In our current economic climate, a college degree doesn’t guarantee employment. Many students, graduating with their vague knowledge of mass communications and extensive beer pong skills, believe that CEOs are just waiting to offer them a good job with a salary and benefits and potential for career advancement. We post-grads, with our shiny unused liberal arts degrees or USC’s master in public health degree, are just laughing. We post-grads are wishing we hadn’t spent the last five years seeking the dream job; instead, maybe we should have looked beyond the workforce.
It’s not a new concept; plenty of college students dream of traveling for a year after graduation. But for most, it’s just a dream. We are a culture of workaholics; it can’t be a good thing to put off the job-hunt in order to explore the world can it?
The short answer is: yes of course it’s a good thing! Here’s why.
- Life Experience is Always Valuable
Even if it doesn’t result in financial gain, travel enriches us as humans. The value of seeing new places, meeting new people, understanding different cultures this has a lasting impact on our spirits. In the same way that beauty and art and nature are valuable for their own sakes, travel is never a wasteful activity in the grand scheme of things.
- Travel Teaches Critical Thinking
Which bus are you supposed to take? Where is nearest hostel that doesn’t appear to be a horror movie set? We have exactly 20 pesos how much lunch can we buy for 20 pesos? Travel requires a kind of knowledge that isn’t always taught in schools. It requires instinct and intense question-asking and a particular kind of brash humility. You have to be okay with learning languages and customs that are unfamiliar to you; you have to juggle confusing money, strange food, and unexpected problems. You have to learn to roll with the punches and toss your agenda to the wind. In short: get out of your comfort zone.
- Travel Teaches Empathy
It’s impossible to be xenophobic when you’ve truly connected with people from a previously feared or misunderstood culture. Expand your knowledge of humanity, and you expand your level of empathy. And empathy prevents sociopathy. Everyone knows the world is better when we decrease the number of sociopaths.
- Travel is a Nice Addition to Any Resume
As I’ve already mentioned, college degrees are a dime a dozen these days. Education doesn’t necessarily sell a potential employer but experience does. And backpacking across Eastern Europe? That’s definitely an experience.
- Travel is FUN
In a world where high school students attend mad-expensive prep schools and stuff their brains with excessive extra credit and AP courses, the value and importance of slowing down is often lost. The joy of travel stands in sharp contrast to the 15+ years of schedules and book-learning that most college students have received. Travel reminds us that there is a world outside the university classroom and it is time to go discover it.