A native of California, Dominic James Fusco graduated from UCLA in June this year, before embarking on a six week adventure through Europe and Asia. Rounding out his trip, Dominic has become GoAbroad’s newest Content Intern at our Asia Office, GAPLabs, Inc.
Scroll down to read our interview with him and learn about one of GoAbroad’s newest rockstars!
How did you first get involved with GoAbroad?
I discovered GoAbroad shortly after I returned from studying in New Delhi during my junior year of college. India was a very impactful experience for me and I came to agree strongly with GoAbroad’s mission to promote meaningful travel. Living abroad to study, teach, volunteer, work – it doesn’t matter. All of these broaden cross-cultural understanding, which I think is very important for today’s globalizing world.
How do you like your role as GAPLabs’ Content Intern so far?
Life in the Philippines has been great so far, the staff has brought me in with open arms and made me feel right at home. It’s a very relaxed, low stress working environment and everyone is always laughing and joking around with each other. Plus the food is a godsend after traveling on a shoestring for the past few weeks.
What is a typical day like for a GoAbroad Content Intern in the Philippines?
Housing has been scarce in Tacloban ever since Typhoon Yolanda so currently I am living in a room in our GAP complex. It has been great though, pretty much like working from home. We have a gym and basketball court at the office, we get served lunch everyday, and there’s a nice market right nearby.
I wake up at 7:30 every morning, make myself a light breakfast and coffee then get to work. I’ve been mostly writing articles about cities or countries which I have travelled to and am also doing some general editorial work for the content team. After work we usually play basketball (if it isn’t pouring rain outside), then I shower, eat dinner, and hang out with the staff or read or watch movies until bedtime. Weekends are free to travel and do whatever I want, transport is cheap and easy. Not a bad life at all.
Clearly you have a thing for writing, as you are GoAbroad’s 2013 Writing Contest Winner. Do you feel compelled to share your travel advice and stories to inspire others or to reflect on your own experiences? Or a little of both?
I started travel writing in India mostly to keep friends and family back home updated on the course of my journey. Since then I have kept it up for travel itself, to see the world, and to hopefully inspire others along a similar path. Not just going to India specifically, but travelling anywhere while we are young to have an experience larger than the culture we were raised in. We grow by breaking out of our comfort zone and experiencing new things. Travelling is a great way to do that. It’s nice to reminisce on the places I’ve been as I write about them, but the ultimate goal is to push others to go out and explore the world themselves.
You recently spent six weeks traveling in Europe and Asia, what country surprised you the most?
Hong Kong. I know it’s not technically its own country right now, but it certainly felt like it. Most international cities I’ve visited are embedded into a larger national culture. But Hong Kong had this feeling of commercial autonomy superseding any cultural or political affiliation. I think that surprised me because I was expecting it to be more like mainland China. Instead I found a thriving port city dominated by huge international corporations, towering skyscrapers, and air-conditioned mega malls. The streets are always lively, everyone there seems to be from somewhere else…it’s a really cool and unique place I would recommend to any traveller.
How did your perspective on education change through your experience studying abroad in India with IES Abroad?
After almost two decades in school, I finally ceased to associate education as something which belongs in a classroom. You can only learn so much by sitting in a room being handed down information. At a certain point you have to go out and live it to know it. IES really embraced this perspective and afforded us a great balance of structure with personal freedom. We were turned loose to explore India for ourselves, and we also took frequent field trips into the city and outside to rural villages where our professors would serve as guides and translators.
These trips offered tremendous insight into a side of India which I would not have been exposed to otherwise. So what I learned about education: it is a personal journey to the end, but will never cease to benefit from the guidance of others.
After a few weeks in to a backpacking trip, your back starts to ache…what three things did you wish you didn’t bring on your recent backpacking adventure, which you’d advise others to ditch?
1. Too much clothing. I packed a few pairs of pants and longer shirts, soon to discover them completely unnecessary in the summer months. As a traveller you can get by wearing just about anything and people won’t judge. Most hostels offer laundry services too, so you can recycle clothes fairly frequently.
2. I brought a whole bag of emergency medicines/supplies which I didn’t really use either. Maybe I got lucky, but it seems to me like most places you go these days have pharmacies where you can pick that stuff up anyway if needed. Maybe take this one with a grain of salt.
3. I brought a small leather bound journal and did not write in it once. I guess this is a matter of personal preference, but I just ended up jotting things down on my phone or tablet whenever I felt like writing. So much for sentimentality.
In your opinion, how important is it to write about your travels? What benefits come from writing down your experiences?
I think it’s a to-each-their-own thing. People absorb information in different ways. I like keeping track of my impressions as I travel to help process and crystallize what sort of experiences I have been through. It’s about self-awareness.
To understand a new place, we have to be aware of our own tendencies, biases, and prejudices upon arrival.
Keeping a journal or writing letters to friends and family is a nice way to reflect on the personal changes that have come about during travel (of which there are bound to be plenty). It’s also nice to go back months or years later and reminisce.
Now that you are interning abroad in the Philippines with GoAbroad, what is one thing you hope to experience while living in a nation of over 7,000 islands?
First, to relax. I have been on the road for almost two months and it is an amazing feeling once again having a bed to call my own. Eventually, I would like to go scuba diving. I’ve heard the Philippines is infamous for scenic diving and it’s something I’ve never done before. I would also like to eat Balut. I’ve heard its delicious.