|Photo credit: huffpost.com|
When you arrive at college, you realize the world’s so much bigger than your hometown. And then you step into class or the student union and realize it’s even bigger than this. You’re surrounded by students from across the country and around the world, learning from professors and faculty that have seen and done more than you could imagine. You may start to wonder when (or how) you’ll get to see the national parks, state capitals, and international cities that textbooks detail and teachers bring alive in class discussions. College is the perfect time to travel domestically and internationally, expose yourself to different cultures, and have some of your own adventures. These opportunities are definitely in during your next four years. Here are some options to consider when thinking about traveling in college:
- Study Abroad- what could be better than spending three months in a foreign country, taking your typical college classes with a view of international cities outside your classroom window? Studying abroad allows you to explore and immerse yourself in another culture, learning its values and gaining a global perspective. Many colleges have programs in Europe and every other continent. Contact your school’s study abroad or external programs office to learn what options they offer and how to participate. In many cases, tuition and room and board remain the same whether you’re on campus or in another country. Extra costs come through travel fees set by the school to get you back and forth and any traveling you decide to do on your own (hello summer job!) Hint: if your school doesn’t have a program to your dream destination, there’s often an option of transferring to a different school’s program as long as you work it out with your college. (And if you need any other reasons to convince you to study abroad, this HuffPost article gives you six more!)
- Alternative Spring Break- while we all want (and deserve) a break after the agony that is midterms, volunteering your time through an alternative spring break program is a worthy and fulfilling reason to skip relaxing. Alternative spring breaks started in the 1970s at Georgetown University, though the term for the program was born at Vanderbilt University in the 1980s, according to The Washington Post. Spending the week rebuilding homes, teaching English, or working on conservation projects will give you a fresh perspective on issues you may have discussed in class and connect you with the people dealing and working to solve these problems every day. While these trips are hardly glamorous, participants leave gaining more knowledge about their world and developing a sense of community and understanding with the people they work with. Trips like these are usually funded through your school or through fundraising, so students typically pay a small fee (or no fee at all!). In many cases, it’s cheaper than buying a plane ticket home to see family, and an important and worthwhile cause to put the money towards! If your school doesn’t have a program in place, this list fromYahoo! provides several sites to help you start your journey.
- Volunteer Abroad-if you decide after an alternative spring break program that volunteering is your passion, spend your summer volunteering abroad! Plenty of opportunities exist outside of the U.S. to do similar projects in communities in South America, Africa, and Europe. They’ll provide you with insight into the lives of people around the world and may change the way you think. Read this USA Today piece by a college student of what he discovered while teaching in South Africa.