Yesterday, an article titled 6 Lessons Travel Teaches You That College Never Will was floating around the web. Several of my friends shared it on numerous social networks, and I read it as soon as I saw the title. As a travel addict, I of course loved & agreed with every single word. I agree that college is forced on so many that aren't interested, and travel is barely offered as an option to most. I'm a huge advocate for traveling, and have never understood why a 'Gap Year' was such a faux pas in the United States (when it's so common in the rest of the world). My semester in London changed my life FOREVER, in ways I struggle to put into words when asked about it. This article didn't only make sense to me, it explained a part of my soul in a way.
However, the more I thought about it throughout the day, I realized that there are definitely two sides to this story. Two sides I've experienced personally and simultaneously: travel & college.
I attended college in the traditional sense; I started the Fall following my high school graduation, I completed it in four years, lived in a dorm (for a time), had a full coarse load, participated in campus events, ate terrible food from the cafeteria, joined clubs & organizations, was completely broke most of the time, pulled all nighters and made life long friends. I also learned about true community, hard work, and a lot about being an adult. I wouldn't trade my four years for anything.
I spent a semester abroad in London, and during that time, I traveled to 10 different countries throughout Europe and Africa. I returned to London the following year to live & work in the city. I've continued to travel the United States & visit Europe. I'm constantly searching for the next adventure and love everything this big beautiful world has to offer. I truly get sad thinking about how many wonderful places there are in the world, and that' I'll never have enough time to see them all. The best four years of my life were extended to five, when I was able to have all these incredible experiences. I can't imagine my life without this time... both as a tourist and a resident of a different corner of the earth.
There are so many things that a college experience teaches you that travel can't. I could say that farming teaches you things you'd never learn as an investment banker, and vice versa. But is that the point? Not everyone needs to know how to milk a cow or play the stock market. We all have passions, gifts and strengths that can be developed in many different ways.
The truth is, it's not travel vs. college. You can have BOTH. You can have neither. I think both sides are worth exploring, and both can offer amazing experiences, unique to themselves. All experiences & paths in life are different and can be equally incredible and beautiful.
There's no magic formula. Everyone is different. Learn about yourself and decide what's important, interesting, and turns you into the person you want to be (both personally & professionally). Don't go to college if you truly don't think you want to. You have to decide what you want and make it happen, whatever that that might be.
Don't let money discourage you from travel or college. If they are important to you, find a way to make them happen. They aren't enemies, I think they go hand in hand quite well.
I know plenty of college graduates that are struggling financially and in their career. College does not guarantee you a job, it just provides you with extra knowledge and experience. In the same thought, I know plenty of people who have traveled and are still intolerant, closed minded, and devoid of culture.
Stamps in your passport & a framed degree have this in common: they are only proof of the experience. It's truly up to you to learn about life, culture, community, yourself, others, how to contribute to society, how to love, budget, make hard decisions and who you are going to be.
Like I said, I loved this article and everything it highlighted! I just happen to think life is more à la carte than prix fixe, don't you?
Did you go to college? Travel? Neither? Both?