Chocolate and Courage
“I’m riding solo”
Study abroad is all about stepping out of your comfort zone, so that is exactly what I did! This weekend I choose to do something that scared me immensely, traveling alone.
Even though I’ve met so many incredible people during my time in London, often schedules don’t quite match up for traveling, making solo trips a reality of the study abroad experience. The prospect of traveling alone was as foreign to me as any European culture, I’ve always traveled with friends or in large school groups, never just me. The idea of venturing somewhere new is intimidating enough, but to go alone? NO WAY. However, when I left for the semester I was determined to push myself and do one solo trip, to prove to myself that I can accomplish great things on my own. So this weekend I found myself living fearlessly (as Terps do) and ventured to Brussels by myself!
I absolutely loved it. After mustering enough courage to board my train, I found that the only thing standing my way of exploring solo was myself. Traveling alone taught me just how capable I am, and it really helped me immerse myself in the culture. As a majority of Brussels is French speaking, I used the little bit of conversational French I remembered from high school to connect with locals. I don’t think I would have pushed myself this way had I been with other English speakers. If you’re nervous about traveling alone, I recommend doing a tour at the beginning of your journey so you can travel in a group before you get an understanding of the city. I chose to do a chocolate tour and walking tour, which gave me a foundational understanding of the city and culture. I also met people from a number cultures in these groups, from Australia, Germany, Ireland, and even a fellow Marylander. Traveling alone is also a great way to ensure that you accomplish the goals you set out to achieve. For me that was to eat my weight in waffles, chocolate, and fries, travel to the surround cities of Ghent and Bruges, and enjoy the art in Brussels, and I accomplished every last one of them! (Bonus: you don’t have to share your food when you travel solo, more Belgian chocolate for me!) Overall I still prefer to travel in groups, but I’m so proud of what I accomplished this weekend.