An Introvert Abroad

My two months of being a nomad are almost complete.  And as I’ve rather failed to actually blog about my various experiences, I thought it was high time to write about my biggest struggle while travelling.

My introversion.1a442dceca5d9cd3e8f9cfc39c1233ff

Some people I met in my wanderings wouldn’t believe you if you told them how shy I actually am.

Because I am one of those bizarre creatures who is equal parts “friends with everybody” and “I wish I was invisible so I wouldn’t have to talk to people”.images

This is never more apparent than when I’m living the hostel life.images (1)

My first night in Dublin, I left the hostel to visit a bookshop, and find food.  I then spent the rest of the evening curled up on my bunk with my laptop and some snacks and a scarf I’ve been knitting forever.

I know.  It was glorious.

But then I had to go down for breakfast, and talk to people.images (2)

I survived, mostly because the English bloke I was chatting with was already drinking beer, and will likely be completely sotted by lunchtime.

The last hostel I was in, I struck up an hour long (at least) conversation with a Spanish girl, swapping solo travel stories, life goals, and our opinions on languages in general and English in particular.

Apparently there is no in-between with me.

So here are some survival tips I’ve worked out.

  • Cafes and coffee shops are havens of refuge
    • There’s wifi, tasty treats, and hot drinks.  Also no pressure to actually interact with anyone besides the barista.
  • Bookshops are also havens
    • Books, bookmarks, bookbags, books of quotes from other books, need I say more?
    • Chances are, anyone you meet in a bookshop will have at least one interest that you share, in case you’re feeling chatty
  • Bookshops that are also cafes will make you think you’ve died and gone to heaven
    • Also the perfect excuse to bury your nose in a book for an entire afternoon without having to take snack breaks
  • People are friendlier than you think
    • Small talk is hard.  But when every conversation includes finding out which country everyone is from, it gets easier.  Either you can relate, because you’ve been to that country, or you ask what it’s like to live/visit there.
  • Avoid the pub life
    • Especially if you’re a girl, travelling alone, who doesn’t drink.  Pubs are social nightmares for introverts.
    • Unless you’re really in the mood for some live music.  Then go for it, and don’t apologize for the fact that all you really want is a Dr. Pepper or some water.
  • Fellow countrymen will always be happy to see you
    • Chances are you’re the first *insert nationality here* that they’ve seen in a while.  It doesn’t matter if all you have to talk about is the weather.  They’re just happy to hear that old, familiar accent coming from someone else’s mouth.
  • Cinemas and theatres are your friends
    • No one expects you to talk to them when you’re all busy watching James Bond shoot people or Oedipus be super dramatic.
  • When you feel like people, there’s always a common room in a hostel
    • Just make sure you don’t turn into that person who never speaks to anyone and spends a creepy amount of time in the bunk room.
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