Column: How to get to where I am going

Tyler Wailes

After sitting in a grounded plane that rocked like an anchored boat in rough waters for more than a half an hour, I finally stepped foot into Heathrow International Airport at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019. With my carry on in tow, I briskly made my way through the halls, following clearly labeled signs that promised to lead me to Icelandair’s baggage claim. It wasn’t long before I learned though, that it wouldn’t be for another hour and a half, that I would be able to retrieve my luggage.

Along with providing directions to the university using the country’s public transportation system, The University of Hertfordshire also offered a free pickup service for international students at Heathrow that would be leaving the airport promptly 12 p.m., a service I intended on utilizing. Now, Customs; while very import and vitally necessary, it is a roadblock that I did not know to take into consideration when planning my arrival. Being the first time traveler that I am, I naively thought I would simply have to show my passport and letter of acceptance to the Customs Officer and then walk into the country. To be fair, this is exactly what I had to do, I just had to do it two hours later than I thought I would. It’s safe to say, I did not make pick-up.

I located my suitcases, sitting alone in front of a motionless luggage claim, and then followed the signs that read, “way out.” I soon entered the lobby of the airport, lined with families waiting to pick-up their loved ones and drivers holding up signs with the names of the travelers they were there to pick, and I promptly made my way over to the help desk. I was greeted by two very nice employees who provided me with several counts of advice on how best to make my journey over to Hatfield but, expressed that they thought the quickest and safest way for me to reach my destination was to simply get a cab. After considering the potential difficulties of traveling alone in a strange city with 100 lbs of luggage and no cellular service, I requested them to call me a car.

Only waiting for ten minutes or so, my driver, a kind gentleman dressed in a suite, arrived at the help desk and asked to take my bags for me. He showed me to the parking garage where he proceeded to put my things in the back of his dark blue, jaguar. Forgetting that the cars and roads are reversed in England, I made my way to what I thought was the passenger side door. With a polite chuckle, he informed me that the passenger seat was on the left side of the vehicle. A bit embarrassed, I let out a, “oh, of course” and redirected my path. We then embarked on what turned into a 45-minute drive over to the University.

I made it to the University of Hertfordshire by 3 p.m. on Saturday afternoon and successfully completed the biggest trip of my life thus far.

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