Interrailing could be considered a rite of passage for many University students, and if you do head off on a European adventure, it’s almost certain you will experience much of the following…
Meeting someone like no one you’ve ever met before
Whether it is the German man that has walked to Poland wearing a comedy football hat, or the Finnish man that believes music is the only love of his life, you can almost guarantee the plethora of bizarre characters also travelling around Europe will enter your life at some point during your trip.
Developing a healthy dislike for your bag
There will come a point in your journey when your bag becomes your worst enemy and you will consider hiring someone to carry it for you. From the moment my bag decided not to catch the same flight out as me, our relationship became a little strained; but it was the steps in Dubrovnik that lead us to breaking point.
Enduring a train journey from hell
Cross your fingers and hope those seat reservations are kind to you, because when your carriage detaches from the train at 3am, you do not want to be sat with the screaming baby or the strange man that takes an unhealthy interest in everything you do.
Somewhere along the line you will get lost. Even if you’re doing a Geography degree, you may find yourself getting on the Hungarian underground and emerging further away from where you were attempting to go; you may even get off the train at the wrong stop in Prague and emerge at a resting place for the cities alcoholics that are no longer picturesque enough to hang out in Old Town Square.
Bonding with Brits/Finding a mutual friend
You will meet British people, and despite knowing you shouldn’t, you will feel an instant solidarity. You will probably discover you stood in the same Raz queue once in November 2011, or that their second cousin lived at Greenbank. But the best part about your British friends is that they will never ask you how far your hometown is from London.
You will get paranoid the bilingual people are talking about you in their mother tongue. You will curse the English education system for not making you fluent in a different language. For me, the discovery my friend’s GCSE standard French and my own severely limited Italian were not actually that helpful was fairly devastating.
Staying at a dodgy hostel
It doesn’t matter how many hours you have spent on Trip Advisor, at least one of your hostels will be dire. On the plus side, dire can range from a 10th floor room in Ljubljana that merely resembles a set from a horror film, to the slightly more unnerving: sharing a room with no air conditioning with a homeless alcoholic in Milan.
Having no understanding of the currency you are using
You’re likely to have at least 5 varieties depending on where you go. After the Euro, you’ll pretend you understand the dog eared receipt you got from the currency exchange and proceed to buy a pint for 10p and a jar of pasta sauce for £7.
This one induces happy memories of having to text a friend at home for linguistic advice and walking around Krakow approaching people and hesitantly asking; “Pralnia?” whilst they appeared to think we were offering bags of our dirty clothes to them. When you do find the launderette, you still have to figure out how to use it.
Pasta, lots of pasta
If you cook for yourself, you will eat pasta. If you’re feeling adventurous and are lucky enough to have an oven, you may even branch out to pizza.