Before leaving to study abroad, I was highly concerned about how I would achieve traveling Italy, let alone other European countries, if I was doing it by myself. Obviously it is not the safest for a young, inexperienced, American to go wandering through train stations and taking cabs on her own. But I was going headfirst into the semester completely alone, not knowing anyone in my program. So as a result I began to prepare myself for being companionless, weighing the risks of traveling on my own, or not being able to travel at all.
Upon arriving, I had no arrangements whatsoever for any overnight stays or even day trips outside of Florence. Not to mention, I was terrified of the train station. So I repressed the idea of any voyages in order to not get my hopes up. But once I began to notice that many of the girls in my program came alone and were looking to travel as well, my anticipation for someone to invite me on a journey with them soared.
When a group of girls that I hardly know began to propose the idea of a day trip to Rome, I knew I had to drop all of my timidness for being around new people, and throw myself into the discussion. Our plans finally materialized, and before I knew it, I found myself at the train station with a group of girls from all different social groups back in the US, prepared and excited to take on this experience together.
I believe that the fact that no one in this bunch knew each other prior, greatly influenced the dynamic, as everyone was very open and accepting to make new friends with personality types that differ from theirs. We spent the whole day venturing from each beautiful tourist attraction to the next. We bonded over sharing food at lunch, the desire for gelato after an exhausting afternoon, and the discussion of class required novels on the train ride home.
The draw of only traveling with friends is attractive, but it is a whole other experience to traverse unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people. It really allows you to get all sorts of perspectives on any given encounter, and I would not have liked to do it any other way.