I find pure joy when I’m about to embark on an exciting bucket list adventure that scares the daylights out of me – travelling to a foreign country for one month. Alone. Not knowing the language.
It is shameful that I have reached the mature age of 72 without being able to speak a second language! Yes, I enrolled in classes in high school and fulfilled the language requirements in college, but could never converse beyond, Hello, my name is Tamera. How are you today?
So, I bit the bullet and enrolled in a four-week language program in Valencia, Spain.
Spain has been on my bucket list. Valencia should be heavenly in January (compared to New England). It is a walkable city. I can travel weekends to Barcelona – high on my bucket list – and Seville or wherever it is warm.
Room and board in the language schools is very affordable. During the winter, I have a good chance of meeting others my age since summers are for the young on school vacations. Low season means no lines for the museums and historical sites.
Theoretically, it is a perfect trip!
As my departure date gets closer, reality is nerve wracking.
Although I have travelled a great deal, it has usually been in an organized group. Fellow travellers. Comfort in numbers. Or within an English-speaking country where I can easily read signs and ask questions.
But never longer than two weeks.
I know all the rational arguments: many people will be able to speak English; locals will appreciate my efforts to speak their language. Map and travel guide in hand, I will be able to find my way. Millions of people have been travelling like this forever! I will learn.
It doesn’t make me any less anxious.
I am going to school in a beautiful, historic city – almost like going away to college. And my fears, 50+ years later, are almost the same as that summer before my freshman year.
Will I make new friends? Will I eat dinner alone every night? Will this trip be as magical as I want it to be?
I lasted only one semester when I went away to college. I was too lonely and too homesick. I did not make new friends. I went home and finished my studies while living with my folks. The next time I moved away was after I married and moved halfway across the country.
About 40 years later when I was divorced, I stayed in the same New England town with my friends and job. This trip to Spain is my second truly solo venture – the first in 50 years!
I need to make this trip. I need to prove some things to myself:
I can depend on myself. I am not too old to learn a language. Solo travel is exciting and comfortable. Dreams can come true at any age.
If I cancel the trip, I will be terribly disappointed in myself. I don’t want to live with that feeling. So, I will push forward. Camera and journal in hand to document my experience. Fully loaded Kindle for those times I need to be by myself. Hola, Spain!
What is your ultimate bucket list travel destination? What advice would you give me as I set out on my next big adventure? Have you ever been to Spain? Please join the conversation.
Tags Solo Travel