Since arriving here in France in September, I have had the incredible opportunity to travel around Europe and even North Africa with my friends. The first trip I took was with my friends Ching and Catherine to Porto, Portugal, where we went to the beach together and explored the Portuguese cuisine by the river, enjoying time together and learning more about each other. Last week, I went down to the south of France with my friends Brigid and Jane, where we went out and explored the nightlife and sat together watching the rain ruin the day, exchanging conversations and stories. Through these many trips I have taken with my friends I have learned about the importance of communication and interaction when you travel with your friends. Whether it is in these instances where I traveled with people I was studying abroad with, or in the instances where I went somewhere to catch up with friends from Boston University, such as when I went to London to visit my friends Max and Cinthia, I have always had somebody to suggest things to do in a city and where to eat, to negotiate and economize travel plans and to book lodging, which has almost always been through Airbnb. You set what time to wake up, figure out what attire to buy to fit into Oktoberfest and simply gossip about life and the other people in your program.
However, this weekend, I took an entirely different approach: I decided to travel alone. With only three weekends left before I go back to the United States, I took last week to plan them out. For my second to last weekend, I am going to Amsterdam with my friends for the long Easter weekend and using my last weekend to stay in Paris and enjoy the city one last time. This left this current weekend to plan out. I asked around with my friends to see if anybody wanted to travel because I had an intense desire to go off and see one more European country before I left (other than the Netherlands), but everybody either had friends visiting or was going somewhere I had already gone. So I took on the adventure alone. I found some cheap tickets to Copenhagen, especially given that the tickets were bought one week in advance and I bought them on a whim, deciding to embark out on my own. Then I scoured Airbnb to find a place to stay. Without the need to communicate with others, I was quickly able to locate one in the location I wanted and could accommodate my late arrival time. Finally, I began my search of what to do while actually in the city. With no idea of what was there, I simply did some Google searches and made a list of places to go, having no need to confirm with others. Quite honestly, this was much easier and simpler.
Once I arrived here in Copenhagen, however, I truly saw the difference in the experience. Walking around all day by yourself truly gives you a chance to reflect on what you see around you, without discussing it with others. When walking between different sites, you look down each and every street as your mind wanders through what is happening in your personal life instead of holding conversations with your friends to pass the time. While the walks with friends sometimes seem to go faster, walking alone sometimes makes you feel as if you have seen more.
Furthermore, given that I walk relatively quickly when I am alone, I feel as if I was able to accomplish much more on my own. With my friends, we often stop at a café to have a long lunch, but for me, my lunch was an ice cream cone (on a 50-degree day) on the run as I walked past the statue of the Little Mermaid statue in the harbor. If I wanted to take a quick detour down a street because I saw a cool building in the distance, I could just do it and not worry about keeping my friends from what they wanted to see. All in all, I finished the long list of things I wanted to do and was able to just relax in the park, then grab a few things from the supermarket with the remainder of the Danish Krone I had to get rid of so I didn’t have to exchange it back.
Overall, it was a great experience to travel alone. Although traveling with friends can be fun and adventurous, sometimes having that alone weekend in a foreign country can help you reflect on your own thoughts. Plus, you get to keep all of the ice cream to yourself.