Spending time in Seoul reaffirmed one thing about myself: I love traveling, but more importantly, I love who I am when I’m somewhere foreign and unfamiliar and I can totally travel alone. When I’m at home, I’m careful and my sensibilities are in overdrive, but when I’m somewhere new, my adventurous self shows up. Eat silkwork larvae? Absolutely, hand it over! Walk into a space with live, feral monkeys? Sounds fun!
Traveling to new places allows us to suspend judgement, to immerse ourselves into landscapes, and to blend into the background. It’s through these experiences that we begin to scratch the surface of a place and a people. The most enlightening experiences I had about South Korea were not spent in places like Insa-dong or Myeong-dong, where foreigners are expected to show up en masse, but rather, it was on the subway, watching people commuting to or from work and smartly dressed young friends getting excited about a new music video they’re watching on a hand phone. Although my Korean is limited, the language of emotion is universal. I empathized with those people on their way to work. I’ve felt like that before and I’m pretty sure I looked like them too. I remember what it was like to be young and so caught up in something new that I didn’t recognize anything else happening around me.
I am brave on the road and when I’m solo, the only person I can rely on is myself. Ultimately, the experience I have is due entirely upon my willingness to step outside my comfort zone and what a waste of an opportunity if I don’t take those chances after traveling thousands of miles for a new experience. After this week, I think I will likely do another solo trip. What I’ve loved about traveling alone is just doing what I want and not having to worry about making other people in my party feel comfortable. Yes, another solo trip is definitely something I’ll be doing in the next year and I can’t wait.
And if you’ve been considering taking a solo international trip, I say, go for it. You won’t regret it and you’ll definitely learn a lot about yourself.