Solo-Travelling – Cheng Hei Lam Samantha

I wanted to study abroad ever since I was small. All these years I’ve been day-dreaming about it by looking at stunning photos of landscapes on the web and imagining myself visiting these places. The day finally came and it felt so unreal. I felt I wasn’t ready for the six months away from home, and the challenges I would face. I was afraid that I would be homesick. My friend, who had been on an exchange to Copenhagen last year, reassured me that once I’m there, I would be too excited to be homesick. She also gave me a piece of advice; “try to stay OUT of the dorm as much as possible”… And she was right.

When I moved into my dorm, looking at the pleasant view of the canal along the Mile End Park, I realised I was living my dream. The gentle blue sky and the dramatic sunset lured me from my dorm everyday. I walked around and I jogged to Victoria Park and back. In the evenings I went on the internet to research places to go in London and in the UK.

Here’s the thing about me – I hate going anywhere alone, and I was hoping I’d make some really good friends to travel with. The problem is people don’t always want to go to the same places as me. I know it sounds silly, but I struggled with the dreaded solo-traveller lifestyle! But, I had to start out travelling alone as I knew I would definitely regret not travelling and having once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

The turning point, for me, was receiving an email from students organising a trip to Stonehenge and Salisbury. I always wanted to go to Stonehenge, and so I googled Salisbury, which turned out to be another picturesque town that I knew I would love to visit. I must admit I was still uncertain. What if I don’t make friends with anyone on the trip? What if I have to explore the places all by myself? Who am I going to have lunch and dinner with? Suddenly, it dawned on me that all my life I have been thinking about what I wanted to do without ever acting on it! I dreamt of travelling around. I dreamt of walking in green fields under the blue sky. I dreamt of sitting by a lake for one whole day looking at the reflection of the mountains. Here I am, one step from realising my dream, my insecurities keeping me from reaching it.

It realised I had to start to take action. In the twenty minutes before my next lesson started, I took out my debit card and booked onto the trip. No more over-thinking. No turning back. All I had to do was purchase a ticket and I’d embark on a journey. A notification appeared on top of the screen on my phone, confirming my payment.

Well, the deed was done, and the trip didn’t disappoint. The weather turned out to be really nice (we were extremely lucky) and I was finally walking along the green fields, looking up at the fluffy white clouds in the soft blue sky.

I did meet some really nice people there, but I also found out more about the perks of solo travelling too. You don’t have to compromise with anyone where to go and when to eat. Surprisingly, I do enjoy spending time alone wandering around and appreciating a new place at my own pace.

Going back to my flat at QMUL, I found myself once again searching for places in the UK to visit. This time I came across Bournemouth, a coastal city that looked amazing! I realised all I had to do was to purchase a train ticket, confirm the date and pay in advance to make myself go on a trip without worrying or over-thinking. This may work for you too if you’re thinking about travelling but find you are always hesitant. It might be too impulsive for some, but for me, it is definitely working.

I look forward to the adventures ahead, and I can’t wait to share more here on the blog!

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