One of the scariest things about going abroad is going abroad by yourself—especially if you are a woman. But sometimes, it is important to have that alone time. While I was in Italy, I felt inspired by the powerful women I was reading about in class. So, one weekend, I decided to travel to Milan—alone.  

Now, I have traveled alone before, but I had never been to Milan. Excited as I was, truth be told, I wasn’t sure what I had in store for me. Would I be able to navigate the public transportation? Would I get to see all the museums that I wanted to? Was the hostel I was staying at be in a safe area? There are so many questions that went through my mind, but I just had to keep reminding myself that I was going to be okay!

When I arrived in Milan, I was very happy to find out that my hostel was less than a five-minute walk from the train station. Even better, when I arrived, the hostel was still serving breakfast (my favorite meal of the day) and I was able to check in without a problem. Even though I may have been nervous at first, clearly my day was already brightening up.

After a light breakfast, I then decided to start exploring the city. Before I left, I made sure to pull up the directions for the Duomo and downloaded them onto my phone. Ready to explore a new city I made my way until I found the large church where I have seen so many people take pictures before. After taking my own picture, I went inside the church and took in its historic beauty. After looking around, I made my way back outside and joined a group of students climbing to the church’s roof. The climb to the top of the Duomo in Milan may not be as long as the one in Florence, but it’s still took some energy out of me. Regardless, I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t a little disappointed by what I saw: construction.

Beams and poles were everywhere. It was still possible to see the gothic architecture and a view of the city, but each time I looked back at the center of the roof, wooden panels covered up ongoing projects. I am had a great time in Milan, but it seemed like I just picked a busy time to visit. Similarly, when I went to visit Teatro alla Scala later that day, the theater was also covered in scaffolding. Frustrated by all of the construction happening, I reminded myself that it was for the maintenance of the decades-old infrastructure.

Following my morning visits, I took the rest of the trip relatively calm. I hadn’t planned much so I was able to really walk around and take in the city. I went to McDonalds where I ordered some sort of coffee espresso cream. Then, I went to the Starbucks Reserve where I had more coffee. As a recent coffee lover, I found the Starbucks Reserve to be everything I through it would be–the pastries were divine and the coffee smelled unreal.

My experience in Milan might not have been as picture perfect as I wish it had been, but in hindsight I realize that I had an amazing time anyway. I had been to some of the most famous buildings in all of Italy after all! So, if I can remind you of one little detail it’s that there’s no such thing as perfection. My trip to Milan was wonderful. I ate great food and I was able to appreciate incredible art pieces. Even though some of the other things I saw weren’t perfect, they were still breathtaking. Best of all, I was able to create an amazing weekend for myself, without running into any trouble. So, if you find yourself planning your first solo trip in a new city, I encourage you not to be so nervous that you talk yourself out of an incredible opportunity. Perhaps, there might be some bumps along the way, but hopefully there will be more successes as there were for me in the end.

*Although I did meet up with a few friends for lunch on Sunday, I consider this to be a solo trip as I arranged and fulfilled all of my transportation and site visits by myself.

Andrea Arredondo studied abroad in Florence in Summer 2019.