How I Embraced My Introversion By Travelling Solo In Europe

How I Embraced My Introversion By Travelling Solo In Europe

Can't turn your back on who you really are.

My first solo travel experience was as an exchange student in Germany. For the first time, I did everything on my own, from visa paperwork to hopping on a plane. I went to a country where I knew no one and where I barely spoke the language. Travelling solo was both scary and exciting, and as you can imagine, my anxiety was off the charts because I was far away from my circle of support. 

I entered the program so that I could develop my academic skills and be educated in an international setting, even master a foreign language. But, to be honest, I also joined the program with the intention of “curing” my introversion. 

Also read: A Solo Female Traveller’s Guide To Prague

Seeing my introversion as a problem

At ITB Berlin, the biggest travel expo in the world. I was trying out a yukata at the Japan section.

I believed back then that something was inherently wrong with me. Hence, I worked on becoming more outgoing by joining college organisations and taking on leadership roles. People constantly asked me if I was alright because I would isolate myself from time to time, and I was bothered by that.  I still felt that I needed to do something more so I could come out of my proverbial shell. After all, I was studying to be part of an industry that capitalised on being outgoing and comfortable around people of different backgrounds. Thus, I thought a six-month stay in Germany, with the chance to hop around Europe, would be just the thing to “cure” my introversion.

I have been introverted for as long as I can remember. I was that kid who stayed indoors to read books and watched cartoons instead of playing outside with friends. At home, I was encouraged to come to my parents’ parties and participate in their conversations with adults. This brought me great discomfort because I preferred to stay at home and watch the next episode of my favourite anime (these were pre-Internet and Netflix™ days, so following the TV schedule was of utmost importance!). I was discouraged from being shy and quiet, and encouraged to be more sociable and make new friends instead (nothing wrong with this, mind you).

Introversion still kicks in while travelling solo

In front of the Reichstag

Imagine my surprise when despite my efforts to socialise with students from all over the world, the only meaningful interactions I had were with the people I shared a house with. I never got to visit those legendary nightclubs Europe is famous for because I couldn’t even bring myself to make small talk in a crowded room. I never got the stereotypical Eurotrip experience, and I spent most of my days in the university library to study for exams, wandering around the city in sophisticated public transportation while my ears were immersed in a podcast.

When I was travelling solo as a foreign student, I was enjoying the wonders of high-speed Internet and binge-watching The Big Bang Theory (back when Netflix™ wasn’t even available in the Philippines, oh those were the days!). I never formed my own international “squad”, as I thought I would. I did learn a lot of German, but never got to a point where I could discuss topics I was passionate about.

Accepting who I really am after my time in Germany

I came home with the striking realisation that I had to embrace my introversion and stop trying to be something I could not and never will be. This was also the time I rediscovered my love for art and writing, which I had been neglecting for so long. I spent six months travelling solo in a foreign land to look for connections, but I came back connected to my true self. 

Of course, I still love to travel, but now I feel less pressure to enjoy the world through an extrovert’s eyes. There’s no need for me to socialise with people who don’t share the same interests as me. I now have the strength to excuse myself from situations I don’t wish to be in. I’ve learned to ignore the constant “Are you alright?” questions when others see me isolating myself for much-needed recharging. Besides, group travel can be a pain. As an introvert, travelling solo, on the other hand, helps me collect inspiration to write and create art.

Also read: Is South Korea Truly The Perfect Destination For Solo Travel?

I no longer feel that my introversion is something to be ashamed of, nor something to be cured. After connecting with fellow introverts throughout my life, I have learned to make the most meaningful connections and interactions I need. I finally learned how to embrace my own unique strengths without losing myself in the process. Travel, indeed, empowered me to become and accept myself for who I was. 

About Author

Patricia Laririt
Patricia Laririt

Pat originally studied to become a hotelier, but has always dreamed of becoming a published writer. When she isn't writing, she draws, paints, and sometimes bakes pastries.


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