Traveling While Abroad

 Written by SU London student Dan Kaplan. Link to his blog in the sidebar.

On paper, today should not have been a good day.

After falling asleep at nearly 2 a.m., I awoke at quarter to 7 (less than five hours of sleep, if you factor in the tossing and turning I did throughout the night), got dressed and hopped on the Tube over to Faraday House at about half past. I got there at ten ’til 8, and found the building still closed. So I sat down, popped open a book and read some of my homework assignment for America: A Foreign Perspective. A man came and lifted the security screen from the building, but I still wasn’t allowed in.

 8:30,” he said. “We open at 8:30.”

 So I kept reading. A few minutes later, my friend Alyssa joined me outside, and we waited. Eventually, the security guard took pity on us and said “Okay, you two can come in if you want.” We did.

Why were we doing this?

This morning happened to be the start of the open signup for SU London’s trip to Paris, in April. We’d been instructed to get there at 8:45, when the Student Life office opened, to sign up immediately as it was a first-come, first-served deal. This is normally a class-sponsored trip for the FIA 305 – London: A History Through Architecture class (exactly why the LONDON architecture class has a trip to PARIS is beyond me, but I’m not complaining), but not enough people were actually in the class this semester, so there wound up being extra spots.

Alyssa and I wound up being the first two to sign up today (that’s where being prepared gets ya, kiddies) and thus secured our spots on the trip. The SU London Web site describes the trip like so:

Ahhhh, Paris! A city never destroyed by enemies; perpetually renewing itself and rightly nicknamed “the city of light”. Paris has a perfect setting on the River Seine with its splendid monuments and landmarks, great museums and galleries, stately prospects and views and elegant squares and gardens. Add to this its lively café-life, fine cuisine, great department stores and fine specialty shops and you’ll leave bedazzled by this city’s true “joie de vivre”.Over the weekend, you will experience more than a glimpse of Paris. This is an opportunity for a broad overview of this great city. We include many of the excitedly anticipated tourist attractions, but via both private coach and guided walking tour, you will be shown a Paris that leaves you with deeper impressions than the majority of casual visitors could hope for.

 Should be fun, right? For £300 (possibly less, depending on which hotel they wind up booking), we get:
  • Round trip train travel on the Eurostar trains
  • Three nights accommodation (with breakfasts)
  • Admission to all sites on itinerary (including Versailles, the Villa Savoie at Poissy, Les Invalides and the Musee du Patrimone, among others)
  • A “surprise cultural event”
  • Coach tickets for all tours
  • Metro tickets to explore the city

Not bad, right? I may have been able to book a trip to Paris on my own for a bit less money, but I’d have ended up staying not in a hotel, but most likely in a hostel – which, oh yeah, would have meant another headache trying to book one in French. (It’s my semester abroad; I’m trying to minimize the headaches here.)

This marks the second trip I’ve booked in as many days. On the other one, I’ll be taking a train up to Scotland at the end of February for a weekend visit to St. Andrews. I’ll be staying there with my high school friend Maddy, who’s currently in her second year at the University of St. Andrews. (Again, no additional bookings for lodging = no headaches) This should be an excellent trip – not just because the town is meant to be amazing (photo opportunities galore – especially the Old Course!), but also because it’s getting on two years since I’ve seen Maddy, so catching up should be fun!

All that’s left is a trip to Belgium to visit our friends, the Fasbenders, who live in Brussels. Hopefully that one will be set in motion soon. But for now, that’s my update and I’m sticking to it.


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