Why I Stay in Hostels

Alicia Heiser is a student at Gonzaga University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad and participating in service-learning with ISA in Valparaiso, Chile.

One of the best parts of studying and participating in service-learning abroad is all of the traveling that you get to do. Living in another country gives you the opportunity leave your host town to see other cities, regions and countries to better understand your host culture. Traveling is one of the most entertaining, fulfilling and enlightening aspects of study abroad and staying in hostels makes it so easy to do. In Latin America, the hostel culture is much more prevalent than in the United States, and almost anywhere you go you’ll be able to find a million hostels brimming with experiences and opportunities.

Arguably one of the best reasons to stay in a hostel is to meet new people. I love traveling alone because it gives me so much more flexibility to do and go where I choose to. But when I travel alone, I’m never truly alone. I always meet people in my hostels that I can go out with, giving me new opportunities to meet new people, often from other countries. It’s also so easy to meet people in hostels, because you’re usually staying a dorm-style bedroom and the hostels will frequently host group dinners and other activities. I’ve learned so much about myself and about the world from stepping out of my comfort zone and meeting new people to travel with while staying in hostels.

And if meeting new people isn’t enough of a draw, hostels often make it incredibly easy to discover the city and the region that you’re traveling to. The staff are always a wealth of knowledge, willing to answer any and all questions you may have about the location. And most hostels that I’ve stayed in host tours that leave directly from the hostel, making it unbelievably accessible to go out and try new things, often doing activities that you would never have thought to try if it hadn’t been for the tours from your hostel.

Being young and having the opportunity to travel is one of the most amazing things that you can experience, and staying in hostels is a great way to take advantage of that. I’m so happy that I chose to come to Latin America, where hostels are such a major part of the culture. By stepping out of your comfort zone and meeting new people, visiting new places and trying new things, staying in hostels is one of the most amazing aspects of traveling.

The world awaits…discover it.

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