07 May 2014

On Traveling Solo

The night is deepening. My cup of tea is cooling. My mind is wandering and leaving the Summer-like feel of this country and I am back in England. My heart yearns for it. I dream of the day when the fields of gold fly by me from my seat on the train again. The bursts of Spring blooms flowing like carpets on the flat fields all the way to the hills as far as the eye can see.

Indeed, my heart does smile in the presence of England (or talks of it). It is a magical place to me. In all the best ways. So much inspiration is gathered from the landscapes, the trees, the flowers, the history, the architecture, the authors and poets, the towns, the culture, the food, and of course the books. England pierces my heart like no other place has.

I am so glad I used my recent vacation time to go to England, on a solo adventure. I received a lot of questions and wonderings about what it is like to travel alone and spend an entire holiday solo. Several people remarked that I am brave, but I really don't think I am. For one, though, you have to be okay with being alone, in general. For some people, that is just not an option.

For me, though, I like to be alone. How else can I spend loads of time reading or writing in my journal? If someone wants to join me in spending hours at a coffee shop writing and reading literature, then that would be marvelous. But most people do not enjoy that sort of thing. That's why this adventure was my chance to do everything I wanted to do. That is one huge advantage of taking a solo trip. You have complete freedom to pick what you want to do, and change your mind along the way.

I will admit, there were a few times I felt alone. By that I mean I recognized that nobody within 4,000 miles knew me and it felt a little lonely. I remember one instance of that was when I came back to my room after a great day and I wanted to share my day's events with someone. I wanted to talk with someone who knew me well, but I couldn't. So I wrote emails, which isn't quite the same, but it did help. But then I did what I normally do every night at home - I wrote in my journal, prepared a blog post, read, and drank some tea. And all was well.

I feel like my appreciation of Oxford is so much deeper and part of that might have to do with being alone. It sort of forces you to be more open and friendly (which is a difficult thing for me - I am not a natural at starting conversations) because you are the one responsible for everything. Nobody there is going to speak for you. I met some really nice people along the way. Like the porters at Christ Church College. I felt more at home there because I would exchange a few friendly words with the porter on duty as I left or came back into the gate. Since I struggle with striking up a conversation with strangers, this trip helped me do that better. Practice. Practice. Practice. Going to church was a really good thing, too. To be among fellow Christians in the community of Oxford warmed my heart. I had several conversations there with friendly people.

One more thing to consider is I have been to Oxford and London before. So, I knew where I was going. I knew the train stations, and the way to get places. This is a huge help to me, because I like to know where I am going. I am good with directions, but I also plan ahead so I know which way to go. Going to a city that is already familiar to me was a great idea because I stepped off the train that first day and walked straight to Christ Church College, and then walked about the city as if I had just been a student on holiday returning back to my college. So my advice on that topic is - know your city. Become familiar with the streets, the landmarks, the names of things. Study maps. That is what I do.

I might just be too independent for my own good. This trip made me even more so. I had not taken a solo trip overseas until this trip. Would I do it again? Absolutely!

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