Most students at Gachon University lead a pretty busy life going round and round a routine of ‘home-school-part time job-private educational institute’. Don’t you sometimes feel like stopping this repetitious life and leaving for somewhere? I recommend that they travel to find yourself. Traveling is the best way to lay your burdens down and feel comfortable. However, some students will think, “I don't have that much extra money and time.” But to be frank, it is not that you can’t find yourself because you have no money and time. It is enough to have a mind to leave and a determination to find yourself. So, I’d like to tell you about my travel. During this summer vacation I went backpacking to Europe, which everyone dreams of travelling to. I don’t want to say that the ‘Eiffel Tower is beautiful, the Coliseum is awesome and grand, or the Temple of Parthenon is wonderful.’ These are mentioned in most traveler’s journals. I want my fancy travel journal to be an imaginary plane ticket to Europe for you who learned travel from books and want to leave, but can’t.
Unexpected journey, Europe
Europe travel was not included in my life plan. When I learned about world geography in high school, I wanted to go to many countries, especially Europe. I was eager for Europe because I believed people could feel many things in Europe. It has many countries and a diversity of ethnicities and cultures. I just felt inclined to going to Europe but couldn’t go. My travel to Europe started in the winter of 2013. As soon as my sister was chosen as a Dutch exchange student, I persuaded my parents. “While she is studying in Europe for half an year, it's a chance for me to visit Europe”, “If I go now, we can save money.” “When can I go to Europe if it's not now?” They were anxious about their two daughters going around Europe. However, my sister and I persuaded them with such persistence that they finally allowed us to travel. I spent a semester feeling excited at the travel. Finally, I took a step to Europe.
Preparing travel to Europe
After having decided on traveling to Europe, I immediately went to a bookshop and bought a book on European travel. We were scheduled to travel for one month. My sister and I planned to go backpacking to Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, United Kingdom, and Spain. There are many means of transportation but we chose the cheapest ferry or night bus because our trip was backpacking. Especially, we usually used the train in Italy because the train system in Italy is very good. All accommodations were booked through the web site ‘booking.com’, and I was issued an international student ID before I left for Europe. Thanks to an international student ID, I could buy a ticket for historic sites in Athens at a discounted price. You can get an international student ID if you apply for it on the Gachon University website.
As I planned for backpacking for myself, I felt regret but was satisfied after my travels. The first place we went to in U.K. was London and then we chose Edinburgh in Scotland. We were worried about Edinburgh since we didn’t have much information about it. In the travel book there is just one page about the city, but Edinburgh was as good as London and there we experienced many precious memories. In Greece we wanted to go to Athens and Santorini. We had a plan to stay long in Athens because there were plenty of historic sites and tourist attractions. However, we had too much time in Athens, whereas we were pushed for time in Santorini unexpectedly. We were sorry to leave Santorini and made a promise that we would go to Santorini again.
www.ferriesingreece.com, www.superfast.com Ferry reservation website about Greece, Italy, Turkey
www.trainitaly.co.kr Italy train reservation website (Korean)
http://uk.megabus.com Megabus reservation website
www.booking.com Accommodation reservation website booking.com
+) International student ID, is it useful?
I had an ISIC international student ID which proved that I attend a school of Korea and my sister had a student ID for her Dutch University, but most ticket offices accepted only student ID’s for European Universities, not international student ID’s. Furthermore, some ticket offices didn’t give a discount to my sister because she wasn’t European. Ticket offices admitted a person who has a passport issued in Europe as European.
The place where you can feel the breath of the ancient, Athens in Greece
We headed for our first destination, Athens in Greece. There are many historic sites (Temple of Olympian Jeus, Acropolis, Theatre of Dionysos, and Ancient Agora) where people can feel the breath of Greek mythology and Greek philosophers. When I bought a united ticket for historic sites in Athens, I got a student discount at 6€ with my international student ID. First, we went to Ancient Agora and saw stone columns and fountains, which were made in B.C. 19C. I was surprised at how ancient Greeks built them and how they remained there for such a long time. After we looked around Ancient Agora, we climbed the Acropolis. While we were climbing, we caught the sight of the Theatre of Dionysos, which was made in B.C. 6C. The theater has been used as the background of many plays. We took the trouble to climb the Temple of Parthenon but to our sorrow and irritation, it was under construction. However, we were greatly relieved at the panoramic view of Athens. Temples and high doors here and there seemed to show us the history of Athens.
+) Ancient Agora: It means a market. But it was the center of politics, religion, and art, not just a place for trading.
+) The Temple of Parthenon: The biggest temple in Acropolis. It enshrines Athena who is the guardian goddess of Athens.
Rome was not built in a day, Rome in Italy
It is easy to find historical tracks in Rome as well. When I saw Rome’s symbol, the Coliseum, I realized I was in Europe. When I saw it with my own naked eyes, I was so touched that I couldn’t express myself. The Coliseum was under construction too, but we could see some parts of it. And then we bought a united ticket (Coliseum+Foro, Romano+Monte, Palatino) and entered the Coliseum. When I went inside, I felt how mysterious the architecture was. We walked around the streets of Rome and stumbled on Tritone Fountain in Plaza Barberini that was built by Bernini. I loved it. I realized that all famous things are not good and some unknown things can be impressive to someone. Tritone Fountain is awesome and wonderful, so I stared at it for a long time.
+) Coliseum: The classic structure of Italy. A four-storied elliptical building. It was known as the place where gladiators ran the risk of fighting against wild beasts.
The Center of art which runs through Seine river, Paris in France.
We crossed Pont Neuf to go to Paris’ famous attraction, the ‘Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral’. On the bridge a double bassist and saxophonist played some merry music and beside them a tap dancer danced to the exciting rhythms. The tap dance looked interesting so I kept the beat by tapping my feet. The tap dancer noticed me and told me, “Come here!” The musicians played an easy song for me and enticed me to do a tap dance. So I did a poor tap dance with her. Then I did an easy tap dance and she did a difficult modified tap dance. After dancing, I received applause but ran away because I was so embarrassed. Come to think about it now, I should have followed their steps more actively and taken pictures with them. But I still vividly recall the precious memories of having been noticed by the dancer, learning a tap dance, and dancing to anonymous players on Pont Neuf, the oldest bridge in Paris.
The whole world changes red, Spain La tomatina
We planned an itinerary for our trip to Europe centering on a global festival in La tomatina. We delayed the day of departure for La tomatina and decided to visit Spain as the last place of our trip. Bunol where La tomatina was held, was a very small village, so La tomatina participants went together to Bunol by bus at Balenciaga. After arriving in Bunol, we walked with people and saw the street was full of people. When I went into the crowd stealthily, water suddenly poured on me from above. It was the inhabitants of Bunol that sprinkled water. We all got wet because of that water so we let our hair down and joined the crowd with a carefree mind. When we were in the middle, we heard a loud horn. A truck full of tomatoes was coming. At first we bought swimming goggles because if tomato gets in your eyes it’s really hurts, but we threw them away because after being hit by one tomato they broke. It hurt more than I had expected because the tomato was hard like a rock. When tomatoes thrown from the truck hit us, we picked up tomatoes and threw them back and dredged each other with them. We had fun for as 6 tomato trucks passed and then we heard a sound announcing the end of the festival. Then many village people sprinkled water from a hose to clean people who got soiled with tomato. I had so much fun at the La tomatina festival. I think it was the best because I was relieved without being conscious of myself.
+) How is the weather of summer, August, in Europe?
It’s very hot in the summer in Europe, especially in Turkey, Greece, Italy, and Spain. Most people carry 1.5L bottles of water. It is easy to buy water in the street. The highest temperature that I experienced in Europe was 44℃ in Spain, Valencia. I felt stifled in the streets as if I were in a sauna at Valencia. On the other hand, it was cold in France and U.K. Even the temperature of U.K was in the single-digit range. The weather was cloudy and rained often in France, Paris and U.K. I was unable to bear the cold and bought a long-sleeved top, a pair of long trousers and a blue jean jacket. If you want to save money in France and Europe, I recommend you to bring a long-sleeved top and a pair of long trouser.
Having prepared and thought and moved myself, my backpacking to Europe during the hot summer invigorated my exhausted soul and refreshed my insipid daily life. You can never feel this experience by reading a travel journal, but you can make your own unique story while travelling around like me. I hope that you will feel such changes after reading this article. I don’t want to force someone who doesn’t have the composure to travel. I just want to have a small impact in your busy and repetitive daily lives.< Copyright © The Gachon Herald All rights reserved >