Alumni Spotlight: Taleen Cochran

Taleen is a high school student who was born and raised in central California. She has always loved traveling and exploring new places, cultures and foods.

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Why did you choose this program?

While I was searching for a program, I had some criteria in mind. For example, I knew that I wanted to visit either Spain or Italy, and that I wanted to partake in a trip that had a community service aspect as well. When I found the Italy Service and Adventure trip with Travel for Teens, I knew it was the trip for me as soon as I read the itinerary. It had everything I was looking for and more!

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

Travel for Teens helped out a lot with flight plans and helping me organize everything I had to accomplish before I could go abroad. They provided a checklist of all the paperwork, payments and doctor’s notes I had to complete beforehand, which was incredibly useful! When it comes to flights, TFT described in detail all possible flight options travelers had and helped me choose the path that was best for me. They really helped me prepare in every way possible!

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

For anyone who decides to go on the Italy Service and Adventure trip, I would just tell them to be prepared to be fairly active throughout the trip. We did a lot of walking every day whether we were hiking, volunteering or simply going out to eat. Life is fairly fast-paced on this trip with early mornings and tons of fun activities every day, so make sure you can handle it!

As for going overseas in general, I feel that the most important thing to remember is to keep an open mind. Not everything will work out the way it was planned, so it is necessary to adapt to new situations all the time!

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

We had two different types of days on this program.

On community service days, we would wake up in the morning, eat breakfast at our hotel and then go on to our service activities. Some days we’d clean up walking trails, and others we would help renovate an Italian elementary school. In the middle of our service activity, we would typically take a lunch break as well. Then, we would spend the remainder of the evening shopping or going to the beach before eating dinner and heading back to the hotel.

On days that we were not volunteering, we would eat breakfast at the hotel and then start on whatever fun activities we had planned that day. Whether we were visiting the island of Capri or taking a boat ride up the Amalfi Coast, the days were always filled with incredible adventures and food!

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 going abroad was probably having to befriend a large group of people instantly. At home, I am a little more reserved, so I was worried how it would feel to suddenly be with a group of people I have never met before. Needless to say, I was perfectly fine! I quickly made friends with some of the girls on my trip because we sat on the plane together and from then on I had no worries about how I would get along with everyone!

What were some of the highlights of your trip?

Every day of my program was filled with adventure and exploration, but one of my favorite experiences was the day that we cruised up and down the Amalfi Coast on private boats. The Mediterranean Sea was incredibly blue and it was so fun to sunbathe and ride the waves. We also stopped at a few small towns on the coast that had amazing food and adorable shops. Overall, one of the best parts of this trip was the food. Italian food has my heart and I will never be completely satisfied by pasta in America again!