Travel

How My Dream Gap Year In Europe Turned Into A Nightmare

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If you’ve read “How my dream gap year in Africa turned into a nightmare”, you may enjoy this tale of one woman’s fight for survival, deep in the heart of Cornwall.

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The scraggly shrubs above me had eliminated what little moonlight there was and plunged me into inky blackness, somewhere on the rocky and dangerous beaches of Cornwall. I lay very still, listening for the merry youths and wondering how long it was until daybreak, not knowing if I’d survive to see it.

With my body shaking and my brain frozen with fear, it was hard to remember how I’d ended up there, 6,000 miles from home.

An 18-year-old Zambian and former pupil of the prestigious Chipembi Girls’ Secondary School, I had come to Europe with hopes of helping some of the world’s palest, most unfortunate people.

Shouts echoed across the beach and seemed to be getting closer.

I couldn’t imagine the awful, sporadic acts of drunkenness that were being committed as the town was ransacked. Fear and anger for the children consumed my thoughts. Part of me wanted to jump up and make it all stop, but then I heard someone shout “WAHAY!!” and shrank back into my hiding place.

As the night ticked interminably by, I tried not to think what the youths would say to the “mega hottie with the kickass braids” if they found me.

Needing to escape my idyllic Zambian childhood, and hoping to do good work in faraway places, I’d accepted a position as a volunteer at a commercial fishing lodge in Cornwall.

It was the most remote place on the list I was given and the one most in need. “Find a bolthole as soon as you get there,” my father pleaded. “Somewhere to hide, just in case.” I’d laughed and assured him I’d be fine, but now here I was on the rocky beach, in a fragile minefield of twigs and stones crawling with potentially lethal creatures – including the dreaded seagulls, up to 12 inches across.


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