8 Lessons I Learned Traveling Alone Overseas

Marine Drive, Mumbai

by Priyanka Yadvendu

www.PriyankaYadvendu.com

Priyanka, an author who empowers readers, writes about her first solo trip to India, check it out, now.

Everyone in their life has a daring moment. What’s a daring moment, you ask? It’s that moment when you say yes to your desire and it changes your life forever.

That moment came to me in February 2009. I said yes to a film and media internship program in Mumbai, India. When I was in college, I had always wanted to study abroad, but never came around to doing it. I had found out about this program a year before I actually did it. I even remember sending an email to the program coordinator. She kindly gave me all the required information, but I still took a year to decide.

The terrorist attacks at the Taj Hotel in Mumbai, India had occurred in November 2008. In December 2008, my desire kept getting stronger in my heart. I couldn’t understand the reason at the time, but now I understand the feeling better. I said yes to that desire. I told my parents and my mother especially freaked out.  She was justified in her concerns. Now that I look back, it was crazy to insist on going to Mumbai considering the terrorist attacks had happened only a few months earlier.

I landed in Mumbai one early February morning. It was scorching hot and dusty. Taxis and people were everywhere. My first instinct setting foot was: What had I gotten myself into?!

Not a very positive first reaction, but the decision to come to Mumbai had happened so fast that when I finally arrived, I realized what I had gotten myself into.

Here are 8 Lessons I Learned from My Trip!

Did Deep Thinking In Between Taxi and Car Rides

I traveled in taxis a lot when I attended film shoots, met with film and media professionals, and visited post-production studios. The Mumbai traffic was crazy! A simple twenty minute ride turned into two to three hour long rides. At first, I used to get frustrated. But eventually, I learned to use that time to do some deep thinking. I had time on my hands I didn’t when I was in the States busy working in an office.

I reflected on my life and thought about my family, desires, and dreams. Sometimes, I just looked outside and observed the woman or man sitting in the taxi next to me. Other times, I looked at the sun and enjoyed the wind in my face. I found pleasure in the simple things.

Learned to Expect the Unexpected

I met some wonderful people on this trip. People I still keep in touch with even today. I met directors, producers, actors, editors, spot boys, and many others. Every day, my program coordinator informed me of the day’s schedule and yet the days turned out to be big surprises.

The days I thought that would turn out perfectly were the exact opposite. Other times, I had no expectations at all and they turned out to be the most magnificent days. Like I would have a beautiful conversation with someone and carry it back with me.

Every Day I Was Living in the Unknown

Because I learned to expect the unexpected, I had no idea what was going to happen. It was scary to live that way. I knew things like where I would stay and what my overall routine was, but I didn’t know how the day would actually unfold. And living in a completely new country amplified this sentiment.

Anything could happen anytime, both in a good and in a not so good way. It was scary and exciting at the same time.

For a control freak like me, I started to live in the present. Because it was the only thing in front of me and so I fully embraced the present moment. If I wanted to eat ice cream, I went and had ice cream. If I wanted to see a movie, I did just that. I paid attention to the tiniest of my needs and found myself bursting with happiness. 

I Found Courage That I Never Knew Existed

When I moved into the housing, two other girls from a different country joined me. I was thrilled I would be having company. But it turned out after two days; they were not happy staying in India and wanted to return home. In those two days, they were rude to me and made snide remarks to my face. I don’t want to get into detail, but I was 22 years old at the time and have always been good at avoiding confrontation. I’ve always been shy. But when a certain insult hit too below the belt, I couldn’t take it and I said something.

Right after I said it, I was so petrified that I went upstairs to my bedroom and shifted all the heavy furniture against the door. Irrational? It was! But either way, I finally stood up for myself. I learned that when traveling alone, there was no one around to take care of me. So I had to take care of myself.

I Realized There Was Greatness in Me

When I met with highly professional and successful individuals from the film industry, I was initially nervous and scared. I doubted myself. I was afraid I would embarrass myself in front of distinguished people. But to my surprise, I held great conversations with them and connected on a deep level. It is when I realized there is greatness in me. If I gave myself a chance to see my own greatness, then the world would see it. And after that, I gave myself the permission to want the best for myself and be me.

My Dream Was Given a Shape and Form

Since I was seven years old, I have had a strong desire to do something creative with my life. I’ve always wanted to be involved in writing, films, and other creative forms. By taking the first step towards my dream by traveling overseas for a film internship, I gave it a shape and form. And this experience led to other daring moments in my life. Like when I wrote my first novel. And finally signed with a literary agent ☺

Going With the Flow

If you’re not a patient person already, traveling sure will make you one! You have no choice, but to go with the flow when things aren’t going right. You let go and embrace the chaos.

Don’t Wait Until You’re Ready

The last lesson and probably single most important one I learned is to stop waiting for the perfect moment! That time will never come. Take a leap even when you’re not ready. As the process unfolds, you will be guided by something greater than yourself. And it all lies within you. So go after your dreams and desires! You never how fulfilled and happy you will feel ☺

What was your daring moment that changed the course of your life? What is your biggest takeaway from this post? Please share with me in the comments!

by Priyanka Yadvendu
Contact Priya at

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