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Feeling less alone on my solo backpacking trip

Filed in Blog, Ireland by on May 22, 2017
by Sherell B.

“Having a friend means feeling less alone in the world.” –Deborah Tannen

Me in London

Me in London

I spent the entire day exploring London alone. For three hours, I walked around Camden Town Market, weaving my way through the labyrinth of shops, street food and tourists. I then headed to the Westminster area, where I checked out Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, and even took a nap under the sun in a tulip garden.

Once it was getting dark out, I made my way to the train station, and it wasn’t long until I boarded by bus to Paris, heading to the second stop on my solo backpacking trip during the month-long spring holiday we had in April before final exams in May. It was a nine hour ride, so I settled into my seat for the night and slept, only to be awoken by the bus driver’s groggy voice on the intercom a few hours later. He spoke in French, so I had no idea what was happening. But immediately after he stopped speaking, everyone on the bus began to gather some of their things and head out. Confusion. After watching everyone else exit, I grabbed my phone and water bottle and followed suit.

Turns out, we would be riding a ferry over the part of the Atlantic that separates the U.K. from France, and hopping back on the bus once we reached land. I found an empty table among the clamor of annoyed, sleep deprived travelers, and focused on staying awake in fear of sleeping through the signal to exit the ferry.

Puis je seiger?” asked a woman not much older than me.

“Pardon, no French,” I said.

“Oh! Sorry. I said, can I sit here.”

After an awkward “I’m from the States” and “I’m from the south of France” interaction, she became my companion for the hour and a half ferry ride. Just like that. We chatted about our families, what we did for fun and even discussed our career dreams and fears for the future. We exchanged stories of our siblings and ranted about dating frustrations. She even cried when delving into a story about her ex-boyfriend, and I spent the remainder of the ride attempting to cheer her up with my own weird personal tales. Before we knew it, someone on the intercom told us that it was time to board the bus again, and we were back to the monotony of highways lined with farmland.

Arriving in Paris in the morning, we continued with our conversation as if it hadn’t ended, wandering around a vacant shopping center that had yet to open for the day, in search for breakfast. Eventually, it was time for me to get going (I still needed to find a gift for a fellow Tiger I’d be visiting in Montlucon, France, later that day). We hugged and parted ways.

And that’s just how the remainder of my backpacking trip went. I went on spontaneous walks throughout new cities and late-night fast food runs with fellow travelers who allowed themselves to be vulnerable for the extent of our conversations. Aside from the amazing views and just as amazing food, I think those are the memories I’ll take back with me.

Me and a new friend I met on a walking tour in Prague, Czech Republic

Me and a new friend I met on a walking tour in Prague, Czech Republic

Me and two new friends I met at my hostel in Prague, Czech Republic.

Me and two new friends I met at my hostel in Prague, Czech Republic.

About the blogger

Sherell B. is studying abroad at the National University of Ireland, Galway in Galway, Ireland.

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