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3 Wild Life Lessons I Learned Traveling and Living in Paris, Berlin, and London On My Own At Age 19

Most teenagers on the cusp of twenty could be thrilled and excited at the concept of venturing out to other countries on their very own, especially with little or no adult supervision, but I used to be initially a reluctant traveler. Traveling and studying abroad was actually made “mandatory” to me by my undergraduate college’s requirements through various “immersive learning” trips in Berlin and Paris as well a requirement to decide on to review a semester in certainly one of my college’s sites abroad – and I selected to live a summer in London. Going to varsity for the primary time itself is overwhelming enough – but living out a few of your college experience in three different countries as a young woman? It was definitely a ride. Here are three life lessons I learned from these trips at a young age.

You might be forced to grow up very fast – and you may slowly realize you may tackle anything.

Live footage of my first airplane ride to London | @selfcarewarrior

Once I arrived to my college’s site for college kids in London, I used to be certainly one of the few students whose roommate didn’t show up, so I got a big flat all to myself – straight out of a movie. Admittedly, the very first thing I did after I arrived to my “flat” in London was call my boyfriend back in New York, because I used to be still so terrified being in a rustic I’d never been in, initially alone, and practically living alone apart from some fellow students living in rooms on a distinct floor. However, this separation anxiety did eventually pass. The next night, me and a few of my fellow students went out for dinner, and I used to be suddenly drinking white wine and eating pasta with strangers who became the people I relied on during my summer abroad experience. I went from being a comparatively sheltered teenager to a full-grown adult overnight. It was a “perfect” first night in London, and lots of similar nights would follow – we’d exit to beautiful restaurants, ride the weekend bullet train to Paris, dance at clubs that only stayed open until 1 am (since the train station in London closed so early at midnight – quite the “culture shock” for a New Yorker like me), ride triple-decker buses while drunk, watch Shakespeare plays on the Globe, hop on the London Eye to see the entire city from a bird’s-eye view, stay awake late talking and laughing within the “school room” after gathering our favourite German cider from the shops, and (quite exciting to my 19-going-on-20-year-old self on the time) even got to look at certainly one of the Harry Potter movies when it first got here out and attend the premiere when it occurred in London.

Many parts of the trip were a lovely experience, however the strategy of studying abroad definitely thrust me straight into maturity, challenged me to select up some survival skills at a younger age and develop a way of independence I otherwise not would have until later in life. When traveling or studying abroad, remember to take charge of your mindset. There might be moments of pure magic, self-transformation, in addition to self-doubt. There might be good, kind people who find themselves completely satisfied to show you how to – in addition to toxic people you need to keep away from – the bottom line is not isolating yourself and reaching out to those that are trustworthy, while remaining diligent in regards to the red flags and being careful in regards to the groups and support systems you surround yourself with. If you’re traveling alone, you should have to depend on the kindness of strangers to guide you, so be discerning about who you choose to be a part of your inner circle.

The magnificent gardens on the Louvre | @selfcarewarrior

What makes travel memorable isn’t just the attractive places – it’s the people, the serendipitous moments of magic, the time you spend attending to know yourself on a deeper level in addition to the meaningful memories you create with friends. Immerse yourself within the wealthy history and culture of the places you travel to, but make sure that you have got your personal adventures outside of the “tourist experience.”

The sights of Paris and our cozy hotel | @selfcarewarrior

The London “gang” created a “buddy system” for a bunch trip inside a visit: a weekend in Paris. We would select someone from our group we’d room with in Paris who actually knew French (quite a resourceful plan when you think about it was created by a bunch of early twenty-somethings, pondering back on it) and “stick” with our buddy while traveling to France. I still remember the time me and the classmate I selected as my Paris “companion” were roaming the streets of Paris, getting hit on by handsome French men on our strategy to the Louvre (just one other classic moment that seems straight out of a Sex and the City episode, Paris edition), after which serendipitously running into our fellow London classmates by accident on a random street, culminating in an excited group hug of reunion. This was not planned, and we had not contacted one another yet upon our arrival to our respective hotels. Even in Paris, we had found one another, with no map or meeting plan.

These are the kinds of perfect, magical moments that stand out in my mind, not necessarily the tourist destinations. If you’re traveling or studying abroad, set your expectations properly and don’t be afraid to be spontaneous.

For example, certainly one of my most favorite moments from my trip to Paris was immersing myself within the majestic gardens surrounding the Louvre museum on a sunny day and sitting down outside to appreciating its architecture and bask in all its beautiful glory  – it remains to be, to this present day, one of the vital magnificent sights I even have ever seen, from the surface. Seeing the Mona Lisa for the primary time contained in the Louvre was more underwhelming than I expected – it was smaller than I envisioned, and the heads of fellow tourists were all the time in the way in which of her smile. Viewing the Eiffel Tower was a stunning sight, but I used to be surprised at what a commercialized tourist destination it was, in contrast to the romanticized notions I had been fed about it after I was young. Similarly, after I was in Berlin, Germany, a few of my most memorable and favorite moments consisted of roaming the streets with my friends in the course of freezing cold winter, bundled up in coats, admiring the numerous castles we looked as if it would find on every street corner, and even going inside certainly one of the castles to take a seat cross-legged on the ground and be fed cups of vodka-infused tea in an underground-like speakeasy setting (at the least, I believe that’s what it was? Still, to this present day, I don’t know what that have was or how we even got there, but I’m grateful for it).

Sharing a delicious French breakfast with my travel buddy and a slow cup of coffee on the patio of our Paris hotel or happening a journey to search out the right croissant late at night was just as exciting of an experience as seeing the Sienne River. Having British men with cute accents flirt with me was just as exciting for me as a 19-going-on-20 teenage girl as taking a visit to Oxford, or visiting the infamous 9 and three/4 platform – or roaring with laughter with my fellow travelers outside the British museum (but nonetheless, all were fun!).

Sights from Berlin, Germany | @selfcarewarrior 

Abroad, you need to definitely reap the benefits of all of the tourist destinations and immerse yourself within the wealthy culture, art and history of your chosen destination, but don’t forget to make your personal magical little adventures.  Whether you’re riding solo or with friends, safely plan learn how to be spontaneous and sometimes immerse yourself within the lifetime of an individual actually living within the country – do the things you wish to do, not only the expected. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll find most mesmerizing.

You will get homesick – and concurrently, you’ll construct a recent home where you might be and feel like a recent person.

Tower Bridge in London | @selfcarewarrior

When looking back at my time studying abroad, I’m amazed at what I became able to and the transformation I went through from being a reasonably sheltered college student whose experience of travel on the time consisted of occasionally going to my home country together with her family to suddenly traveling U.K. and Europe with strangers I used to be just attending to know. I remember during certainly one of my more emotional moments, I ran to the room of certainly one of my fellow guy flatmates studying abroad and we each instinctively hugged one another because we each understood how jarring the experience was (after which I needed to text my boyfriend back home confessing the hug, since it felt like emotional cheating – ah, the key, bizarre mind and inner lifetime of an adolescent). Only now can I reflect on this experience years later by pondering, “How did I even experience and survive all that newness at that vulnerable age?”.

Watching a Shakespeare play on the Globe Theater in London | @selfcarewarrior

The initial homesickness was definitely overwhelming, but in case you can get past the homesickness and strangeness of being on your personal for the primary time in a “strange” country, you may achieve anything. Eventually, over my summer living within the U.K., I began feeling like a neighborhood. I learned learn how to navigate the London Underground, find my favorite coffee shop, my go-to food market, my favorite Pizza Express and eyebrow threading place, and even enterprise out without anyone and get properly lost and find myself in the town. I got accustomed to the quiet rainy days walking around my flat, the train rides to Piccadilly Circus (and laughing with my friends about other inappropriate-sounding train name stops), the instructor-led trips to museums and plays (in case you’re studying abroad, definitely select classes which can be immersive – I selected a Shakespeare and architecture class, each of which allowed us to explore the town during our “classes”).


I got “used” to living in London and respiration cleaner, brisker air (literally – London is so clean!) and eating “cleaner” food (resulting from their more stringent standards and protocols for food in contrast to America, even their McDonalds felt gourmet). I got used to dinners and wine nights with people I might never see again. At one point, I even got my very own therapist in London simply to emotionally process my experiences. Talk about starting a recent life and going all in!

After studying abroad, I became more confident and resilient as an adult navigating the world alone. To this present day, I still remember my first airplane ride to London, my long journey to Heathrow Airport and the way I relied on the kindness of strangers simply to get to London and  was thrust into the maze of its insane airline system (in contrast, on my first airport trip to Berlin, I used to be surrounded by students, so looking back it’s a bit crazy that at a young age I used to be suddenly left to my very own devices), the homesickness that followed as I arrived to my flat, and the way I finally morphed right into a young woman who could handle all of it.  Serendipitously, the identical cab driver who picked me up from the airport also showed up after I was leaving – one other movie-like moment that looked as if it would symbolize that while all the things seemed the identical, I left as a modified person than I got here in.


You will learn a lot in a brief time period, and you may still have a lot left to learn. The experience is what you make of it, so reap the benefits of every opportunity to explore, enjoy yourself, and end up.

Paris, France  | @selfcarewarrior
Paris, France | @selfcarewarrior

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