fbpx En Route #11 — PCA

En Route #11



This week, I had a number of things on my mind. All the school work that stands between me and winter break, an ever-growing pile of laundry on my floor, the infamous leak in my ceiling (though the less we say about that the better). But in the midst of all that chaos, the one thing I looked forward to, and occupied the majority of my thoughts, was a trip to London! With this Friday being a holiday, a friend had asked earlier in the semester if I’d like to visit London for a long weekend. Me, back in the good old well rested days of Week 4, eagerly agreed. As our trip approached, my friend and I eagerly made a list of all the things we wanted to do, sights we needed to see, shops we wanted to stop by. By the time Thursday rolled around, we were ready. Paris, however, was not.

It began, as it so often does in Paris, with a strike. The very day we’d planned to leave, la grève was in full swing in Paris as well as London. Oh the irony. The part of me that might forever be an optimist forced me to keep my eye on the prize, “it’s these kinds of things that make life interesting” was what I told myself over and over until I almost believed it. Luckily, my professor had given us the option of doing our class work from home, so that saved me a headache and by the time I needed to leave and catch the train, the metro line 4 was up and running. I packed my bag, checked the packing list, repacked and was off! As I locked up my apartment, I couldn’t help but wonder if my neighbors would notice I was gone from the sheer lack of Taylor Swift being blasted at midnight, a gift of three tranquil nights from me to them.

I met my friend at the station and together we nervously smiled our way past each country’s set of border police. The French were largely uninterested in us, but I think it’s safe to say the English were thoroughly charmed. By the time we found our seats, the fatigue of travel had already set in and we were ready to put our feet up for a few hours. The only problem that stood between me and complete tourist mode was the fact that homework doesn’t go away just because you leave the country. In fact, it’s even more important to make sure you stay on top of things so that when you do come home, you don’t get crushed by a pile of homework on your way in the door. I’d done my duty and brought my laptop with me for the trip, determined to make time for sightseeing and my senior thesis.

When we arrived in London, slightly drowsy from an impromptu nap (I’m choosing not to wonder if my mouth really was hanging wide open the whole time or if it was just some mid-REM cycle hallucination), we waited by a telephone booth and prayed that an Uber would allow us a ride to the hotel. Our wish came true and after an only slightly harrowing drive from St Pancras to Earl’s Court, we threw out bags on the bed and headed straight out to dinner. Now I’m no great critic of food, but I must say that the quiet little Indian restaurant we found was nothing short of perfection as it had all my favorite comfort food in one menu. After dinner, we made our way back to the hotel and drew up battle plans for the rest of the trip. At this point I was rather elated by the pure novelty of being able to speak English, I’d forgotten how much I’d missed being able to eavesdrop on conversations.

Being in London was an odd mixture of feeling at home but also decidedly not. While in Paris I can almost always pass as French speaking in day-to-day life, here there was little I could do to masquerade as a Brit. Even though I spoke the language, to my surprise the culture shock was still there. Still, there’s something exciting about being in a city I’m unfamiliar with. Paris feels like a piece of home, its cobblestone streets carved into my heart, but I love getting to discover a new city. Wherever you are, it’s important to allow for some unscheduled fun. As much as I love a solid plan, nothing is set in stone as I want to make sure we allow for spontaneity and surprises. I hope you’re also able to make some time to get exploring, even in your own neighborhood; it’s often the places you find by accident that you end up loving the most. As for me, I’ll be enjoying my time in London to the fullest before Paris calls me back to its familiar roads (and hopefully functioning metro).

Go explore!

f t p