Travelling as a student is just as important as in-class learning for personal growth

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What is the most expensive thing you can do? Go to school. Right? Wrong. The most expensive thing you can do is to not travel.

I just got back to Canada after two weeks of travelling to different parts of the world.

My first week away was with one of my best friends to Europe for our grad trip. We went to Sheffield, Scotland, and London for 7 days.

My second trip was chaperoning my FIRST Robotics team to St. Louis, Missouri for Robotics World Championships.

Courtesy Rameesha Qazi

It was my first time going to Great Britain (in living memory, having been many times as a child) and my sixth time going to St. Louis. Although I am exhausted, sick, and stressed out (because that is my natural state of being), I would not have changed anything that I did in the last two weeks for any reason because I have realized that this is the only kind of lifestyle I want. One where I can jet-set all over the world at a moments notice (I did not decide to go to St. Louis until my time in London was almost over – might be why I am currently stressed).

Why should you travel at this stage of your life? First, because you don’t have any serious obligations holding you back: mortgages, kids, or real jobs (not saying that if you do you can’t benefit or should not travel – it will just be harder). Don’t drop out of school but take advantage of having the option to study, volunteer, or co-op abroad – or spend your breaks away.

Next, there is so much to learn – and textbooks can’t teach you what you can learn by immersing yourself into a different community or culture. You will learn how to be independent. You could learn a new language and be able to apply it, and you can understand the different conditions that make the human condition so different in different parts of the world. This will also teach you some cultural sensitivity.

You will be forced out of your comfort zone by trying new food, taking on new experiences, and meeting new people. When you move out of your comfort zone your life will really begin. You will build your confidence. Trust me once you figure out how to use public transit in a different country or order food in a different language at a restaurant and got what you wanted – you will feel like you can do anything.

You will learn about yourself. Most people grow up traveling in relative comfort with their families. But once you start travelling on your own, you may not be able to afford the best hotels or flights but once you have experienced student travel you’ll see that its not anywhere near as bad as people make it out to be.

You will be stress free. There are student discounts you can currently take advantage of. You can do things you would not be able to do in your home country.

Yes, it is expensive. But if you can plan for it and follow the overabundance of overlapping advice out there about how to have an effective and well-planned trip the cost is worth it.

Take every travel opportunity you can get your hands on. Be it a grad trip, a volunteering trip, or a vacation with friends. It doesn’t even have to be in a far away land – explore the country that you live in before boarding a plane and see what is out there for you to see in ways that are more affordable.

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