» In My Life.
  • In My Life.

    May 06th • Posted in love, personal, travel

    My time solo-travelling across Europe is almost done. I’m extremely depressed about it, but I’m so thankful and grateful that I’ve done it. Here’s a sappy post about what I’ve sort of learned thus far, and recapping some of the highlights (as well as some of the lows.)

    Infinitely, I’ve learned that solo travelling is something everyone must do before they get pinned down to a job or career. I don’t care if it’s a short week-long trip or a round-the-world year-long one. Solo travelling is important and imperative to one’s life. You will learn so much about yourself, how to budget your time and money, and most importantly– how to open yourself up to other cultures, open yourself up to people, and become more vulnerable with yourself.

    During the course of my trip, I’ve made many friends, seen many things, done a lot of stupid things (like a lot of stupid things, probably things I shouldn’t have done, but hey– life’s too fucking short to not do stupid shit)– but never would I have experienced this all without doing it by myself. My original journey was rather organized and meant to be: London–>Paris–>Bruxelles or Antwerp or Amsterdam–>Koln/Bonn–>Prague–>Berlin. With a leap of faith and some last-minute planning, I actually went to: London–>Barcelona–>Paris–>Koln/Bonn–>Prague–>BACK to Paris (like a dumbass)–>Amsterdam–>Berlin. Some of this was way too much to fit in a trip that is a little longer than a month, but all of the experiences I’ve had made it all worth while. But here are some words of wisdom I have to share for you all, that I’ve eventually had to learn by myself on this trip.

    Be flexible. Things will go wrong. Things will go right. Be flexible with your plans, have a bit of spontaneity in your life. One of the wisest decisions I’ve made on this trip was travelling to Barcelona for a week with a friend. In my original itinerary, I wasn’t slated to go to Barcelona, but I did anyway because life is too short, and it was awesome. Another example of this is when my friend missed her bus to meet me… I was stuck in Paris and heartbroken over the events that had happened… So what did I do? I decided to go to a place that I wanted to go for awhile: Amsterdam. Did I get a lot of sleep? Nah. Did I actually see a lot of Amsterdam? Not really. Was it totally worth it? Fuck. Yes.

    Do stupid shit. You’re young. Do the stupidest shit imaginable while you’re abroad. I’ve done more dumb shit on this trip than I’ve ever done in my entire life. Do I regret it? Not at all. I’ve learned lessons from it, and I’ve taken those and applied them to my life. You’ll never know what you could have had until you at least try, right?

    Slow travelling is the best. I’d highly recommend doing a European trip that is at least two months long, and staying in each country for at least a week. During this butt end of my trip, I’ve been staying in each country for about two or three days, and that’s not nearly long enough to get accustomed to the people and the culture of the city. It also takes you one day to gain your bearings in a city, and one day to relax, unwind and pack your shit!  Slow travelling allows you to not only embrace the culture, but embrace the people surrounding you. I spent a week in Prague and that wasn’t nearly enough! While the city itself could probably be seen in one day– it was hard for me to leave some of my friends that I was just starting to get to know. If I were to do it over again, I’d spent two weeks in Prague: one getting used to the city, and the other volunteering at the hostel I stayed at.

    Connections are easy to make, but easier to break. Luckily, with facebook it’s easy to keep in touch with others. However, romance on the road is extremely difficult. Everything’s pushed up to hyperspeed, and you experience a fling at 10x the rate of what a summer fling would be. Admittedly, I’m a bit of a romantic, so I might not be the best person to look to for words of advice on the subject– but travelling is difficult because you meet so many people that you just click with. I think travelling adds to the mystique of romance because it’s ~sexy~ to get to know someone, have a passionate night with them, and leave it at that. When I wrote the last blog post, I thought that he was going to be the only person I met on this trip that I shared a significant connection with. I was wrong (and also kind of right. I did mention that falling for everything was part of being a traveller. That’s the truth.) Shortly after, I met someone in another country that I went out on a date with, shared one beautiful night with, before I realized that this was the constant feeling that they had gone through. I mean, I could be wrong. Maybe I’m just finally meeting people that are worthy of dating? Maybe these wonderful European men are a different breed? Maybe it’s a mixture of all of the above– but it’s easy to build a connection when you’re lonely. You just have to put yourself out there. I’m hoping these connections last.

    Be open to everyone and everything. There’s no room to be picky as a traveller– everyone’s lonely and trying to make friends. Be nice to everyone, make friends with everyone– even if they’re who you wouldn’t normally hang out with on first glance. You’d be surprised. Some of my closest friends on this trip were people that I might not talk to if I were at home. I’ve made some wonderful friends on this trip: a wonderful Portuguese woman I dub ‘Mamacita’ because of her infinite wisdom, a business traveller from Malta who coincidentally ended up living in Chicago at the same time I did, and one of my closest friends on the trip– a British traveller on her gap year. (Shoutout to Beth, because she’s a lucky bitch for being back in Prague. Party hard for me.)

    I’m sure there are more lessons I’ve learned, but I’m forever indebted to my parents for letting me do this after my graduation. I’m sorry you had to fund my debauchery, but can you pretend that at least part of this was a cultural exchange? (I mean, technically speaking, it sort of was.) I’m also thankful for my Couchsurfing hosts and my family (Marco and Natasha) for being so kind into extending your houses to me for when you did. Thanks to Erica for putting up with my shit for the first two weeks. We’ll always have Shower Cidre.  And to the people and friends I’ve met along the way– thanks for making things a little less lonely for me. You all have taught me so much about myself and I’m happy to have earned your friendship. I hope we’ll see each other again someday.

    Thanks for everything, guys. I’ll write more about travelling when I’m not focused on getting ready to sightsee. Last day of Berlin, here I come!