I was very happy to be interviewed by Laura and Sami from Hashtag #Viajeros. In their blog you will find useful information about living abroad, volunteering, travel guides and inspiration. You can also find them across their social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr. You can find the original interview on Hashtag #Viajeros and also you can find it here.
1. Hashtag #Viajeros: Of the 17 countries you have visited, which of them would you particularly highlight or recommend?
Pilar: India! It is a very interesting country where on the one hand I felt my first "cultural shock" but on the other I left with great memories. I have had the fortune of traveling across 4 continents and in all the trips I have felt to some extent "normal", in fact I didn’t understand why people said that they had a "cultural shock" visiting a country because I love to discover other cultures and I consider myself adventurous girl because I travel solo, do extreme sports and eat everything among many other activities.
But India was something totally different, on the first day I arrived to Mumbai and it was really hot, the streets were chaotic and I felt that I was run over every step of the way, some men were dressed with tunics and turbans and some women were covered from head to toes. This was completely different from my life in the city. But also that day it started raining and I got lost alone in an unsafe neighborhood.
Fortunately, everything changed when I met some friends who showed me Mumbai and New Delhi and I finally arrived to Dharamsala to participate in a volunteer project in which I met an incredible group of volunteers from Canada, Spain, France, Italy and India. We had an incredible time helping in a school and going on an adventure trekking in the Himalayas and visiting the Golden Temple.
2.Hashtag #Viajeros: Do you have any interesting / funny anecdote about your travels you can tell us?
Pilar: When I went on an exchange semester to study in Vienna, the university had a "Buddy Program" that united Austrian students with exchange students so me and another Mexican girl were introduced to four Austrian boys who helped us with mails when we were in Mexico, pick us up at the airport and then showed us Vienna and had fun with us partying. Particularly one of them, Lucas, became one of my best friends and among many experiences we went on a Roadtrip through many countries in Europe.
When the classes finished Lucas got an internship in Mexico City and of course I offered him my help. I told him that if he needed a place to stay he could arrive to my house. The only detail is that I was going to stay in Europe one more month and he was already going to Mexico, so it happened, he went to Mexico and ended up living with my mother haha, a little bit strange situation but everything worked out well. I returned to Mexico and we stayed living together having a great time. Below a picture of us in my graduation.
3. Hashtag #Viajeros: After participating in 9 study, work and volunteer abroad projects, what did you get from these experiences?
Pilar: Friends from all over the world. I could say that I have been able to develop as a person but I think that what fulfills me the most is that although all the projects in which I have participated have been different, in all of them I have met people who have as goal to travel with meaning.
I have encountered incredible people who have inspired me to travel more and to learn about life. I love that with many of them I continue texting or I keep on seeing what they are doing through social networks. Seeing them developing themselves motivates me to keep looking for more experiences. And now that I'm going back to Europe I will see again many of them, so I'm very excited.
4. Hashtag #Viajeros: Which countries do you plan to visit next?
Pilar: My plan is to go to several countries in Europe and Africa. I am very excited because first I will do an Euro-tour; I´ll arrive to Spain and then I go to Hungary, stop in Austria to attend to the wedding of one of my best friends and then go to Czech Republic, Germany, England and France. Then I will stay in Malta for a month because I won a scholarship for an English course.
After the course I will go to Italy and from there to Africa. I will go to Egypt and Tanzania and then finish in South Africa where I will stay for 1 or several years working.
5. Hashtag #Viajeros: In which volunteer, study or work abroad programs do you plan to participate?
Pilar: I’ll tell you about the 3 types of programs:
- Study programs: in Malta I will study an English course for 1 month thanks to a scholarship I have just won.
- Volunteer Programs: In Egypt, Tanzania and several European countries I will be collaborating with different organizations and businesses through the website Workaway.info
- Work Programs: I have just obtained the Critical Skills Work Visa to work in South Africa. In brief, I’ll tell you that there is a list of professions that are scarce in South Africa so if you studied any of them you can get a visa that will allow you to work in the country for a year (without necessarily having a previous employment contract). So you can enter the country, get the job and have the possibility to renew the visa for up to 5 years. In my case, I obtained the visa because I studied Actuarial Science.
6. Hashtag #Viajeros: What are your dreams in the medium-long term? Where do you see yourself in a few years?
Pilar: After working about 1 year in South Africa (or more depending on how much I love life in this country), my dream is to study a Master's degree at a top ranked university. I still haven’t decided in which country will I do it but I want to study an MBA or a Masters in Finance.
After finishing the Master’s Degree I would like to work in something that really made an impact, whether working in a large company, NGO or international organization or becoming and entrepreneur, I would like to do something that makes a change and helps others. And of course I would love to start a family and have about 4 children.
7. Hashtag #Viajeros: With your experience in projects around the world, could you give some advice for those who think about living abroad but do not dare to do it?
Pilar: Trying to avoid saying the typical cliché of "travel changes your life, leave your comfort zone etc...", I will say I believe that we do not know if we have only one life so we have to make the most of it.
Personally I can say that the times when I have been happier have been traveling; whether I am studying, working or just being a tourist abroad I feel truly free.
There are many stages in life and some people do not travel because they are afraid to abandon their student routine or a safe job; to confront that I can say that these activities can be done abroad and in a more exciting way.
Besides sticking to a routine, many people do not travel because they think it’s very expensive but I can also tell you that there are ways in which you should not spend a lot of money as using study grants, working abroad programs, or being a volunteer to travel with accommodation and food covered. Opportunities exist, it's just a matter of looking for them and doing our best to get them.