Traveling alone is a one-of-a-kind experience.
I set out on my first solo trip to Italy when I was 19. Against all odds, I was awarded a one month scholarship for studying intermediate level of Italian at the University for Foreigners of Siena, Tuscany. I was nervousited because I had never really traveled before, not even within the country. I had no clue about how would I pull it off. Firstly, I was spoon-fed too much for literally everything and never had to face any challenge on my own. I was simply wired to seek comfort zone. The thought of traveling solo, lightning-fast decision making, communicating with people coming from different countries whose primary language isn’t English really overwhelmed me. Secondly, I was an introvert, nervous to approach people and uncomfortable at talking to those I didn’t know.
Travelling gave me the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone, build up confidence and push past limits which I had set on myself. I didn’t know when I would get such an opportunity again but I did know that it would be foolish to let this go only due to fear and that this could be my journey to self-discovery and empowerment and I wanted to do this.
What’s the purpose of life if not to break out of your comfort zone?
And of course, it worked.
Just one trip, that’s all I needed. I dealt with difficult people, missed buses, wrong turns, delays, bad food, and much, much more, eventually I learnt how to adapt my plans to changing situations. Life gives you lemons and you make lemonade. Why? Because you’re awesome like that. Just one trip and I got better at communication, problem solving, languages, social situations, and improved my confidence in my ability to do new things and handle unexpected situations. Just one trip and I discerned that the cliché that a smile speaks all languages is true. It’s a great ice breaker. Just one trip and it helped me become independent, be OK with change, get better with people and learn more.
Just one trip and you realize that you’re stronger than you think!
There are so many standards about the way you should look, talk, and behave according to the situation or place. If you fail to reach the standard, you are considered as a total failure. Travel empowers you to understand and accept who you really are, accept that every individual is unique. Travel has made me realize that you mustn’t apologize for who you are. It has nothing to do with being rebellious. It just has to do with being you. We humans are all made unique and it is in everything that we do or believe in that sets us apart from the rest.
Above all, I’ve learnt that travel is the best teacher.
So that is my eulogy to travel. But that’s not all – I am sure there is much more that I must have learnt and will continue to learn.
Coming to the end of the article, how often do you travel and how has it helped you grow over time? Do share your thoughts and comments.