Huntington university offers several trips throughout the year, and while many of them are mission trips, there are a few that are just to see the sights, to explore somewhere new. One of these is the trip that was offered for J-term 2017 to go to London. It could count as a class- bonus points!- or as cultural credit (since it is out of the country). The trip was for just over a week and included a couple of shows, lots of scheduled free time, and many tours of famous places, including castles, abbeys/cathedrals, and even the birthplace of Shakespeare. However, while there are many benefits to going with a group, there are also some downsides.
Pros: (Besides the fact that it's England)
1. Some have been there before- Never underestimate the knowledge of a person who has already seen the places on your itinerary. They know more ways to get to the Burrough Market and know which are the good stalls to try because they've been there before.
2. They might have something you forgot- it could be anything from an umbrella to a power adapter so you can charge your phone. It could even be some Kleenex or cough drops that you didn't realize you would need.
3. There's a set plan- you know where you're going, when you need to be there, and there are always a few suggestions on where to eat nearby. they put tours and shows into the schedule for you and give you some free time to explore in smaller groups.
4. You don't have to worry about traveling alone- everyone goes everywhere with at least one other person, a map, and at least one of the group has a way to contact the leader of the group. traveling after dark is a whole lot more comfortable when there are five of you walking in a huddle down the rainy streets than being alone.
Cons: (yes there are a few)
1. The time difference- It's a 5 hour time change, which means that 7:00 AM here is noon there. That's a bummer when you've just traveled fro almost 12 hours and its just now lunch when you arrive.
2. Jet lag- well, you aren't supposed to sleep until the evening when you get there but even after being there for a couple days, going to sleep before 2 AM is kind of difficult because you just are not tired yet.
3. Cell phone plans and power adapters- it costs at least $40 to get an international plan, and even then it only covers texting and some data, so say goodbye to talking to any SO or family members until you get back- unless you can get on WiFi strong enough to Facetime. Then you also have to make sure you have a adapter because the outlets are very different there.
4. Not being with family/friends- Most of the group will be partial strangers, your professors, or some other adult that tagged along. One of the best things about traveling is having memories to share with your friends or family that came along. you might have one or two friends on the trip, but while everyone else is very kind and easy to talk to, sometimes it'd be more fun to just be sharing the same times with your parents and siblings. Yes, yes, we're in college but that doesn't mean that I wouldn't want to share a ride in a black cab with my mom sometime.
5. There's a set plan- Everything is laid out for you, often early in the morning which means no sleeping in,no days of wandering around a mall like Harrod's, and not being able to spend five hours in the National gallery to check out Monet and Van Gogh and so many other artists. You have to stick to a plan and you may not be as interested in some things as everyone else is.
6. The walking- The number one thing to get used to is all the walking. You walk to the station, up and down to the train (or the Tube), and to wherever you're headed. There's only so many times you can afford to take a black cab.
All in all though, the trip is worth the adventure and the sights. if you ever have the chance, take it and enjoy being in a different country.