During the past 5 years, travelling to the UK (and other destinations) has become (mostly) synonymous with work and research. Not that I don’t like it, mind you. I have come to appreciate London and other cities much more due to this occurrence because I am not fuelled by the desire to knock myself out sightseeing or shopping. I have already done that a sufficient number of times, especially in London. The famous saying ‘If you’re tired of London, you’re tired of life’ couldn’t be more relevant because the famous capital is usually my stopover in transit to other cities in the UK for study, research and conferences, such as Leicester and Cambridge. So here are a number of life ‘lessons’ I picked up along the way whilst travelling for such purposes:
1. You learn how to navigate the world out there on your own, literally. Who knows me well, knows that I’m not very good at directions and getting lost is something I get apprehensive about. However I’ve done it a number of times (more than 10 times) and I’m getting the hang of it. The trick is that I undertake a similar route (to go to Leicester for example) and now I blend in rather than stand out as the lone traveller – or I hope so at least. I buy everything online, book a room at the same B&B (where I get one of the best rooms), and buy my train tickets online (cheaper!) which I then collect at the station. I also carry around my Oyster card and top it up. To travel light, I don’t check in my suitcase, though I do coming back (it’s expandable) in case of last-minute shopping.
2. You meet incredible people whose whose life you become fascinated with and you begin cultivating long-distance friendships. For instance, over four years, I have made friends with a fellow researcher from Trinidad (Desrian) and I always look forward to meeting her and catching up during our research-packed days.
3. You learn how to plan your days well as they afford time for anything from work and research (which is the main purpose), to dining out and interacting with like-minded individuals, to making those few free hours count. Which brings me to how I spend time if I happen to be in London. I usually try to attend a performance at the Globe Theatre and if I have a couple of hours to spare I drop by the British Library (conveniently located next to St Pancras). I was lucky to view an exhibition here on WWI (feat. war poetry) which is on at the moment. This goes to show how one cannot possibly tire of London – I have lost count of how many times I’ve been there and there’s always something to do.
4. You also learn that travelling allows to you to put things in perspective. Living on an island tends to be claustrophobic at times, so it’s healthy to disconnect from the daily routine and travel alone to ‘find yourself’. In the beginning I used to consider flights and train journeys tedious but now I get a lot of reading and reflection done.
5. Finally I have to say that travelling makes you a more rounded and cultured person who can view the world and people around you with a fresh pair of eyes, while trying to steer clear of a provincial mentality that sometimes plagues our island. When all comes to an end and it’s time to head back home, I don’t mind it at all because I would have amassed priceless experiences to remember the trip by and then look forward to going there again for even better ones!
Now, to my next travel destination…