Travelling by yourself

Graphic by Stephanie Truong

Graphic by Stephanie Truong

Four years ago, Thomas North was just an introverted journalism student at Ryerson University, content with his surroundings. Now, he spends most of his time travelling Europe on his own.

“It certainly wasn’t something I ever saw myself doing,” North admitted, his voice still laced with shyness.

“I had always been content staying home and surrounding myself with the people I knew and was comfortable with. I think that travelling on my own helped me discover who I had been hiding for a long time.”

North is not the only lone traveler searching for a sense of self. Many young adults find an appeal in traveling abroad. The reasons vary from studying abroad, moving to a new city or country or even the desire to be in a new environment. Whatever the reason, the experiences changed the lives of the traveler for the better.

After graduation, North had learned that he was accepted into the University of Southern Denmark to complete a nine-month journalism program. At the realization that he would be travelling by himself and would not have his family or friends, North contemplated declining the offer.

“The thought of being alone freaked me out. I had always lived at home and spent my university career commuting. I wasn’t sure I could handle being in a totally different country without that sense of familiarity,” North explained.

However, North took some time to think about his decision and decided that he had been too sheltered and that if he were going to work in the “real world,” he would have to take a few healthy risks. He was met with rewarding results.

North met many people who are now his lifelong friends, worked closely with his professor and acquired knowledge about Denmark and its culture. North was able to enjoy himself when he stopped worrying about fitting in and immersing himself into the culture.

“My biggest regret was that I spent about the first two weeks being terrified everyone would judge my accent or flat out not be able to understand me, when all along everyone was waiting to hear me speak,” North explained.

“I think when I stopped worrying about fitting into this new culture, that was when I realized that I would be okay in this foreign land.”

Now, North has a hard time staying in one place. After he completed the program, North went backpacking through Europe with some friends he met at school and did some freelance journalism. Now, though he is back in Toronto, North is planning a trip to France by himself. North claimed that if he had not travelled by himself, he would not have been as open as he is now.

“My confidence is through the roof right now,” North said.

“I think that if I travelled with friends, I would be open, but not as much because I would still rely on them. I think that it’s important that you go away and allow yourself to grow.”

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