Solo: On Loneliness, Traveling Alone, and Coming to the End

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Isabel Rameker
December 4, 2022
Solo: On Loneliness, Traveling Alone, and Coming to the End

Tonight, or rather early tomorrow morning, I hop on a flight to El Calafate. For almost the last time in my four months here, I’ll get up after barely three hours of sleep, call a cab, and arrive at the airport sleepy and excited for the adventure ahead. I’ll go through security with my full water bottle, I’ll probably buy an overpriced airport coffee, and then I’ll sit at my gate until it’s time to board. Every other time I’ve done this, I’ve had friends along; there have always been people to giggle with in the airport and shoulders to nap on in the cab. Tomorrow morning, I’ll drink my coffee alone and I’ll get on the plane alone and I’ll arrive at my hostel alone. I will be solo. SOLO. Me and only me and hopefully, maybe some strangers-turned-friends I meet along the way. 

School ended a week ago, and for the past four months, I’ve been surrounded by my people day in and day out. Two hours into being alone in the city and I’m already feeling little pangs of loneliness in my chest. Over the past week, everyone from my program has scattered to different places: some home, some traveling. And so here I am, in a slightly grimy Airbnb just blocks from my host parents’ home, getting ready for my own little adventure. 

I want to be the cool, independent, badass solo traveler who is totally capable and self-sufficient and very outgoing and also incredibly laid back. I want to be fearless and totally confident. I’m thinking I will probably be none of these things and I’m trying to be okay with that because I’m also thinking it will be lovely and challenging and exciting regardless.

Loneliness is one of those things that can sneak up on you sometimes. There are so many types of loneliness; some of my loneliest times in life have been when I’m surrounded by people who love me. But solo travel can bring on the kind of loneliness that I think is sometimes good for me. It’s the kind of loneliness I sometimes need in order to remember what I want and who I am. It’s the kind of loneliness that resets me. 

I’m not sure that I’m quite ready to do the whole reflect-on-the-past-semester thing yet, although a week of solo travel almost feels like it demands some sort of reflection. The last four months in Buenos Aires have whipped by, and the thought of going home in less than a week feels daunting. On the phone with Caroline last night, she recounted for me her last three days since returning home and my heart sank a little, imagining myself in the same spot in just a week. So for now, instead of sinking into the after, I’m trying to soak in every last overly-milky coffee (or buttery, which is what I got this morning when I ordered a cafe doble con leche), every last cab ride, and every last too-early morning of this semester. 

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Isabel Rameker

I'm a junior sociology and anthropology major at Carleton College in Minnesota. I'm also a prospective Spanish minor and I'm both excited and nervous to dive into a semester of Spanish immersion in Argentina. Although I go to school in a small town, I love cities and am endlessly fascinated by their different cultures and dynamics, so I'm especially excited to be living in Buenos Aires this fall. At school, I play club frisbee and write for my college's news site, and in my free time, I love to lounge with a good book, cook meals with my housemates, and enjoy the outdoors.

Home University:
Carleton College
Madison, Wisconsin
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