Alumni Spotlight: Jessica Paszko

Jessica is a freshman in college in Boston, MA and has had a passion to travel and see new cultures for years. Now she’s studying medicine and hoping to be able to be a doctor and help people worldwide.

Why did you choose this program?

I had already been on a Travel for Teens trip and loved it! The councilors were so kind and knowledgeable, and I knew I wanted to go back to Europe. I wanted a trip that covered a lot of land and cities in Europe and this trip was perfect. It had a perfect mixture of cities and adventures in the mountains. When I saw that we’d be canyoning in Switzerland and exploring the canals of Amsterdam and Venice, I knew I had to go.

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

TFT organized flights (although you can choose to pick your own, but if you fly with TFT, a councilor helps you); they choose the hotels, book all transportation within the country. We took the euro rail all over Europe and they booked all of it. They also choose the cities we go to and mainly what we do there. The only thing you have to do is pick the trip! In each location, you have options of what you can do, and there are optional excursions.

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

My advice is that you should definitely pack light and try to have the lightest suitcase as possible! There is a lot of moving on the trip, especially on trains and making quick transfers. The faster you can get on the train, the better. You also can wash clothes, so don’t worry packing for 2 weeks worth of clothes. My other piece of advice is to not worry about going on a trip alone! It’s honestly better to go on a trip like this without knowing anyone because you’re opening yourself to new friendships. Everyone made friends so quickly and you’ll have them for years to come.

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

Every day is getting up around 8, eating breakfast at the hotel or a local cafe, going on an excursion either by bus or walking somewhere in the city, going off on your own for lunch, continuing adventures, and then having a nice dinner somewhere with the group in the city or current place you’re staying. Then we usually had options to do whatever we wanted after dinner!

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

My biggest fear on the trip was clicking with people and making friends. It’s weird at first to room with people you don’t know. I tried to overcome this by bringing a friend, but I didn’t really need this. The councilors make sure people get to know each other and they try their hardest to make sure people that are friends can room together. Everyone made friends very quickly, so once you have friends, you can room with whoever you want. I was also afraid to be away from home for so long, but once I was there, I completely forgot about being homesick and didn’t want to leave because I loved being in Europe with my new friends so much.

What's your favorite memory of this trip?

The best memory from the trip was definitely canyoning in the Swiss Alps. It wasn’t what I expected either. We wore huge suits to protect us from scrapes and the cold. We slid down natural water slides and jumped over 20 feet into freezing pools. We were all terrified and freezing, but it caused us to bond! Bring an extra pair of sneakers because your sneakers will get soaked in this. This was also cool because usually during an activity people may opt out but everyone did it!