Tips and Advice: What You Can Learn from Being Uncomfortable

Student Worker for CoF International and world traveler Carmen Liberatore tells us about the benefits of stepping outside your comfort zone while traveling

Carmen Liberatore

A student of Sustainable Tourism at OSU, Carmen chose to spend a year prior to enrolling in college traveling the world. This journey of a lifetime led her to be a firm believer in the power of being uncomfortable.

When I was in high school, I felt stagnant. I didn’t feel ready for college, but I didn’t want to stay home. All I knew was that I wanted to leave my hometown of Medford. So the summer after I graduated high school, I packed a backpack and boarded a one-way flight to London with few plans and too many clothes.

At the time, I was terrified, but looking back, it was by far the best decision I have ever made. I backpacked across Europe, the Middle East, and a little bit of Africa for the better part of a year, making friends and leaving extra clothes behind. I rode more buses and planes than I can count, learned a few words in new languages, how to cook proper carbonara, and how to be okay with being uncomfortable.

This was the first time I had been away from the comforts of my home and my circle of friends for more than a few weeks, and at first it was hard. Really, really hard. I battled homesickness while volunteering on a farm in Spain, laying in an unfamiliar bed far from home. I wanted to run home, back to what I knew and loved. But every night I crawled back into that unfamiliar bed, and before long I felt at home.

Travel can be very uncomfortable, there’s no doubt about it. But travel also teaches us important lessons about life, the world, and ourselves. Although my gap year journey has now been long over, I try to remember the lessons I learned every day. There is something powerful in discomfort. Being uncomfortable shows us who we are and encourages us to become better versions of ourselves. So cast away from the unfamiliar shores and pursue the uncomfortable. You just might thank yourself for it.

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