My Truth on Solo Traveling

“If I cry the whole flight home, don’t mind me,” I said to my middle-seat partner during takeoff from Paris to Dallas.

It was finally time to return home to the land of big trucks and country music, and I was feeling bittersweet. My seatmate, Nancy, continued the conversation and we began to trade stories; hers about living the life of a flight attendant for 30 years and mine about the lessons, successes and failures of five months abroad in France. Ten hours later as we deplaned, we exchanged emails, promised to stay in touch, and wished each other luck in making our layover flights.

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Redefining My Comfort Zone

I have always had the desire for adventure and for traveling. I grew up in Illinois and after moving to San Diego, I fell so in love with my new home that I did not think I could leave it for a full semester. As I was finishing my second year, though, I realized that experiencing a new culture, long term, was something I needed to do.

I also felt that while I only needed one class to complete my Spanish minor, I was not fluent. So I began searching through Central and South American countries. Since I did not plan to go abroad as a freshman, I actually did not have as many options to choose from. Luckily I did find a program at Universidad Veritas, San Jose, Costa Rica. The semester runs from March to the end of June.

Since I rented my house in San Diego for fall semester, I packed up my bags and left early January to move to San Jose.

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I Miss My Bed

It’s Week 3 of my journey throughout Europe. This is the most traveling I’ve done on my own in my life, all within this short period of time.

Earlier in the semester, I went some places as well, but those were more of the easy weekend or day trip variety. I’m used to this kind of trip. Back home I’d often got to LA or Sacramento (my hometown) for the weekend. I’d leave San Diego Thursday or Friday afternoon, escape the daily grind of college for a bit, and return Sunday night ready to resume the normal routine that is life.

Here I’ve followed that same formula for a while; the only difference were the destinations: Ireland, Scotland, Manchester, London, among others. Those trips were the same as back home. Easy, efficient, short. With a familiar bed to look forward to at the end.

Now it’s April, and we have five weeks off of school to travel.

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Alone in Japan

There is so much I have experienced and learned in just my first few days of living in Tokyo, but I would first like to mention that this whole trip was made possible mainly through the funding I received from the Gilman Scholarship.

Anyway, now that I am here, I would like to give an organized mess of my initial thoughts of being in this country. Having never traveled or left home before, my thoughts and feelings may be a little sporadic.

Here goes:

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On Being Alone

At SciencesPo, my university here in France, we’ve just finished our orientation week; a week filled with non-stop socialization from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. After each long day, I’ve taken the elevator up to my floor and walked inside my room to find the deafening silence of my apartment.

The gentle hum of my mini fridge coupled with the rhythmic chugging of the fast train outside my window are the only sounds here. I live in an 18-square meter flat in a student residency about a minute’s walk from the central train station and a three minutes’ walk to the closet bar.

But surprisingly, human voices are few and far in between.

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