The Power Of Traveling Alone

The Power Of Traveling Alone

Trust me, it's not as awkward as it seems.
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I know. It seems like a scary idea, I mean, who really wants to travel alone? It’s always uncomfortable asking for a table for one at a restaurant or navigating public transit alone— it’s really something you only do out of necessity, rather than personal preference. However, out of necessity, my last few trips have been alone, and here are 5 things I’ve learned:

1. You can do (literally) whatever you want

Are you the only friend in your group who likes Indian food? Perfect, this is your time to eat it every day. When traveling by yourself, you’re given the freedom to roam about and not conform to anyone else’s schedule. The last time I went to New York City, I tried several different vegan restaurants, saw musicals, and went museum hopping by myself—something I would never be able to do if traveling with friends because those aren’t our common interests.

2. You develop a newfound sense of independence

Before beginning to travel by myself, I was the girl who had my sister ask the waitress for more ketchup when I needed some. I was painfully shy and often lived in my own shadow, so I could have never imagined walking alone down a street or asking the waiter for a table by myself. By traveling alone, I was put in a situation where I had to do anything and everything by myself. So yes, now I can ask for ketchup by myself at restaurants. (Hey, it’s the baby steps that count.)

3. You learn how to talk to strangers

I know, breaking your mom’s number one cardinal rule. But some rules are meant to be broken, right? When traveling alone, you’re forced to fearlessly ask locals for directions. It may seem scary or annoying at first, but slowly you learn that no one really cares and (most) everyone is happy to help.

4. Navigating an unfamiliar city by yourself suddenly doesn’t seem so hard

OK, yes. Maps are confusing, and public transit doesn’t make it any easier. However, once you get lost a few times, you begin to learn which subways lead where and which streets are connected to others. Admittedly, the first time taking the subway alone, I ended up in Harlem, but after some trial and error, you can navigate the city like a pro.

5. You find comfort in being alone

As an introvert, this has always come naturally to me. However, I always felt slightly awkward exploring places alone or ordering at a restaurant. After one day in New York City alone, I realized that no one really cares—everyone has their own problems and tasks to complete—enough not to worry that you’re drinking iced coffee at Starbucks by yourself.

So trust me when I tell you—a trip by yourself is 100% worth it.

Cover Image Credit: Rachel Figard

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To The Girl Who Hasn't Been Herself Lately

Your spark return, and you will shine like you were meant to.
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Life gets tough. Life gets too much to handle sometimes, and those times make you stronger. However, right now, it seems like you have lost yourself.

It’s difficult when you catch yourself not being you. When you do something or act a certain way and just wonder, “what did I do to deserve this? Why is this happening? When will it get better?” The way you’re feeling is not so much that you’re unhappy, you just feel weird.

Your day will come. I promise you. This is just a phase.

The day you realize how much you have grown from this point in time will be your reward. It is so hard to see now, and I feel your pain.

Your light will return to you. Your pure bliss moments, they are seeking you. Your laughter where your tummy aches is in your reach.

Our moods change far too often for us as humans to understand why, but the encounters you make every day have this effect on us.

You must remember the pure happiness you experienced before your first heartbreak, before the first friend became someone you thought they weren’t, before you lost your innocence. That was a time of true joy as you had not a care in the world for the things that would harm you. Better yet, you didn’t have the option to experience them because you were just a child.

The world can be an ugly place, and your attitude towards life can change every day. One thing is for certain: you did not lose who you are internally. We all put on a face for the world. For the people who we try to impress. For the life we want to live. For the things we want to achieve.

Your definitive personality is still in the works. Believe it or not, it always will be. Times like this change us for the better even though we can’t see it.

Your happiness will return. You will be a better, stronger version of you. In fact, you will be the best version of you yet.

Once this phase is over, you will be okay. This I promise you.

Cover Image Credit: Megan Sutton

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Visiting A Long-Distance Friend in Edinburgh

It was a short but sweet trip and we packed in lots of fun activities.

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I lugged my heavy suitcase off the train onto the busy Edinburgh train station platform. Before I could get my bearings, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I quickly turned around to see my closest and oldest friend, Sasha, with the warmest smile on her face. After a big hug and quick catch up, we braved the bustling tourist streets of Edinburgh in June.

I spent my first week of summer vacation in the United Kingdom. I visited family, met my baby cousin, spent time with my godfather, and enjoyed my favorite city. All in all, it was such a wonderful way to start my summer break. One of the highlights of the trip was going to see my best friend in Edinburgh.

Sasha and I have been friends since we were eight years old. She and I quickly bonded and formed a close friendship that despite the distance, we have maintained for almost 12 years. We don't talk constantly but when we do it is like nothing has changed. I am complete, 100% myself around her and I couldn't ask for a better friend.

Prior to this trip, it had been a little over two years since I'd seen her, which in our opinion was far too long. So knowing I was going to be in the UK for ten days, I scheduled 3 of them to be in Edinburgh with Sash. It was a short but sweet trip and we packed in lots of fun activities.

Day 1.

I arrived on Friday afternoon. We dropped my suitcase at Sasha's apartment, which is a scenic fifteen-minute walk from the station past the infamous Edinburgh castle. Sash then took a walking tour of the city through Princes Street Gardens and the Royal Mile. We stopped for a drink at a pub on the GrassMarket. We talked and talked and caught each other up on the highs and lows of the past two years.

Grace Bellman

There is something about an old friend that makes you feel so comfortable. Sash has been my friend through it all. She didn't walk away when my life didn't look so pretty and she always makes an effort to prioritize our friendship.

Sasha made a healthy vegan potato curry with naan bread for dinner before we set off on a hike up Arthur's Seat. The crazy thing about Edinburgh is that one minute you are walking through a busy city street with buses and cars and tourists and general organized chaos, and the next minute you are walking up an extinct volcano, looking down on the city at sunset. It takes your breath away (from beauty and exhaustion).


Grace Bellman

Day 2.

I forced Sash to be a morning person and started our day relatively early. Our first stop: The National Gallery of Scotland. Neither Sash nor I feel the need to spend too long in museums so we whipped around the exhibits quickly and found a trendy coffee shop to get a pick-me-up. We took our coffees up Calton Hill, a less vigorous but still beautiful walk than Arthur's Seat. I think this may have been my favorite spot of the trip. We attempted (and succeeded) in climbing the National Monument and laughed so hard while trying to take pictures in the classic Scottish windy, slightly damp weather.

All this walking and climbing made us quite hungry so Sasha took the opportunity to show me part of her university. We ate black bean burgers and chips at the Student Union Library Bar before proceeding to hop between thrift stores, book stores, and art galleries for the next few hours.

Later that afternoon, we visited the National Museum of Scotland, which is home to a series of exhibits about animals, music, and technological advances. For someone who is usually not the biggest museum fan, it was fascinating and very enjoyable.

Physically tired but still high in spirit, we discussed what to do with our evening. We spontaneously decided to attend a local comedy show in the basement of a theatre. Both Sash and I hate to be called out in an audience but we muscled through and ended up really enjoying the new experience.

Grace Bellman

Day 3.

My last morning in Edinburgh was wonderful. We, of course, had to check out the famous castle on a hill before stopping at a lovely cafe for some coffee. We then explored the Writer's Museum. It was in a small building that seemed to be a house in its previous life. It had old memorabilia from Robert Burns, Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson. From photographs to old shoes and even locks of hair, the museum seemed to have covered each of these men's lives in detail.

My final meal in Scotland was definitely indulgent, to say the least. Sasha took me to a new restaurant, Cold Town Beer, with a rooftop view of the castle and a really yummy vegetarian full breakfast. We were both full to the brim with food and with post-meal sugar highs.

Sadly, I only had about half an hour before I had to get to the station so we marched back to her flat, packed my bag, and ended the trip in the way we started: dodging tourists with my heavy bag on the hilly streets of Edinburgh.

It was such a special trip that made me realize how much I am missing by not living closer to one of my closest friends. It was a funny feeling waving goodbye to her from the train knowing it would be at least a year, if not more until I would see her again. But I guess that phrase is really true: "How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard" - A.A.Milne.

Sasha Milne

Sash, thank you for having me and for being a friend through everything. We survived our separation at thirteen, high school, and the first two years of college apart. There is no way we can't get through another year. Have an amazing time studying in Spain and Italy. I'll see you soon.

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