Entering Uncharted Waters

In The Art of Travel Fall 2017, 8. Bubble, Sydney by Nicolas2 Comments

Due to the vast network of multicultural global cities around the world today, in my opinion, finding oneself stuck within a “bubble” of familiarity has become an increasingly difficult task.  Unless you are present members of a tour group, who stick together through each activity of the day, or a person who stays within the confines of their own ethnic enclave of a city, there will always be situations throughout your day where your “bubble” is burst.

Yet, when considering the definition of a “bubble” on a micro scale, the term can alternatively take on an entirely different meaning. For example, a “bubble” for a foreign traveler could be the set path that one takes on their walk to school or work everyday, or consistently going back to the same few restaurants instead of trying alternative cuisines.  For me, when I am acting as an individual, without a group beside me, I find myself sticking within my “bubble” instead of taking advantage of different experiences and or adventures.

When alone, the walk to Science House (the NYU academic building) is always the same: I take the same route, look at the same attractions and buildings, and arrive in roughly the same amount of time.  With a group, I never know if I will be stopping for lunch at a new restaurant, or taking a slightly different path with an entirely new view of the city that I haven’t seen before.  Although I am naturally a curious person, without a group, there is no added pressure to shoulder up and step out of my comfort zone on a regular basis.  Furthermore, a “bubble” that I have experienced and witnessed regularly is the mindset of being completely practical and proactive in terms of maintaining a work/life balance.  When there is work to do, whether while I am interning or completing schoolwork, I feel that dedicated efforts at the start of the assignment are the best way to complete one’s work. However, when you put the world on standby in order to complete your work, you will inevitably miss all the potential experiences and situations that occurred when you are focusing entirely on being as proactive as possible.

This weekend, although it is the busiest time of the semester, with a combination of midterms, presentations and essays due, I decided to step out of my comfort zone, and instead go on a beach excursion with some friends.  Sydney’s beaches are the best that I have seen across the world, and even the looming assignments over my head weren’t enough to prevent a day soaking up the sun.  We decided to end up at Gordon’s Bay, which is a small inlet directly north of the more famous Coogee Beach.  Deciding to go to Gordon’s Bay was a fantastic decision, as I had never seen such aqua blue waters, and it was my first time getting the chance to snorkel and explore marine life.

Although being abroad at a foreign destination often inspires thoughts of becoming as adventurous as possible and seeking the unknown, likely there will be times when the aspects of life that provide the greatest amount of familiarity are all that we seek.  Intertwining events of adventure and uncertainty, with those that maintain a sense of familiarity of one’s home country or even routine, can provide for the optimal amount of bursting one’s “bubble.”   At the end of the day, traveling to foreign destinations should absolutely involve countless new experiences and uncertainties, but at the same time, it’s important to remember one’s roots and limitations.


  1. Hi Nicolas! I definitely relate to all aspects of what you wrote. I find myself more willing to try something new when I’m with a group, it feels much less intimidating. Also, if I don’t have plans for the day, I will most likely stay in my dorm and catch up on work. I feel like I need to push myself to be more proactive in exploring the city (Shanghai, for me) by myself. I honestly love the fact that you prioritized seeing a new place over school work. Even if you do have one night where you only get a couple hours of sleep because you have a lot of work, the adventurous days like the one you had are worth it, in my eyes.

  2. Hi Nic, so I finally got around to reading your blog and I definitely agree that without much social pressure it is more difficult to step out of one’s comfort zone, but I also feel as though once a group starts to like something it is even harder to step out of a group’s comfort zone. The example being our group’s new found love with the casino life. So, I definitely think pushing to do things by yourself sometimes can be a good thing and lead to experiences and self-discovery in a way a group setting can’t.

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