My first trip out of my home state brought me to another country altogether. The ten day excursion to Canada, England, and Scotland was one of many firsts for me, actually. My first plane ride, my first traveling experience without my parents, my first taste of independence and real responsibility, and hopefully the first of many traveling adventures to come.
It began at 3 o'clock in the morning with a quick goodbye to my parents. Everything moved quickly as I was driven to the airport and rushed through the process of boarding an airplane. Nervous as I was about my first flight, on a plane that was much smaller than I had imagined no less, I couldn't help but excitedly gape out the window to watch the ground slowly become smaller and smaller as we rose into the sky. I watched out that window for most of the hour long flight into Toronto, mesmerized by the way the clouds looked from above.
After our two day layover in Toronto, Canada, we were off to England. From the start, the entire trip felt surreal. I didn't feel like I was in another country, let alone 3,634 miles across an ocean! Our tour took us into London and we stayed at the Premier Inn by Wembley Park. The first days of the trip, though I suspect I was nearly asleep from exhaustion part of the time, were by far my favorite. Being in a city as large as London was completely foreign to me as I’ve always lived in a small town surrounded by more small towns; despite this, I felt completely at home in the city. The London Underground, called “the tube,” was a memorable experience for me. I had never used a subway before, but I found it incredibly easy to navigate and travel the Underground.
It was at about this time that I began to notice something peculiar was going on. It began with the phrase “Mind the Gap”, which is painted on the platform along the tracks throughout the London Underground system to warn travelers to be wary of the space between the subway car and the platform. My friends and I had discovered we were picking up the local London accent. I had noticed already that we would unintentionally say common phrases and words, such as “sorry” and “thank you,” with a British accent. This had escalated, though, after our time in London. I remember saying “Mind the Gap” over and over in my best British accent and laughing along with my friends as we purposely used our newfound British accents to pretend we were British. I’m sure now that we must have looked and sounded silly to the locals, but at the time, I couldn’t have cared any less!
I bonded with my fellow travelers over this experience. We were the best of friends in the days to follow and for that, I’m so thankful the trip began in the beautiful city of London.
After London, we began our journey toward Scotland. Along the way, we toured Oxford, Stratford-on-Avon, Bath, Stonehenge, York, and Hadrian’s Wall. All were beautiful places and I still have trouble coherently expressing my feelings of awe. I hope to go back some day with my family so that they might finally understand, and experience for themselves, all the things I tried so hard to explain to them.
Our British accents may have slowly faded away, but our friendship and our memories will last a lifetime.
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