6 things I learned travelling solo

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On August 22nd, 2017 I was sitting in an airport terminal with a little bag of hand luggage, stealing nervous gazes at the clock. My cheeks were burning, heart racing. I was both terrified and excited: closer to my dream life than I’d ever been before. All I had to do was board that plane.

I’ll never forget the feeling of sitting on that plan back then, heading towards the unknown. Not knowing where I will live, what I will do and who I’ll meet in the months that followed. It was a truly exhilarating feeling: the feeling of absolute freedom.

And oh boy, if I’d known all the adventures and the people that were to follow. The craziest, funniest, most amazing memories shared with people that became so important to me in a few short weeks and months. As they say, a year away from your country isn’t just a year in your lifetime. It’s one insane, twisted, memorable, adventurous lifetime in a year.

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You’ll never be alone. One of my greatest fears was not being able to make friends in another language: not being able to express myself in a way that’ll make my personality come across the right way. The most stupid fear I ever had! Ever since boarding that plane in Helsinki, I was never alone, not one second. I made more friends in a year than I have in all of my school years combined. I made friends that I I felt like shared my soul, even if we came from completely different cultures and parts of the world. I know these friends will stay with me for a lifetime, even if we live in different countries now.

You’ll grow so much as a person. I have never been more confident in myself, in my decisions and in my life. I trust myself and my intuition, I know what’s right for myself and how to work for my dreams to come true. Heck, I moved to the other side of the world on my own: from now on, nothing is impossible!

You don’t have to settle. When you’re living your dream and constantly go “I only have a year to do all the things I want to!” your whole mindset changes. Why settle for a crappy job that drains all your energy and that you don’t enjoy? You can find another one! You have the right and the ability to create the kind of life you want for yourself. Don’t let fear hold you back.

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You’ll see your own country in a different light. Only now I can truly see what’s good about my country, things I completely took for granted before (like cheap, limitless data and the comfort of having a private bedroom). But sure enough, now I can also see the things I don’t like about it even clearer, like the darkness, coldness and the rudeness of people here.

You’ll meet people you never expected to. My favourite, favourite part of the whole experience! Never did I expect to end up singing korean karaoke with a bunch of Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese and Aussie friends or having a roadtrip in Tasmania and sleeping in a cottage on top of a mountain. Always say yes to new adventures, you never know where they’ll take you or who you’ll meet.

Everything will always work out in the end. The most important lesson of all. Everything happens for a reason, and all you can do sometimes is trust that something good is on it’s way to you. Bad things need to happen from time to time to clear up space from our lives for even better things to come.

xx

Miia

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Photos of me by Emma Koskinen

Meet the illustrator: LOUISA

Louisa and I met in Melbourne, Australia over a year ago. We had started chatting over Instagram a couple of months earlier, and I even remember mentioning her to a co-worker at the time: “I started talking with this girl who’s also in Melbourne. She seems nice! Maybe we could be friends”. Fast forward a few months and we’re living in the same room and spilling our secrets to each other over ridiculously overpriced pina coladas.

To this day, Louisa is still the friend I call whenever I’m feeling terrible or need advice. Even if we live in different countries now, we still talk hours on the phone and update each other of our lives. Louisa is one of the most hardworking and inspiring people I know, and I couldn’t be happier to call her my friend. Watch out world, this girl is going places!

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Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Louisa, I’m a 23-year-old illustrator.

Where’s your home?

I’m living in Toulouse, a beautiful and welcoming city in the south of France (3hours by car from Spain).

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What’s your perfect Sunday morning?

Because In France, everything is closed on Sunday,I like to spend this time just with myself at home. Watching creative videos, drawing, learning new skills… Sunday is my personal development day.

Name three things you love.

Traveling, feeling inspired and almond chai lattes.

What’s a place you’d want to visit?

South Korea! 

When do you feel most alive?

When I am with my friends talking about our fears and dreams. It makes me feel so good to be surrounded by creative and supportive people. I always feel better after long night talks, and I realised how much I’m grateful to be alive and having friends like this in my life.

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How did you become an illustrator?

Actually, it all started when I went to Australia last year. Because I worked one year to prepare this trip, I had enough savings to start my business. At that time, it wasn’t really serious because I was enjoying Australia and my life abroad. But when I went back to France in March, I realised that what I considered as a “non-serious” thing, just opened me new doors in the illustration industry. I realised that actually I can live from my passion and today I’m just following/living my dreams everyday :)

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What does a typical day of work look like to you?

I usually wake up around 8 and start my day at 9 am when I’m done cleaning the house. It’s important to have a nice environment especially when you work at home. And then I don’t really have a routine, I just work the whole day until 6-7pm. I try to split my week into working at home and outside like in libraries, cafes etc It’s important for my mental health to separate my private life from the professional one, which is quite hard when I’m only working at home.

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What do you love most about your job?

I like the diversity of projects, every project is unique. 

What advice would you give for aspiring artists?

Never give up. It’s not because it’s hard that you shouldn’t try. Follow your dreams and what makes you happy no matter what other people will think. Be patient and you will see how your new life will be worth it. And never work for free because you are a “newbie” !!!

Illustrations by Louisa, photos of Louisa shot by me