September 22, 2019 | 85° F

Cap and Gown: Jamie Zajaz, Ariel Abesamis and Erica Mahnkopf

Three Rutgers graduates will spend their summer abroad together travelling throughout Europe


School of Arts and Sciences seniors Jamie Zajac, Ariel Abasamis and Erica Mahnkopf will be traveling to countries such as England, Greece and Croatia after they graduate. (Courtesy of Jamie Zajac)

After the stress of four years of endless finals, studying and late night coffee, some college students feel the need to escape before entering the real world, such as School of Arts and Sciences seniors Jamie Zajac, Ariel Abesamis and Erica Mahnkopf who plan to travel to Europe before starting work in September. 

Zajac said she will be traveling to England, Scotland, Greece, Croatia, Italy, Spain, Portugal and France, and wants to travel because she figures she will never have so many weeks off of work again. 

Mahnkopf and Abesamis will be touring Athens, the Greek Islands, Rome, Florence, Venice, Innsbruck and the Tyrol Region, Munich, Prague, Berlin, Amsterdam, Bruges, Paris, Montpelier and Barcelona, Mahnkopf said. She feels it is important to travel and expose herself to the different cultures of the world. 

It is easy to get trapped in one corner of the world, Mahnkopf said, but there is so much across the globe to experience. 

"What motivated me to travel was knowing that I would not have another 35 days off of work to travel the world until I retire. I have traveled to Europe and Central America with friends before but never for longer than a week," she said.

Zajac said she always loved traveling but has never traveled in this capacity. When she went to Thailand, she met a lot of people her age from the United Kingdom and Australia who had been traveling for a year by themselves, so this inspired her to take a solo adventure.

“Rutgers is a massive school and I've managed to navigate the school to figure out my favorites places, almost like the effect of exploring a new city. Also, Rutgers is extremely diverse and I am lucky to have been introduced to new cultures and backgrounds that I never saw in my hometown,” she said.

Zajac said it is important to travel because it is the perfect way to step out of one’s comfort zone, much like the one she found at Rutgers, which includes her favorite restaurants, friends and expected everyday life.

Mahnkopf said this is the time in individual's lives where they have relatively little responsibilities before they start careers and families. It is important to be exposed to the rest of the world and understand other cultures.

“I view it as a right of passage for young adults into adulthood. When else are you going to have this much time off to see the world, or travel according to your own devices?” she said. “In five to 10 years, life may have started full throttle and there's no possibility of taking a month break to travel. Also, when I start working I'll have some exciting stories to share with my new team about my summer.”

Chloe Dopico

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