I dropped out of school to do what?
By Mackenzie Mason, Staff Writer
This year, like I’m sure it was for everyone, was a tough one. I entered — and finished — my third year of Journalism and Marketing at Mount Royal University from the quiet comfort of my room. I began my internship in the same setting, yet as restrictions eased and vaccination rates went up, I had to abruptly adapt to being expected to be somewhere else again every day at 9 a.m. after a year of isolation.
On top of that, my grandpa passed away recently and my boyfriend of three years and I broke up one month after moving in together, but that’s a story for another time… I sat idly by as I watched my soul slowly drain until I felt as though I was on autopilot, just trying to get through the next minute, hour, day and week.
So what did I do? I dropped my classes for the final year of my degree, and instead booked a one-way ticket to Athens, Greece.
A little crazy? Maybe. Exactly what I needed to do for my mental health? Definitely.
While many of you reading this might be on your way to your first class of the semester, I knew that finishing my degree wasn’t the right option for me right now, and I knew that that was okay. Everyone is on a different path, despite the pressure of graduating as early as you can to enter the workforce being everywhere we turn.
I’ve always wanted to travel the world. Although I’m only 21-years-old, I’ve had the opportunity to backpack through New Zealand and Australia and travel throughout Europe with Contiki. If it weren’t for the pandemic, I would have gone to India to film a documentary of the plastic crisis while continuing my travels afterwards through Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Japan. Needless to say, I’ve been fortunate not to get COVID-19, but I’ve always had the travel bug.
But Mackenzie, what’s your plan? Honestly, I don’t have one.
I’m backpacking through Europe for three months, which is something I’ve always wanted to do ever since my mom told me of her adventures when she did the same thing at the same age as me. I land in Athens at 8 p.m. on Sept. 7 and I’ll stay there and explore the city for a few days. The hostel I’m staying at has a rooftop bar with a perfect view of the Acropolis, so I’m hoping that will create an easy-going environment to get to know some people.
As a Mamma Mia fanatic, I have to go to Skopelos, the island that Mamma Mia was filmed on (yes, the one with the church at the top of an obscene amount of steps). From there, I can’t miss out on the amazing island hopping that Greece has to offer, so I’ll of course be checking out Ios, Mykonos, Paros and Oia. I’ve always felt like I belong near water (Calgary, Alberta not being the best for that) so I’m very excited to feel the ocean breeze in my hair as I catch the ferries from island to island eating all the moussaka and baklava I can fit in my belly.
From Greece, I’ll have an important decision to make, either going West towards Italy or North to Croatia. But I’ve kept my itinerary open in the hopes that I will meet some amazing people at the hostels I stay at and make some memories together.
I can’t deny that I’m going at an interesting time with the pandemic still affecting all our lives. I am prepared to run into issues passing through bordering countries, but I am also prepared to meet my kindred spirits — the people that would do anything to be travelling right now, just like me.
This trip is so necessary for me and my mental health, as I feel like I’ve never really known who I am as a solo female traveller. I’m excited to get to know myself and hopefully meet some amazing people along the way.
As you can expect, I’m doing this trip on a tight budget. So in the next few months, I’ll be writing on “what I spend in a day in a certain country or city”, “what I packed in my backpack as a solo female traveller for 3 months in Europe” and tons of more travel-related pieces!
If this seems like content you would be interested in, follow along my journey by reading the following issues of The Reflector, or follow me on Instagram @mackenzie.mason and TikTok @kenziejmason!
I hope you all have an amazing semester, and I’ll see you on the flip side (of the world, I mean).