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Notes from Abroad: Jeffrey in England
Notes from Abroad is a new feature on the Off-Campus Programs website, in which we highlight small snippets of a student’s experience. This week’s feature is from Jeffrey Mendoza ’17, a Philosophy major currently studying abroad in Oxford, England.
While the term has just begun, not even a week into it quite yet, I have learned much and
more since arriving in the UK over a month ago. In its entirety I was traveling alone with all my stuff across the country, from Scotland to Wales, the south to the north and the east midlands to the west midlands. Though I was only in places for at most a week, I felt I have gotten much and more of a picture of this great country. More often than not my friends from different places in the country and different stages in life would mention how I’ve seen more of this country than they have despite them living here. Considering how I only get the visit here once a year I try to make the most of when I am here, and every single time my experiences of this country go up exponentially.
One important and key trait I’ve had to learn is thinking on the fly, whether it be trying to
make backup plans a week before arriving as to where I’ll stay when I get there or navigating the country via trains with all my luggage despite physical and other types of obstacles. Specifically when traveling from Edinburgh to Leeds I ran into several problems. This is all given the fact that I have to carry around 3 bags totalling 80lbs worth of clothes and provisions for not only the month I spent traveling but for the expectation that I will also settle down in Oxford for three months. I arrived at Edinburgh Waverley Train Station keen on finding the platform for my next train that would take me to York. Much to my chagrin the platform did not display on the boards until 5 minutes before my scheduled departure. When I did finally get to the train and settled in my seat we ended up delayed by about 20 minutes. This was very worrisome for me as my changeover train in York that would take me to Leeds was to leave 12 minutes after my scheduled arrival at York. Following a couple more delays right outside of Edinburgh and then again outside Newcastle back in England I ended up 90 minutes delayed in total. It turns out the electric lines for the trains south of York had broken so none of those trains could go south of there. The train that was originally suppose to go all the way to London King’s Cross station ended up stopping in York.
Thankfully I was to stop in York anyways so that did not affect me much in the slightest.
Though I could only imagine the trouble it’d cause for people that were meant to take the train all the way down south. My next task was to find a train that would go to Leeds from there, all while coordinating with my friend who was to expect me at the train station. My worry then became the fact that my ticket was for a specific train at a specific time, but thankfully I found out that when emergencies like this happen, where a train is delayed, then tickets are opened across companies meaning you can take any train to your original destination despite your ticket not being for that specific one.
Finding my way finally to Leeds I was faced with another obstacle. I had to get to another
train from Leeds central train station to one that goes to the outer parts of the city. That train just happen to be scheduled to leave 5 minutes from when my train stopped at the platform from York. Eventually making it there with just enough time it was another short train ride to my final destination.
Once I stepped off my final train though I ran into even more problems. My friend was
not on the platform waiting for me. It was dark, I was tired, I was alone and my phone
connection was not cooperating. It was truly a nightmare situation for me. Why isn’t my friend here? Am I at the wrong stop? How do I get to the correct stop if that is the case? First and foremost I knew I had to leave the platform, it was not doing me any favors standing there knowing there is no phone connection. Much to my relief as I walked down the hill the platform was on I encountered my friend there, running around the corner as he mistakenly went to the departure platform rather than the arrival.
This experience taught me much, first and foremost how to handle pressure, especially
when you are alone for most of it. As well as how to problem solve on the fly alone in a different country with many inhibitors (literal baggage) when you do not feel you even had the time to stop and think of what to do next. This sadly was not the only time I have run into logistical problems while here thus far and I doubt it will be the last. Knowing then from this that sometimes there are no likeable cards in the hand you are dealt with, yet you still have to play the game regardless to the best of your abilities. If anything it has given me more confidence for the future when facing more problems, both physical and academic now that the term has started. And this is both here in the UK and then the US when coming back home in the winter. As well I have learned how welcoming and comforting seeing a familiar face can be after going through much strife and adversity, knowing that in the end it is all worth it, just to be able to hold the one you love and know that finally everything is as it should be.