GoAbroad Interview

Riyanka Roy - Content Marketing Executive 

Being an ardent traveler, Riyanka Roy has explored India extensively to learn the diversity that her country beholds and to absorb the beauty of each place. With her passion for writing and photography, she has been trying to document all that she experiences while she’s on the road, and she hopes to encourage people to break free of their regular lives, to see what's out there beyond the four walls. Life's like a book, and Riyanka is making hers more interesting!

What inspired you to work for Go Discover Abroad?

The values and mission of Go Discover Abroad aligned quite closely with what I personally believe in and wish to shape my life by. There's no denying the fact that a traveler's life is the most fascinating one, and no matter how much we wish to resist it, we'll always come back to listen to the stories of those who've seen the sunsets in different parts of the world.

The concept of letting people experience a new destination in a unique manner with wholesome cultural immersion, opportunities to volunteer work for the host communities, and also to learn new things while living abroad, are some of the things that totally convinced me to make my decision to be a part of the company.

Woman with children in classroom

With the children, where I volunteered as a teacher

Why is Go Discover Abroad (GDA) unique and marketable for people hoping to take part in a gap year?

Today's millennials are more aware, goal orientated, and thoughtful, and have the zeal to explore the unexplored. And that's where GDA plays its role. For gap year travelers, planning an entire journey —everything from booking an accommodation, to finding something meaningful and worth engaging with, as well as finding a learning opportunity that will help in future— is a big hassle. 

Go Discover Abroad has a dedicated team, where the members can suggest and help a gap year traveler to get the best experiences without facing any problems. Our programs are all curated with utmost concern, aiming to cater the needs of all. We provide customized plans, whenever necessary. Also, our in-country coordinators are there at all our destinations to ensure that the travelers can have a safe and fulfilling journey.

What are you currently working on as the Content Marketing Executive?

I'm mostly working on blogs and articles that can be read on the Go Discover Abroad website. I also look into the Social Media Marketing— sharing posts on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter. Apart from that, a major part of my work also involves coordinating and writing the program itineraries that we have in store for the travelers. Currently, we are planning to add a few more destinations to our ever-growing list, and I’m working on that.

In your opinion, what does responsible tourism and volunteering look like in an international setting?

Right after I graduated from college, I took a break for a year to teach at a tribal village in Rajasthan, India. During that time, I realized that we each live our lives at our own pace, and there would never be a significant change unless we, ourselves, are willing to embrace it.

Later, when I began working with this organization and started to understand more how people from different parts of the world are traveling to more vulnerable places to volunteer and make a change, I was absolutely thrilled. 'Responsible Tourism' is something that I believe every single person should be aware of, and it need not be an immensely big step, but rather little things, like not littering plastic waste, not leaving cans and bottles on beaches, etc.. These little things, which are really the big things, makes one a responsible traveler.

And of course, there are bigger goals too. For example, in countries like Kenya & Tanzania where tourism is flourishing due to the beauty of flora & fauna, more and more English-speaking guides are needed. If volunteers can travel and help the locals to develop their communicative skills, what is better than that? 

Truthfully, travel trends have changed over the last decade. Now, I foresee in the coming years that more people will be aware of their impact and start devoting time to different causes and volunteer to make a difference. After all, it's for our beautiful world.

Group of children smiling and holding up peace signs with adult

With the volunteers from the Netherlands at a slum school in New Delhi, India

Why is it important for individuals to travel and live outside of their comfort zone?

Most people choose to live a life they are used to, even if it doesn’t keep them happy. There's definitely a fear of the unknown —“what will happen if this trip makes me lose my job?”, “what if I get lost somewhere?”, “maybe I should save the money for future”, etc. Usually, there's a hesitancy in taking a risk to break free. 

Monotonous life eventually makes us feel boring and unhappy with life, stressing everything from traffic congestion, to global warming, and the neighbors playing their music too loudly! I personally believe that traveling makes us more open-minded and more flexible, and we learn to appreciate our surroundings.

It's only when we step out of the known that we realize that the unknown is even more beautiful.

After growing up in the city of Calcutta, India, and choosing to stay for a year working in the tribal villages of Rajasthan, I was initially shocked to see the difference in the society and way of life. This helped me deeply learn the difficulties that people face in their daily lives. The entire year changed my perception. It exposed me to harsh truths that I had earlier missed out on by living a protected urban life.

If you could participate in a Go Discover Abroad program, where would you go and what would you do?

South Africa has been there on my checklist since forever, and if given a chance, I would choose to be a part of the Kruger & Volunteering Adventure Tour, covering South Africa and Swaziland. I have a fear of getting close to animals which I would like to work through. Therefore, being in Kruger and getting involved in a Conservation Tour would be a learning journey for me. And considering the fact that Swaziland isn't a popular tourist destination, I would love to explore the paths less traveled. And at the same time, I would love to be with the little ones, teaching them and playing with them.

Why do you think students (and individuals in different life stages) should consider a gap year?

Everyone deserves a break to focus on themselves and to pursue their passions.

For students, before they get wrapped up with their courses and before they step into the job sector, it is very important for them to understand what actually they want from life. Pursuing a career isn't just making money, one needs to be happy with whatever they choose to do. During the gap year, one gets to focus on their passion, devote time to polishing their skills, and gain a broader worldview that helps in shaping life for the better. It's necessary because we all need to slow down a bit, before we accelerate further.

Woman sitting with monks on ledge over view of mountains and rock formations

Trekking to Taktsang Monastery with the monks, in Bhutan

What qualities make for a perfect gap year participant?

Patience, open-mindedness, eagerness to learn something new, friendliness, and adaptability are a few qualities that would make one a good gap year traveler. I wouldn't essentially use the term 'perfect', because I believe no one can be perfect —it's perfection that we can all aim for!

Could you share some of your favorite/best travel advice?

To quote a line from my favorite book, Into The Wild, “I read somewhere... how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong, but to feel strong... to measure yourself at least once.”

Once you hit the road, no advice is fully relevant. Everything will be determined by your moves. Flap those imaginary wings, trust your gut feelings, feel the wind, and just fly; you'll soon find yourself doing things you never imagined you could do.

What do you hope to see in the future for Go Discover Abroad?

With every passing week, we are trying to incorporate something new, adding new journeys, molding itineraries, and trying to make the experiences unique for gap year travelers. In the coming months, I am hopeful to see more and more millennials joining us in exploring the faraway trails. Our team is working relentlessly to make GDA grow, and we are very excited!