Make Memories Exploring On Your Own

When I was a sophomore in college, I had the gift of spending a semester abroad in Rome. For those of you who have lived abroad for a period of time, you know that it becomes a time marked by wonder and new experiences. I traveled all around Europe that semester with friends, soaking in every ounce of beauty and making priceless memories that I treasure to this day. 

There was one part of my trip that stood out from the others. Over our Thanksgiving break, I ended up being the only student on campus for a few days. I spent a few days in Barcelona with one of my dearest lifelong friends and then I intentionally returned to spend some time in Rome by myself. 

I’d never traveled by myself in a foreign country before. That experience alone was empowering and exhilarating. You taste freedom and the expanse of the world in a unique way in those moments. 

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During those few days in Rome, I made a list of a few sites I’d been wanting to see that were off the beaten path. I spent an afternoon journaling under a fragrant orange tree, lingered over a morning cappuccino while overlooking the whole expanse of Rome, and made a pilgrimage to a holy site. Those moments are enshrined in my memory. I can almost smell the sweet oranges and taste the strong coffee still.

Seeking stillness in the midst of a vibrant, social semester transported me and I am deeply grateful for it still. When you are left alone with your thoughts, the silence encourages you to reflect and look at the world around you with more observant eyes. I think that is why those views, scents, and sounds from those few days stay with me still. 

Maybe you’ve heard the old expression that ‘silence can be deafening.’ I think for many of us, silence is not deafening, it’s an elusive acquaintance. Befriend the silence, every once in a while, especially when you travel. 

There is a time and a place for the joy of traveling with friends and family, but I encourage you to explore on your own. Even if it’s once a year and you take a day trip to somewhere you have never been - a local museum, a beautiful vineyard, or a coffee shop. See your own world, or the larger world, with new eyes and meet it on your own, if only for a short time. 

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