Written by: Billie Clark
When I signed up to write on this topic—travelling—I was in the midst of planning a trip to Japan that would almost perfectly coincide with the date this post was due. If everything had worked out, this post would have been about my exploits in Tokyo and Kyoto and involve Pokémon and Pocky. Unfortunately, this trip didn’t actually happen, although it has been firmly rescheduled for a week next year that isn’t Golden Week.
Luckily, I have been able to do a fair bit of travelling recently, so I am going back to my Student Life Blog origins: Swansea. Okay, actually, post-Swansea.
By this time last year, Swansea was in the throes of its Examination period. On the upside, I only had one exam; on the downside, it was on a Saturday in an Indian restaurant. Yeah.
But after my exam, on May 20, 2015, I had exactly one month until my brother flew into Heathrow to join me for three weeks. That time was filled with hectic, last-minute planning, late-night Skype calls with my mom, and successfully spending the last of my money on two coach tours for my brother and myself. In between the craziness of trip planning—something I hadn’t done at any point that year, as I managed to join the few trips I’d made as tag-along—I was able to hit up the beach, the cinema, and take a nice long walk along Swansea Bay, from the Student Village all the way to Oystermouth Castle with one of my housemates.
As June 20 approached, I made the final arrangements—the 4 am coach bus I was taking to Heathrow to meet my brother, the 11 am coach we’d be taking back to Swansea, the hotel room we’d be staying in before our first coach trip and between the two of them, where we could store our bags while we were gone—don’t forget: I came loaded with two 50lb suitcases and I had lived alone for a year; I had a lot of stuff. Then there were international phone calls to my bank in Canada, worries about my British bank account, worries about my British SIM card in my phone…
Then, almost suddenly, it was 4 am on the morning of June 20 and I was on a bus headed to London. Despite a small fiasco at the airport, and an extremely long wait between my brother’s disembarking and our bus ride (I had gotten lost and was disoriented when I arrived, so the trek from getting off the plane to getting out of the airport had taken far longer than it was actually supposed to, making me extremely paranoid about my brother’s fate), we eventually returned to Swansea.
Our first week was spent in Swansea; the second week was Ireland—my brother was really looking forward to it—and the final week was Italy; we also managed a single full day in London before flying home.
This post is supposed to be about why I choose to travel, not where I have been, so I should probably address that. I choose to travel because I want to see the world, be it a couple hours from home—Collingwood or Toronto, for example—or across the sea. I haven’t left Ontario, except for two or three brief trips to Quebec, and my time abroad, but I want to visit all the provinces and territories. I want to see more of Canada, and North America, and the World. The things I have learned, words and phrases in other languages, cultural and geographical differences, the differences and similarities between home and away, these are the reasons I choose to travel. I want to continue learning: about myself, about other histories and geographies, about other societies and cultures and traditions; and I want to bring these things home with me.
All the stress and worry from planning the trips disappeared the moment I met my brother at Heathrow—and we both agreed that those are three weeks we will never forget.