I know it’s only been seven months since Australians were banned from international travel, but I’m hoping that I’m not the only one who has already planned multiple future trips overseas. The current hiatus of international adventure leads me to reminisce about the good old days of $300 to Japan, and contemplate the trips I am yet to embark upon. To assist in my own and others’ trip planning, I’ve boiled down the types of university travel to a few staples; the group trip, ANU tours, and the danger trip.
The group trip is the simplest of the travel plans, mixing shoestring budgets with relatively new uni mates. Falling around the breaks in second or third year of uni, this trip centres on Europe or South East Asia, hostels, and copious amounts of beer. Always better in plan than execution, these trips can be the make or break for relatively new uni friendships. Travellers come back either stronger mates or no longer any mates at all. Unfortunately, the future of these trips is in doubt, with the late Tiger Airlines resting in its grave and the price of future travel only increasing as tourism stagnates.
ANU tours are the best mix of university and travel. With the university offering field courses and intensive language courses to countries like Jordan and Myanmar, what student wouldn’t want to HECS a holiday while taking home at least six course credit units. Having been on the intensive Arabic language trip to Jordan in 2018, I can’t recommend ANU overseas study more. However, there are some caveats. For a more independent spirit, ANU’s appropriate behaviour contract is a hard document to sign, and activities like bungee jumping or a brief trip to see the Syrian border are off limits. For the introverted, months of living with fellow students does begin to grind. Ever optimistic, Global Programs has opened applications for exchange in second semester 2021, but I’ll believe it when I see it, given that the Federal Government refuses to put a date on the reopening of international travel.
The danger trip is a must-do for the adventurous university traveller. Among the potentially perilous destinations are the populous and nuclear-armed Pakistan, the fan favourite North Korea, and Tajikistan, often called the ‘North Korea of the Stans’. Favourite features of a danger trip include an Australian Government ‘Do Not Travel’ status, higher risks of imprisonment, and a unique experience far from the usual Contiki Tour. Call it ironic, but there is a certain paradox to freely travelling to a dangerous state such as North Korea and voluntarily subjecting yourself to the state-enforced repressive social and political environment. Skipping the ethical considerations around visiting repressive states, the danger trip mixes youthful feelings of invincibility with the ability to see gems in these countries that only a handful of other travellers have seen.
If this doesn’t excite your inner traveller, then Australia also has much to offer. With a promised renaissance of internal travel in Australia once the state borders reopen, there is more than enough Australiana to go around. We simply may have to swap North Korea for Norfolk Island.
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