Table for one


If you’re like me, you might consider yourself somewhat of an introvert. You feel fairly independent, and after spending a lot of time with other people, you need some time alone to recharge. So how hard could a few weeks across the pond and away from family really be?

It wasn’t until I spent my first few days as a six-week intern in an office full of decade-long friendships, and as the only flatmate without nightly boyfriend calls, that I realized just how much alone time was ahead of me. And it was terrifying.

In reality, the sense of independence I had back at school was accompanied by familiar places and family just an hour behind me, instead of six.

This unfamiliar feeling was something I started to view as a challenge — and maybe even an opportunity to grow.

So, I started with little things. Every day during my lunch break, I’d get “takeaway” and sit under a tree in a different park. After work, I’d take the long way home to check out a neighborhood I hadn’t seen yet.

Eventually, those little things became bigger things. While traveling in a group of nine to Amsterdam last weekend, I knew I was going to need some of that alone, “recharging,” time. I was in an even less-familiar, Dutch-speaking city, but for some reason, I was a little less terrified than before.

During the day, we all ventured out and wrote our own itineraries. I have a weird love for historic mansions where really rich people used to live, so the Museum Van Loon was one of my first stops. I also got to take my time wandering through Amsterdam’s botanical garden and Rembrandt’s home. Instead of having conversations with my usual travel buddies, I bought a little notebook at “Holland’s greatest bookstore” and journaled while sitting at my table for one in a cafe.

Even after three weeks of finding comfort in the uncomfortable, I’m still getting used to things. But now that I’ve spent two days alone in an unfamiliar city, I enjoy listening to my newfound British artists on the Tube ride to work and even bought a ticket to see one of my favorite bands next weekend — by myself.

While I’ve loved strengthening friendships and building new ones in London, some of my favorite moments have been the ones spent in solitude. Becoming familiar with brand-new places has allowed me to get to know myself a little better, too.