I have always loved travelling and exploring the world. My first flight was when I was 7 years old. We flew to Israel to have a family holiday. After that I have had beach holidays with family, city vacations with friends, and solo trips. All of these has its pros and cons but I would like to open a little bit why solo travelling has had the biggest impact in my life.
My first solo travel destination was to Gdansk, Poland. It actually happened accidentally. I asked some of my friends to join but when they were not able, I asked myself why I couldn’t go alone? I did and that was the best decision. You are free to have your own timetable and no need to make compromises with anyone. You can explore as much as you want or as little as you want, and maybe just focus on eating and enjoying the atmosphere. The second option was the one what I did in Poland. I did explore a little bit the city but mostly just wanted to relax. It is easy to make friends in hostels as those are full of people around the world. You can choose if you want to sleep in a big mixed dorm or if you prefer to stay in a smaller dorm with the same gender. In the best hostels I’ve also got free waffels 😊
On 2015 I got frustrated to live in Finland and I moved to work to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Over there I worked in a customer service field. Having colleagues from four different countries and cultures increased my cooperation and relationship skills with people from different backgrounds. Middle East is definitely not the easiest place to experience living abroad but it gave me lots of self-confidence, memorable moments and a long-lasting tan.
Thailand and Australia
On 2018 I packed my backpack again and without any clear plan, I moved to Australia. I flew there via Thailand where I stayed one week. I didn’t know anyone from Thailand when I arrived but got new friends from there. Suddenly I found myself being part of a coreography performance on the street, arranged by a student group. So, you never know from where you are gonna find yourself when you travel alone.
Australia offered koala cuddling, easy going people, and surfing lessons. I lived in a city called Melbourne. Melbourne is very international and the city feels like a European city. Like in Dubai, I was working in a customer service field also in Australia.
Australian accent can be very thick and they abbreviate lots of words which was a little bit of a challenge in the beginning. Quite quickly I was able to understand more and more and after 6 months I found myself talking with abbreviated slang words myself. So, Australia definitely increased my English skills but gave also memorable moments and lots of knowledge about life downunder.
When you’ve once experienced living alone in another country, you live everyday life speaking other language than your own native language, and solve problems independently, you grow a lot and you also learn a lot about yourself. Things are not always going smoothly and sometimes it is difficult to find the right attitude, but you gain a very valuable experience and it gives you the best education for life.
Text and photos: Matleena Knuutila, first year International Tourism Management student