Seeing the World
Why don’t you just leave already?
Published: Monday, October 8, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 8, 2012 12:10
Dear readers, I hope you are all enjoying the flighty autumn weather way up there in North Dakota. As I type this, I am sitting at a sidewalk café on the sunny streets of Old San Juan, on the island of Puerto Rico, and enjoying the steady rays bathing the landscape in fuzzy warm light. And why am I skipping class and shirking responsibility for a weeklong escape to a tropical paradise, you ask? Why, for class, say I!
Yes, I am fortunate enough to be a student of landscape architecture here at NDSU, which allows me to take a field trip with my classmates each year of my study. Last year we spent a weekend in Chicago, this year it is a week in Puerto Rico. And while we do actually use our time to benefit our education and do a good bit of studying, we also have plenty of time to immerse ourselves in the local culture in a non-educational setting.
I know not everyone can be in a program that is so wonderful about promoting travel. And know, too, that your tuition and fees are not going towards my travels – our own course and program fees cover a portion of our travels, and we use personal money to cover the rest. And, knowing that it is quite possible for me to pay for a number of wonderful trips over the course of my college career, I have to say that it is entirely possible for every student to do the same.
Travelling is one of the greatest experiences you can have as not only a student, but a human being. Expanding your worldview to encompass as many cultures, landscapes, and peoples as possible can serve you in so many ways.
Travel does not have to be an elitist luxury. In fact, your college years may be the best opportunity you ever have to do extensive – or any – travelling, despite the fact that we essential have no money to our names. If you wait until you have a career and money to pay for your travel, there are many more responsibilities around to inhibit any travel aspirations you may have. A spouse, children, and – don’t forget – your big-kid job can all get in the way of travel dreams.
Besides, if you plan your trips wisely, and do not mind giving up a few creature comforts here and there, you can take some fabulous trips on a fairly small budget.
Setting up a savings plan is all it takes to get started travelling. Of course, you must have income in order to save money. It may be miserable having a job without a degree, but it is a sacrifice definitely worth making in order to save up money for travelling.
And if you want to make a more significant excursion, say a semester or summer program abroad, taking out a student loan to pay for it is totally justifiable. You will have a job in the future that can help you pay off those loans, and I think you may find that your experience abroad is worth far more than the monetary cost you pay. Not only will you have the time of your life, you will make new friends, forge new connections, create new memories, and – if you are lucky – maybe even grow as a person.
Finally, any amount of travel or foreign study looks fabulous on a resume. Employers love applicants who are open to working with diverse groups of people and have immersed themselves in various cultures.
My absolute favorite part of travel, however, has nothing to do with such tangibles. No, my wanderlust is born from something entirely untouchable: the thrill of going, of seeing, of doing and of being in a place I am completely new to. The sensation of stepping off a train or airplane in a new city and venturing forth into a society and landscape that I have never explored is unlike any other to be had the world over. The thrill of travel is to me what cocaine is to Charlie Sheen. I just can’t get enough.
Well, it’s getting a tad warmish sitting here in the sunshine. I think it’s time to wrap this column up, stash my computer back at the hostel, and stroll down to the beach for a quick swim. I’d ask you to join me, but, you know, you’re still back in “good ‘ol Fargo.” Shame. Adios!
Nathan is a senior studying landscape architecture. Follow him on twitter @nwstottler.