Traveling as a Young Woman
Posted: Dec 28 2018
My Two Weeks in a Hostel
Hey SparkFire! Hostels are generally inexpensive places to lodge and great for solo travelers, which are two reasons why I chose to stay in one to kickstart my summer internship experience in Portland. It was my first time staying in a hostel. Unlike other travelers, I spent two full weeks there. Most people who come through stay for two or three nights, and after four, you are considered a local. After my first week, I would be considered a “lifer” by hostel standards.
Approaching The Unknown
I had no idea what to expect. What kind of people would I be rooming with? Would I be able to go outside of my comfort zone and introduce myself to others? These were not things I had considered since the beginning of college freshman year and even then, I had some of the answers … I knew at least who I would be rooming with. I didn’t know if I would run into other solo travelers like myself or if it would be families. I had imagined it would be a younger crowd due to the very affordable bunk bed sleeping arrangements. There were single bed rooms, 4- person bedrooms and 6-8 person rooms for males, females as well as a co-ed option. I opted for an all-female 6-8 bedroom. I was alone in a new city, so I thought I might as well maximize the number of people I met right off the bat. When I moved in only two out of six of the beds were occupied. I snagged the last available bottom bunk, which I kept for the rest of my stay (and would definitely recommend if ever you find yourself having to make a similar decision).
My second night I wandered to the back patio, which was called the Secret Garden. It was a nice evening and I figured I could do some writing outdoors. When I walked outside there were a group of people sitting at a table, chatting and enjoying themselves. They asked me if I wanted to join them, so I did, of course. One person was from London and two others were from Amsterdam. I was amazed, but I shouldn’t have been surprised because I was living in an international hostel after all. By the end of the night there were five guys and five girls all sitting around a much too small circular table. One of the girls had moved into the room I was staying in while I had been outside. She and I would have many conversations about the heavy snoring in our room in the future. [Another pro-tip: Bring earplugs if you are a light sleeper!] At 10:00 o’clock, we were all kicked out of the garden patio because quiet hours start at 10 p.m. so as not to disturb people with bedrooms nearby. I was still on east coast time, so I went back to my room and happily fell asleep.
Making Lasting Connections
After just one day, I had found a community in the hostel and moreover met people whom I still talk to, despite being on other sides of the globe. The original people I had spent that night with would leave and newcomers would rebuild the group. These were the people who I ran into in the morning at breakfast, waited in long ice cream lines with and explored downtown area with.
I realized over the course of my stay that it was actually possible to separate oneself from others in a hostel. There was no leader of the group engaging us in ice-breaker activities. I had to be proactive to meet people. I think it was the fact that I was on this journey alone that fueled my motivation to meet people. Sharing tables with people at meals was a very common way I ended up meeting so many new people. Striking up conversation with a stranger is not exactly comfortable or the easiest thing to do, especially for someone like me who is relatively introverted; however, after a little while, it became easier. I found myself introducing myself to strangers whenever an opportunity arose. I was doing this not only in the hostel, but found myself chatting with new people at work and even in other places like in cafés or a long line for a highly rated vegan restaurant.
So my advice to girls everywhere is to SPARK CONVERSATION. Voice your passions, embrace your similarities but also your differences with people (there will be many), and be the strongest version of yourself you can be!
As always, feel free to reach out or ask me about anything at firstname.lastname@example.org
Spark it forward!
In the Summer of 2018, college student Siena T. ventured cross-country, from Atlanta Georgia to Portland Oregon, to spread her wings and experience everything from diving into a new internship to explore & focus her academic interests, stepping out to meet new people and explore new places, and reveling in the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest, with trails, waterfalls, rivers and more.
This is the 3rd post in the series from Siena, as she shares personal stories about her summer experiences and opens up about learning, growing and adventuring out, both on her own and in community with new friends.