Everyone needs a break now and then and round the middle of the semester it couldn’t come fast enough. Hello, Spring Break! Now a lot of people take this opportunity to head off to someplace sunny and warm. However, instead of heading to the typical destinations of Mexico or Florida, my friend and I decided to be “cultured” and use the time to go visit the great cities of Philadelphia and Washington DC, the former and current capitals of the United States of America.
The outgoing bus trip to Philadelphia was straighforward and we hoped this was a sign of how the remainder of our trip would go. We were wrong. The next evening we received emails that our bus to Washington DC, two days later, was cancelled thanks to a not-so-friendly impending snowstorm. Now this was not something we factored into our trip. It also wasn’t something we could necessarily prepare for. We were at the mercy of the weather, not that this was a foreign concept to us being British and attending University in the North.
If this had happened during Thanksgiving Break when we went to New York and Boston, our first proper trip out here, I think we would have reacted a lot differently. I think this is a testament to how much we’ve grown throughout our time abroad. Whereas in the past we probably would have panicked, with some possible crying being thrown into the mix, this time we didn’t. There is no way we could have anticipated being stuck in Philadelphia during a snowstorm. So we decided to approach the situation with a mindset of “we’ll play it by ear” and make the best of it.
First came the task of cancelling our first night in Washington DC. This was followed by hoping and praying there were beds available for an additional night at our Philadelphia hostel. We didn’t have to worry. Within 10 minutes it was done and dusted. We decided to leave booking an alternative transport until the day following the storm. From there we went into Philly and enjoyed a day of seeing the Philadelphia Magic Gardens, running up the Rocky Steps and trying the famous Philadelphia Cheesesteak. The next day, instead of heading to Washington DC, we spent it relaxing in the hostel and building the first snowmen of the season. A surprising but fun addition to our trip.
This left us with only two days to explore Washington DC as opposed to three. We had some people trying to deter us, saying it wasn’t worth the trip, but we weren’t to be stopped. Onto DC we went! And it turned out to be the best decision we could’ve made. We managed to see most of the major monuments from the Lincoln Memorial to the White House. After a week we were tired in the best way from an amazing holiday and it is one I won’t forget any time soon.
Our entire attitude towards this unexpected addition to our Spring Break trip shows just how much we’ve grown over the course of this year and how much more independent we have become. I could not recommend more highly to people the decision to take the plunge and embark on an exchange year abroad. You won’t regret it.
Written by Isabelle Currie – University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA