What You Learn About Yourself When You Take A Solo Trip

Catherine Smith is a student at the College of Saint Mary and an ISA Featured Photo Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Valencia, Spain.

Earlier in the semester I learned that I had week off of classes, and decided that I was going to go on a trip. My friends were all going to other countries, but I really wanted to continue to explore Spain! So, after a lot of back and forth, I finally decided that I was going to travel all by myself to San Sebastian, Spain. Because, well, that is where I wanted to be for my week off. While there, I experienced all that the basque country had to offer, everything from hiking to film festivals, and of course the pintxos (a buffet of tapas)! Not only did I learn about this breathtakingly beautiful part of Spain, I learned a lot more about myself.

I learned that…

  1. Yes, I can do it! I am capable of planning a trip by myself and actually following through with it. I used all the resources I could find before my trip to help me while I was there. I talked with my professors who had been there, I read articles on the area, and I even got a paper map (how old school!),  just to ensure myself that I was going to be just fine. And in fact, I was fine!
View from my hike.

2. My Comfort Zone is not where I thought it was. First off, I was already extremely out of my comfort zone living in a different country, so why not add to it. Since I am not the most outgoing person to walk the planet, it is always nice to have a travel buddy with you to be social when you are not feeling like it.  Well, when you are by yourself, it is either: talk to people to figure out the area, or wonder aimlessly and hope that in your silence you find where you are supposed to be. I chose option one and ended up learning so much more about San Sebastian than I would have if I had been with a friend.

San Sebastian bridge.

3. I can Hike! 12 miles to be exact. On my first day in San Sebastian, I decided to take a small stroll up a hill to see a nice panoramic view of the city. Once I got to this point which was roughly half a mile, I thought to myself, why not go a little further and get an even better view? 6 miles later, I ended up in San Pedro, the town right next door to San Sebastian. I stopped, ate lunch, and painted for a while in this cute little town. My original plan was to take the bus back, but I thought, I walked the 6 miles here, why not just walk back? 12 miles later, I entered the city yet again and went straight to the beach. I laid there in exhaustion for awhile with so much satisfaction that I had just hiked that much. I met so many cool people on that hike from all over the world. Some were on the Camino De Santiago and others were just walking. It was amazing!

Local dog seen on my hike!

4. When it comes down to it, I can speak Spanish. Well, enough to get me what I need. Right when I arrived in San Sebastian it was night time. It was dark, my phone was dead, and I was lost. All I had was my map, the address of my hostel and a lot of panic. After about 40 minutes of trying to catch a taxi ( I have never had to actually call a taxi before) I finally got one. I got into the taxi and quickly realized that he did not even speak a lick of English. I started spitting out Spanish, and to my surprise he understood me completely and took me right to my hostel. This was a major confidence booster, and after that I even started to (as comfortably as a not native speaker can) strike up conversations with people around the city. Some were lost in translation, but some weren’t, and that is a win for me!

The lovely city of San Sebastian!

The world awaits…discover it.

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