Lonliness on the road

Tales of a Female Nomad has explored a lot of things I have previously thought or felt about traveling. But today I wanted to address one of the things I fear most about traveling. Though I want to make a career of documenting the locations I visit, I do expect to travel on my own.

I’m sure my parents (at least 2 of them) would be horrified to hear that. They aren’t big travelers, and when they do travel, it’s to very safe locations to do very mundane things. I don’t have those same expectations. I imagine I will eventually travel to countries that are on the U.S. warning list. I plan to stay knowledgeable about safety in those areas and current problems as well as knowing as much as I can about protecting myself there.

I took a quiz in preparation of my trip to Melbourne in which I had to say the five things I was most excited for, but also the five things I was most worried about.

One of those five was being unable to make friends while I’m there. One of my friends from MU is currently abroad with about 20 other MU students. Though she doesn’t perfectly connect with any of them, they share a culture and ideas about things and all speak the same language.

Though Australia speaks English, they have different words for certain things (a rubber anyone?) and I’m afraid I’ll end up in an embarrassing situation. I won’t find an internship until after I’m already over there, where I will go through interests and strengths with the coordinating professor and we will then arrange one, as I understand it.

I’m worried they’ll all think I’m incompetent, or an ignorant American, or that I don’t have the capacity to learn things.

On the other hand, I’m relieved by the rumors I have heard that Australians are very friendly and accepting people.

I want to have things in common with my roommates when I’m there. I plan on joining a SCUBA club and a surfing club as well. Hopefully these will be good avenues where I can find people I have things in common with.

I’m not so much worried I’ll miss home or Columbia while I’m away. I have a lot of plans and am pretty good at being independent. These feelings might be misguided though. I’ll also feel bad if people from home miss me when I don’t miss them in return. Gelman, the writer of the book, describes her family’s feelings about her not being a typical mother figure in their lives and she describes her lack of a rooted community.

I worry about things like that too. Will I ever settle down in one place? Meet someone I want to live with forever? Have a child? I try not to think of them because I know that I won’t be able to make up my mind until I’m standing and staring across the bridge I’ve come to.

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