For many, with high school ending and summer travel or moving plans just around the corner, the time has finally come to pick up and leave home! Although it may feel like the count down has lasted way to long, the reality of situations like these can quickly turn excitement into dread or fear of facing the unexpected alone. Whether you are just about to make the transition into university and explore your new surroundings, or finally going on the summer expedition of your dreams, these are some things to keep in mind to ensure you make the most out of your independence and avoid common patterns many students fall under.
I’m Riding Solo…
One of the best parts of living and travelling independently is having the complete freedom to choose for yourself, an experience which can feel unfamiliar to many of us. At first, it can be a little intimidating to have so many options available to you without voice of authority providing their input on what would be best. Take your enjoying absolutely everything you do, (on your own clock!) and embrace taking on full responsibility with respect to what you know is best for you! Spending this time on your own can take a little getting used to, but results in new discoveries about yourself and the kind of person you would like to be.
When arriving in a new location, your initial list of things to see and places to go may be longer than what is manageable to complete, depending on the amount of time you intend to stay. Instead of rushing through everything on your list in order to feel like you have accomplished what you hoped, prioritizing a few special destinations and taking your time with them can be a more fun than immediately tackling a long list of to-dos. Set small goals for yourself such as to make it to a particular park, and end up taking a longer path and an hour ice cream break if it will make your day more relaxing or enjoyable. When you take your time with each activity, you will get more out of your time and almost always end up learning new and unexpected things!
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Travelling by foot, plane, taxi, or bus always involves being surrounded by hundreds of new energies, faces, and stories. When everyone is in their own world trying to get from one place to another, it can often feel like people are unfriendly and not interested in opening up to anyone. Regardless of how unpleasant someone may appear, striking up a conversation with a quick hello or simple questions almost always turns out to be mutually rewarding. Speaking to the locals or older students on campus is also one of the best ways to familiarize yourself with your surroundings, and get simple tips a guide or view book cannot provide. Turning that long wait at the bus stop into a friendly visit with the person next to you, or asking someone for directions can end up in a great conversation or a new friend. Communication is always great when you spend most of the day on your own, so always try to take advantage of these opportunities.
That being said, remember that not everyone is out with good intentions and it is important to keep your guard up to an extent, and always be aware of your surroundings. In situations where you may feel uncomfortable or vulnerable, never make it obvious to look like a lost or distressed, and always appear calm until you figure things out. If possible, it is always a good idea to have someone in the area you know you can contact easily in case of emergency who can help or provide information if necessary. Fortunately, most of the time common sense takes care of knowing if the location you are in is safe and if the people you encounter are decent, but doing small things to minimize risk never hurts.
Being in an unfamiliar environment, there may be times when you go the completely wrong direction, feel lonely, or just end up having a terrible day. No matter how badly you think you may have messed up, remember that anything you do, good or bad, will teach you something valuable and make you stronger as a person. Stay optimistic, open-minded, and be in control of yourself and your emotions to make the most out of every experience you have!