Bring Me That Horizon

Adventure Travel, Dispatches from the Road, England, Expats Abroad, Featured, Studying Abroad, Travel Philosophy — By on November 9, 2009 at 9:00 am

by Jessica Goldstein
LG Adventure Editor

Here is something you may have noticed: It’s a big, big world out there. Shining, shimmering, splendid, etc. There’s home, and then there’s everywhere else. What is it exactly that makes us want to bolt from our roots and go someplace completely foreign?

I am a traveling junky and I blame Oregon Trail. For those of you who weren’t born into that late ‘80s, too-young-for-Cabbage-Patch-Dolls-and-a-little-too-old-for-Beanie-Babies generation, Oregon Trail was a computer game for elementary school kids about the great American road trip circa 1848: a Conestoga wagon trek from Independence, Missouri to – you guessed it – Oregon. My childhood dreams of reaching Willamette Valley were always thwarted; every time I tried to ford the river, my oxen died (I died shortly thereafter from dysentery, naturally). I never reached that glorious pixilated destination and I guess I never got over it. Reading lots of Kerouac and watching all those Mary Kate and Ashley travel around the globe movies as an adolescent probably did not help.

That’s just my story, but the truth is it’s not shocking I caught adventure fever. That’s what Americans do: we move. We couldn’t wait to jump on ships to get here, and ever since we arrived, we’ve been fixated on getting someplace else. We ventured west into the wilderness until we hit water and then, still unsatisfied, switched gears and rocketed off to the moon. The surprising thing would be if we all decided to stay put.

And now, London! I’ve been here a month, which feels like so much time and also no time at all. For my semester abroad, I’m studying English (England seemed like a good place to do that), exploring the city and using the UK as a launching pad for other European misadventures.

London MapExpat Guides, Vol. 1: Getting around

For the first four days, I got lost everywhere I went. Imagine a drunk toddler. Give said toddler a crayon. Ask him to draw straight lines on a piece of paper. Then imagine the City Planner of London seeing those squiggles and saying, “These would make PERFECT roads!” Assign someone with a cruel sense of humor to name these streets. Roads here are anything but gridlike, and they often change names for no reason at all. So if you come here, buy a London A-Z and never go outside without it. And when in doubt, take the Tube, which is actually as pretty and easy to use as they say. It’s not lick-the-floor clean or anything, but we’re talking a giant stride forward from the touching-anything-might-give-you-tetanus feel of the New York subway.

MORE TO COME. Get excited…

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    1 Comment

  • Heather Rae says:

    I love that you talk about Oregon Trail! No one ever knows what I'm talking about when I bring that up – a great childhood memory for my morning. 🙂