Just 5 years ago I'd never left North America and the idea of travelling the world was just a dream. Now I've traveled around the globe to over 40 countries (across 6 continents) and I'd like to tell you why.
Do you know what you want to do for the rest of your life? Do you feel fully prepared for what's to come after university? Are you confident that you are going to choose a career path that will lead to a fulfilling life?
If you aren't able to answer "Yes" to these questions, then perhaps you're in a similar situation to where I was 5 years ago. I remember entering my final year of university and feeling fearful of what was to come after my degree. I had good grades, but I lacked any real world experience. I wasn't truly passionate about what I was studying and I was absolutely terrified that I was going to choose the wrong career path.
I found myself in a bit of a quarter-life crisis and for some reason I believed travel could be the solution. Looking back now, I am so grateful that I found the courage to take that leap of faith, to take my life abroad.
That year changed my life, so much so that I am now inspired to share what I believe to be the top 5 benefits of student travel and why I believe that all students should go abroad.
Gain clarity in all aspects of life
Travel gives us an opportunity to slow down, take a step back, and take an honest assessment of our lives. It allows us to let go of the expectations that have been imposed upon us (by society or our parents, and many more), so we can discover what's really important to us and what we truly want. On my first trip abroad, I realized that I wasn't passionate about studying to become an accountant, but I was studying it anyway because I'd been told by people in my life that it was a "good" job. Travelling helped me to realize that I needed to stop living for others and start living for myself.
You will learn so much more living abroad than from any textbook. You will gain real life skills through experience. Travel will force you to push your comfort zone and challenge your beliefs on a day to day basis. You'll be forced to meet new people and deal with unexpected situations. You will naturally start to become more confident, independent, open minded and accepting. Prior to ever traveling, I had very little confidence and completely lacked social skills. I was even voted shyest kid in high school in the grad yearbook. After a year abroad I came home and started my own successful company.
Gain different perspectives
Travel gives us a chance to meet new people, experience new cultures and gain a global perspective. It allows us to better understand how the seemingly insignificant decisions we make back home are affecting the rest of the world. Travel can also help us to appreciate the things that many of us may unknowingly take for granted each day. Living abroad completely shifted the view I have of the developing world and the people in it. I've come to learn that no matter where we're born, we all fundamentally want the same things. We want happiness. We want connection. We want love.
It looks great on a resume
In this globalized world, companies would much rather hire employees who have international experience. Students who take the opportunity to study or intern abroad put themselves ahead of the competition. Right out of university, I was selected to start a franchise with one of the top entrepreneurial development programs in North America and I did not get this position because of my degree or my grades. I got it because of the extra experiences that I'd taken on, which included world travel and a semester abroad.
Have the time of your life
And lets not forget that travel is a ton of fun. You will most certainly meet some incredible people and perhaps even make some life long friends. You will get the chance to experience some of the absolutely beautiful sights that this world has to offer and you will make memories that will be with you for the rest of your life. Life is short and tomorrow is never guaranteed, so enjoy life NOW.
Just do it
Back in university, I had so many reasons for why I shouldn't go. A semester abroad would delay my graduation. My parents were not exactly the most supportive. I didn't have the money. And to be honest, the idea of travelling alone in the developing world scared me.
However, I was afraid if I passed up on the opportunity that I may get stuck in a career and never get another chance again. So I did it. I took out my first student loan and delayed my graduation an entire year, for the opportunity to experience the world. This was one of the best decisions I've ever made.
I returned home with an entirely different outlook and I decided to take control of my life. With so many of my core beliefs shattered, my life direction was changed for ever. Now, 5 years later, I've built a successful company, travelled to 40 countries around the globe and I spend each day doing work that I find meaningful.