Why U Really DO Needa Get Out More
Get Out of Town. Seriously.
By: Renyelle Jimenez, Colgate University
When’s the last time you went on a vacation? Traveled someplace new? Packed a bag for an overnight trip? If it’s been a long time since you’ve done any of these things or if you’ve NEVER done any of these things, it’s time we had a conversation about your next trip.
First of all, here’s why you should listen to me: Even though I’m writing about traveling and I’ve got more than 1 stamp on my passport, we’re a lot alike. I’m young. I’m a full time student. Aside from work-study at my university, I’m unemployed. I write all of this to say: I understand. I understand that moving to Hong Kong next week is probably impossible. I understand that gas isn’t as cheap as it used to be. I understand that getting a visa is not as straight forward as writing your biographical information on a form and mailing it to a consulate. While these are all things that do factor in our choices to stay where we are, they don’t have to keep us there forever. The bottom line is: you DO need to travel and you DO need to do it regularly. Luckily for you, I’m going to tell you why you should and how you can.
First, the why:
“I’m not interested in hiring the applicant who studied abroad in Shanghai”…said no employer ever. International experience will definitely give you a leg up in the job market after you graduate college. The ability to communicate effectively in international situations is always attractive in our globalized economy. Don’t believe me? Maybe you’ll believe the University of California, Mercer.
You’ll learn a language better by immersing yourself in it. I’m sure after 3 years of college Spanish, your grammar is solid, but what about your accent? What about your SMS shorthand? What better way to immerse yourself in Spanish than by studying at a Spanish university for a semester?
You’ll be a better person. I’ve never heard of anyone coming back from abroad and suddenly becoming a scrooge. If anything, quite the opposite happens. In addition to job skills, you’ll learn so many life skills after being abroad. You’ll learn to be patient with people who stop you on your way to an appointment asking for directions because you’ll remember that time you were hopelessly lost in Madrid and a random stranger was kind enough to give you helpful directions.
Now, for the how:
Save your money now. If you’re reading this, you probably aren’t an heir to a multi-billion dollar fortune so money is probably a large factor in your decision not to make that aforementioned move to Hong Kong. I get it. Between tuition, plane tickets, passports and visas, going abroad has a hefty price tag before you even get to the airport. This is why we make plans. If you know you want to go to Cape Town in September, you need to find an estimate of how much it costs and start saving money now. It won’t be cheap, but if you know what price tag you’re looking at a year in advance you can make a reasonable plan to get there. The great thing about plans is that if you decide later that you want to go someplace else, now you have a larger sum of savings that you can put toward another trip or for something else entirely. It’s a lot smarter than buying a one-way ticket and working it out when you get there!
Live like a local! Actually. Economies are different all over the world, but one thing is true everywhere I’ve been. Places that are popular for tourists may be beautiful and fun, but they’re always expensive. Expensive is not ideal when you’re a college student traveling on a budget. That’s why you have to do some research and find out what locals do. Find out where they eat and shop and go there. You’re likely to find better deals and meet people from that country.
You really don’t need a passport! I know I mentioned my own passport stamps, but passports are expensive. I know this because I had to use my own money to pay for my new one. It wasn’t cheap and getting it expedited did not come with a discount. I’m not asking you to break immigration laws, but I am telling you that domestic travel can be just as rewarding. If you live or go to school on the East Coast of the US, most other cities on the coast are within a half day’s drive. If you’re uninterested in driving, you can take the train or a bus and be in Boston or Washington D.C. in time for dinner at a restaurant you’ve never tried. Just because you packed a car or rode a bus to your destination doesn’t mean your trip wasn’t as valuable as celebrating New Year’s Eve in Tokyo.
You shouldn’t just listen to me though. There are lots of lessons that come from traveling abroad. So now that you’ve run out of excuses, what are you waiting for?! Get out of town!