In my awkward introduction I mentioned I would write about the brilliant city of London, and then I left! I am actually sitting in the Atlanta airport as I type this.
In case you’re wondering, my 9-hour flight went well, thank you Delta Airlines. I landed knowing I would miss my connection to Jackson even with an hour layover provided. Getting through customs and immigration in the U.S. can take a while, this is to be expected, and so is being delayed departing Atlanta. This is one time I don’t mind my international connection meeting a delay.
Since I have some time to write, shall we go back to London? It was a grand time! I was there for work for 10 days to launch a study abroad program of 120 students and 12-ish faculty. I’ve been managing said program the past five years and during this trip the most eventful thing to happen was taking a student to the nearest hospital for a foot injury.
When you think of London I understand your first thought isn’t to think of its hospitals. Unless you work in the healthcare industry and have been following some of the debates happening there now about how the country has spent some-several-million-pounds treating tourists, tourists who will likely never see a bill, who are not UK citizens yet are privy to the “free” healthcare due to the country’s socialized healthcare system. It’s okay if you don’t immediately go from London to Hospital. You’re more likely to think…
London: Royal wedding.
London: Royal baby
London: Trafalgar Square
London: Tea and crumpets
London: The Queen
London: That HBO show about that king who is nekked a lot of the show and chopped off all his wives heads…
The nature of working in the education abroad field is to visit a hospital at least a time or two. I get to visit and explore all the touristy sites, too although it’s not my preference but that’s after a days work. And when you’re on call 24/7 sometimes you don’t get to choose when you have “time off”.
Could someone else have gone to the hospital with this student this time? Sure, I wasn’t the only person on staff; but to be honest, I’ve never been in a UK hospital; I’ve spent plenty of time in a Parisian hospital so curiosity got the best of me.
One thing I LOVE about the British is their respect for THE RULES.
Example: Standing in the longest arrival line ever waiting to pass through customs and immigration upon arrival at Heathrow airport 11 days ago, I overheard a UK Immigration Officer confront someone who had “jumped the queue” (translation: cut in line). “Well it’s not my problem that your flight that was delayed is arriving now, is it? Please sir, join the back of the queue”.
As someone who finds order and process and efficiency a positive aspect of any society…although, I’m just as good as working my way around these “rules” or lack thereof in third world countries…I appreciate a “queue”.
At the hospital in London we queued at registration by collecting a number and waiting for it to be called. Then we queued in a waiting room to speak to a nurse about “the incident”. Then we queued to have an x-ray. Then we queued to see a doctor. Then we queued to see a nurse about a plaster (translation: a cast). Then we queued for a taxi, and made our way home. In the 4.5 hours spent at the hospital I think 20 minutes might have been spent in total speaking to medical personnel. All in all, it was a very calm and pleasant albeit long visit.
I started this entry and made you think I was going to tell you how brilliant the city of London is. Sorry, I went off course. But all of this goes to show you, when it comes to travel; your plans can (and most likely will) go awry. When this happens you mustn’t let it get you down or ruin your trip.
Tips I try to share with my students, traveling abroad for the first or tenth time, it doesn’t matter:
• Something will go wrong and when it does, find the humor in it. You have to or you might cry, depending on what goes wrong. I’ve been there.
• Savor every moment, flavor, encounter, view, cup of coffee, travel delay…everything.
• Don’t spend so much time worrying about what comes next, or moving on to the next thing, or worrying about missing something. If you do, you’ll miss what is happening right in front of you.
• Be appreciative. Say hello and goodbye, even if you receive nothing in return. In the very least remember to say thank you!
• Be friendly.
• Go somewhere, do something, ALONE. Even if you just head to the bakery below your hotel by yourself, pledge to do something alone at least once a day. How else will you learn more about yourself?
And now I feel compelled to leave you with a quote:
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
― Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It
You can find Jessica and learn more about her life at Tales of a TCK.