Why The Trip Across The Pond?
When you’re lucky enough to be in a position to go abroad for school, even if just for a semester, you take it! Why wouldn’t you jump on the chance to experience a new walk of life, doing something you have to do anyway? Hence, my semester abroad in England and my trip across the pond.
Why The University of Exeter?
Initially when planning my study abroad I just wanted to go somewhere different, but I didn’t have a specific location in mind. When it came to deciding I was torn between England and Australia. My University in the states offered a program in both countries that allowed me to pay my regular tuition, so the only added cost was for Room and Board fees. With finances not being a major concern, my deciding factor was primarily preference. On the one hand I could spend my semester on the beach, or on the other hand I could have the opportunity to hop around Europe and live in the U.K.
My boyfriend James did a semester abroad at The University of Exeter in the Spring of 2016 and while he was there I decided to go visit him. On that trip I fell in love with the campus, the town and the lifestyle. It was settled, I would be doing my semester abroad at Exeter. Turns out, James loved it so much as well that he decided to do a second semester abroad and he returned to Exeter with me in the Fall of 2016.
The trip across the pond was an easy one; I flew directly from John F. Kennedy International Airport to London Gatwick International Airport via Norwegian Airlines. If you are looking for a cheap flight, I highly recommend this airline. While the tickets are affordable, you don’t feel like you’re flying on a cheap airline. Mind you, James and I did pay for any extras we wanted i.e. choosing seats, checked bags, and in-flight meals, but in the end the flight still came up to roughly $600 round trip. All in all, not bad.
P.S. if you know anything about me, I love shoes – I ended up paying $400 for my flight to Gatwick, whereas James paid $300, because my two bags were overweight.. Lesson to be learnt, sometimes you don’t need ten pairs of shoes…oh well.
The entertainment system was great, there were popular TV Shows, current movies, popular music, and even games to choose from on your individual screen. Also, all the seats were equipped with charging stations which I find so important on a long flight.
For me one of the major perks on this budget airline was without a doubt the roominess of the seats. Now when you book a budget airline you expect cramped seats, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the seats were roomy and comfortable. Since this trip, I’ve booked many other flights on Norwegian Airlines – I truly think its a great value if you’re not willing to fork up for premium seats.
Gatwick Train Station
Upon arrival to London, customs and baggage claim was a breeze. Fortunately having James there, I had some muscle to help me carry all of my overweight suitcases from customs to the train station which was conveniently located within the airport.
Twenty-four hours later – a trip across the pond consisted of a plane, a train, a cab, and one stanky couple later we had reached the quaint English town Swindon. James had previously connected with some relatives in Swindon, and arranged with his aunt Teresa to host us for the night before we continued our trip to Exeter.
At last the following day, refreshed and a little jet lagged we hailed a cab and made our way back to the train station to make our way to Exeter. Another cab ride, and 30 pounds poorer (cab rides ugh) we were finally at our flat aka our home for the next 6 months.
Our flat accommodated seven people. James and myself were obviously 2 of the 7, along with Will and Eli, both from Kansas, USA, Donald – originally from Hong Kong, and now residing in NY, and then Fanny and Jocelyn from Hong Kong. We were very lucky that all our roommates were awesome and we all got along very well.
All in all, the transition from the States to the U.K. was a long, but easy one, and it is not a decision I would regret doing. In the short month and a half that I have been here, I’ve learned more about the world, other’s cultures and norms, and have become more open-minded and accepting of the differences that make each and every one of us ourselves. If there is anything I have learned from this, simply it is that travel opens the mind and everyone should do it once! Why not follow in our steps and take a trip across the pond?
Total Costs: $400, £67
- My Flight: $400 (ticket originally 300, but I had two overweight bags…all those shoes)
- Trains: £52 (Gatwick – Swindon, then Swindon to Exeter)
- Cab Fare: £15 ea