(As originally published on The College Tourist )
Nothing is more exciting than the growing popularity of studying abroad.
Through various student-based travel companies and websites (College Tourist included), people are becoming more and more aware of the benefits that accompany studying in a new country. Young people are leaving their comfort zones, catapulting themselves into a foreign land, meeting people from all over the world, learning new languages, and tasting different cultures all while continuing their education. Everyone says studying abroad changed their perspective on life.
But the end of a college career shouldn’t be the end of international adventures. No one should look back on their semester or year abroad and mourn over the termination of the “best time of their life”. If anything, studying abroad should prepare college graduates to take their travel experiences to the next level, to travel for work or for leisure, to continue developing their world view.
Here are 5 perks that come with post-graduate travel.
1. More Flexibility
After college, the burden of having classes and exams no longer lingers over your head as you travel. If you fall in love with a certain city and decide to stay there longer than planned, that’s totally fine because you don’t have to be back on Monday at 8am for class. Post-college life gives you the freedom to go where you want, when you want, as long as you have the means to support yourself.
2.Travel To More Secluded Destinations
Europe, Australia, China, and other highly developed regions host the majority of study abroad students due to their advanced universities and well-known credibility. The education is outstanding in these areas, but it also gives students a slightly narrow-minded view of what the world actually looks like. After college, people can travel to any country they want regardless of the quality of their schools. The world is full of underdeveloped nations, uninhabited islands, and indigenous communities that don’t necessarily fit into the itineraries of a semester abroad. Continue your cultural education by exploring these lesser-known destinations and learning about their unique lifestyles.
3. Learn New Skills
Though it seems logical to look for a job based on your degree immediately after graduation, there are no rules forcing you to do so. This is the perfect time to try new things that have always intrigued you, such as learning to surf, learning a new language, volunteering at a charity, waitressing in a different country. You may discover skills or passions you never knew you had, and you may learn what things you’re terrible at. Either way, trying new things allows you to grow as a person, and every triumph or mistake will benefit you in some way.
Studying abroad blesses students with insights and knowledge into new cultures and ways of life, which inevitably broadens the mind and enhances curiosity. This newfound open-mindedness equips graduates with the perfect tools for exploring the world even further. With every new country you visit, you may find yourself surprised, inspired, confused, worried, and enlightened in some way. Walking into these situations with a positive and accepting attitude helps you understand and engage in a new culture, and this skill can really only be learned through experience, not textbooks.
5. International Connections
Living in a new country for a semester or a year is likely to leave students with lasting friendships from countless different places. Always keep in touch with friends you meet abroad, and never be afraid to reach out to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. International friends give you reasons to travel to visit their home countries, and local connections can always come in handy when visiting an unknown place.
Though studying abroad may seem like the best time of your life that can never be topped, don’t let that stop you from seeking out new cultural adventures. There are endless opportunities for traveling after college, whether it be for leisure, for volunteering, or for working abroad. Skyscanner is perfect for finding those last-minute, super cheap flights for a weekend trip, GoEuro has the perfect app to compare and book trains, buses and flights, Student Universe for flights and Airbnb or Hostelling International are perfect for finding affordable accommodation anywhere you go. Also, Workaway and Worldpackers provide easy work exchanges where you can save money and learn new skills abroad. NGOs and Charities often look for volunteers to help with humanitarian projects in underdeveloped places, and WWOOFing allows you to work on organic farms in different countries. If you truly desire to travel, put in the effort and you’ll find that studying abroad is only the first step in a lifetime of exploration.