Last week en route to Ghana, I had a 4-day layover in London, United Kingdom. Before leaving the US, I had planned extensively my itinerary for my four days in the UK. I was going to visit 5 museums, 3 universities, and friends in 2 towns outside of London. While my plans were well thought out and budgeted down to the last pound, I failed to account for jet lag! Thus, when I landed on Tuesday morning in London, all I wanted to do was sleep in my hostel. After “wasting” a day sleeping, I spent Wednesday and Thursday exploring the University of London and sights all around the city. Though not a fan of British royalty, I walked down to Buckingham Palace, the home of the Queen of England, to watch the Changing of the Guards, a weekly event where the guards posted outside of the palace are relieved by a new set of guards. I also visited the British History Museum, Tate Museum of Modern Art, and countless old British churches in Central London as the London rain and wind pestered me all day. London is truly a rainy city!
On my last day in the UK, I traveled to Cambridge to visit a friend, Njoki, a current doctoral student at the University of Cambridge and a friend I met in Ghana in 2011. As the second oldest university in the UK, the University of Cambridge is prestigious institution steeped in British traditions. Going from London, a vibrant and diverse city, to the small quaint town of Cambridge I realized that I was no longer in the city anymore. Instead of London buses and frenzied taxis vying for space on the roadways, bicyclists ruled the roads of Cambridge. Beautiful old University buildings now replaced the skyscrapers of London.
Though these signs foreshadowed my shift into the British ivy towers, I did not fully realize that I was in Cambridge until Thursday evening. Over email, my friend Njoki had reminded me to pack a nice dress for a formal dinner. I wrongly assumed that some organization that she was a part of was having a formal. Instead, another college, an equivalent to a US dorm, hosted the formal dinner that night. Eating my three course meal and listening to the master (head of the college) give the blessing in Latin as Cambridge students stood in their graduation robes, I realized that I was no longer in London!
After enjoying my first formal dinner, I crawled into bed to enjoy my last night in the UK with ambitious plans to tour the University of Cambridge in the morning. 12 hours of sleep later, I remembered how my plans were no match for my jetlag as I rolled out of bed at 11am. Fortunately, I had enough time to eat lunch with Amy Chalmers, a fellow Wofford alumni and citizen of Spartanburg, before I boarded my bus for Heathrow airport.
The United Kindgom has reminded me that in the battle of ambitious travel plans versus jet lag, jet lag always wins.