Nagoya, Japan

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At the very picturesque Tokugawa-en, trying to take a decent solo selfie of myself in the warm sun

Have you ever tried to do a brave thing but failed miserably?

I am sitting by the side of my friend’s bed, mulling over the next few days to come, and I can’t help but think over and over: what on earth have I done?

I’m in a beautiful city. It’s full of great people, and great food, and great places. I should be feeling…

…well, great.

But everything had just been a flickering daydream, and I was entirely washed over by a wave of homesickness. There was no partying in exotic nightclubs, or wandering into a mystical park. It was just me, standing in the middle of a busy subway, trying to find the right exit and struggling with complicated directions.

I thought I could do fourteen days in a beautiful city myself, but I barely made it halfway through. It felt like a careless adventure and a spontaneous nightmare weaved into one. I was truly on my own, depending on one winter jacket that barely kept me warm. The weather ranged between 8 to 12 degrees every day, and dropped even lower at night (though I did remember one particularly amazing day where it stayed 16 degrees for a couple of hours in the afternoon).

I didn’t think I had to leave the house and find places on my own. I figured I would always have my best friend by my side, but circumstances did not always permit this. Though I understood her last minute school commitments, why now? I swear, I wanted to curse the gods for aligning these string of events together.

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Wandering around Sakae trying to find a good dinner spot

My dad told me to be confident. My boyfriend said to be brave. But the truth is you can’t take it upon yourself to be brave and confident straight away. Everything takes time to nurture.

All I know is that you just need to do it. If you never try, you will never ever know. And though it took a bit of encouragement and prodding, that was what I did. On the fifth day, after memorising the directions from google maps, I went out on my own to an art museum near the city. It was a place I really wanted to visit from the very start.

It took a bit of time to find, but I asked the locals (who were so friendly!) and it turned out better than I had anticipated. I had so much fun exploring the museum, taking photos in the garden, learning about the culture. Needless to say, I made it back to the apartment safe and sound.

I think it’s never going to feel easy unless you do it more often. After that experience, the best advice I can offer you is to take that first step. You won’t regret it.

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I found a branch of gorgeous cherry blossoms tied to a pole by the side of a pavement! It made me want to find more.

If you’re still nervous about the prospect of travelling alone, please don’t force it! Its always better to go with a really close friend or family member. The trick is to always make sure you stay safe. Have a phone number and your temporary address saved on your phone’s ‘Notes’ app for emergencies, plus keep emergency cash to grab a taxi just in case something happens. Stay very alert when you’re commuting so that you don’t get off the wrong stop or wander into the wrong exit.

Even though I overestimated my ability to travel all by myself, I really loved being in Japan on a whole. I have no regrets and only wished I was a better map reader. Needless to say, it’s always going to be a learning experience for me. I’ve gotten better at reading maps, which I’m really proud of.

The only thing I would not really miss is this cold weather. If you grew up in a wet sauna like Singapore, this will be really hard to get used to. I’m going to need very thick jackets, gloves, scarves, boots and the best moisturiser you can find for this life.

If you have any questions on travelling alone, comment down below! If you also have tips for travelling solo, please share!

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