Living away from home is one thing, living away from home ALONE is an entirely different thing. For me its the difference of living in a hostel, or living in this tiny apartment. Both of which have their benefits, but I’m realizing how much I need the human interaction and social tendencies of a hostel. I’m very productive here and truly my life is very simple and relaxing, but I have too much time and not enough people to fill the gaps. I encourage anybody traveling to not spend more than a week staying somewhere alone. I’m staying here a month but my best friend arrives in just two days so really I will only have been alone for two weeks. Still I’ve decided that was too much. I’ve been very lucky to have an incredible airBnB host who has invited me to do multiple activities with her and her family. My favorite times here have been spent playing board games with her 4 sweet kids. Or baking with her daughter, Lina. Being alone is exhaustingly hard, my day tends to be over around 4 pm and that point I frequently find myself unable to keep from crying. On the surface, it feels like its just out of a dreadful homesickness, but deep down I know it is only the result of loneliness and boredom. I’m learning how to be alone and I’m doing pretty well, the key is too keep busy. So, if you are planning on spending a month alone, PRIOR to arrival, schedule language classes, find a job, or an organization to volunteer with. something that will get you out of your house for a good couple hours every day. Facebook is a wonder when it comes to finding different groups in new cities. I also think that the haute savoie region would be a fantastic place to do WWOOF or similar programs. There are so many families with absolutely beautiful houses and gardens.
I started this post while I was still in Annecy, I have now moved on and am moving through Italy. Even though I move every few days, the topic of loneliness is still relevant each day. Visiting Italy in November means a never ending rain, and I spend much of my time actively seeking out the sun. I’ll speak more to loneliness in Italy in a new post, but i did want to just finish up how i dealt with it in Annecy. The simple fact, is that I didn’t deal with it in any particular way, I just let it come and waited it out. I have found that I seeking out people is not a particular skill of mine, nor is it something I feel the need to learn. Though I’ve gotten exceedingly better at starting conversations with strangers, i find that i often wish to return to my own thoughts after a couple hours of talking to someone. Being alone is something I’ve gotten so used to that its now something I even seek out when I’m in a hostel. The trick is to find the balance. Annecy was too much time alone, and often hostels can be too much time with people. In both cases, Books and my journal have been my quick go too. When I feel all too alone, I can easily escape into a book and allow the characters to provide company, similarly, my journal is my form of talking to somebody (luckily i have reached the point of talking to myself outloud). Reading and writing are also my way of showing others that I don’t want to be interrupted and I use it frequently in hostels when I’m feeling exhausted. So to get to the point, I now never leave the house/hostel/apartment/airbnb/whatever other lodging i have found without one the two. I leave books wherever I finish them and pick up new ones when i can find them. They are, without any pause, my most prized possessions while traveling. And of course my mother, who somehow still allows me to call her for hours on end. So books, journals, phonecalls, and finally the simple act of sitting in a busy sqaure filled with people. That is how I’ve dealt with being alone for so many days on end. Not to say this makes it all go away, but it does help at least.
A few of the books I’ve read so far
- The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo AND The Girl Who Played With Fire (dangerously addictive)
- City of Women (picked this one up in Annecy)
- The patron Saint of Liars (found at the farm in Ireland)
- Tigers in Red Weather (terrible, but easy, 3 euros at a bookstore in Galway)
- Major Pettigrews Last Stand (brought from home)
- The Signature of All Things (left to me by my friend Hila when she visited)