Monday, March 30, 2009

Student Reflection: The Glory of Hostels

by Sarah Moauro

As you can see from my previous post, I did a bit of traveling in Mexico over this past Spring Break. Being a college student, especially a senior, means that I am on an extremely limited budget, making my most logical choice of sleeping accommodations the ever so brilliant hostel. Beyond meeting the needs of a penny pincher, hostels are much more than a cheap bed and shower (and much safer than certain gore flicks make them out to be). More than anything, they are a great place to meet a variety of people traversing from all parts of the world on all sorts of adventures.
The Hostel Amigo of Mexico City lived up to both sides of the deal, giving me a fantastically affordable place to call it a night while introducing me to some interesting and inspiring travelers. Over the course of a few nights, I was able to meet three people in particular who fit right into the core values of Spanish and Illinois.

I came across the first two of these three upon my first night at the hostel. After a long day of traveling and wandering around the capital city, I decided to sit down at the hostel bar to grab a Coke and wind down. Next to me were two blonde girls with great tans and unfamiliar accents. Within a short time, conversation had sparked up and I was introduced to Nina and Minna from Sweden. These two friends were on their last day of a three month trip across the Caribbean and Mexico. Intrigued, I asked them what had been their favorite leg of the journey, and without the slightest hesitation, Nina answered with the Dominican Republic. While the rest of their stops had been the usual tourist bit, their time at the DR was spent volunteering for community development and education programs within Santo Domingo. Although the conversation was interrupted and I lack some of the details, I do know that the few weeks of work in the DR were simply not enough for the two.

As the night went on and the hostel atmosphere became more sociable, I eventually met a trekker on the opposite travel timeline of Nina and Minna yet with similar goals in mind. Just in the first few weeks of his travels, Sasha was a recent high school grad and soon-to-be college student from London. While most of his friends were roaming around Europe or finishing off school, Sasha decided to travel to a bit of the U.S. and into Mexico for a couple of months. Having just arrived in Mexico City, he was getting his last bit of traveling in before heading to Mérida to volunteer as a teacher for the bulk of his weeks abroad. Listening to him speak over the next couple of days, excited with the anticipation of his work, I felt like we definitely had ambitions in common, ambitions shared by all of us involved in community based learning. And so here is one or the hostels, providing a place for people to encounter others with similar goals and inspiring stories.


  1. I love hostels for that reason. The variety of people you meet and the interesting conversations you have. You learn about yourself as much as you do other people.

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