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    Going solo: pt.1

    By Julia | September 4, 2011

    Sorry I haven’t been able to document this more, but last weekend I took a wonderful little solo adventure into hurricane territory (which I didn’t know until EVERYONE started telling me 2 days before I was leaving).  An innocent little, “last hurrah” before work ends and school starts. I needed a break. Not only that, but traveling solo is something that I think that EVERYONE should try, hopefully before college, but definitely before you graduate from college.

    People tend to see me as shy, quiet, and generally reserved. Not as the person who would go up and ask for directions, but instead would quietly struggle to figure out what could easily be asked. That’s how some people know me, and around them, that’s who I end up being.

    The greatest thing was at the end of my senior year in high school for my senior project, I spent a month in San Francisco. Tuesday through Friday (they had a weird schedule) I had to find my way around from where I was staying with friends of friends in Piedmont (the ‘donut hole’ of Oakland, in East Bay), to SOMA (south of Market area) in San Francisco. Calling my mom wasn’t going to cut it. I needed to figure it out on my own. Instead of being the shy person in the context of friends and family, I was proactive and confident. Asking for directions (Hotels give the BEST directions), and chatting up others. You have to learn how to be flexible and think on your feet. You can’t spend forever making decisions because your trip is finite. When you’re immersed in a situation, you figure things out MUCH quicker too.

    Fast forward to this past weekend: my 2nd solo adventure where I headed off to Chester, Connecticut, Via a flight to Boston, and an Amtrak train to Old Saybrook, CT.  Along the way I was flabbergasted by the number of people that I had legitimate conversations with: a boy and his father waiting for the shuttle in longterm parking at 5am, an older couple waiting for the plane to boston, 2 amtrak employees at South Boston station,  A woman on the Amtrak train, two women waiting to see the show, and a young woman who drove from boston to see the show and generously offered to give me a ride back to the place I was staying a mile away before she left for Boston. All in just about 18 hours. WOW.

    For a place to stay, on a minimal budget, I  had been looking through the various mediums that college students use: hostels (too far from where I needed to be), hotels/motels (too expensive), couchsurfing (too potentially awkward), when I came across this other website: airbnb.com (people renting out their own spaces). While I cannot speak for all of the properties on this website (although a lot sound REALLY cool! A treehouse overlooking the golden gate bridge, etc) I had a great experience at the place where I stayed, for a minimal price of $50/night (not including the website fee).  I stayed with a couple in their 60s who had 2 grown children and both had worked/work in higher education in an in-law suite attached to their house. More about that later…

    Why Chester? I had wanted to go to Chester to see this musical that I had been following for awhile, but before you think I flew 1/4th the way across the country JUST to see a show, I was just craving adventure, and a relaxing trip. The location of the show merely was the inspiration, plus, I’d never really been to New England. In hindsight, Chester is a rather difficult place to get to and through without being able to rent a car because of its lack of sidewalks and public transit, but I digress…

    After having been up since the previous morning (minus naps on the plane and train… I had been too nervous about missing my 6:40am flight) I arrived at the place I was staying and got ready to head to the show. It was an intimate theatre which was especially cool because these were awesomely talented actors and my ticket was only $20 (I love being a student ;) ). Afterwards, I got to meet the composer and lyricist who were very nice and gracious as I gushed about their music. I told them I had plans to see it the next night as well.

    The next day I took a tour of the Goodspeed Opera House an award-winning theatre in East Haddam, CT (just across the Connecticut River), went for a walk, and went to the matinee of “Showboat”

    and that was when the sky went gray and the wind began to blow…

    This trip wasn’t as relaxing as I had hoped, but it was sure an adventure! Not everything worked out as planned, but traveling alone, you still have to figure out your next move and how to get home.

    More to come about how I came face to face with Hurricane Tropical Depression Irene…

    Peace,

    J

    Topics: Advice, Julia L., Personal, Study Abroad, The Future, Travel | No Comments »

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