Back in April my best friend from home, Erik, asked if I would do something special over his last winter break before graduating. It took a lot of convincing but we bought tickets to London, England and left on December 26th for the six-day trip. The visit was my first out of the country and not being with my family or classmates was a big change. In all, it was more than I could have hoped for – we visited Stonehenge, Bath, and Windsor Castle to name a few places outside of the city. We saw the Crown Jewels and the inner mechanics of Tower Bridge. We watched the New Year’s Eve fireworks on the River Thames across from the London Eye, and heard Big Ben strike midnight bringing in 2014. I could not have asked for a better first experience in Europe and was grateful for the opportunity to do so separate from work.
Of course, “separated” from the service is only an illusion leave provides. In reality, cadets know we are always representing the Academy and our behavior is a direct representation of our obligation. While I was granted travel to London over leave, I had to complete a memo (written request) and trainings prior, all which had to be reviewed by my chain of command. The Academy can be stringent at times, but (with the right reasoning) the same experiences civilian peers have can be had here too. The Academy supported my thrill of visiting London for the New Year because it was valuable to my personal development and, in the long term, my perspective as a Coast Guard officer.
More about Sarah.