My ideal city tour is sitting on a bus and someone leading the tour, but this time, a small group and I were the tour guides. This past week I spent my time walking through locations around the city center. As someone who is heavy, walking feels like a chore and it gets tiring very easily.Yet, I still found myself looking forward to walking and exploring new areas each day. On the first day with the small group, I was experiencing tunnel vision by trying to follow the map perfectly, but as time went on I became more comfortable with the process and was willing to explore. On the third day, Madeleine and I found ourselves wandering to see where the streets took us, which is something I never took advantage of doing previously. On both days, someone stopped to see if we needed any help which was very comforting because it just so happened, at those moments, we were very lost. In addition, I realized that when I walked around the city I had more time to take in my surroundings and sense what is around me. I noticed that we became our own personal tour guides by making our own choices on where we wanted to go and what we thought were interesting landmarks. During the time I explored the neighborhoods, I found a sense of unity and calmness away from all the tourist areas. I was able to find intimate restaurants and be able to talk to more of the locals. I found confidence in my autonomy of making decisions as I go along. I hope that when I return home, I can look at walking around my city as a sense of adventure than feeling uncomfortable with my body. I feel less judged here walking through the city than back at home because walking is more of a predominant mode of transportation. This experience has made me more fearless traveler, in my own skin, and look forward to traveling in Europe after this program on foot instead of inside of a bus.
All photos credited to Melyssa Pham