2018/9 academic year bullet journal title page

Dear First-Year-University-Student Me: An Open Letter

Dear Alys,

Last weekend quite a few people you know headed off to university: it’s that time of year that brings about fresh starts and big changes with the colouring, and falling, of the leaves. In a sense, this feels like more of a ‘new year’ than the actual New Year. And this weekend, you’ll also be driving up north to become a university student, in a tiny car bloated with the objects that make up your life.

In one way, it’s been a long time coming. You’ve had two years out of the traditional school system and have already left your teen years behind. You tried a distance learning degree, and even completed the first year, but you knew that wasn’t what you wanted to continue doing. So I think now is the right time. I don’t think many people ever feel completely ready to go to university, everyone has their own kinds of struggles, but I think at this point in time you’re as ready as you’ll ever be.

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Choosing Destinations Based on Cheap Flights: My June Travel Plans

We’ve fully crept into June now – the sun is more persistent, and the clouds are shying away. At least, this is my prediction from pre-writing this post in the middle of May. Let’s be honest, it’s probably more likely that it’s raining on the day I post this, or we’ve got that weird weather which even Brits don’t know how to handle: half of us are strutting in shorts and making the slapping sound on the pavement with our flip-flops, and the other half of us have looked out the window and decided it’s a scarf day. I feel like this introduction is a little pointless, seeing as all of this is purely guesswork. How do people cope with scheduling posts? I’m never organised enough to do these.

So you’re probably wondering then, why did I write this post so long ago? Well, ladies and gentlemen, this is a skill I’m going to have to perfect over May (have had to perfect over May?) – wait, I am getting so confused. How do people deal with tenses in pre-written posts? Agh. Anyway, for the rest of June, and start of July, all of my posts are going to be like this. Well, hopefully not full of quite so many messy-and-confused vibes, but either way they will have been written in advance.

This is because I am going travelling! I had my last day at work in May, sent in my final university essays, and my friend arrived from Florida on 6th to begin our European/American adventure. I thought it would be nice to let you all know where I’m off to, considering it’s impacting my blogging schedule quite a bit…

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Where are we going?

Sofia, Bulgaria… sort of

We’ll be having an eight hour layover here on the first leg of our journey and we’re hoping to get out of the airport to explore the city a little. I’ve heard lots of great things about Sofia, so if we like it we might have to pop back another time to do the city justice. Hopefully we’ll have time to see a couple of churches and roam the streets a bit before hoping back on the plane to…

Athens, Greece

I guess this will count as our first real stop on the trip. A city steeped in so much history, I’ve got pretty high expectations. Watch out Greece, you better impress me. Next up is…

Warsaw, Poland

Somewhere I have less expectations for but probably not justifiably. Poland has never been on my travel radar really, until I started seeing images of the beautiful cities and landscape. Apparently Poland has a lot to offer, but it’s kept that one quite quiet! After a few days, we’ll hop over to…

Prague, Czech Republic

I’ve heard a little bit about the amazing sights of Prague but have yet to experience them first hand. We have enough time here to relax and soak it all in, so hopefully the weather will be nice! Then we fly to…

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

This is the one destination on the list I have been to before, around eight years ago with my family, when I was twelve. I loved it then and I’m interested to see what it will be like going to the same place with a new perspective. Then we say bye to Europe and finish off with a week in…

New York City, USA

I’ve always wanted to go here, but honestly, who hasn’t? It’s seriously cliché to want to visit the Big Apple but I’m not denying it, so it’s fine, right? I think this will be a great way to end a trip across a whole handful of different cultures, landscapes and sights.

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Picking the destinations

It might seem like this list of places has been pulled out of a hat, it’s so random. Actually, that wouldn’t be far from the truth. This trip took quite a while to plan, and went through several completely different itineraries to get to where it is now. In the end, it really came down to working out the cheapest option around a couple of conditions.

  1. We had to start in England
  2. We had to end in New York
  3. Amsterdam was a high priority (and coincidently the cheapest European city to fly to New York from)
  4. It had to be across June/July

With that information, I used Skyscanner to search for cheap combinations of flights to fill up our time gap between England and Amsterdam. Working forwards from the UK, there seemed to be several options, one of which was Greece, and working backwards from Amsterdam it seemed Prague was crazily cheap. It all kind of came together when I discovered Poland was one of the cheapest places to fly to from Athens and the cheapest place to fly from to Prague. That was it. Itinerary put together.

How much were the flights?

In total? I think I’ve paid around £500 for the six flights, including the two across the Atlantic. So that’s pretty great I’d say. Travelling doesn’t really have to be expensive if you’ve got flexibility on your side. If you’re happy to go to a whole range of different places, and have time to play about with your dates, then the flights don’t have to stack up into the £1000s.

For me, June is about more than just adventure; it’s about letting go, having fun and getting away from my hometown for a little bit. It’s time to reconnect with the carefree part of me that thrives on new experiences, and gets energy from doing rather than resting.


If you enjoyed this post, you might like:

How To Make Friends as a Young Solo Female Traveller


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How To Make Friends as a Young Solo Female Traveller

I know, I’m doing a double take too. A travel post?! From me? What kind of crazy day is this? When I originally started this blog, I wanted to use the space to share lots of travel stories and tips, but found myself feeling a little sad whenever I started trying to write them. I was in a place where all I wanted to do was get on a plane somewhere and explore. And I couldn’t. But I think I’ve realised that now, and feel in a better mindset to positively talk about travel experiences, rather than wistfully. It also might have something to do with the fact that I’m going on some pretty epic travels in June… I’m getting pretty excited, not gonna lie.

Anyway, that is for another post. Today I want to talk about making friends. More specifically, making friends whilst travelling. I’m going to be honest here: this can be a tricky game to play. Trying to balance having fun adventures with the safety alerts going off in the back of your mind can be tiring. But I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be ridiculously complicated.

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Uluru: a reminder of our world’s transformation

Last year, I travelled to the centre of the Australian desert and took this photo of iconic Uluru. Not that you are able to tell this was taken 12 months ago: it could’ve been last week, or even the year I was born. The reason I point this out is because this rock is a very physical and literal symbol of stability, and the unchanging habit of monolithic natural features. And this stark reminder of unyielding durability juxtaposes with the examples of transformation that flow around it everyday.

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7 reasons why you should take a gap year to solo travel

As soon as I could hold the concept of my future in my head, as in a future in which school wouldn’t be a thing and I would have to make decisions about my life for myself, the idea of exploring the world appealed to me. Throughout my last years of secondary school and during my time at sixth form college, I plotted hundreds of different trips for future me: some relatively reachable, others sheer fantasy, but all got me a little closer to the plan that actually materialised.

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The temporary nature of glaciers

Seeing a glacier in real life is like seeing behind the scenes of the world; the pure geological strength of the planet displayed in front of you. Glaciers are the remnants of the cold carving knife that shaped the landscape millions of years ago, forging valleys and shaping mountains, and a stark reminder of the forces of our environment and the ways in which it’s changed over time.

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Picked up in a stranger’s truck: Hawaii Adventures

Hurtling down a Hawaiian highway at midnight in a stranger’s battered truck is not how I pictured my life would be when I was daydreaming in college exams two months earlier. I was there alone, roughly 4500 miles from the closest person I knew and 7323 miles from my hometown and family, with limited knowledge of my surroundings and a phone with no signal. Apparently I had decided in a state of wanderlust a few months prior, that signing up to stay and volunteer on a farm on the island of Oahu by myself was a perfectly fine idea.

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