After two years of saving, I finally had the chance to pack my bags and head to Oxford, England, for a full year of study abroad at my dream university, The University of Oxford. Along with the exciting academic program, I had an extensive plan for a journey around many other European countries.
You might wonder why this article is about only the U.K. That is because I received one of the worst pieces of news that I could not be granted an EU tourist visa due to the complications of applying in a third country (a different country than my citizenship). Instead of backpacking through eight countries in the EU as I had planned, I was stuck in the U.K. during a six-week break. Although the situation wasn’t ideal, it gave me an idea of making a bucket list to visit all four kingdoms of the U.K. Even though I was not able to visit the warm beaches of Southern France, take the train through Switzerland, visit the most famous music academies in the world or see the Pope (joking), I still fulfilled my travel goals by visiting many breathtaking regions of the U.K.
Please sit back and enjoy a photo album of my silly, 10-minute-planned journey.
I spent countless hours at this exact desk doing reading assignments and writing essays. You may wonder where this desk is. It is row U in the top-level reading room of the Old Bodleian Library looking straight to the Radcliffe Camera during the sunset.
This is the only picture that features my everyday life. Now, we will move forward to the break.
England – The first kingdom I visited as I attended the University of Oxford.
My best friend and I went to “The Nutcracker” ballet show performed by The Royal Ballet in London during Christmas time. It was an unforgettable night because besides the amazing ballet, we also froze on the street during our 45-minute-walk to the bus stop to go back to Oxford. We both got really sick the next day.
I was sitting in the back garden of Pembroke College – University of Cambridge. It is pretty, I must say; I still recommend visiting Pembroke College – University of Oxford (no bias here).
Scotland – The gloomiest kingdom
Glenfinnan Viaduct This is the famous bridge that takes Hogwarts students to Hogwarts on the 9 ¾ train in the Harry Potter movies.
As I was standing on the same spot when I took the picture of the bridge, this was my view on my left-hand side. It amazes me how scenery can look so different, yet so similar, when you stand on top of a hill.
Ireland – An extremely green kingdom with extremely friendly people.
This was my first solo trip. To this day, I still remember the feeling of packing all my belongings in a small backpack before a very long journey to a different island.I made some amazing friends during the trip. I also got compliments on my old-school film camera. Due to financial reasons, I still haven’t developed those photos I took.
This grass field was the comfiest surface I have ever laid on. I took a 10-minute nap on it while listening to the ocean waves crashing into the shore.
If anyone is obsessed with the TV show “Derry Girls” like me (I’ve watched it 4 times), you will recognize this street as the one the characters walk up and down every time they go to school. I have to say, the street looks so much better without cars.
Wales – kingdom of dragons – although I did not see any dragons.
My friends and I had four days before school started again. As any normal person would do, we booked ourselves a trip to Wales and explored the Snowdonia National Park.
My best friends and I rewarded ourselves with a nice bag of chips (crisps – like the British) for lunch after hiking up this “tiny” hill. We rated the lunch a 5/5.
I took this picture after three hours of hiking. We got lost. Our bus stop was on the road that runs along the ocean – as you can see, we were really far away because you can’t even see the road. Instead of walking back to find the trail, we went off trail to go straight down the hill. As we walked down more, we scared all the sheep away. That was the moment we decided to turn around to find the actual trail to go back and it took hours.
Obviously, this is not the end of my U.K. journey. I have many more stories that I would love to share with you.
If you want to hear more, please visit The Hilltop Monitor again as more articles will be written and published every week.