Wednesday, August 15th, 2018

Letter from the Editor: Riding the train in England

Julie Pike

Posted on March 05, 2018 in News, Perspectives
By USM Free Press

Julie Pike, Editor-in-chief

One of the simple pleasures that I miss from my time abroad in England is riding the train. There’s something about coasting through the English countryside that is incredibly peaceful and relaxing. In the states I rarely took the train, it was either driving, plane or bus for transportation. A train ride was a luxury I was not used to.

It’s an everyday event that millions of people go through each day, but those on a train ride through England are lucky to have a beautiful landscape to watch outside their window. A train ticket doesn’t just get you from point A to point B. You get the best view of the English countryside, the rolling hills that seem to never end, cows and sheep munching on green grass, and rows upon rows of quaint townhouses.

I had the opportunity of studying abroad in Winchester, England for a semester last fall. The train station was just a 10 minute walk from my dorm room. My friends and I would rely on the train for our daily outings. Surprisingly, one of the most antiquated forms of transportation can be the most enjoyable.

When you first step onto a train and see almost all of the seats taken, your first reaction is usually disappointment. In England, however, having to sit next to a stranger on the train isn’t the worst thing. It’s not unlikely that those around you will spark up a chat.

I’ve had conversations with people about whichever book I was reading, events in the news and even the Seattle Seahawks. I was wearing my Seahawks winter hat and to my surprise an Englishman had recognized the team and shouted “legion of boom!” from across the carriage. I was amazed that a football team that was 6,000 miles away had a fan in a small town in England.

Aside from the friendly interactions with other train riders, it’s what you get to see while riding on a train that is the best part. There’s no better way to truly see what England looks like. It’s amazing just how much natural land is preserved across the country. It was uncommon not to pass dozens of farms with grazing cows or sheep.

It’s also amazing at just how quickly you can get to a new place using the train. Although I never took advantage of this, Wales was only a four hour train ride from the town I was staying in. However, I still took dozens of day trips to nearby towns.

There was Brockenhurst, where cows and horses roamed free throughout the town. I’m serious, cars had to drive slow because there were often cows slowly making their way across the street. There was Southampton, the closest city to us, where the Titanic had made its last stop before making its way to New York. One of the most memorable trips was to the Jurassic Coast, which encompases 96 miles of the English coastline. The natural features of this piece of geological history were truly breathtaking.

All of these wonderful places were just a short train ride away. The entire country can be easily toured only using the train as a mode of transportation. If I am ever lucky enough to get to visit this wonderful country again, you can be sure I’ll be taking the train as often as I can.

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