Before I jump right into that article I need to make sure that you know: I like being by myself. Being by myself means being free, doing whatever I want to do – without having to consider other people’s interest. That may sound egocentric to you, I know. But it isn’t. Being around people can be quite exhausting. Especially when you don’t know these people yet: You can’t be yourself.
I’m writing this because I’m in my new place for eleven days now. Meeting new people was easy due to the four days lasting international orientation week. Keeping all these new people in mind wasn’t. Remembering their names wasn’t either. My brain was and is still working 24/7. There comes a time when you just need to take a break from all the unfamiliar faces, the new impressions. So you decide to be by yourself for one day to think about the experiences you have made. You are alone.
Exploring the city centre of Tromsø – relaxing. Drinking tea in a cute Café – relaxing too. Getting free food – awesome! Being alone in your dorm room thinking about the last days – could be nice but also sad. You remember your loved ones at home. Familiar faces, characters, behaviours. When you’re all by yourself in a foreign country or even just a foreign city you feel like you need to get to know new friends as soon as possible. Otherwise you’ll be missing out. But that’s not true. Being abroad by yourself for the first time isn’t all about getting to know as many persons as possible. It also means learning how to be by yourself. And by that I don’t mean being by yourself in your room at home. Being by yourself and knowing that you won’t see your friends and family back home for a long time is something completely different because you don’t have the security a familiar environment gives you. As my Portuguese roommate said: You feel vulnerable.
I am writing this to remind myself of one challenge I’m facing during my time abroad: Learning to be by myself without stressing about what others are thinking about me and my time spent alone exploring Tromsø or just lying in bed.