As an international student, I feel the need to see as much as I can while I’m here in the UK. And although I love living in London, I will readily admit that sometimes it’s nice to get out of the city. Fortunately, this island is well-connected by rail, which I’ve found allows for a variety of inexpensive day or weekend trips. And, perhaps less fortunately, I get to indulge my amateur travel-blogger side here on this site.
My first daytrip upon arriving to the UK was to Dover, an hour or so to the southeast. I didn’t know much about Dover beyond some vague notion of white cliffs, but that was enough for me.
So you want to travel…
You’re a student. You don’t have enough time! Or money?
I recently went on a weekend trip to Dublin, Ireland with friends and it was amazing. The weather was decent for mid-February, atmosphere was chilled and loads of cool sights to see all within walking distance of the city centre.
I thought I’d share my experiences travelling and give a couple tips that you may (hopefully?!) find useful.
This usually determines whether you’ll actually end up going abroad or not. Flights can be notoriously expensive, but the key is to be more flexible with your dates and book way in advance.
The Isle of Skye will ruin scenery for you forever.
You have been warned. There is no place more dangerous for your sense of beauty, especially if you go when the sun is out. After that, no other scenery will seem to measure up. Future holidays will be spent passive-aggressively trying to get fellow travellers to look at pictures of Skye on your phone.
I mean, just look at these photos from Talisker Beach.
Blue skies, crystal clear water, black sand and green pasture behind us. Just shocking.
And the scandalous seafood lunch with Talisker Bay oysters going at ~£1 a piece.
I’m definitely a social animal. While I need some “me time” once in a while, I tend to surround myself with people. This is why when I embarked on my first PhD journey, I wasn’t too thrilled to learn that I’d be travelling alone. That sounded so scary, I was afraid that something would go wrong or, in the best case scenario, I’d just feel lonely and miserable for a few days.
Since then I’ve been to so many conferences in various countries, often extended to a mini-vacation. Almost always, completely alone. And let me tell you, I learned to love it.
If you’re thinking of going to Amsterdam, go to Haarlem instead. No, seriously.
Haarlem is a smaller city just 15 minutes away from Amsterdam by train. It’s got far fewer tourists, cheaper and nicer accommodation, and way better food. PLUS, it’s a mere 20 minute bus ride to the beach!
With the final assignment of term 2 done and dusted, we decided to take advantage of Eurostar’s new direct train from London to Amsterdam (£35 one way). Well, almost direct. It does do a short stop in Brussels and the total journey is about 3.5 hours. Nevertheless, it’s still way more convenient than a flight.
Best part of doing a PhD? Conferences! When you finally manage to do some meaningful research, it’s time to present it to a wider audience. In other words, pack your suitcases and bon voyage! I know that attending conferences might be a bit overwhelming in the beginning, so here are a few tips to make the most of them.
- Find a good conference. If you’re as lucky as I am and have a great supervisor, she or he will suggest interesting events to you. Otherwise you’ll need to do the work yourself. However, at Imperial we’re flooded with e-mails advertising scientific events, there’s also Google and your colleagues who can give you some advice.
London is a big place, 1,572 km² to be exact, so you definitely need to know your way around. Whether it’s to shave off those precious seconds on the morning commute so you can lie in bed that bit longer or simply because you don’t want to walk in the rain, one of the most iconic transport systems has got you covered.
The Underground: A.K.A The Tube
Riding at high speed in a metal tube down a very dark tunnel, miles underground sounds like a great way to travel, right? Well, that’s basically the Tube! The massive network of underground tunnels crisscrossing all over London is one of the quickest (and more pricey) ways to get round on public transport.