I’ve officially been in Italy for a full week (and a few days)! It’s been such an eye-opening experience and I’ve already learned so so so much about myself.
One thing no one prepares you for when you move to a new place is the loneliness that ensues. I got into my apartment around midnight and quickly fell asleep because I was SO tired from all the traveling. I couldn’t wait to wake up the next morning and go explore. But then, I woke up at 3am and FREAKED OUT. Thank goodness the US is 7 hours behind me because I frantically called Jackie, started crying and regretting the decision to move here immediately. It was intense and so unexpected because I have never gotten so overwhelmed while traveling before.
In an effort to forget that I was here (+ jet lag), I slept until 3pm the next day. I woke up every so often and questioned what the heck I was doing in Italy. By myself. I kept repeating a quote that I read from The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost which said, “For the past eight hours, ever since I waved goodbye to my father at the airport and marched myself into a plane bound for Dublin, I’ve been wondering if I was in some altered state when I planned this trip, because the reality if it feels distinctly like a bad hangover.” It is one of the most accurate things I’ve read in my entire life.
I spent the rest of the day (read: 3pm until 8pm) FaceTiming all the friends I could think of, hysterically crying on the floor while doing yoga to try to calm myself down… yeah, I was a mess. And I wish someone had warned me about all the FEELINGS that come along with this journey. Was not prepared for the mood swings, AT ALL. I am happy to announce that the second day was better, and the third was even more amazing, and I’m finally feeling like myself again and have settled into a pretty great routine.
Most of my days now involve getting a cappuccino and pastry in the morning followed by a combination of wandering around the city, translating books in Italian, reading books in English, rewatching all the movies on my laptop, and setting up shop at a local coffee shop that has really good WiFi and delicious coffee and getting odds-and-ends work done!
Here’s what my first week in Italy has taught me…
1. While I can SURVIVE on my own in a new place, I definitely THRIVE when I’m with other people.
This is the first time that I’ve ever actually traveled by myself. All my trips in the past have either been with family, study abroad, or with at least 1 friend. I’ve been wanting to solo travel for a longggg time, but I’ve started to wonder why I didn’t attempt a solo trip in the states first or internationally in an English-speaking country. But hey, go big or go home.
Being myself while traveling is definitely attainable. Clearly, I’m here by myself. But it’s definitely not the same as when I’m with someone. I’m more hesitant to take pictures on my phone. I don’t want to walk around by myself at night (paranoia or true safety concern?), and approaching people to ask if they speak English is so fearful. These are all new feelings because normally my extrovert-self constantly snaps pics of all the amazing places, doesn’t live in fear, and picks up conversations with anyone. Now that I’ve started to get acclimated to the city, those are starting to fade away, but I’m definitely pumped for Chandler (my go-to travel partner) to arrive in the middle of March 😛
2. Journaling has helped me like it never has before.
I’ve tried journaling in the past and it pretty much just looked like “I went here. I did this. I saw this.” which is probably a great start, but I’ve never actually journaled through all my emotions and it was one of the most helpful things ever getting to get #allthefeelings out onto paper and out of my mind. I’ve been reading Brené Brown’s Rising Strong and one section of the book discusses James Pennebaker’s research in which he found “writing about emotional upheavals for just fifteen to twenty minutes a day on four consecutive days can decrease anxiety, rumination, and depressive symptoms.” I definitely found that to be true and it’s so freeing!
3. Positive reframing has been a freaking game changer.
In addition to journaling, positive reframing has been so helpful in adjusting to my new city. This has mainly looked like examining what I’m anxious about, sitting with the discomfort, and repeating positive mantras to myself. The one that has helped the most is repeating “I am okay. This is where I’m meant to be.” No doubt there will be times of loneliness and discomfort – it’s totally normal. And just remembering that other people feel this way too and it’s only temporary have been the best way to reframe what I’m feeling.
Other mantras that have helped me:
- You are a badass. You can do this.
- There are no wrong decisions because I learn from every choice.
- Feel the fear and do it anyway.
Looking forward to lots of new adventures!