When I was abroad, I spent some time by myself. I would walk to class alone, sometimes make trips to the store alone and sometimes take trips by myself places.
It’s an overlooked part of being abroad, the time you spend with yourself.
For starters, this isn’t supposed to be depressing. There’s no invite to my pity party here.
Ask anyone close to me, I am a very independent person. Some days I lock myself in my room to blast music or purposefully take a long way home so I have extra time to think.
This doesn’t mean I hate people! I just am comfortable by myself. I still enjoy laughing with my roommates over dinner, or making small talk with classmates before the professor shows up.
Living in Ireland for four months forced me to be independent. As some of you may already know, I went by myself. The program wasn’t associated with my school, I didn’t know anyone else going and my parents didn’t come along to help me move in. I struggled to carry my luggage up five flights of stairs on my own, and that was my first victory of the semester.
Maynooth’s campus is big and beautiful. I loved taking a break from my cramped apartment and strolling through the courtyard. It gave me a chance to appreciate the awesome opportunity to study in another country. It was nice to take these walks by myself because I didn’t have to entertain anyone. I enjoyed my own company, which led me to really get out of my comfort zone.
I also took a few trips into Dublin on my own. It was a short train ride, and I usually met up friends as soon as I stepped off the train. It was always cool to walk along the River Liffey and do some people watching. I never thought about taking a big trip by myself until it the end of the semester came up.
It was in December of 2017 when I made plans with friends to take a surfing lesson. Well, sadly, those friends had to cancel at the last minute. I was the only one who was free to go. Was I really going to take a three-hour train by myself to a town I’ve never been to? To take a surfing lesson from some strangers?
I remember shaking by the train tracks, hair flying in the cold December wind. I forced myself to get on the train to Sligo. Taking a surfing lesson in Ireland was on my bucket list, so why was I so nervous to go?
I was all alone for those three hours. I had my music and my book. Bruce Springsteen played through my headphones as we left the station. I was entranced by the beautiful snow covered fields we passed en route to Sligo. After a few deeps breaths, I became more confident in my little solo adventure.
(If you need a refresher, check out my post about Surfing in Sligo! There’s more detail there about the actual surf lesson. )
I believe it’s important to take little trips on your own from time to time. I’m not telling you to completely isolate yourself and live as a hermit for the rest of your days! However, sometimes we all need a break from our hectic schedules. My trip to Sligo taught me it’s okay to be alone. I think we all need that reminder sometimes.
Now, Mom and Dad, everything’s okay, I’m not friendless at school or anything drastic. Thought I should add that to make sure no one is concerned. Everything is okay!
I love meeting new people and traveling with them, but I also love being a solo traveler. My resolution for 2019 is to visit new places, so I will hopefully be able to write about new things soon, with or without some travel buddies!
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