At Travel Italian Style, we are dedicated to telling the stories of women traveling the globe—even if that doesn’t necessarily mean they are traveling in Italy. In the following article, Travel Italian Style’s intern Nyssa Langlois recounts her first experience discovering a new country alone, and the importance of that experience in her life.
Once upon a time, while studying abroad at Harlaxton College, I was attempting to organize a trip to Norway with other students. I was determined to visit the country’s majestic fjords, but I was simply not finding anyone who was willing and able to go with me.
And then it struck me—I really didn’t need anyone to go with me. In fact, the more I thought about it, I didn’t want anyone to go with me. Not because I disliked any of my fellow study abroad students—far from it, they are family to me now—but sometimes being completely self-reliant is a freeing experience. I wanted to be able to see everything of Norway I had dreamed of without having to also comply with other students’ schedules.
A pretty rash decision…
Just like that, I ended up booking a flight to and from Bergen, my landing zone for the weekend. I knew there were risks (such as being completely unfamiliar with both the Scandinavian language as well as the city itself), but I spent several weeks prior to my trip booking bus tickets to and from the airport, mapping out routes from my hotel to the train and bus stations, and creating strict budgets and timetables for my trip.
By the time I was boarding the train to the airport, all I could feel was this incredible excitement. I was doing it—I was traveling to a completely different country alone. While there was a little part of me that was scared, I was ecstatic to have a weekend completely to myself exploring another country. By the time the plane landed, I was exhilarated to explore all that Bergen had to offer.
A few bumps along the way…
Of course, the best laid plans are doomed to fail, as they say. It turns out the hotel I had chosen to stay in was actually a medical rehabilitation center completely outside of the city. This meant I was actually much further from downtown than I initially thought, and it was definitely not the kind of accommodation I had been expecting. But I quickly realized I could let this bring me down, or I could just roll with it. And roll I did.
A magical wonderland.
And thank goodness for that—the next morning, I embarked on one of the most visually stimulating and incredible experiences of my life. Viewing the snow-capped hills interspersed with trickling waterfalls, stopping for lunch at a port with the clearest water I had ever seen, and then hopping on a boat and traveling across the water beneath those massive mountains was remarkable. The incredibly crisp air combined with the exceptionally bright sunlight was a bit uncomfortable (note to those traveling to Norway—it’s only about 35-45° F in early October) but the scenery was spectacular.
Even better was being able to then travel through those very same mountains, through incredibly rough terrain, to see the largest waterfall I had ever seen in person, water spraying my face the entire time. I loved every minute of it, as you can clearly see here in this photograph, which an incredibly handy fellow female nomad took for me during the trip.
The final leg & an important lesson.
My final morning in Bergen consisted of a three-mile walk into town that would have been discouraging to many at seven in the morning. But for me, it was a way to explore my surroundings more fully. Granted, the fact that I was also able to walk at my typical one-hundred mile-per-hour pace without worrying about leaving anyone in the dust (which I’m embarrassed to admit I do more frequently than I realize) was definitely a pleasing aspect of the adventure as well.
The best part of this point of the trip, however, was that I actually had greatly overestimated the time it would take for me to get to my bus station. I was therefore able to take an hour to sit by the bay and read one of the three books—yes I know, I have a book-hoarding problem—I had brought with me on the trip. As if that wasn’t already spectacular enough, while reading, I looked into the water, and what did I find? A massive quantity of orange starfish! For someone who had never seen starfish outside of an aquarium before, this was the icing on top of an already perfect weekend. You can see three or four of them, just to the top-right of my feet in the photograph.
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A recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature combined with minors in Global Studies and French. She loves to write, but also really loves editing and making any form of written work the best it can possibly be. She has an absolute love for exploring the world—its places, people, and cultures. She had always known she had a thirst for traveling, but after studying abroad in Grantham, England, realized it would never be quenched; exploring as much of the world as possible is really her only serious goal in life, and she can’t wait to see where her future adventures will lead her