Alone, But Not Lonely

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding grant.  We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending the summer.  You can read the entire series here.

This final blog in the 2014 series is by Divanna Cedeno, WH ’15

It is safe to say that this past summer was the most enlightening summer of my twenty-one years of life. My experiences cemented my passion for Social Entrepreneurship, as well as worldwide travel; and I was luck enough to have Career Services support my work all the way up in the Andes Mountains.

Picture: Looking out onto Lake Titicaca, from La Isla Del Sol in Copacabana, Bolivia

I can spend hours talking about the intricacies of Huancayo, Peru. About how difficult it was to create a financial literacy curriculum that challenged my adult students in a way that led them to think about business in a way other than just for surviving. About the difficulties of trying to teach people who can be your parents/grandparents. About learning how hard it was to say “No” to people that needed your help, because you understood that you would be giving a man a fish, instead of teaching him to fish. About the constant mission clashes that one faces, when managing/operating a non-profit. About how humbled I was when I faced the same living conditions as other Peruvians. About the negative implications of colonialism, how the Spanish conquest in Peru wiped out the beautifully rich Incan culture. About altitude sickness, and how it makes even the most fit person, have difficulty breathing. About

However, as I was challenging my education through the many trials of Microfinance work, I was also challenging my persona and my “Global Citizenship” status. I took the opportunity to not only work in Peru, but also travel (on a very tight personal budget) all throughout South America once my summer internship was over. I learned many things along the way, most of which my words will not be able to ever fully encapsulate, but for those of you wondering if traveling is the way to go, here’s a list of advice from a girl who decided to backpack Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador, after her already very fulfilling summer internship in the social financial center:

  1. Travel alone. (This is my most important one, hence the title. You will learn so much about yourself, the world, and other people if you give yourself the opportunity to make your own decisions in a far away land, also, you will be forced to meet new people if you go alone)
  1. You will meet the most interesting people if you do so. (People from ALL OVER THE WORLD will be your friends, will go out with you, will give you the best networks)
  1. Go on free walking tours. (I travelled on about $5 a day, these walking tours are the best bang for your buck and you learn everything that there is to know about a given place, as they’re usually hosted by university students)
  1. Sleep in hostels. (This goes along with meeting new people, but you will probably share a room with some of the coolest people from all over the world; billionaires, people who have been travelling over 5 years, visionaries, you name it. Your perspective on so many things will start to change for the better. And you get free history lessons with each geographically different person)
  1. Eat things that you may consider strange. (Food is, if I may opinion-ate, the most important part of a given culture, you will understand a place exponentially more if you eat what they eat)
  1. Everyone travels differently. (Some people are more adventurous, others like architecture, food might be big for someone else, thus, if you have your personal quota, travel by yourself and I promise you will find someone that has similar interests)
  1. Let go of daily distractions. (Whether it be Facebook, Instagram, or anything else that you used to do that is preventing 100% immersion, let go of it, you’ll thank yourself later)
  1. Learn the language, or at least the basics. (While I am a native Spanish speaker, I still recommend for anyone to learn how to be able to get around, and yes, this sounds elementary, but I know people that never even tried and they spent months in a certain place)

While this is also not an exhaustive list of advice, it is one that hopefully makes you start thinking about what it means to travel humbly, and ultimately, how uplifting that experience can be.

Author: Student Perspective

Views and opinions from current Penn students.