By Eve Papa
Travel is something I’ve been passionate about nearly my whole life, and it all began when I went on my first cruise at the age of ten. Now, before you make your assumptions about sunbathers on the pool deck wearing tight speedos, overcrowded buffet lines, and the family vacation T-shirt bulk orders, let me explain.
My first cruise experience – a three-night Disney cruise to the Bahamas – inspired in me an interest to travel and to see as much of the world as I possibly can. On this glorified weekend getaway, I saw new places, met new people, and learned about new cultures. These are three things I had never put much thought into before the trip.
I know it may sound a bit silly that a commercialized ocean liner could inspire in me an interest in becoming cultured, but this cruise experience exposed me to the idea of stepping outside of the comfort zone I’ve known my whole life. I have since carried this goal with me and strived to live up to the challenge of stepping outside of my comfort zone in all that I do.
After this trip, I clearly wasn’t the only person who left a changed individual.
My parents enjoyed the trip so much that they decided to take us on multiple more. Some of the other places I’ve cruised to include Bermuda, Mexico, Canada, and Hawaii.
Hawaii was specifically the most influential cruise I’ve ever been on. Exploring the islands of Hawaii with my family are some of the best memories of my life. We rode horseback on the Kauai coast, hiked the Diamond Head, watched the sun rise above a volcano in Maui, and swam at some of the most pristine beaches on earth. And to additionally enhance our experience: the people we met over the course of our adventures came from all over the globe and each had interesting, unique experiences to share.
Aside from cruising, I’ve had the opportunity to travel without my family. The main trip I went on alone was my first time in Europe and was a true testament to the fact that I am not yet a fully self-sufficient human being. Along with a group of about 45 other students, I spent two weeks of January 2017 in what some may refer to as the hidden gem of Ireland: Sacred Heart University’s campus on the Dingle Peninsula.
During my time in Ireland, I studied Irish traditional music, perfected the art of Irish Dance, and learned to play a mean rendition of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” on the tin whistle. I also hiked and biked amongst the green, rolling hills of Ireland and met locals who filled me in on everything I needed to know about their home country.
I also became very close to some of the other students who were there with me, and we still talk to this day. In fact, one of them – Alexa Binkowitz – is now my Spectrum Editor-in-Chief and just got mad at me that I haven’t finished this editorial yet. See how it all comes full-circle?
Ireland was the last trip I went on, but I still think about its impact on my life regularly. Spending two weeks on my own in a foreign country forced me to be mature, responsible for myself, and well, a (partially) self-sufficient human being.
Looking forward, I have more travel in the works. My next stop is a service trip with Sacred Heart to Tres Equis, Costa Rica to work with the local community and with a group of college students who live there. I am beyond excited to help out where I can, experience the culture, put my subpar high school Spanish to the test, and learn about what life is like in Costa Rica. I have never before been to an impoverished location like the one I’m getting ready to see, and I know that experiencing it will expand my horizons and allow me to come back home with an expanded worldview.
In conjunction with the promise I made with my ten-year-old self, the Costa Rica trip and any other travel I do in the future will be my way of further stepping outside of my comfort zone.