Living away from home, Travelling

A trip to where exactly…? Marseille and approaching uncertainty

Just over a month ago now, on June 16th 2017, and at 3 o’clock in the morning, I set off towards Luton Airport on a rather unusual journey. Destination? I had absolutely no idea…

In my bag was a bright orange envelope, and in the envelope were three plane tickets to an unknown destination in Europe. To give some context, me and two friends – Anna and Michael – were essentially heading off for a kind of mission trip for 48 hours to “escape” to a European city, and “pray” for the city, the university and any students there. The only catch was that we didn’t know where we were going until we got to the airport, and when we eventually got there we were on our own, with nowhere to stay and very little money. It was very much a “Let’s put myself out and see what happens” faith adventure.

Oooh shiny!

You’ve probably already guessed from the title, but we ended up in Marseille – France, and oh man was it an experience… Over the course of the weekend we probably walked about 20-30km up and down relatively steep hills in what was at times 38 degree heat. Oh, did I mention I chose a black shirt? (yeah good job on that past self…) Even keeping to the shade it was often too hot to walk down more than one or two streets without stopping to rest at every opportunity, but despite all my complaining, the trip was an amazing experience. My highlight though definitely has to be when we accidentally ended up at the top of the biggest hill in the city – almost 150 metres above sea level – looking for a church. You’re probably wondering how this happened accidentally, but we followed signs up a hill and with all the tall buildings it was impossible to see where the end point was. By the time we realised, we had already gone most of the way up, so we just decided to continue, and boy was it worth it…

We could have ended up almost anywhere, but we ended up here… (Photo credits to Anna) – Marseille as viewed from Notre-Dame de la Garde, the basillica overlooking the city (you might recognise it from a certain cycling event that happened recently!)

Oh did I mention we had nowhere to stay? Well in the end we ended up in a hotel room, and immediately discovered something rather amusing:

404 Place to stay not found…

Sorry… I had to…

I wasn’t entirely sure what direction I was going to take this post, but since it’s now been over a month since I started writing this (and almost 2 since the events described) I thought I’d take the opportunity to talk about something that is currently a lot more relevant: Results day

Maybe you’re reading this and you don’t quite know what to expect when you log onto UCAS or open that envelope on Thursday. Maybe your exams didn’t go how you hoped, or maybe you’re not even sure you want to go to university at all. Uncertainty can be really difficult to deal with, no matter how you experience it, so here are a few helpful things you can do to prepare for the unknown:

  1. Don’t panic – This might seem obvious, but worrying about something does very little to actually solve the problem, in fact it almost always makes the situation worse by blowing things out of proportion. Of course as this wonderful Sarah Anderson comic illustrates, it’s not usually that simple…

Webcomic by Sarah Anderson (Sarah’s Scribbles)

With that in mind then, number 2 is to prepare for everything. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to have a detailed step by step plan for every potential outcome, but if you’re not sure how you’ve done, or you’re not really set on university any more then it can be quite useful to think about a potential backup plan in case everything falls through or (like in the case of one of my friends) you have a sudden last minute change of heart and decide for whatever reason to cancel your uni place on results day. Chances are you won’t need it, but it never hurt anyone to have a fallback option.

Finally, number 3 is to remember that whatever happens, life is about more than just results. If stuff works out for you, then that’s great! But if things haven’t gone how you wanted then it’s not the end of the world, there will always be something else out there and a place to use your gifts, it just might not be what you expected, and remember…

Screenshot taken from the game “Antichamber”

Because what even is success anyway…?


Sorry it’s been so long, I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long time and it never really happened, I’ve been really busy and to be honest I wasn’t sure how to begin writing about this trip, there’s just too much to say and I don’t really have words to say it all, so I just decided that in this case I wasn’t going to rush it, and I’d just wait until I had something that felt right, so here it is I guess! (8 attempts later…)


Thanks guys.


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