traveling experience. Being stuck in the airport after an 11-hour flight was not fun. But being surrounded by my friends and my sister was awesome. It gave us a change to catch up and create stronger relationships.
Laura Liegler, a junior psychology and education double major, had an interesting experience due to the language barrier in Italy.
“I was coughing a lot at an Italian airport and I made a joke to this girl I befriended next to me that I had Ebola. Everyone suddenly went silent and turned to look at me. They didn’t understand English when I tried to tell them that I was joking. So basically, I made a lot of friends on that flight home…”
Mikaela Schneider, a freshman business major had an eye-opening experience while attempting to get around Los Angeles with public transportation.
“The craziest solo traveling experience for me was actually going to UCLA for the weekend. This is because I took a train, subway, and bus to get there from Orange. Learning how to navigate through LA was quite an experience. It was much more difficult than just driving but since I don’t have a car here I went for it. On my way there, once I got off the train, I quickly had to find the right bus to take me to the UCLA campus and I barely made it. With asking people around me and lots of running, I made it. On the way back I took a bus (filled with very diverse people) to a subway station that I had to find on my own, buy a ticket, and make on time. A homeless person sat next to me that smelled so bad and was so dirty that I had to get up and stand the rest of the time. Also this other homeless person was crying and the subway overall was a crazy experience. Thanks to the Google app that instantly makes a route for you with exact times and transportation, it was really useful and I wouldn’t have accomplished my trip without it.”
Katie O’Regan, a junior IES major, reflected on a daunting solo traveling experience to visit a friend in London.
“I was traveling to visit my friend Laura in London, and I arrived really late at night because that’s when the cheapest flight was. So I got to the airport, and then it was an hour and a half bus ride into the city, where I got off at Victoria Station because I was following Laura’s instructions. The only problem is that I was supposed to get on a train at Victoria, but the train station was closed. So there I was, all alone in the middle of the city, locked out of a train station, trying to figure out how to get to Laura’s house at 2 am. I noticed a bus station across the street, so I walked over and asked the men in the office if there was a way I could bus to Laura’s school. They said yes and gave me some very complicated instructions. When the bus finally came, I’d been at the station for about an hour. I hopped on and asked the driver how much it cost, and that’s when he told me I couldn’t pay with cash- I needed a bus pass, and I couldn’t even buy it at this station! I was freaking out and I felt really bad because I had no way to contact Laura, who was waiting for me at the train station near her house. Finally, I gave up and took a taxi. Luckily, the driver was really nice and helped me find Laura’s building. But it ended up costing 50 pounds, almost twice as much as my flight cost. When I got to Laura’s building, her roommate called her to come home, and then I had my guide for the rest of the weekend, thank goodness. So the moral of the story is: plan your transportation!”