Traveling Solo as a Student Abroad

Come Alone, Leave with Friends

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By Frances Sentilles | Thursday, 14 July 2016

When I first signed up to come to Seville as an individual, I was nervous about going alone to a country where I knew no one. What would I doif I got lost? Or if I lost my luggage? Or my phone or wallet or passport? My fears were legitimate, but they were unnecessary. Once I got to Seville, all my worries were replaced by excitement.

I originally signed up for the Centro Mundolengua program with a group from my high school, but when the school cancelled the trip, I decided to come anyway. I was disappointed that the friends and teachers I planned to share this experience with could not come, but I ultimately think I benefited more from being on my own.

There are definitely pros and cons to coming as an individual. On the one hand, being in a group means there are people who can help if anything happens. Being with teachers gives students a better idea of what to expect during the trip and takes away some of the responsibility. I think I would have been significantly less nervous if I had come to Seville with my school, so for some students it might be the best option. On the other hand, an individual student has more freedom. We get to explore more of the city on our own and visit all of the places that excite us most. Outside of the Centro Mundolengua activities, our time is our own. For instance, after we visited the Real Alcázar, my roommate (also an individual) and I wanted to stay and look around the garden for longer… so we did. Individual students also have to go out of their comfort zones. If we need something, we cannot consult a trusted friend or teacher. We have to ask strangers,usually in Spanish.

The best part about being an individual, though, is making new friends. Every afternoon Centro Mundolengua splits the students up into school groups to do cultural activities, and all of the “individuales” do them together. Everyone in the individual group from my program was eager to get to know each other because we were all alone.Even though we came from places all over the United States, we all shared a love for travel and learning about new places that helped us connect with one another. If I had come with my school, I already would have been with a group of friends, so I would have missed out on the many new friendships I formed over the past two weeks.

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