Dana Drosdick

Dana Drosdick
Sophomore
Digital Communications and Spanish
Ballston Spa, New York

1. Cheers from London! — The Landmarks

Diana Fountain in Green Park

Diana Fountain in Green Park

“Cheers and welcome to London!” These were the first words our extremely perky and knowledgeable tour guide said to us as we emerged from the Tunnel Underground to the Magical City that unfolded before us. We had signed up for a six-hour walking tour (free, of course. We are college students after all) and intended to cover as much ground as possible that first day.

Margaret, our tour guide, began the tour in the leafy 'Green Park' and marched us onwards toward Buckingham Palace. Sadly there was no Queen of England spotting (but we saw squirrels so … basically just as cool?). The changing of the guard also wasn't happening that day, but we did see the changing of the cavalry, which was equally as impressive. More impressive than the procession itself was the hats that laid on top of their heads. Our tour guide said that the hats were made from real imported bearskin and that some of them are over 200 years old.

No Queen to be seen.

No Queen to be seen.

We next headed over to former palaces, where she explained the history of the Kings and Queens of London, down to every last wife of Henry VIII (which is, like, a million). Margaret then took us over to the Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. I never knew this before, but Big Ben is actually only the name for the bell within the clock tower. The clock tower itself is simply called “the clock tower,” a rather uninspired name.

Big Ben

Big Ben

After lunch, we regrouped and continued on our tour. We saw the famous Fleet Street (Sweeney Todd, anyone?), St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Shard, the London Bridge, and the Tower Bridge. Interestingly enough, the London Bridge is actually quite simple and unimpressive. Many people mistake the Tower Bridge, a much more extravagant looking bridge, for the London Bridge. However, the truth remains that, without the history, the London Bridge is nothing more than any other old bridge.

The bridge behind me is *NOT* the London bridge!

The bridge behind me is *NOT* the London bridge!

We concluded our tour at the Tower of London, a beautiful castle known for public executions and imprisonments. My friend Drita went off with her cousin, and Janice and I continued to explore the rest that London had to offer. Our next stop? Shakespeare’s Globe. 

5. Resume-Building Travel Skills: Individuality

Don't hide your individuality!

Don't hide your individuality!

Traveling is your time to shine. Nothing is spoon-fed to you. You make the calls and the decisions, which allows you to express your individuality. Although this skill may not seem important initially, expressing your individuality allows you to discover who you are, what you're good at, and what things you want the most in life. 

Traveling teaches you to not just accept, but also to embrace who you are. Traveling has taught me that I am a complete foodie. I will walk three miles out of whatever city I'm in for the highest rated food. In Paris, I made us take the metro to a random corner of Paris simply for a highly recommended macaron shop (FYI: it was worth it). 

Rose macaron from Laduree

Rose macaron from Laduree

Travel also reinforced my love of planning and research. I love a good itinerary and schedule. In my opinion, nothing is better than taking the time to research the best sites and make sure I get the most out of my time in any city or time. Before every trip, I spent hours upon hours pouring over Pinterest and Internet articles, scouring for the best and cheapest things to do.

Knowing what makes me unique while traveling ultimately helped me realize what I value in a job. I value jobs that include planning and independence. I loved playing the ‘tour guide’ and taking my friends to all the amazing restaurants I looked up before. It helped me realize that I love helping people have a good experience, and simplifying the process for them. These introspective gains have ultimately helped me refine my career and job goals, and ensure that I will apply for jobs I am most qualified to do given my unique set of personality traits.

Although traveling independently can be scary at times, it can be the push you need to discover who you are and what you thrive at. Whether you’re studying abroad or studying on Calvin’s campus, make sure to take risks and make mistakes. Experiences like these are guaranteed to make great stories and set you apart from your peers around you for when you need to apply for your dream job and explain ‘why you’re different from the rest.’