It all started with a nervous girl walking around JFK. Heart racing and anxiety way above the norm. I was about to leave everything behind and hop on a plane, to a country I had never been to. Not only had I never been, I knew no one, no Japanese, nothing about transportation. I just made a leap of faith and boarded the plane and started my 14-hour journey to Tokyo.
Now I'll be honest, I spent my first night in Japan sobbing uncontrollably to the point I couldn't breathe, but a friendly Japanese girl and another intern came to my room and hugged me and assured that I didn't make a mistake, I needed some rest and to take some deep breaths. So, that's what I did I took a rest and woke up with a clear head, I can do this I said.
One thing no one ever tells you about traveling alone is, It can get really lonely. Or maybe at least for me since barely anybody I knew lived in my accommodation. Regardless of being lonely, you learn a lot about yourself. You begin to find the sense of who you really are. You don't always need people to be there for you, you have yourself and you should never under estimate how much power you have within. And no matter how scared you are, how much you think you can't you will conquer, you can.
Don't be afraid to be lost, I can assure you I got lost more times could imagine but I always ended up finding my way, either through a confused set of charades with a local, or aimlessly wandering around until google maps recognized that I wasn't in the middle of no where.
Traveling alone means I could do whatever the hell I wanted.
You can make the most of the chance to simply suit yourself. You can set your own agenda, eat what you want, when you want and walk and wander as little or as much as you desire each day. Which is pretty freaking awesome, not like a vacation where you only get a sample of whats around.
And let me tell you when you see pictures and videos of people getting shoved in like sardines on the subway it's no joke. I can't tell you how many times I was almost mouth-to-mouth with another person. But over time I learned tricks to stand in front of people in order to get a seat. Sometimes it works sometimes it wouldn't. And oh, not to mention I got shoved off the train many times by Japanese businessmen eager to go home, needless to say I was shocked.
I said yes to things I normally wouldn't like touring different bars for my boss. I'm not a big drinker but it was fun getting to bond with my coworker as we explored the cities and went into some very interesting spots. Like a horror movie death metal bar or a bar called not suspicious. Our little bar adventures consisted of having a great time even wandering into arcades sometimes, where are Laura and I watched a Japanese man spend $55 dollars trying to win a fan and we won it within $5. ( I also learned I have an addiction to the arcade)
Don't be afraid to try and talk to strangers, I met a local and even though we had a language barrier, we ended up having a great time talking about life over a coffee and saying our goodbyes as she help me pack. Miss you Misato!
It was a big guessing game at the grocery store of, "what am I going to eat tonight?" Most the time I never knew that was okay only bad experience was eating liver. And once I got home and wasn't clear on how to cook certain things I always had other people in my accommodation willing to help.
Make new friends:
No one knows you. Be your true self and open yourself up to the interesting and different people of this world.
Start conversations and respond to conversation.
Within your own comfort limits or levels, trust that people are as genuinely interested in you, as you are in them. It doesn't mean you will like everyone, but be open to new connections.
I met so many people from around the world with so many stories and views of life.
As cliché as this sounds, Try new things.
Acknowledge the privilege that is travel. Not everyone has the financial capacity or life circumstances to be able to take off at the drop of a hat, so show appreciation and thankfulness as you travel and when you return home.
Most important no matter what that voice in your head says, no matter how many people are telling you not to do it, do it. You'll never know if you don't try. If you have the opportunity take it. We are destined to make something great with our lives so don't hold back.
Sincerely, the girl who didn't think she could fly.