Are you familiar with schoolies? The crazy party that is the epitome of every spring break that you see portrayed in movies and on TV? The week where seventeen year olds across Australia flock to the Gold Coast after graduation, for a week spent in a constant state of mild-drunkness, dodging the drug-pimping “toolies” and “experimentation,” captioning their schoolies photos #yolo?
I didn’t go. Mainly, because, I’m not a huge fan of drinking, and the aim for the week is to literally get as drunk as possible. It would also have cost me a few thousand dollars, and I didn’t want to spend that kind of cash on a week that I wouldn’t really enjoy. I knew I would end up watching all the drunk people, shaking my head at their decisions. I knew I would I would behaving like a strict grandmother rather than an 18-year-old high school grad.
Instead, I came up with the idea to go overseas — by myself.
When you tell people that you’re planning on going overseas by yourself, they either think you’re brave or naive. But me? I just wanted to do this really badly. I know what I can handle — and while I can’t handle huge spiders, watching Ravenswood when I’m home alone, or Orange is the New Black in general, I’m pretty certain I can handle this. Naive? Probably slightly more so than brave. However, with that being said, I have been flying by myself since I was eight, I’ve been to where I’m going before and feel comfortable in knowing my way around, and I’ve taken multiple self-defense courses. I wouldn’t go on this trip if I wasn’t confident that I wouldn’t feel scared or vulnerable. Of course, I will feel homesick sometimes, and miss my parents, but that’s not stopping me from deciding to take on this adventure.
So here’s five reasons why I decided to take the leap and go overseas alone:
While some people’s idea of adventure includes hang gliding, jumping out of airplanes, or going camping (I’m still mildly traumatized from an eighth grade experience), I have a different idea of adventure. My version takes place in a two-star hotel, in a city I’ve been to before (with my parents). I know my way around, I know I won’t get lost in the (urban) jungle, or stranded without (good) food and cell reception. To each, his own.
I contemplated the idea of going with a friend (or two) but, in all honesty, the only way I was able to afford this trip is because I already had already saved up from having three jobs. I also saved every single dollar that I received in birthday and Christmas money. Even with all that, I don’t have as much spending money as I would like. But most of my friends don’t have jobs, and the ones that do weren’t going to be able to save as much money as they needed, nor did they want to. So, it became an independent adventure.
3. I’m Comfortable Being By Myself
As an only child, I was always that kid who was fine entertaining or being by herself for hours on end. Now, that has also developed into being that person who cuts up all her food in bite-size pieces, so she can read a book and eat at the same time without having to put the book down every five seconds to cut a piece of food. Naturally in this scenario I am eating alone. Being alone is actually something I often relish in, and enjoy just as much as being around other people. I am positive that I won’t mind having a traveling companion on this trip (most of the time, at least) and if I feel the need to, I can always make small talk with strangers.
4. Life Experience
I want to study overseas for a semester sometime during my four or five years at university, and I didn’t want my first time going overseas by myself to be then. I also wanted to grow up a little — every time I’ve been overseas before, I’ve relied on my parents to tell me where I’m going, what we’re doing, what time we need to be at the airport, to check the hotel room to make sure we haven’t left anything behind; to drag my butt out of bed at 7am so we can be outside Disney in time for rope drop. I’ve never done that type of stuff myself, and I really want to. I don’t know what I hope to be able to achieve out of it — maybe an Eat Pray Love-esque realization (probably not ) but, at the very least, some pretty photos would do.
5. Because I really, really want to.
I don’t know why. I just have this desire to get lost (only mildly, not like this-is-creepy-get-me-out-of-here-before-I-wet-my-pants-from-fear lost) in an amazing city; to discover gorgeous and quirky things that I would never experience before; to spend a whole day in a bookstore that would make anyone with me completely and utterly bored; to pretend to be a hipster and spend an hour or so sipping coffee in an eclectic coffee store, while profoundly (probably not profoundly actually, more like just my travel journal, but all the same) writing. And for some completely crazy reason that I really can’t explain, I want to do it all alone.