Photograph of me and Shira on a the beach in Tel Aviv, Israel
Rebecca Pattni reflects on her recent summer holidays, and the joys of friendship and connection
Summer’s natural beauty, extended daylight and travel opportunities make it a conducive time for deep reflection. It’s a season that invites us to connect with ourselves, our surroundings, and our aspirations on a profound level.
For me, this summer break taught me more about myself than I’d ever thought possible. It seems that now is the most pivotal era, the precipice of my life, the calm before the storm; the next chapter.
My thoughts weave and buzz trying to prepare for what I anticipate to be a monumental year ahead, testing times that will essentially determine my future or at very least the next few years.
The trepidations polluting my mind disappear as I ascend into the summer air. As I fly into the sky, gazing down on the landscape below, as it transforms into a miniature world, all my worries float away. They are firmly left behind in a box under my bed, in London.
My first destination: Israel
Each year, me and my best friend, Clara, visit our childhood best friend, Shira. She moved back to Israel, her birthplace, two years ago.
Although we miss her, the connection we have is unlike any other I’ve felt before. It’s like having a sister, someone who you can rely on and know will rely on you no matter the distance or time between you. The feeling I get being able to share another culture with two of the closest people I have ever known, transcends anything else I’ve felt; it’s a profoundly enriching and unique experience.
Being accepted and welcomed into Shira’s new home and life, meeting her friends and sharing food like knafeh (a sticky, sweet and cheesy treat) and falafels is so special. I also tried some shakshouka, a tasty dish with eggs, tomato and spices, in the heart of Tel Aviv.
Through our travels, we had fun and caught up, we rode horses up the mountains of the Golan heights, the view was spectacular. We swam in the sea of Galilee, Israel’s largest, beautiful freshwater lake. We went on a jeep ride where I could see first hand history of geographical and international relations. Golan Heights has been a focal point for conflicts and political negotiations between Israel and Syria for decades.
Visiting Shira with Clara is always a deep, beautiful and powerful adventure. It reminds me of the importance of having supportive friends who allow for me to be my authentic self.
Nicole, Derya, Jess and Roxy in old town Croatia
My second destination: Croatia
As I explored Croatia’s endless coastline with my best friends, a tight-knit group of five girls I’ve met at Woodhouse college over the past year, I couldn’t have asked for anything more.
Being away from home, in a way that I had never been before, meant we were given the exciting opportunity to shop, cook, organise trips and explore together, which we managed really well.
We stayed in Split, the second-largest city in Croatia. Split is surrounded by several mountain ranges. After a very long hike we got to see breathtaking views. We were very hot so it was amazing to swim and snorkel in the calm, clear blue waters of the blue lagoon.
Our time was a fun, fulfilling experience – filled with jokes and memories we could probably talk about forever.
Our bond now remains unwavering and is completely solidified which is what reassures me that no matter what direction our lives take in the next year, we will always have each other and if not, we will always have the memories we made together.
I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the company of these wonderful friends. I am so lucky to have found people who are kind beyond comparison and would do anything for me as I would for them. In a world that often feels tumultuous and ever-changing, having these kind and selfless people by my side is a reminder of the importance of true friendships.
Traditional trulli, Puglia, Italy, where we stayed
My third destination: Italy
Traveling to Puglia, Italy with my family was a culturally enriching experience. We stayed in a traditional trulli, a unique housing design native to Puglia featuring iconic domed roofs, which have served as homes since the 14th century.
Our visits to the historical sites felt like stepping back in time. Exploring Matera, one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, was a captivating experience, adorned with Gothic architecture and vibrant cultural heritage, a living testament to the past.
We had a wonderful time enjoying simple delicious food with locally sourced ingredients, including pasta and seafood. Being with my parents after a summer away from home felt like being a child again, jumping into a pool knowing that I had an infinite number of summers ahead.
This summer not only taught me more about myself but also highlighted the importance of friendship and spending time with the people who know and love you best. I’d always thought of myself as someone who enjoyed the company of others, but this summer confirmed that what matters most to me is exploring the world with the people I love the most, immersing ourselves in other cultures.
Me and Derya swimming in the Blue Lagoon, Croatia
Rebecca is studying English Language and Literature, Philosophy and Psychology at Woodhouse College. She’s passionate about feminism and expressing what it’s like to have mixed heritage through her writing.