Learning to travel alone

Emma Jerzyk
May 12, 2017
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My time in Rabat has been filled with trips — small and large — outside of Rabat. One of the first weekends of the program, I went to Tarifa, Spain, a little beach town opposite Tangier across the Gibraltar; I spent a weekend in Chefchaouen; I went to Portugal and Spain over spring break. Most of my trips have been with other people from IES Abroad. And traveling in groups of course comes with challenges — meeting everyone’s needs and demands, operating as a group in large spaces, etc. But I have also come to appreciate the perks of group travel, or at least traveling with friends. 

I travelled by myself for about a month before the Rabat program started. I spent a week in Spain and two weeks in Tunis, and I got to Rabat a week early. I also travelled on my own over spring break. Traveling alone can warp your perception of time and meaning sometimes. After my first trip with friends from the program, I realized that when I was traveling in a group, we were often doing the same sorts of things that I would do when I traveling alone. Most of that includes just messing around and wandering around the city. But when you’re alone, all of that can feel very empty and meaningless. Whereas, when I was with my friends, it was quality time that we were spending together, bonding and talking. 

Traveling alone can also warp your sense of money. Most of what you’re doing when you’re with friends doesn’t involve spending money. When you’re with friends, it’s easy to pick a park or beach or some other public location, sit down, and just talk. But when you’re alone, you sometimes feel like you’re trying to just sit somewhere and not spend any money. You finish a meal and wonder what you should do next. You wander around the city, and maybe you see a café or a bakery, and you think to yourself, “If I stop here, am I stopping because I’m hungry, or because I’m bored?” 

But learning that my itinerary is more or less the same when I’m traveling alone as when I’m traveling with friends also brings confidence. I struggled a lot when I was traveling alone before the program started. But when I went to travel by myself over spring break, I had a sense of certainty that I didn’t have before. I felt comfortable spending time by myself, reading in a café or wandering the streets. 

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Emma Jerzyk

<p>Hi there, I&rsquo;m Emma, and I&rsquo;m from Hinsdale, IL. I&rsquo;m a senior at Brown University studying computer science and Middle Eastern studies. No, you are not the first person to tell me I should work for the CIA. I like stories, and I like data. I like combining them even more. Follow my blog for an in-depth look at Moroccan culture!</p>

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