The Modern Student and the World of Travel

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Travel. It’s such a romantic concept. It captures the imaginations of young and old students everywhere. It’s all about finding thyself, exploring, adventuring, seeing the sights and meeting new people. But how do we fit this into our increasingly busy lives? From study, to friendships, to partners, work experiences; the list of considerations is endless! Worry not student! *cape whistles in the wind* Together we shall unravel the mysteries of finding time to travel.

Recently, there’s been quite a storm on the internet about people who give it all up to go overseas. They save and save, then cast aside their worldly shackles of job, occupation and family to go travel the world, hopping from one country to the next, working odd jobs here and there to fuel their furious finding of self. C’est romantique! Particularly when you see the guy who canoes with his dog.

It’s definitely a challenge for the modern student. Some of us, if not all, have entered into university as a means to a high paying and/or fulfilling job after the years of gruelling study. So there’s no definite time for us to travel. In the summer we need to work to save money, just so we can live that little bit more comfortably during the semester. Meat and veg is always better than Mi Goreng. The winter might not offer enough time, and surely we can’t travel during the semester!

Can we have it all? Is a month enough? Two months? Three? We, of the globalised generation, have an insatiable desire to imbue ourselves into this wide world that we inhabit. To see the dusty roads of India, sip humid drinks on the Koh Phi Phi islands, or walk the history of Czech castles. Perhaps the greatest advantage we have as students is that travel is valued as life experience – even if you spend it in Bali, getting sloshed every night and chasing $5 handjobs.

Well, luckily there are means and methods all around if you look for it. I’ve found that the ANU United Nations Society does a great job of getting students out and around our corner of the globe to work hard, and play hard. Recently, they went to Kuala Lumpur – no small organisational feat – with the works: debates, plenary sessions, balls, social drinks and more. Other options include seeking international work experience and internships. Our staggeringly empowering privilege as an English-speaking nation opens doors far and wide, as we strut to and fro other nations. But of course, we must remain vigilant regarding cultural sensitivities and what seems to be our deafness to Western arrogance. Allow me to illustrate!

I was once on a bus in New Caledonia. An Australian man asked the bus driver if he spoke Italian, to which the driver replied that he spoke only French (oddly, in English). The Australian then insisted that Italian and French were “pretty much the same”. This is the type of image we should avoid as privileged, educated young students. Oh, and chasing $5 handjobs doesn’t look that great either, but I don’t judge!

All in all, there are so many opportunities for us to travel, but they all have strings attached like a financially-broken marionette doll. Still, dragging yourself from hostel to hostel and surviving scurvy and gout is what gives the greatest flavour in travelling, right?