It’s difficult and exhausting. It needs incredible attention to detail and thorough planning. Scheduling and organizing are key to this endeavor. Any slip-ups will cost priceless time and precious money. It is more physically intensive than you’d think while you operate on as little sleep as possible. Be prepared for subpar food, miscommunication, and a lack of adequate facilities. Your irritability might increase and frustration is a common symptom.



Yes, that is indeed how much work travelling is. Oh, I should correct that: That is how much work travelling is when you’re a university student. I don’t know how many nights I have spent with snoring people, trying to sleep in a room with malfunctioning heating after just having walked for seven hours or so. Sometimes there’s gale force winds and heavy rain, but you trek on because you paid for this, damn it. Sometimes you’re left waiting at train stations for hours, having to take multiple routes to get back home. And sometimes there just aren’t enough minutes in the day so you have to leave feeling incomplete. Although I have to say, there is something releasing about the whole experience.



I suppose the good thing about it all is the effect it has on your ability to contextualize. These places don’t feel like settings in books anymore. They become externalized, literally materializing for you to examine. It’s surreal to see all these places in real life because, to you, they might only exist in pictures or in books. It’s almost the real life equivalent of stumbling through the wardrobe and into the snow. You read about castles, palaces, and cathedrals that stand with ancient dignity. Yet you can’t really understand what it feels like to be dwarfed by these old, tall walls as you stare up at painted ceilings with your neck craned so far back you could topple over backwards. What must it feel like to live in these places and to have those ceilings be the last thing you look as before your eyes close shut with the weight of sleep.



I don’t think I’ll ever truly know that. But I am a little closer to understanding. I will admit, the world is bigger now. At least, for me.



By: Fatima Ahmed



Image Credit: Illustration by Michael Hague in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.