My Future Is Unpredictable And That's Totally Alright

My Future Is Unpredictable And That's Totally Alright

As I prepare for study abroad in Ecuador, I'm going in with no expectations.

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For six months, I had plans to study abroad in the Dominican Republic during the fall semester of junior year. Filling out what seemed like endless applications and paperwork, searching for travel ideas on Pinterest, and writing a class research paper on the DR's relationship with its neighboring island, Haiti, I was prepared to live and learn about Dominican culture hands-on.

Then on the Thursday before Finals Week last spring, I read my email. My study abroad program in the DR had gotten canceled. In the span of 30 seconds, my future had taken a new course. Less than a week later, I was submitting papers to study abroad in a new country where another adventure awaited: Ecuador.

If there's anything I've learned in the past year, it's that life is unpredictable and we can't control it. The future is unknown. But-

Who wants to know exactly what's going to happen in the next few years? I mean, I believe it's good to have a direction, but you don't have to have the entire journey pinpointed straight to the core. You meet people, you get inspired, you see things, you have experiences. And you go from there. (Though, I totally respect people who have clear ambitions and stick with them their entire lives.)

Where I was a year ago was a completely different path than where I find myself today. Last summer, I worked four different internships/jobs in the span of three months. A year ago, I would never have guessed my following summer unfolding with an immersion trip to India, a solo adventure to Taiwan & Hong Kong, and becoming a certified yoga instructor. A year ago, I hadn't met half of my best friends. A year ago, I hadn't seen poverty in a third-world country. A year ago, I wasn't even sure I wanted to major in Environmental Studies.

Just because I don't know what the future holds doesn't mean I can't set goals. I have a destination, an idea of where I'm headed and where I want to go. While abroad in Ecuador, I want to learn about sustainable development and coffee production as well as enhance my Spanish skills.

As I prepare for study abroad in Ecuador, I'm going in with no expectations. I know the format of the program. I'll be taking classes and living with a host family and then doing an internship at a farm. Otherwise, I have no idea what's going to happen. And that's what I'm looking forward to the most. The spontaneity. The unexpected. As one of my good friends would say whenever he doesn't have formal weekend plans, "I'm improvising." And you know the one rule of improv: Always say yes.

¡Hasta pronto, Ecuador!

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8 Of The Most Insta-Worthy Spots In The Tampa Area

Just in case your social media game needs a little pick-me-up.
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Whether you were born and raised here or you're just visiting, Tampa is one of the coolest cities in the country. It's not nearly as lively as somewhere like New York City, but still maintains an entertaining night life and countless activities throughout the area. For the people who like the idea of a big city lifestyle but also enjoy the small-town feel, Tampa is the place for you. As a Tampa native, I've got quite the list of places where you just can't help but take a picture.

1. Oxford Exchange

Not only can you get a quality cup of coffee or tea, you can also spend some time scouring through the quirky trinkets and books that are on display throughout the restaurant. Breakfast and Lunch are both 10/10 here. When you're done eating and exploring, make sure you have someone take a picture of you in front of the white brick entrance for your latest Facebook profile pic.

2. Riverwalk

A new addition to downtown, the Tampa Riverwalk is the perfect place to walk your dog, go for a run, make your boyfriend take 100+ pictures of you, etc. The 2.5 mile walkway extends through downtown’s most popular museums, restaurants, and parks and is a beautiful sight both day and night.

3. Hyde Park Village

Just a few minutes outside of downtown, Hyde Park is the perfect place to grab a drink and stroll around with friends. Home to many unique bars and restaurants, the village is unlike any other spot in the city. There are also tons of shops, and they offer free parking!

4. SoHo

For all you 21 and ups, South Howard (better known as SoHo) is the main nightlife scene in Tampa. There are multiple bars and restaurants, and you're more than guaranteed to have a great time.

5. The Dali Museum

Located just outside of Tampa in downtown St. Pete, the Salvador Dali museum is an art museum dedicated to the great work of Salvador Dalí. It houses the largest collection of Dalí's work, apart from Europe. You're guaranteed to get a few unique pictures here while also seeing some pretty amazing things.

6. The Tampa Theatre

Snap a picture or see a show! The Tampa Theatre is sort of a hidden gem downtown. The theatre has been open since 1926, and features everything from independent, to documentary films on a daily basis.

7. Bayshore Boulevard

Stretching 4.5 miles, Bayshore Blvd. is a waterfront path located just south of downtown. It is claimed to be the longest continuous sidewalk in the world, and is widely taken advantage of for exercise and recreation. The famous Gasparilla Parade also takes place on Bayshore, making it a memorable spot for most people in the area.

8. Historic Ybor City

Founded in the 1880s, Ybor City was populated by thousands of immigrants, mainly from Cuba and Spain. Workers in Ybor's cigar factories have rolled hundreds of millions of cigars annually. There are multiple restaurants, bars, and even a movie theatre. Ybor is the place to be if you want to appreciate some history while also finding the perfect brick wall backdrop for an insta post.

Cover Image Credit: TampaGov

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Solo Travel As An Extrovert Is Not Easy

Traveling alone, I can choose to view it as a difficult separation from other people or a journey of learning more about myself.

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Life has a funny way of revealing itself and after my mom ditched me on our mother-daughter trip to Taiwan, I found myself on a plane headed to a country I had never visited where I didn't know a soul. (Disclaimer: I have relatives in Taiwan but had never met them prior to the trip.) I was excited for the adventure that awaited, fear not setting in of how difficult it would be not to just travel in a foreign country where I didn't speak or read any Mandarin beyond the very, very basics (Literally my vocabulary consisted of 10 simple words/phrases, one of which was the word for "apple" which isn't that helpful for getting around. I have since picked up a few more phrases.), but also be alone with just myself for company.

So much of who we are is influenced by the people around us. A large part of our identity comes the communities we choose to be part of and how we interact with others. But who are we when no one's looking? Who am I without the pressure of other people around me?

I am an extrovert. I get my energy from being around other people. It's not that I can't spend time by myself; I just prefer to be in the company of others even if we aren't always interacting the entire time. My best friend and I will even do independent activities together. (Once when we were hanging out, she was knitting and I was doing a puzzle. I swear we don't act like grandmas all the time.)

Although an extrovert, I'm still a pretty independent person who doesn't like to rely on others for help. But traveling alone in Taiwan, I don't have much of a choice. I'm forced to learn to navigate public transport myself and somehow survive with the basic English that Taiwanese locals know.

Learning to travel alone has been an emotional and difficult journey as this is the first time I've been on my own for this long. Although lonely at times, I've realized that loneliness is a mental state of mind. There is the Sanskrit saying, "Mana eva manushyanam karanam bandha moksayoh" which translates to "As the mind, so the person; bondage or liberation are in your own mind." My mind determines my emotional state of being and perspective! Traveling alone, I can choose to view it as a difficult separation from other people or a journey of learning more about myself.

Through solo travel, I am slowly learning to be comfortable with my own company which has been the biggest challenge. I was never an only child, I've always had a roommate in college, and even when I study, I go to public spaces like coffee shops so I can be surrounded by people. I don't know what to do when it's just me and my thoughts all the time. (Especially during meals. Should I appear busy on my phone like all the other single people around me?)


Because when you're traveling alone, you're in charge. You have control. You can change the itinerary from moment to moment without anyone's approval. No one's holding you accountable. Spontaneity? Let's go. You can build barriers but you can also tear them down. It's fun, it's exhilarating. But it's also scary. And unpredictable.


Would I go on another solo expedition in the future? Preferably not as traveling is way more enjoyable when you have someone to share the experience with. It's the people, not the place who make all the difference on a vacation. Yet I do believe solo travel is an experience that everyone should embark on at some point in their life (to grow and learn more about yourself).


This trip has taught me to find spontaneity in the fear and excitement and I've learned to embrace discomfort and unpredictability. To travel with not just my mind and logic but my heart. There are so many unique experiences, if you overthink too much, you'll lose your chance.

I've found that when I am alone, I become more vulnerable and open to meeting new people and having more offbeat experiences. I say yes with zero hesitation. Certainly, there are friends I made, hikes I climbed, streets I meandered, and epiphanies I had that wouldn't have transpired had I been with my mom or a group of people.


Traveling alone, I am now more confident in myself and am ready for the next wave that life throws me. Because I've learned that once you overcome the fear of being by yourself, getting lost (which you will), or accidentally eating meat as a vegan because you didn't understand the signage (I'm sorry!), the world in all its vast infinity can be pretty great. And there are some things that you can only learn on solo travel.

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