Meet Our Featured TFT Traveler: Jaden N!

What grade are you finishing and where do you go to school?

I am finishing my freshman year at Binghamton University.

What TFT programs have you gone on?

I went on the New Zealand and Australia Service program.

Pam the Koala!

Pam the Koala!

Tell us about one person you have met and how they impacted you.

My trip director, Nikki Delventhal, had a huge impact on my life. She was always excited about every detail and excursion. She showed up with the most positive attitude, even in less than ideal situations, like a delayed flight or a rained out excursion. She showed me how to see the bright side of any situation and how to take advantage of every opportunity. Because of her, I have turned into a bit of a “yes girl,” in that even if I am unsure or uninterested about an invitation/opportunity, I accept because I never know what I might get out of it.

Sparklers at On the Wallaby

Sparklers at On the Wallaby

Give some advice to a first-time TFTer.

This may sound a little crazy, but leave your phone in the hotel room, especially on excursions. Seriously. You are in another country having the time of your life! Who cares what your friends are doing on facebook back in your hometown? Invest in a digital camera, and really be present in what you are doing. You’d be surprised at how freeing it feels not to be tied down by checking your messages every hour or so.

Swimming in waterfalls

Swimming in waterfalls

If there was one thing you wish you knew about traveling abroad before you went on your first international trip and would want other first-time travelers to know, what would it be?
Pack as light as you can. You definitely need a variety of clothes: sporty, dressy, casual, etc., but you do not need seven of each type. For my trip especially, there were a lot of mid-trip flights. Try not to bring more than one suitcase (even if it is a big one) and a carry-on. Some people on my trip had two or three bags and they were always behind. I’d also suggest investing in packing cubes. You can throw all of your shirts and pants into these little mesh squares and it creates a lot of room and everything stays more organized.
Learning how to throw a boomerang with an Aboriginal

Learning how to throw a boomerang with an Aboriginal

Tell us about a challenge you overcame while traveling, how you overcame it, and how it impacted you positively.

I am not the strongest swimmer. I have never been snorkeling or scuba diving before. When the opportunity to do these activities came up, and in the Great Barrier Reef, I went for it. I thought to myself: When will I ever have an opportunity like this again? I went to the scuba training session and was a little nervous about messing up. However, on the two-hour boat ride to the diving site, I got really sick. I felt horrible, but I tried really hard not to let it ruin my experience. After my sickness reached its peak, I decided to go snorkeling instead since that was a little bit safer. I went with one of my trip directors and she helped me get acclimated with the water (which was NOT easy). After a lot of panicking, struggling, and water up my nose, I got my bearings. The trip after that was unbelievable and I witnessed some underwater beauties that will always stay in my memory. While this certainly was not my favorite day of the trip, it showed me two things, the first being that it is worth getting through “rough waters” in order to accomplish a goal and do something incredible. Second, it emphasized the idea of saying “yes” to everything and doing things for the experience, especially if you know that it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef

Snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef

Best local mode of transportation and why?
The best local mode of transportation is walking!!! That is the absolute best way to get to know a new area. It might be faster to take a taxi or the subway to destinations, but being a traveler means immersing yourself in what is going on around you. You get to see more, feel more, experience more. Some of my favorite memories are from walking trips that some of my fellow travelers opted out of.
Sydney at night

Sydney at night

What is the most touristy thing you’ve done that is definitely worth doing again?

Climbing the Sydney Harbor Bridge was incredible! Not only was it great exercise to work off all of the amazing food I’d been eating, but I was so inspired up there. Looking out over all of Sydney made me feel like my problems were so small and that I could conquer the world. Plus the instagram photo got a LOT of likes!

The Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb

The Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb

What is the weirdest food you have ever eaten?

Alligator soup is a pretty clear winner, although kangaroo patties come in at a close second.

What do you travel for?

I travel for new experiences. I want to do things that I could never do in my own backyard: try new foods, meet new people, see new places, have adventures. Being in unfamiliar territory is so exhilarating and I always learn so much about the places I am traveling to and about myself as well. Getting out of your comfort zone is where your true personality shines.

The Sydney Opera House

The Sydney Opera House

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