Tag Archives: comfort zone

The adventures of solo travel

by Margot Nelson ’20 // Professional Writing, Champlain College

Study abroad is full of opportunities for different types of traveling. From group field trips to Northern Ireland and the West of Ireland that Champlain Dublin organizes to weekend trips around Europe with friends, it’s so easy to hop around and explore during your time abroad. However, there is another option for an exciting travel experience, which Rachel Paskavitz, a third-year Social Work student, experienced for the first time during her semester in Dublin.

Rachel Paskavitz, Social Work ’20 at the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. Photo credit: Margot Nelson

“I hadn’t realized how accessible solo traveling was until I sat down and realized it would be silly for me not to take advantage of the opportunities I have while I’m here.”

Rachel spent the weekend in Killarney, County Kerry, which is about a three-hour train ride from Dublin.

“I felt like traveling in Ireland would be a good first step into solo traveling. There was still so much for me to see here in Ireland, and Killarney was a great place to experience both a small town and the beauty of the outdoors. It was far enough out of my comfort zone that I was confident I could do it but wouldn’t get stressed or overwhelmed.”

The Killarney National Park. Photo credit: Rachel Paskavitz

Planning is essential to any kind of travel, but when you’re on your own it can make the difference between a pleasant experience and a stressful one. Rachel recommends having at least your accommodation and transportation pre-booked, and to keep all your important information in one place.

“I was able to navigate the train system for the first time, so I was pretty proud of myself for doing that.” Rachel took the Irish Rail to Killarney and stayed in a hostel. “The Black Sheep Hostel was amazing! So cute, clean, comfortable, and friendly. 10/10 would definitely recommend!”

Set aside half a day at least to explore the town center of Killarney. Photo credit: Rachel Paskavitz

Before going on your solo trip, Rachel also recommends making a list of activities and places you might want to visit but to avoid over-planning.

“Know what’s in the area but allow yourself free time to roam while you’re there,” she suggests. “In Killarney, definitely go to the National Park! It is literally right next to the town and you can walk right over to it. Explore as much as you can, and take a tour of Ross Castle in the park. It was really interesting and you can explore the whole castle instead of just seeing the outside. The town is also worth walking around, it’s really cute and small so you don’t need a lot of time to see it.”

Visit the Ross Castle in the Killarney National Park. Photo credit: Rachel Paskavitz

So what are Rachel’s thoughts on her first solo trip?

“Being in full control of my time was really nice. Traveling with other people can be stressful sometimes because everyone wants different things, but I didn’t have to compromise! I was able to eat where I wanted and do what I wanted.”

You never know what you’ll find during your solo travels. Photo credit: Rachel Paskavitz

Leave yourself enough time to explore wherever you decide to travel on your own! Photo credit: Rachel Paskavitz

“If you’re considering solo travel, just do it! Even if you feel nervous about it, when the time comes it’s so much more exciting than it is nerve-wracking. The best thing was the joy and excitement I felt over and over as I kept finding more beautiful things in the area as I explored, and the gratitude I felt for the opportunity to have that experience.”

Do you want to read more about independent travelling? Check out this gem of a blog post from Alumni Lindsay Maher. 

“I was leaving on a Thursday night, and the morning of, nerves settled into my stomach. Though I wasn’t leaving the country, the reality of embarking on this journey in a new area alone was sinking in. Needless worrying about whether or not I was going to forget or lose important items, then if I was going to truly enjoy going by myself.”

 

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Tales of a First Time Traveller

BY Erin Warner, ’20 // MANAGEMENT and Innovation, CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE

Hadley Roy is a third year Marketing major and Psychology minor at Champlain College. Though having never traveled overseas, she was inspired to come to Dublin because Champlain provided her with an easily accessible opportunity to live abroad long term. Coming to terms with the unknown is a huge barrier many prospective abroad students face before making the decision to commit.  In past situations, Hadley has found herself incredibly flustered when struggling to communicate with a heavy accented individual. Foreign environments tended to pull her out of her comfort zone, making the decision to commit to the Dublin Abroad program difficult.

However, the ability to lean on the Champlain abroad community for support empowered her to remain optimistic about the experience. Having peers with a range of travel backgrounds provides any first-time traveler with both the wisdom and empathy needed to feel comfortable abroad. In addition, staff members such as Tony Langan, International Student Life Manager, and Lilly Johnsson, Assistant Director, have been noted to be extremely encouraging during the transition. Tony and Lilly have answered any and all questions about the city to help Hadley make safe and smart choices while abroad.

“The tight-knit Champlain community follows you to Dublin and you realize how kind and caring your fellow students are. Everyone looks out for each other and we have become a family here.” -Hadley Roy

A piece of advice Hadley would give to another prospective first-time traveler is to accept and embrace that the unknown is scary. Once you embrace the unknown, the excitement and awe of travel is right around the corner! A great way to tackle the unknown is to bring some items of comfort from home with you. A recommendation from the first-time traveler is to bring a pillowcase that smells like your family’s detergent or a box of Annie’s Mac & Cheese. Packing something that can keep you grounded during the lows of culture shock can make it easier to transition into an environment outside your comfort zone.

“Try as much as you can, be as bold as you can, and enjoy every second of it.” – Hadley Roy

After a few weeks of being abroad in Ireland, Hadley has learned to embrace the unknown. She has mastered the Dublin bus system, visited a series of castles, and danced Irish step in a local pub. This month, with the help of some friends a weekend trip has been planned to Copenhagen, Denmark. She is even daring enough to attempt a four-country Spring Break to Budapest, Vienna, Prague, and Bratislava. While first-time travelers may find the Dublin Abroad program daunting, a close-knit community, supportive faculty, and a little bravery can allow any student to flourish.

If you want to read more about how to break out of your comfort zone, check out this blog post from Rachael Elmy, ’19. She describes her trip to the caves of Keash as “probably the most uncomfortable (and best) day trip ever!”.

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Break out of your comfort zone and join a MeetUp

Hi, my name is Meghan Donovan and I’m a third year Computer Information Technology major at Champlain College. I have had the incredible opportunity to study abroad in Dublin, Ireland this semester, and I have been having such a fantastic time. Studying abroad means something different for everyone. I wanted to not only explore Europe, but to immerse myself in Dublin’s rich community. This was an extremely intimidating thought. How was I supposed to attend events as if I was a local when I am definitely not a local? This thought crippled me for my first two months in Dublin, and come November, I realized I had to overcome this fear in order to start doing the things I wanted to do.

Her+Data

Meghan Donovan in the mountains of County Mayo during Champlain College’s West of Ireland Tour.

So, I pulled up my MeetUp app and began searching for events. Fortunately, MeetUps are extremely popular in Dublin so there are a wide variety of events for everyone’s interest. I found the group Her+Data, a group designed for women in data technology to meet and share ideas and network. They were having an event at the Google Docks in Dublin, so I took a leap of faith and signed up, not really sure what I was in for.

I was nervous at first, but at the same time extremely excited to finally break out of my comfort zone. I found my way to Google, and checked in. I had never been inside of a Google office building before, and its modern architecture reminded me that this side of the city was a part I had never experienced before.

 

Meet-up setting at the Google HQ office in Dublin

I arrived to the meeting to find data industry professionals and students evenly mixed throughout the group. I even made a friend within the first few minutes. We were given free food (always a plus) and a half hour to network. Then, we all sat down and listened to three women speak about their projects and experience in the tech industry. Afterwards, I even got to meet one of the speakers, who was Director of Analytics for Eir (Ireland’s major telecommunications company) Overall, this MeetUp was successful because I got to meet industry professionals, visit the Google offices, and meet other data students that are living in Dublin!

Studying abroad is what you make of it

I believe that studying abroad is what you make it. For me, traveling through Europe is a big part, but I also want to feel as though I am a part of the city I live in. Volunteering in the community, as well as participating in a MeetUp has made me feel that I am absorbing into Dublin’s rich culture and community. While my time abroad may be ending soon, I am glad that I have been able to attend so many different events that have made me feel like Dublin is home. So for those who are preparing to study abroad, make a list of what you want out of your semester in Dublin. If you want to immerse yourself in Dublin’s community, I highly recommend getting yourself out there and breaking out of your comfort zone… I promise it will only do you good.

 

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