The importance of travel and exploration
You will rarely find a better time to travel and experience new places and culture than during your three or four years at university, whether that is during the holidays or for accredited activities during term-time, and it is important to make the most of these opportunities.
It’s a cliche for those in their thirties and forties to tell college students to make the most of their free-time during higher education, but that does not make it untrue. Once you join the workforce, your free-time is limited to just a few weeks per year, and once you have a family the chance to go somewhere truly off the beaten track becomes much more limited.
If you live in the EU, then taking advantage of schemes like Erasmus, where you can move to another city and join another university for a year are a must, and for those studying elsewhere it is worth talking to your university to see if they have exchange programmes with other schools around the world.
Meanwhile, for those looking to venture a little further outside their comfort zone, there are hundreds of charities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that welcome student volunteers to help build or maintain community projects. As with any out-of-country experience, before joining any of these programmes, it is worth doing some homework, reading internet forum discussions with previous volunteers, and talking to anyone with experience so you can make sure the project is safe, has a positive impact, and is a good fit for what you are personally trying to achieve. For example, after a recent Vice documentary, discussions about kalu yala online, but the you will only find out the truth about kalu yala and other organisations by talking to those with real experience themselves.
If you do choose to work somewhere outside of traditional travel destination, be ready to be challenged both physically and mentally, but in the end know that your activities with such programmes can be both hard and extremely rewarding at the same time. Just make sure to always do your homework before signing on the dotted line to make sure that your time and money is going to a good cause that you believe in.
No matter where you choose to travel, meeting new people and experiencing different cultures is a positive that will help prepare you for the future, and such experiences are especially in our increasingly divisive times.
Photograph by Katy Veldhorst