By the nature of my teaching program, I essentially traveled to Germany solo. I arrived on September 2nd without an apartment lined up, and no real connections except for my lone German friend and her family hours away. A few days later, I met the rest of the English teachers from the States, and learned some important quirks about the American scholars in Germany type:
- I’ve traveled to every country in continental Europe during my time studying abroad in Germany for a semester
- I’m planning on furthering my research of some obscure topic that nobody else has any clue about. How am I doing that? Oh, I’ll be visiting museums and libraries. No, it’s official research, and no, you probably can’t handle the task.
- I’m already fluent in German despite (quirk #1) in which I was barely in Germany during my time studying abroad here and I don’t associate with non-fluent American speakers.
- I’ve traveled extensively, but never alone.
You can hear the sarcasm in my words, right??
Let me back up a bit…
My biggest fear before coming abroad was not being able to relate to any other scholarship recipients. I spent the next 4 days mingling and small talking and reexplaining the same things to about 140 people, and I learned something important: yes, those people I just complained about exist, but no, not all of them are like that. Except for quirk #4.
I think one of my main issues is the whole idea of “traveling alone.” I know what kind of a person I am: I am an extroverted introvert, someone who is social when they want to be, but I don’t want to be social always. Hence, traveling alone has been appealing to me for as long as I can remember. I asked several people if they have ever traveled alone before. They said, “yeah, I’ve gone to Köln, Berlin, München, etc. to meet friends.” And I had to reiterate, “no, like you traveled alone and then spent time in a new city by yourself.” Actually, I haven’t met a single person who has said “yes” to this so far.
I think all we see when someone is spending any amount of time abroad for a while is pictures on their social media with a bunch of friends. I enjoy traveling with friends, but I also don’t like relying on anyone else’s time table, money restrictions or interests. Also, I am not interested in portraying some fake happy life on social media. I’m happy! I have friends! I’m just not updating all of the randoms in my life about it.
Also, can we just talk about how annoying every American in Europe is?? Yes, we get it, you’ve traveled everywhere. You don’t need to start every conversation with, “This one time in …. (any country except for the one you’re in).” (everyone is on my nerves today apparently!)
So far, I have just traveled alone twice: Straßburg, France, and now — Würzburg, Germany.
While we’re on the topic of traveling to Würzburg…
I love Würzburg, and I am planning on going back when the weather is a bit nicer. They have started setting up for the Christmas Markets and it’s beautiful and cozy. Sometimes I take pictures and don’t bother to edit them because I’m not that proud of them to begin with, but I’m very pleased with the pictures I took during my time here and have had a great time editing and tweaking the pictures. I highly recommend stopping by if you are in the area!
My tip for other solo travelers: get off the bus/train/whatever, and just start walking. Don’t focus on TripAdvisor and see all the landmarks, and then leave. Enjoy the uncertainty of what you’ll find. I googled “Würzburg” before traveling there, and I never saw any pictures that look anything like mine, and I actually think that’s great. My experience here is so much different than anyone else’s, and yours probably will be, too.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my takes on solo traveling, scholarship recipients from the USA, and the city of Würzburg!