“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page” – St. Augustine
Oh two thousand and fourteen, what a year you’ve been! Twelve flights, a faded tan and countless memories later, leave me wondering if 2015 can possibly be any better!
My year started off with a bang as I counted in the New Year to Big Ben’s chimes on Southbank in London. Next to me stood my American best friend, Lindsay, who travelled across the pond to spend the New Year in England, her eyes gleaming as she took in the bright lights of the London eye.
Spring brought the end of my American College experience at the University of South Carolina. I miss the friends I made and the laidback lifestyle I led; I even miss the Country music and the deep fried Oreo’s! Before the Semester finished I embarked on the most stereotypical American Spring Break possible. An 8 hour drive south of Columbia, South Carolina, landed me and my fellow Brits in Panama City Beach, Florida. My experience can only be described as Magaluf on steroids; I leave the rest up to your imagination.
The travelling did not just stop there. In 2014 I hiked in the Blue Ridge Mountains, spent Easter at a lake house in Virginia, strolled beneath the Spanish moss in Savannah, visited an old slave Plantation in Charleston, found Country music heaven in Nashville, ate the most delicious pulled pork sandwiches in Memphis, explored the museums and sites in Washington DC, went up the Empire State building in New York City, walked along the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, road tripped down highway one in California, and spent the beginning of summer watching films at a Drive in Movie Theatre in Texas.
It is exhausting just thinking about all those exciting places, let alone living out of a suitcase for nearly two months hopping between the vast and versatile States.
Once on home soil, I did not stick around for long. After a day out in bright yellow at the Royal Ascot Ladies Day, Windsor, I spent the rest of my summer working in Vassiliki, Greece, at a windsurfing and sailing resort. Much to my mother’s dismay, my travel bug seemed to get the better of me, and I decided that working abroad in the Ionian Sea was the perfect way to spend my last summer before the hard work of final year at University began.
I even let go of the perfectionist, high strung version of Alice and went to my first ever music festival. I went to Bestival, on the Isle of Wight, camping with a group of girls. Fancy dress, raving at all hours of the day and night, and ‘posh loos’ saw me through a laughter filled long weekend as I officially waved goodbye to summer.
Before heading back to Kent, I took a trip up to Edinburgh with my younger brother, to help him move into his new student flat and meet all his University friends. Edinburgh is a unique city, and it did not take me long to realise why he had fallen in love with such a beautiful place. Of course, a hung-over walk (climb) up St. Arthurs Seat was plastered on the agenda!
September brought the beginning of final year and the hardest term at University to date. Dealing with reverse culture shock, alongside the fact that a majority of my friends had already graduated, left me feeling empty and alone. The endless novels, essays, performances, combined with a part time job, swimming training and competitions plus writing for the student newspaper, challenged my time organisation skills. By the time December rolled around, I barely knew which way was up, the library became my second home and spinning classes at the gym saved my sanity levels from frying.
Christmas this year was both surreal and brilliant at the same time. Instead of the usual Christmas tree decorating, present wrapping and red wine drinking mania, my family took a much needed holiday to the Dominican Republic. We marvelled in the sunshine, swam in the clear waters, read our novels and drank Pinᾶ Colada’s. Thus proving, it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, or even if you get no presents, family really is all you need at Christmas.
Whilst 2014 has probably been my most exciting year to date, meeting incredible people and visiting breath taking places. It has also left a rather empty hole in my heart. Not only have I lost a loving school friend, Flora, against her battle with Cystic Fibrosis and a thoughtful Great Aunt Grace. My Grandma passed away this year which was excruciatingly painful. Singing at her funeral was undoubtedly the hardest thing I have ever had to do, and she is so dearly missed by all those she touched with her warmth and love.
On reflection, I feel incredibly fortunate and thankful for the experiences I have gained this past year. From the families I stayed with in America, to my own supportive parents, thank you! I hope 2015 brings as much adventure, challenges and happiness as 2014 has. Happy New Year!
One thought on “Two Thousand and Fourteen: A Reflection”
Woah your 2014 was super jam packed!! It sounds like you had a very adventurous and amazing time 🙂 I wish my year was as productive as yours!