Over Spring Break I had the incredible opportunity of traveling to Paris. I decided to leave a few days early to have some time in Paris before the program started. This meant I would be traveling to Paris and staying there alone. This experience was scary, exciting, stressful, liberating, lonely and exhilarating.
I was used to airports and traveling alone from flying from my home in Massachusetts to D.C. for school, but I had never flown internationally alone before. The logistics of getting to Paris weren’t too hard, but I was anticipating not really knowing what to do with myself once I finally got there. I didn’t have anything planned for my weekend alone, I just planned to show up and figure it out.
Upon arrival to the hotel I learned my first lesson—try to use a car service like Super Shuttle that is scheduled to pick you up at the airport and take you to the hotel. I paid a gross amount of money for a cab and blew a large portion of the money I had set aside for the weekend. When the driver handed me the bill a wave of panic set in but I knew I had to stay calm because there was no one there to help me. I just had to handle it by myself, and I did.
After collecting my suitcase and what was left of my money, I immediately took a four hour nap to start off the weekend strong. From this, I learned that fighting jet-lag was an unrealistic plan. Feeling slightly refreshed, I planned out my schedule for the rest of the day. This is when it really hit me that I was completely responsible for myself. I could go anywhere, do anything and no one would even know. I could sleep for the rest of the day or I could hop on the metro and go anywhere I wanted. As exciting as this was, I was also intimidated and a little anxious. I considered playing it safe and just walking around the area that the hotel was in. I pushed these feelings away and decided to learn how to use the metro. After some quick Google research, I hopped on the metro to get to the Eiffel Tower. I didn’t really know I had the capacity to step out of my comfort zone like that.
Travelling alone made me learn things about myself in a very short amount of time. The things that I expected to be hard, like sleeping in the hotel room and getting dinner alone, were completely fine and even really fun. Because I didn’t have phone service, I would sit at a restaurant and enjoy a leisurely dinner by myself. A great lesson to learn was that I can be by myself and could still be content.
Being young and alone in a foreign city was a ride with ups and downs and situations that made me feel like I was upside down. However, by the time the weekend was over, I felt like I could do anything.