I’m Morgan a senior economics major at the University of Louisville and had the chance to spend my Spring 2016 semester in Bordeaux, France. I was abroad for 5 months with one of my closest friends from Louisville attending school in Spain. This was my first major trip that I had embarked on ‘alone’ or without someone that I know booking a plane ticket with me. Of course you do get a little nervous and come up with all the irrational ‘what-if’ scenarios, but once you take the plunge and go ahead on your own journey it is worth it a million times over.
I got to Bordeaux and was getting aquatinted with all of the study abroad students and making friends, we planned random weekend trips and scheduled our school breaks together, so I was rarely alone in my actual travels. Until my roommate decided to leave 4 months early and I found myself then living alone in a foreign city. Shortly after that small crisis, I realized that my visa for my stay in Europe was actually invalid due to inaccurate dates that were placed on it. (People take it from me, triple check that thing before hopping on a plane.) After a solid two weeks of feeling like I had maybe made a mistake in thinking I could conquer this entire semester abroad on my own, I regained the confidence I needed when I decided to venture to Madrid by myself.
I had to travel out to Madrid to get my visa validated by a French consulate outside of France, so I booked a round trip bus ticket and found myself heading south of Bordeaux during a much needed long weekend. At first I tried to get friends on my study abroad to join me and ease this fear that I would be lonely, but everyone had already booked other trips and this was my only free weekend so I decided to do it alone. I wasn’t just going to travel to Madrid for paperwork though; I was going to enjoy getting to know the Spanish way of life.
I spent four days in Madrid by myself, walking around the city, making friends at hostels, eating lunch alone, getting tapas with new found friends and exploring all the sites that Madrid had to offer. I imagined that my weekend would be spent walking around alone and me constantly staring at my phone to avoid the fact that it was just me at the dinner table, but what I found was making friends is so much easier than you would ever imagine and travelling alone is even enjoyable. I made friends where I was staying and most of them were also travelling alone, so it was nice to have companionship for a night out and people to grab brunch with in the daylight hours. It was also nice, however, to go walk around the city by myself and have coffee at a café without staring at my phone the whole time and soaking up the experience around me.
At least once during your study abroad adventure you’ll find that all of your newfound friends are busy one weekend, or are venturing out to places you might not be super interested in, and I highly recommend you take that time to go explore somewhere new on your own, even if it’s just a short train or bus ride away.