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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Berkeley chapter.

Despite using Google Maps on a daily basis, I still find myself constantly going in the wrong direction and getting lost. It’s my second year at UC Berkeley, and, embarrassingly enough, I still use Google Maps to get to class. Once, I attempted to explore a new coffee shop I saw online, and I ended up in a random area of Oakland. Attempts to explore San Francisco often ended up with me walking in circles or heading in one direction only to find out my destination was in the other. Given my history, you can only imagine what happened the first time I visited New York alone.

While Manhattan is known for its public transportation system, I still found myself constantly stopping strangers on the street to ask for help. My trip to New York began with almost entering the wrong subway line until a lady I had just met stopped me to tell me I was in the wrong area. Thankfully, I was able to get to my stop, but I knew that the trip would be a challenge for me to navigate.

When I met with my cousin for dinner, I accidentally ended up a mile away from my planned destination. Getting off the subway, I was surprised to see that I was at Bryant Park, somewhere I planned on going at a later date. There happened to be a concert at the park and an opera performance with interpretive dancing — something I had never seen before. 

On my last day, I left for Penn Station an hour earlier just in case I got lost. Despite going early, I almost missed the train to the airport. After buying my ticket, I kept walking in circles frantically trying to find where to go. Eventually, I met a family who was also in a rush to catch the same train as me, and we ran to the train station together just in time for departure. 

Being my first time alone in New York, I was scared going into it knowing that I would probably get lost. During that week, I learned that sometimes going somewhere unplanned can lead to the best experiences and exploring new areas. Since that trip, I’ve been more comfortable going to new cities by myself, and I’m proud to say that I’ve successfully explored different parts of both New York and San Francisco alone. 

Melanie Wu

UC Berkeley '25

Melanie Wu is a second-year studying Media Studies with a Rhetoric Minor. She has an interest in writing and art. In the future, she hopes to work within marketing, communications, and PR.