Finding My Way
I came back from Copenhagen a few days ago and honestly, I'm exhausted. I really shouldn't complain about being tired because I'm traveling all of Europe and getting university credits while I'm at it... So, life is pretty great right now. Denmark was interesting, or at least Copenhagen was. It's probably one of the most unique cities I've ever been to and I can't wait to one day return (hopefully in the Summer when it's warmer). You can read all about what I did and saw in Copenhagen under my Travel section in a few days!
This week, I mainly want to talk about how to be selfish on exchange and why it's important to do so. When you're surrounded by hundreds of students that also want to travel and do fun things, you may find yourself compromising on your own 'bucket list.' Traveling with friends is life changing, but if you're not in the right crowd then it can also be a let down.
I came here knowing exactly where I wanted to travel and what I wanted to cross off my to-do list. Often times, suggesting ideas to a group of people draws attraction. There's a difference between people saying they're interested and people being seriously interested. In some cases, you may be holding back on booking something or going somewhere because you're waiting for more people to get back to you. It's this thing people do where everyone waits around for the one person that will be bold enough to just slap down their credit card and book the flight or the train ride or the hostel.
Everyone on exchange has a different budget, a different mind-set and a different set of goals. It is unrealistic to expect a whole group of people to want to do exactly what you want to do. That being said, here are a few tips I can give you on how to handle these types of situations:
1) Find middle grounds.
Don't pressure others into doing something they're unsure about and don't let others pressure you into doing something that you're unsure about. If a group of people are interesting in traveling to the same city, try and make lists of what everyone wants to do. Of course not everything will get done, but it is possible to combine the ideas of every individual and make a condensed list.
2) Don't expect your close friends to be the best fit as a travel partners.
Everyone travels differently. You could be close friends with someone and not be able to last a single day on a trip with them (but it's not necessarily a bad thing. it's pretty normal, actually). It's important to go over what you expect out of a trip and exactly how you plan to tackle your day routines in order to avoid misrepresentation.
3) Don't wait around.
If you know you want to do something and you found a cheap flight, book it. Don't wait around for more people to join you (unless you know that they are for sure coming with you) because more often than not, the price will increase or the flight will get fully booked and you will be left hanging... wondering "why didn't I."
4) Know what you're getting into.
You may be the type to hike a mountain and sleep by 9PM but the person you just booked a trip with likes to party until 4AM and spend the day napping in a park. Know what you're signing up for when you agree to travel with someone.
5) Do a solo trip!
I think it's extremely important to set aside "you" time when on exchange. Although this is an experience that you will likely spend with old friends, new friends and lots of people, it is also a crucial point in personal development. Moving abroad (even just for one semester) is something you will remember for the rest of your life - because it will change you.
That being said, I am officially starting to plan my first solo trip! If anyone has any suggestions, feel free to contact me!