Studying abroad in another country can be difficult and exciting at the same time. There are new experiences to witness, culture shocks to encounter, and a lifetime of memories ahead. However, is it worth it to travel alone? If there is a small voice inside saying that traveling alone is not worth it, think again.
Since the pandemic is ever continuing, contracting COVID is more common. I contacted Covid the day I was supposed to be on a flight heading to France. Due to this, I missed quite a few orientation sessions, which caused me to feel out of place when I finally arrived.
Since I arrived later than most, I didn't have those orientation connections that everyone else had. However, I was not going to let that stop me. The day after I landed, I walked around Aix-en-Provence alone. Was I nervous? Absolutely. Was it worth it? Yes. I was able to go where I wanted when I wanted. I enjoyed the freedom of walking miles to go to a grocery store for the cultural shock that I was waiting to witness. Truth be told, I spent an hour in the store, just looking at everything, but it was worth it. Personally, I do not feel that I would have done this with a group of people, maybe one person who shared the same interests in visiting a supermarket.
Since I have been in Aix, I have done numerous traveling within the city, the region, and the country. I have enjoyed every minute of it because I get to explore and visit things I want to see. I would love another person to travel with me, but sometimes things do not work out that way. That's okay.
Additionally, traveling alone empowers me. Confidence builds traveling alone in a new city. I have found new traveling confidence since I left the US. It was my first time flying alone. I was nervous, but in some way, it felt safe, despite how scary the world may seem. The COVID safety measures within the new areas I explore further reassure my safety. However, traveling alone does heighten my senses and makes me more aware of my surroundings, which helps me when traveling.
Traveling alone can result in challenges, with the main one being getting lost. This is totally okay! Embrace it as a new experience. Breathe and ask for help from locals or consult your handy dandy Google Maps. Trust me, Google Maps is your best friend when studying abroad.
Here is some advice:
Plan your trip out ahead of time. It saves you from stressing out. I like to write down my travel plans and have the directions/maps downloaded so I can always access them.
Make sure to tell someone where you are going for safety concerns.
Be aware of your surroundings. It can save your life and help you with directions.
Embrace the solo travel voyage. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Travel, even if it is to the neighboring city. It is worth it.
Overall, enjoy your time abroad. Take the road less traveled, even if that means you get lost along the way. Studying abroad in Aix-en-Provence creates lifetimes of memories that you will always remember.
Kyra Sikorski is the Spring 2022 CEA MOJO Blogger in Aix-en-Provence, France, and is currently studying at Winthrop University.