We encourage students participating in the Northwest Community College (NWCCI) to take advantage of their winter and spring breaks to travel and see other parts of the United States. Danis Sriwijaya, a business major from Indonesia studying at Edmonds Community College, shares his experience traveling over winter break and offers advice for other students on how to plan an affordable trip.
It was winter holiday, and I had almost three week’s holiday before quarter 2014 began. I went backpacking from Chicago to Boston through eleven cities in ten states in the United States. Over 27 days, I traveled almost 1,500 miles (Chicago to Boston) using ground transportation. My journey started in Seattle by airline to Chicago. My backpacking route went from Chicago to Indianapolis, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Washington DC, Alexandria VA, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Patterson NJ and Boston. It was an amazing experience because for my entire journey, I only spent around $1,100.
How was my trip so cheap? First, I got really good deals for the transportation, such as getting a a cheap flight from Seattle to Chicago and from Boston to Seattle. I also took local buses in the city. Second, I reduced the cost of accommodation by travelling at night and spending a couple nights at my friend’s house. Third, I chose a hostel located near the downtown so I could walk everywhere to reduce my transportation costs. I used buses only for places far from downtown. It was really an exhausting journey because sometimes I had to sleep at the airport or on the bus between cities. I also had to walk to every destination and the weather was super cold. But my backpacking was super fun. From planning my travels, I learned how to make good plans, follow them and manage everything, such as my budget, my diet, my health and my mood.
In every city, I visited every attraction I could. I never imagined that I could visit the famous places I had dreamt of in the past, such as the White House, the US Capitol, the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Harvard University, and Willis Tower. I learned many things during my travelling. I learned about photography, such as developing a photographic style, obtaining a greater knowledge of composition and overall technique and honing my skills in proper use of the camera.
I also learned about American culture. I learned that every place has different accents. For example the accent from the midwest is different from the west coast accent and the east coast accent. When I was in Indianapolis and Columbus, I didn’t really understand what they said because they have their own accent, and it is different from the west coast accent. It helped me to understand different accents. During my travelling, I also met backpacking friends from around the world. I met a Korean girl who had spent six months travelling on three different continents. I also learned about my friends’ culture and life. It motivated me to respect others and learn about other cultures. I will always remember these moments in my life because it was one of the best times in my life.
If you are interested in planning a similar trip, here is a list of websites I recommend:
The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs.