Going Away Alone: What I’ve Learned

During my four years at Temple, Klein GO has provided me with the two most amazing travel experiences I’ve done so far! The Arcosanti spring break trip and my summer internship in Costa Rica were both so important to my growth as a person. Although they were very different programs, I applied without knowing anybody (and without really any travel experience myself). There was some level of comfort with Arcosanti in that I went with 15 other Temple students, but as for two months in Costa Rica, no other Temple students were going and I set off by myself to meet eight other strangers. As a novice traveller, I wasn’t sure how to prepare or how to feel about situations at first, which is why I got so much out of these experiences. Since I now have them under my belt, here are a few short lessons I learned:

  1. You cannot control all situations 

When in a new country, environment, or wherever, you are going to deal with many new things at once. Feeling overwhelmed or stressed-out is normal, but the best thing to do is to recognize you may be out of your element and adapt as best you can. Anyone who has traveled can tell you that plans can be expected to fall flat when sometimes. When plans are interrupted or you are unsure of how to follow through in a situation, know that most people are able to help and you can breathe and adapt to the change: it may make for a good story!

Photo of myself with four friends also on the program and someone we met in a car rental place who was from California: we decided to invite him to travel to this beach town with us.

2. Laugh at yourself

Immersing yourself in another culture is a major part of travel and is mainly the reason we want to travel in the first place! Especially when in a country that speaks a different language, it’s normal to make mistakes or to get frustrated at times. In order to save yourself and those around you from further negativity, learn how to laugh at yourself! A personal example of this was when I was in Costa Rica and the office I interned at had a Father’s Day celebration, so everyone’s families came in for the afternoon. I don’t know much Spanish, so when we played charades I felt nervous. My card read: “quemar”, which means “to burn”, but my boss translated it to me and I thought he said “to birth”. So I stood in front of 20 strangers pretending to give birth and no one could get it until my boss realized I had misunderstood. We all laughed for a long time and everyone was glad I tried. I now will forever know what “quemar” means in Spanish. (Remember this scenario when you feel embarrassed).

3. What you feel is valid! Practice being there for yourself. 

Although I mentioned in the first lesson to try to “go with the flow”, that’s not to say it isn’t important to let yourself feel emotions. Doing something outside your comfort zone is supposed to feel weird at times. It’s ok and normal to feel sad, frustrated, or lonely at times. You don’t always have to go out or feel pressured to do what others are doing. However, don’t let your feelings takeover. As peer-advisor Jackie said: “You can be sad, but go be sad outside”. That is now one of my favorite quotes.

Taken at the Grand Canyon while on a hike with some friends I made on the Arcosanti program. Made a nice day even nicer.

4. Embrace new culture & engage with others

Embrace the new place you are in. Try new food, listen to new songs, learn a new dance, and try to meet new people. Live for yourself, but you cannot think you are alone. Do things with others! You grow by making connections with all types of people. Although traveling with others can be a lot at times, after the trip I guarantee you that you will miss almost every second.

Taken at a beach in Costa Rica with only one week to go before the program ended. Three other friends and I ran into the ocean at 8 o’clock in the morning and floated among the surfers. Remains one of my favorite memories.