I am now happy to say that I am writing this post from the United Kingdom! This past week has been so surreal and it is exciting to finally begin my adventure abroad.
My journey began in Chicago where I caught up with old friends and said goodbye to one of my favorite cities. As I was searching for flights to England, Chicago was hands down the cheapest airport to fly out of compared to more local airports such as Des Moines or Omaha. So I hopped on a bus (that only cost me $1) and headed to Chicago for the weekend.
Then, on September 26th, I boarded the plane at O’Hare Airport and left the United States! The flight was during the night so I had no trouble falling asleep once I got situated. After six hours, we arrived to our layover in Reykjavik, Iceland was only in the airport for a few hours before I took off again to Manchester.
I stayed in Manchester for three nights at a hostel. This wasn’t my first time in a hostel, but it was definitely different from the ones I have been to in the past. Just imagine two bunk beds in a room so small, there isn’t enough room for the four occupants to all stand up at once. Nonetheless, I did have some very awesome roommates.
One was from Germany, another from Ireland, and one from China. While I was in Manchester, I did a lot of walking and exploring. I came across some beautiful churches as well as the National Football Museum of England. My most favorite part of this city was the passion it has for their two football (soccer) clubs. I was lucky to go to a Manchester United match and it was like nothing I’ve seen when compared to an American Football game. These fans have a more rooted and admirable passion for the game. There were chants and club anthems throughout the game.
Following my time in Manchester, I decided to hop on the train and make my way west to Liverpool. What was once an important hub for trade from throughout the world, Liverpool remains to be a destination for many people both inside and outside of the United Kingdom. Compared to Manchester, Liverpool is much smaller and more condensed. What took me three days to explore Manchester, Liverpool only took me a matter of five to six hours. Nonetheless, those hours were filled with some beautiful architecture and interesting history. The most impressive highlight of Liverpool is their recognition of having the largest Cathedral in all of the UK and the fifth largest in the world.
As I was walking into the entrance, I was impressed with the stain glass windows and the attention to detail in the stone work, makes me wonder how it was even possible to create such beauty with such little resources.I stayed at the cathedral for more than an hour and stood next to people from around the world as we all tried to find a way to capture as much as we could in one single photo – a hard task for sure. Outside of the cathedral laid the cemetery grounds and gardens. Fountains, memorials, and tombstones covered the area with aging grace as I walked through and admired again, how serene everything was.
As said before, Liverpool was known for their large role in the trade between the United States and Africa. The docks that were used for these shipments are preserved today and many of the warehouses have been converted into museums, shops, and restaurants. Once the sun goes down, people head to the local pubs and clubs for a night on the town. Throughout the two days I was there, I walked pass a food truck approximately seven different times, and on my list night, I finally caved and bought a foot-long hot dog with onions and sweet chili sauce – delicious! The next morning I packed my belongings, checked out of my hostel, hopped on the train and embarked on my new destination – Lancaster.
It was crazy how my first week in the U.K. was already over. What took months of planning was completed in what felt like too short of time. Nonetheless, the end of last week meant the beginning of this week at my new university in Lancaster. It has been already an amazing experience and I cannot wait to FINALLY begin classes in the next few days!