Here comes a bit longer and a more ‘textual’ post, but I just thought I would share some of my thoughts with you about how it is to travel 14 000 km all by myself and being abroad by yourself for quite a long period of time.
There are many more people than I expected who are traveling alone, so it’s not like I am doing something completely out of the extraordinary, but I suppose I feel it is quite a big deal for me to travel all by myself so far, because I am still quite young and somewhat inexperienced. Most people who I meet are 20 years or older, so I’m quite the youngster around town.
I’ve been alone for two whole weeks now and there are a couple of points I have taken a note of.
When you travel alone you are:
- Bound to meet people. I think it is 100% impossible to not meet anyone when you’re traveling alone. This is at least true if you live at a backpackers/youth hostel. The moment someone sees you making your dinner alone, eating by yourself, walking around by yourself there will always be someone introducing themselves, asking if you want to join there table, go have a drink with them. Some of the ways I’ve gotten to know people the past two weeks include the following:
- Because I was traveling alone, when the Norwegian girls and me were going to do the kayaking, I was the one who had to find myself a partner because the other girls had each other. Well, this just meant that I had to find someone I didn’t know and well, get to know him! And what an interesting guy I met – he had so much to share and there was absolutely no problem in talking to him for 2 hours.
- Suddenly on the kayak trip as well, I met another guy as I was waiting for the Norwegian girls to finish. Well, he was from Switzerland and had decided to take a year off work to travel the world. He was visiting about 15 countries in 6 months and Cape Town was his first stopping place! *jealous*, but once again, so incredibly interesting!
- Jon, the guy I met on my first night in Cape Town, well he also had quite the story to share. He had been in Namibia for 1 month working with animals, and after his stay in Cape Town he was going to volunteer at a school in Ghana for 1 month.
- After my very first night at Ashanti, I was told to move rooms to another one, because, well I was traveling alone and I wouldn’t be sleeping with the other Norwegian girls. I ended up moving my stuff into a room that smelled very strange, and I ended up in a top-bunk in the corner with very little space to put my any of my things. Being a little bit upset with the situation, a girl suddenly walks in and of course, starts talking to me. As I tell her I’m from Norway, she is very surprised and says she is from Norway as well. So I tell her I am from Sarpsborg, and in complete astonishment, she says her grandparents are from Sarpsborg as well!! I was actually moved back to my original room at the end of the day, but without that little ‘downturn’ I probably wouldn’t have spoken to her – coincidences are absolutely fascinating!
It’s not that you should care too much about what these people are doing with their lives, but I just find it so interesting to meet people who all have something to share. It is much, much easier to meet people than what I expected and everyone I’ve met so far have been very kind and open. And after two weeks I’m left with the lessons: Take everything with a smile, don’t be afraid to talk to people – 99% of the people you meet will be very kind, very helpful, and just be open about meeting new people.
Bill really put words to my thoughts
- Become more self-confident (mature).
In the two weeks I’ve been in Cape Town I already feel like I have gained a lot of self-confidence. Having to go and sit at a table with a lot of people to try to get to know someone, inviting myself to dinner so I have someone to eat with, starting a conversation with someone you’ve never ever met before to have someone to talk to. Back home, I come from a very safe environment where I haven’t had to been too outgoing to make friends, it was very strange at first to have to ‘put myself out there’. But by now, it’s actually just very enjoyable as I know that no matter who I talk to, they tend to be very talkative back.
- Not sharing memories with someone else.
If there was one big downside to traveling alone, it’s that you can’t share what you’re experiencing with someone else. I will be the only person who is taking in everything that goes on in my life these days. There is no one next to me who I can talk to it about, there is no one who is really experiencing exactly what I’m experiencing. However, because I have my little blog, I actually do feel like I am sharing quite a lot of my memories and my experiences with people which is really great for me!
- Alone time.
There is quite a lot of alone time when you travel alone, especially the days when I’m at Broadland’s. I come to Broadland’s at 7:30pm each evening, so there are quite a lot of hours before I go to bed. In the beginning I was a bit ‘nervous’ about having so much free time as I had no idea what I would spend it doing as I wouldn’t even have internet *21st century problems*. The thing is that, it is actually quite nice to have some time to do things that I wouldn’t necessarily do at home where I would have internet and friends and family to be with. I get a chance to read a bit, to properly relax and do some thinking. I’m actually ending up not having enough time to do all the things I need to do so keeping myself busy is absolutely not a problem!
Traveling alone, and being alone far away from home is a very strange thing for me and it is going to take some time to get used to. I feel like I am coping very well with everything and all in all I am having the time of my life. But of course, there are several things that are different to the way they were back home and there are things I miss.
Because I am incredibly close to my family and have an amazing relationship with everyone in my family, it was incredibly sad to have to say good-bye to them for 3 months. I do still think about them every day and I miss them very very much! I always look forward to seeing their faces on Skype and to hear what they have been up to. I really look forward to seeing them again, but I also feel it’s time for me to ‘become a big girl’ and create some of my very own memories.
I also really miss my great friends – we’ve had so many memories together over the years and it’s strange to not share the memories I’m experiencing with them. I am also often the youngest person amongst the people I meet, so I do miss being around people my own age at times.
I do miss having my own shower and my own bed haha! It’s just that those are two things that are exactly the way I want them to be back home. There’s just something about living like I’m in a hotel for 3 months where everything is slightly different to how you’re used to it, but after a couple more weeks I’m sure I’ll be feeling more and more at home.
There is also something about constantly living outside my comfort zone. When you’re around people you haven’t known for too long, you always act slightly different than you would around people who have known you for a long time. Being in places that have different smells, different atmospheres, just places that aren’t home puts me just a little bit outside my comfort zone.
It’s not like I cry myself to sleep about these things, very far from, I miss them, but that’s kind of part of the learning experience. Learning to appreciate how things are at home, learning that the way I have things is so very much above average standards that it’s unimaginable. Learning to live with things that are a bit different. Learning that things usually work just as well even if they’re not exactly how you’re used to them.
So my point is not that I wish I had my own bed, I wish I had this or that; I do miss having those things around, but at the same time, I’m very happy that they’re not around. Having to live slightly outside my comfort zone is probably one of the best ways to mature as a person, to learn more. All the things that are a bit different and that I miss at times are only making me grow (not literally) but making me ‘grow’ as a person or something, they make me more mature, they make me, hopefully, a better and more rounded person!
I just also wanted to take a moment to think that 2 weeks ago, when I left from Luxembourg 27th September, I knew no one – like ZERO people in Cape Town. 14 days later, I swear I have met about 50 people in total (very many of them actually being Norwegian haha!)
Off to a place where I didn’t know a soul
Although it feels a bit lonely at time, it does, and although it is strange not having someone I feel completely “at home” with, I would never change my decision of traveling by myself – I know I will look back on this time being very proud of myself for doing it all by myself and also with memories together with people who I hope I will continue to keep in contact with
Here’s a little tribute to the absolute best sister in the whole world! Thanks for lighting up my everyday and please love me just as much as you have always done even after me posting this ❤
So enjoy and hopefully it will lighten up your day just a little bit as well!