A little bit of an unhinged title, right? This blog won’t be about learning study methods, or how to manage your time, but rather learning about (insert whimsical sparkly sounds) humanity. So, during my February reading week, I had the most incredible opportunity to raise money for three incredible charities (Families for Fife, Bloody Good Period and Doctors Without Borders) through getting to Prague, in the Czech Republic by spending as little money as possible. In four days.
Why did I wish to embark on this craziness? Well, to prove to myself that it really is the journey, not the destination, which counts. During my four days of travel to Prague, my team and I met a myriad of people. Those who picked us up to drive towards another petrol stop, those who bought us coffee or donated to the charities. We met friendly and not-so-friendly humans. We explored Dutch suburbs and German towns. Ending up in places I had never heard of. From seeing local life, to finding ourselves finally ambling over the Czechian Vltava river, dozing on night buses to Dusseldorf or finding relief in hostels. I couldn’t go over what the whole journey entailed, but believe me, it was pretty crazy.
Perhaps some of the most notable memories were the people we met along the way. The vast majority wanted to help us, even if we never could hitch a ride. If you ever start doomscrolling on twitter and want to believe in humanity again, try hitchhiking across Europe! Despite dozens and dozens of rejections, frowns or the occasional utterance of annoyance, we received so many smiles and helping hands along the way. Each person has their own story to tell, their own direction they’re travelling in. Sharing a slice of the road with those you didn’t even know existed was, for the most part, wholesomely humbling. The first ride we hitched, from outside Edinburgh (Haddington) to Berwick-upon-Tweed turned out to be a St Andrews alumni, who worked for the UN in exploring how places of violence within the Middle East could be transformed into spaces of peace. Like… I didn’t even know that was a thing (I also didn’t know that Germany had a 1 litre mug, or, very large vessel, of beer, the things we learn)! Another lovely lad gave us a ride from the ferry in Amsterdam and showed such kindness, we ended up seeing him briefly before we left the country, departing the Netherlands with stroopwafels, licorice and random knowledge of its very popular biking system.
The other main lesson I learnt was on our good old friend, resilience, and the persistence of patience. The education system truly does not prepare you for having to wait at a Shell until your feet start hurting, and keeping a smile, a wave and a thumb out the whole time. We started to learn this, as did everyone else who partook in the race, from the onset. On our way to Newcastle for the ferry to Amsterdam, the first leg of the journey, standing at ASDA (which, by the way, had a very cool sushi counter) started to get tiresome (to say the least). Sometimes you’re in the right place at the right time, other times you’re standing at a supermarket before 8am watching drivers load their cars while shopping and skirting back home… for a tedious amount of time. Similar processes seemed to repeat themselves in every country. Waiting. And waiting. And walking. And waiting. For me, it was the times when people saw your smile, or a wave (or a sigh of frustration) and came over to help us where they could.
These are the main aspects which I captured during my rather exciting excursion through Europe. Travelling, meeting new folks, sharing it all with a team. Going through hours of boredom and cold through gritted smiles and frozen thumbs. Appreciating a hostel’s hot shower, a stranger’s warmth, some random man’s directions in Dutch... the kindness of strangers exists in all forms, sometimes, you just have to be a little patient.
Anisha Minocha is studying English and Spanish at the University of St Andrews. She is a passionate writer and poet whose work has been published in anthologies, magazines, blogs and won competitions. Contributing to Sink Magazine, she is keen to utilize the voice of young people and share work through her creative writing blog. As a climate activist, she has combined her love for words and the planet in a performance of spoken word at the Royal Exchange Theatre in 'Letters to the Earth'. She also co-runs Young Friends of the Earth: Manchester and has organised workshops, participated in panels and spoken at Manchester Cathedral.
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