Traveling is the newest thing and everybody wants to do it. With the new craze, there are many bloggers and accounts posting beautiful photos that just don’t look real. Many girls and women are going abroad alone and I am a full supporter of that. I enjoy peoples’ company but I honestly love being by myself. I strongly believe that everyone once in their lifetime should just go, anywhere, any place they can get to, by themselves.
Yes, it can be absolutely terrifying, stressful, and tiring but the reward is so special that nothing else can replace it. It’s a major accomplishment just like that A in Physics or landing your dream job. The issue with today’s society is that we don’t acknowledge success in doing something fun and what you love the same way we do when you succeed in your career or tangible success like an award. I was definitely the type of girl who wanted to have all of the awards, trophies, and certificates but that wasn’t really me. I got a few, stuck them on my wall, and never really looked at them again.
I was inspired by my friend to go abroad after going to visit her in Belgium. She was an au pair and took a gap year while I was hauling a** in school. When I went to visit, everything turned upside down. I loved being in another country, in completely different culture, just the two of us- 18 year-old girls, taking on Belgium, Amsterdam, and Paris. I felt like I was learning more without “learning.” I decided that where I was in my life, I wasn’t happy, doing anything I loved, and didn’t feel good about myself. Rather than working at the same part-time job for another summer, stay in the same town, with the same people I never really got along with. I, too, decided to Au Pair in the summer in Spain to practice my Spanish.
18 years old, 4 days after I finished my Freshman year of college, I embarked for Spain to live with a random family in Madrid. Can you imagine?! I basically speed dated for the family I wanted to live with for the next three months. We didn’t get along. I made do. I found ways to maneuver the city, make friends with strangers, trust them and go places with them- sometimes, overnight trips. One week, I was given extra days off, I went to Portugal… by myself. I took 4 different metros to arrive at the airport, on time, I slept in the airport by myself, holding onto my bags for dear life since I had already had my phone STOLEN. From Madrid, to Barcelona, Granada, Toledo, Segovia, and Portugal, I hopped around all over the place. When I wasn’t out exploring museums, churches, cathedrals, clubs, you could find me at a café with a class of tinto de verano or taking a siesta in Reitro Park with a book in Spanish next to be.
To you, it sounds like a breeze and fun… Believe me, it was! It was also the most exhilarating and educational experience I’ve ever had. I have no confidence, zero self-esteem (especially since starting Pharmacy School), I constantly compare myself to others, but when I am abroad, I am whole. The little things that bother me on a daily basis, were nothing compared to what I encountered abroad. The nights where I was homeless, I spent my birthday crying because my phone was stolen, nights slept on the bus, etc.
Now, when people ask me what my accomplishments are, I try to stay away from the classic, “ I made it to grad school” story and talk about how I survived countless trips abroad by myself.
Stay tuned to more rants where I relive my experiences and sit here smiling every time I write. I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.