Why You Shouldn’t Travel After University
Should you travel after university? I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while. I’m glad I waited though, because I think about this topic in a different way now than when I first thought of writing about it, which was when I was in Melbourne – this was the reflective part of my travels.
After 16 months on the go, I was preparing to make the next move, choosing whether to continue traveling in Asia and India with a close friend, or invest my money in moving to New York.
Now I can rationalise my doubts and hopefully shed some light for anyone else thinking along the same lines about how choosing to travel straight after university will bring them the best opportunities right for them. The points which follow cover all the presumptions, worries and regrets which went through my mind towards the end of my time in Australia.
1. You can’t stay at home rent free to save money.
This is what the majority of graduates do, especially in Dublin. Once college finishes, they either find hospitality work or an entry-level job, and bunk at the parents’ gaff for a year – saving all their dolla. Smart move. The option was probably there for me to do the same at my gran’s house – I don’t know though, the idea never crossed my mind, in any shape or form, to stay on in Dublin after graduating. I absolutely adored my college experience there, but I had mega adventure plans.
Saving a ton of money by staying at home is the sensible thing to do, but requires patience, and in my case, resigning myself to misery for a golden year of my precious early twenties. I didn’t have any money saved at all – I took out a small loan to cover my month in Chiang Mai, and absolutely winged it in the months that followed. Read my travel diaries to find out how I managed!
2. You’ll miss the boat on your Masters degree.
Ok. This is something I’ve had a lot of time to think about. I’ve always believed in university and education. I wanted to go straight into a PhD in English literature after my undergraduate degree. I decided a “year off” would be beneficial, as “a break” from study. Turns out I was quite uneducated in many other aspects of the real world and adult life at that time. But the plan was to apply to go back to college the year after my travels.
Here I am two years later, and I’ve skipped yet another application season. If someone had told me when I was in my final year at college that that this would happen, I would have been just horrified. Many, many things have contributed to my decision not to jump straight into a graduate course, but the point is, it’s not a negative thing to get distracted or stray from your original academic goals and dreams.
Yes, travel impacted my delayed return to the education system, but only in the conventional sense. I still have every intention of doing a Masters degree, and I am embarking on a year of self-learning in 2018. But this reality is definitely something to keep in mind – not everyone is going to be rushing back to university after a year or two (or even a few months) of traveling the world. Often, for reasons which have nothing to do with not wanting to go back to the books. Because a reluctance to working hard in the library again certainly hasn’t been my reason for not starting my Masters yet. Read more about my thoughts in my post about whether you should go straight into graduate studies after your Bachelors.
3. Your world and stability will be blown to pieces.
Prepare to be the most unprepared of your life. You will fail. You will be put out of your comfort zone, constantly. Nothing will go to plan. You will find yourself at many times utterly helpless and confused, realising that all previous life lessons in fact taught you nothing, or at least left out some major details which would have been really useful when dealing with whatever mess your current travel bug has landed you in next.
Your confidence will be shattered and you will question who you are at every turn. And you’re not going to expect any of this before you step on that first plane. So if you want to stay in your comfort zone, if you don’t want to be challenged or have to deal with your inner demons (and even better – discover new ones!), then don’t travel after university.
4. You’ll have to leave your friend circle.
Whether you take off solo or with a buddy, traveling long term means leaving people behind. Yes, strong friendships will last, but most connections will drift, like anything in life. Even in the case of the strongest friendships – they won’t always be the same when you meet again. That being said, you’ll end up connecting with old acquaintances in unexpected ways later on.
The years following university graduation are when you realise you actually want (and need) to spend your time with people who share the same interests as you, and want to do the same activities.
5. You won’t be a regular anywhere anymore.
Remember the guys at the cafe who knew your order so well, that you barely had to ask for that triple shot coffee anymore when you sauntered into your local? That’s not gonna come again easily any time soon. Customer loyalty and regularity is earned. You won’t be sticking round anywhere long enough for your order to stick.
6. Routine? Bye bye!
Travel made me realise how extremely partial to routine, habit and ritual I am – and it took me a while to figure this out. I spent several months at each location exactly because of this partiality to routine, I realise now, because I subconsciously strove to establish one the minute I arrived anywhere. Though I would never use this as a reason to not travel, or to let it stand in the way of adventures and spontaneity, it’s something to keep in mind before jetting off. If stepping out of your routine is going to make you utterly miserable, there’s not good either. Something to be aware of!
7. If you like your comforts…
I had minimal amount of clothing with me while traveling. This doesn’t mean you’re always going to be wearing gross outfits, but when living in the humidity of Thailand, cycling everywhere everyday, you’re not going to look your prettiest. My apartment was $100 a month – I had to deal with the bathroom basics which that price supplied.
Not to say that it wasn’t clean. But life becomes simple, not luxurious. You travel light, because you cannot accumulate useless material objects which only merely spruce up your daily life. Sometimes you have to be prepared to rough it out as well. It’s not much fun otherwise, though!
8. You have a detailed career itinerary
If you have something lined up which is absolutely necessary to jump right into, something incredible, something which will bring you an abundance of opportunity and stand to you as a life-long investment, then obviously jetting off for a reckless tour of the world won’t be the best route to realising that plan.
Read my follow up post on why you should travel after university. Of course, there is no right or wrong path, everyone needs different things and different experiences at different times and stages of their lives – you just need to be aware of what you want to get out of your system in the current moment!