I have been on a plane since I was three months old. Growing up with a single mother, she always made an effort to show me where our family was from, La Isla del Encanto, specifically, Barrio Tejas, Humacao, Puerto Rico. My mother, grandmother, and I visited the island at least once or twice a year. Therefore, airports, planes, and airplane food always seem to excite me. However, traveling to other places than Puerto Rico and Florida never came to mind.
Fast forward when it was time to select a college, the idea of a traditional campus life with a dorm at a forty thousand dollar a year university was a fantasy but not my reality. I decided on a less expensive college in Manhattan instead of committing to years of debt. John Jay College of Criminal Justice was not exactly what I wanted but I later came to appreciate every second of it. I knew I was not going to get the college experience many of my catholic high school peers decided on, but I was going to obtain my degree and study abroad. Study abroad was the only experience I looked forward too. As a freshman, I applied and I was accepted to a study abroad program in Greece. Sadly, I decided not to go. I felt it was too early in my college career to attend and the finances were not there yet.
Junior year was the year. I received an email from a new study abroad program in Genoa, Italy and I applied. I knew it was time to adventure out of my shell, but little did I know getting my first passport would guide me to see the world. Thanks to my part time job at Bloomingdale’s and a scholarship, I went to Italy. The study abroad program consisted of two sociology classes at the University of Genoa, unless pizza, pasta and gelato, free time to visit cities like Florence, Milan, Rome, and the meeting of the fabulous founder of Sueños De Una Viajera, Zeline.
After the program ended, I was grateful for the experience and the new friends I made. Italy was exposure to the old world, a culture shock and lastly, an experience I would recommend to any college student. Nonetheless, I had my senior year of college to complete and decided to pursue my Masters in Public Administration. In other words, life was continuing and traveling abroad was not in the plan.
Shortly after completing my masters, I got my first real job. I never thought in a million years my new coworkers would be my travel buddies. We started with a road trip to Niagara Falls to then a quick trip to New Orleans to then seeing the world. In addition, getting my first car allowed me to travel to neighboring states such as Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Five years later, I have had the pleasure of visiting 14 states, 14 countries and 6 continents. I have been blessed with the funds, couponing and saving skills, the vacation time, and friends/travel buddies to see so much of this beautiful world.
I never thought I would be able to say I have been to South Africa, Australia or even Argentina but I have. So never say never. My single parent household upbringing in NYCHA in a borough that is constantly belittled did not define my life or my travels. My name is Cynthia. I am a 5’1 little lady from El Bronx traveling the world, one country at a time.