Alumni Spotlight: Daniela Mallarino


Daniela is currently completing her undergraduate degree in International Development Studies Specialist Co-op at the University of Toronto. She's an avid adventure traveler and explorer. She loves photography, learning new languages, and rainy days.

Why did you choose this program?

Winterline was simply the right fit. There were no other programs for me. I just wanted Winterline because it had everything I was looking for.

I was considering volunteering in a country for a certain period of time, but after reading and researching, I found out that doing that doesn't really help the community you're visiting and the country you're going to, because you don't have the skills. And who are you to 'impose' your presence somewhere else?

So I thought, if I'm doing a GAP year, I'm doing it for myself. And Winterline was perfect, because it shows you so much through so many different lenses. It's the perfect ground to learn!

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

Winterline is extremely organized and helpful. They organize everything for you; you just have to apply and maintain high energy and attitude as you complete it. Winterline team is amazing, and they do everything they can to make you feel safe and comfortable.

When it comes to logistical stuff, they have everything planned for you. Just make sure you know what to pack. Know your itinerary beforehand so you can make the most out of the experience.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Be open minded, and research! It might seem obvious and natural, but once you arrive at new places, it becomes harder to implement those two. Channel your experience through those lenses.

I would encourage anyone going abroad to truly research the place they're visiting.

Don't just google "best food" or "cultural events." Learn more about its history, political upheavals, and social challenges.

Also, be ready to be transformed and leave your comfort zone. You'll be surprised by something new everyday.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Everyday is different and unique! There's no routine, and you'll be amazed by all the different activities you will be going through. Be prepared to leave your comfort zone, and embrace the day with an open mind and good attitude. This is one of the traits that makes Winterline so unique.

It allows you to "dip your fingers" in various areas and process that experience under different perspectives. If you discover that you don't like something as much as you thought you would, fully immerse yourself for the period of time you'll be doing it, then be ready to move on to the next activity.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

As excited as you are to travel abroad, leaving home is not always easy. Leaving the comfort of your house, friends, and family might seem scary and overwhelming. However, as you move around and travel more, you'll realize that you'll meet amazing humans along the way. These people will give you energy, courage and perspective to keep on moving and embracing the new experiences to come.

With Winterline, we met amazing humans all over the world! Their stories and successes will always travel with me, and they energize me on a day to day basis. From the little nomadic community that we created, to those strangers who soon became friends along the way, you start realizing that expanding your comfort zone becomes easier than expected.

What is your favorite memory from your travel abroad?

Be prepared to leave your worldview behind. Embrace all the new experiences to come, and shape your identity based on what you start living. Try to shift your perspective and experience new things! In the end, it's more rewarding than scary.

One of the best memories that I have from my time abroad with Winterline is sleeping under the stars! We did this a couple of times, and the sense of wellbeing that comes with it is something you can't really find anywhere else. Connecting with Nature is as important as connecting with yourself, and traveling usually allows you to have that space.