Ok ok no, this is not going to be the tale of an underdog wildebeest tackling raging rivers and bloodthirsty crocs to get to greener pastures, it’s actually just going to be the tale of me and my journey home- sorry to disappoint. But I’m actually kind of proud of myself and I think that whilst I don’t see my confidence as having particularly improved since being on a year abroad in a lot of instances, in this case my journey is probably something I wouldn’t have done a few months ago.
As I’ve mentioned several times, I’ve spent a lot of the last month on an island of essays, surrounded by an ocean of procrastination tactics… Ok so I’ve basically had 5 essays to write in just over a month, each one being between 6000 and 7000 words, but it sounds more impressive in the first description. The longest essay I wrote last year in Leicester was 3000, and it usually takes me around 3 weeks to get one essay done, so this was a little trickier than what I’d done before. As I didn’t know when I would be done, I couldn’t book a flight home in advance.
So on Monday I finally finished my last essay, which I would say I was thrilled about but actually I was so exhausted it still hasn’t really sunk in, and promptly googled flights home to assess the situation. Which ended up being a bit of a shock because the flights had gone up to around £500- not cool! And not particularly feasible on a student budget! Instead of panicking and skyping my Mum to tell her I couldn’t make it home, which would have been my usual response, I decided to look into different alternatives.
Which made me realise that there was the possibility of getting home from Heidelberg on a bus for under £50. Which sounded much nicer for my bank balance. The only downside… it sort of took 27 hours. Ouch.
Except it really wasn’t that bad! I left my flat in Heidelberg at 12.30 to get to the train station in plenty of time to catch a bus from Heidelberg to Cologne. The bus left at 13.35 and whilst it did smell slightly like an armpit, it wasn’t too bad at all. I got to Cologne at 17.30 and this was the bit I was nervous about, because I had to find my way from the train station to where the bus stop would be. I am truly awful with maps and directions, but I had printed out a map which didn’t look too difficult, and my bus left at 21.30 so I figured I would comfortably be able to get lost multiple times and still be at the bus stop in time, perfect.
The walk was actually fairly beautiful- I got to see the famous Cologne cathedral, the love lock bridge, the Rhine, and the sun was setting so that was nice. I also ended up walking past a football stadium which was kind of cool. I was looking out for a bus station, where I was planning on spending the several hour wait curled up with a coffee. Unfortunately this turned out to not be the case, as the ‘bus station’ I had envisaged turned out to be a small piece of paper saying ‘megabus’ tied to a fence. So it was a bit chilly sitting on the floor for a few hours waiting for the bus, but it was bearable. A lovely girl from Cardiff showed up and we got chatting so we actually stuck together for the rest of the trip, which was cool.
The megabus was actually spacious and comfortable, nothing like the horror vehicles I’ve had described to me before, and I got the prime position on the front seat on the top floor of a double decker, so I got the view of the massive window. Most of the time I only got to see motorway, which had limited interest, but I did get to see Brussels at midnight, which was pretty cool, and is now on my list of places I want to visit. The bus driver was also friendly and it was great to hear English voices again!
Then- unexpected excitement- we had to get off the coach to go through Calais passport control, because we were going on the ferry! I’d only been on this once before in my life and had a vague memory of it, so this was a highlight of the trip- even if it was at 4.30 in the morning so I was a bit bleary eyed by this point. And on the other side I got a great view of the London Eye and Big Ben as we pulled into Victoria coach station. You don’t get those kind of views on the plane!
The low point of the trip was having to wait in a London coach station from 7.30am until 10.00 to get the bus to Manchester, as I was tired by this point and felt kind of grimy, but having the Cardiff girl to feel horrible with made it a lot more enjoyable than it could have been.
Then it eventually got to the time I could board the bus to Manchester, which I couldn’t give you a great description of as I just curled up and tried to sleep the whole journey back. When I got off at the end my Dad surprised me by picking me up from the station, which was so nice. I was tired and disgusting, but I also had a great sense of achievement for successfully completing my migration!
The reason I’m so happy I managed to do this is because I have a bit of a fear of public transport usually. Getting buses and things makes me nervous, I don’t know why, and so normally doing this journey would have been out of the question. But having been living in Germany I just thought, come on, give it a go- and it went well! So I am now going to book the bus journey home as well.
And the most surprising thing of all is that the 27 hour journey, apart from the amount of time it took, was actually fairly pleasant! I’d possibly go as far as to recommend it!
So there you go- positive evidence that going on a year abroad has made me more confident, even if usually I really can’t tell 🙂