Cultural Experience | All Experiences

A Leap Of Faith Across The Atlantic

Don’t let anything hold you back because it will all be in the same place you left it when you return.

Close your eyes and picture yourself sun bathing on the islands of Greece, taking selfies in front of the Colosseum, and pub crawling in the heart of Dublin. Does this seem surreal? It shouldn’t. Your dreams of traveling the world are more attainable than you’d ever imagine and now is the best time to go after them.

It was a cold winter day in February and I was feeling the highest level of cabin fever I had ever experienced. My adventurous side took over and I found myself one click away from booking my one way flight to Greece. Just like that, the flight was booked. I would be heading to a foreign continent all by myself in June.

The next three and a half months were filled with a lot of emotion. I felt anxious and excited, but most of all I felt free. For the first time in my life I wasn’t letting anybody hold me back.

Before my departure, after hearing so many amazing stories, I decided that I wanted to work at the world famous Pink Palace Backpackers Resort on this island of Corfu, Greece. I sent them an e-mail and the next day I was hired. Things could not have been going smoother. At this point, my nerves and excitement were taking over my thoughts and I could only focus on getting there.

I worked from June until August and it was the greatest experience of my life. The age demographic of backpackers staying at the hostel was 18-30 which made for the perfect social environment for young adults. We all had one thing in common; we were free and ready to have fun.

Working in a hostel is great for travelers who have run out of money or are looking to stay in one place for a few months. Most hostels offer accommodation and food in exchange for a certain amount of hours of work a week. The best thing about hostel work is that there is always something to do when you aren’t on the clock.

Maria London bridge

There are a lot of benefits of working at a hostel, but there are also some drawbacks. At The Pink Palace, every employee works about 60 hours a week. I worked two shifts during the day, one in the morning and one at night. When I wasn’t working, I was socializing with guests, partying, tanning, or participating in activities.

It is very easy to get worn out when you’re working a lot and partying even more, leaving limited space for sleep or relaxation. Life is all about balance and working in a hostel proved that to be very true.

I met people from all over the world that I still remain in contact with now that I am back in America. Each and every one of them inspired me to let go of whatever is holding you back and follow your dreams. You don’t need an overflowing bank account or a maxed out credit card to see the world if you budget and plan – all you need is an open mind.

After my months of meeting travelers who had been all over the world, I was inspired. I headed off to explore some of Europe by myself, meeting up with friends I had made over the summer in each of my destinations. In 2 and a half weeks, I traveled to Rome, London, Dublin, and Galway for under 700 euros.

I saw some of the most beautiful places I have ever laid my eyes on, especially The Cliffs of Moher on the west coast of Ireland. The feeling you get when standing two feet away from the edge of a 702 ft. cliff is one I will always remember. As a kid who grew up on the beaches of Maine, it was amazing to stand on the opposite coast of the Atlantic Ocean.

cliffs of Moher image

In Italy, I ate more pizza and gelato than any person should in a lifetime and saw world famous sites like the Trevi Fountain, The Colosseum, and The Vatican. In Ireland, I bar hopped in Temple Bar, got serenaded by an Irish folk band, and danced with men my grandfather’s age in a local pub at two in the morning. In London, I saw the changing of the guards outside of Buckingham Palace, rode on the top of a double-decker bus, and danced in the rain on a busy city street. I will keep these experiences and memories with me forever.

Don’t let anything hold you back because it will all be in the same place you left it when you return. This summer changed my life and I cannot wait to return to Europe as a backpacker in 2015. I learned so much about myself which allowed me to see who I really am. If you’ve ever dreamed of traveling the world, or even the country, what are you waiting for?

Maria friends

 

Maria Evangelista

Worcester State University | 1 story

Hey guys! I'm Maria, a senior at Worcester State University in Worcester, Massachusetts. I'm bubbly, outgoing, a little bit crazy, and always laughing. This past summer I lived in Greece for 2 1/2 months and traveled around some of Europe for 2 weeks. It was such an incredible experience that sparked my wanderlust like no other. I hope my stories will inspire you to travel the world! I can't wait to get back out there and discover new places and meet new people - Hey, maybe I'll see some of you along the way!


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