Hit The Road
Opportunities for travel abound in college years
There are lots of excuses to travel. This is a fact that I have discovered over the past seven years that I have been traveling. I have made excuses to travel for school, weddings, jobs, for the sake of friendship and love, to see plays, attend film festivals and graduations.
The best excuse was to conduct research on my senior honors thesis, which took me to London four times to spend afternoons chatting with ethnic cabbies over Toblerone bars and endless cups of tea. It has earned the distinction of "best excuse" because those trips forced me to grow up, to refer to myself as a writer, and to complete a project that was the highlight of my university education.
It doesn't take knowing people in other parts of the world to find an excuse to travel. Opportunities are everywhere, particularly on college campuses and Web sites dedicated to students interested in travel. There are numerous programs for students to travel within the United States for summer programs ranging from filmmaking to writing to computer science. Department bulletin boards are the best places to find programs that focus on your field of interest. You might also take a trip to the study abroad office on campus, or if it's out of your way, e-mail the staff to ask if they know of any opportunities.
Internet searches are also a fantastic resource for digging up internships, classes, camps and programs that range from a couple of weeks to several months. The best thing about traveling for educational purposes is that you can never really lose because hey, even if it's a really terrible, gut-wrenching, awful experience, at least you will walk away with a story to tell. Those stories are typically a gateway to other opportunities, such as scholarship and graduate program essay topics, or interviews.
Of course, if you do find personal reasons to travel, don't deny them simply because everyone else looks at them as frivolities. Life lessons are as important in self-development as a formal education. This is not an excuse to miss class all the time, but if there are circumstances that necessitate travel, see if you can negotiate extra assignments or out-of-class work to make up for lost class time.
Finding an excuse to travel is the first step to allowing oneself to accept the possibility of adventure, as small or as large as it may be. As young people on a budget, traveling usually seems impossible because we are obligated to school, jobs, family and organizations, and also because most of us don't have endlessly deep bank accounts. However, educational programs often have scholarship backing or government funding that can be tapped for assistance.
Travel for personal reasons means setting a goal and budgeting in order to reach it, even if that means living on Cup o' Noodles for several months. Traveling will only become a reality when it is a main priority, but like all things worthwhile, it starts with a dream and the willpower to make it happen.
Next month: In search of air deals
Joy Uyeno travels frequently throughout the year, and her column geared toward young and beginning travelers appears the second Sunday each month in the Star-Bulletin Travel section.