As you sit in that high-school or college auditorium listening to the various commencement speeches, your mind drifts to a locale in the tropics, and you imagine interacting with the locals, even making life-long friends. Better yet, you are in the middle of a town surrounded by ice-capped mountains somewhere in Europe learning about the ancient civilizations that ruled that culture. Just as you are figuring out a way to get your passport and visa at the same time, thoughts of impending student debt payments or thoughts of furthering your education compounded by other life issues stop you from even considering post-graduate travel. Conversely, there are so many reasons why now is the time to travel.
First and foremost, even with the debt and other small financial dramas, traveling does not mean that you cannot earn a living to pay for some of these debts. For one, there are various exchange programs that will allow people to use their skill in a foreign land while remaining employed. So many opportunities to either work on a voluntary basis or not are available to students who want to work but also travel. One popular program, CIEE, allows teachers to learn a different language while immersing themselves in the culture in positions around the world. Teachers who participate in this program earn a small stipend while teaching students from countries in Central and South America and China. Post-graduates can also spend their first working experiences as digital nomads by working remotely. All you would need is an internet connection and a computer to work from home, but more importantly, all you would need is to find a position that would allow you to do this. The thing of import is that the experiences that are to be had as a result of traveling are priceless in comparison to the debts that you could pay off if you found a job while you travel.
For those worried about the time that it takes away from pursuing a degree, the global environment today is one that is both fluid and flexible enough that if one wanted to travel and earn a degree, they could do so in at least one of two ways. Traditional college programs have so many opportunities for students to travel as foreign exchange students while becoming immersed in another culture. Most colleges offer exchange programs that run for the semester, mostly in the summer, and they are usually offered through the department in which the person is earning their degree. The more modern approach to this problem, though, would be to enroll in online classes or in an online program while traveling extensively and completing coursework. Technically, you could plan to spend three or four years working full-time in one of your favorite locales, say Bali, and be a full-time accounting student enrolled at the University of Alabama (UAB), as UAB offers an online degree in accounting. You could take courses whenever you like, and more importantly, you could complete coursework at any time of the day or night.
Those graduates who have been overcome with the travel bug should consider traveling for three main reasons:
- You are young, and other than the few responsibilities that you have right now, you do not have the weight and responsibilities of having a family.
- Traveling opens up a variety of experiences and perspectives that might help you to develop by seeing the world from an alternative perspective. New cultures and populations have varying ways to respond to their environment, and by becoming a global nomad and interacting with another environment, even for a short time, you have the opportunity to see the world through a different lens.
- Traveling might open up employment opportunities in the future, whether it is turning a part-time job into overseas full-time employment or whether those jobs turn into opportunities for work at home.
Traveling is not an obstruction to future education or employment plans. Conversely, employment opportunities can only be enhanced by having the experience of overseas travel.
Ultimately, you do not have to discard any plans for travel because of the fear of delaying your future. Travel, and the experiences that one has from it, make facing tasks at home much better, whether the task is going to school or whether the task involves seeking employment. Furthermore, the rich, cultural experiences that one has abroad can be the schema or cultural palette that complements future responsibilities, whether they are family, education, or employment related.