A month ago, I flew over 4,000 miles away from home and moved into an apartment in Rome, Italy. I am taking a course here for the first 5 weeks and afterwards traveling around different parts of Europe. Of course I was excited and ready to begin a new adventure in a new foreign country. But as the first couple of weeks pasted by the excitement faded and I became sad and homesick. I know, I know, how could I be sad living in Rome? I thought it was because I missed my family, my friends, my own bed, my pets, etc. I thought I was lonely because I didn’t have a friend or family member to spend time with when I didn’t want to go somewhere alone. Back home, I was so used to just calling a friend or a family member to go somewhere with me so I wouldn’t have to alone. Sometimes it felt like there was such a stigma against doing things alone.
I came to realize by the end of my second week here, I missed familiarity. Not that I didn’t miss my family and friends, I did. But that didn’t mean I wanted to go home. I was in a brand new city, with new faces I didn’t know, and a language I didn’t speak. Once I figured out that I was missing familiarity because I was so used to doing the same things everyday at home over and over; I felt like this was my chance this summer to start making small changes in my everyday life.
The first change I made was a trip to Florence one weekend and that is when my eyes opened. This was the first time in my life that I had made a hotel reservation, bought a train ticket, took a train, and spent time wandering around a new city all on my own. Was it scary? Of course it was… at first. But for the most part it was liberating. I had the freedom to do and see whatever I wanted. To go out to eat and spend as much time as I wanted there. I had all the time in the world to myself. I was proud of myself. And I wasn’t so afraid anymore being so far from home. From that weekend on I started taking other small weekend trips to other new cities alone.
Honestly, I think it is important for everyone at least once in their life to travel somewhere alone. Why? Because you learn so much about yourself, about your environment, the world, everything. And I think that is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. The ability to be comfortable alone. And of course you aren’t alone “alone” because you will be surrounded by amazing people, culture, food, etc. I think I’ve learned more about myself in the last month than I have in the past 3 years. There really is something to be said about changing up your environment, it does wonders for the soul.
I love the quote that says “what you really want, is on the other side of fear.” I have always wanted to travel around the world and it wasn’t until I was in another country by myself that I realized, I’m scared. And being scared is okay, but it’s important to push yourself. I have pushed myself beyond my comfort zone multiple times so far and it has been life changing.
If you are someone who wants to try traveling solo or is now thinking about it, my advice is to just do it. Try. Push yourself. You won’t regret it.