Avoid the real world for now: Expand your horizons abroad

By Martha Spalding

Whenever I first meet someone, they always think I’m 17 years old. With my 21st birthday coming up in March, being told I resemble a high school student never pleases me. Yet, if I had the opportunity to travel back in time, I would agree in a heartbeat. It’s not that I particularly enjoyed high school, but I am scared of growing up.

In my freshman year of high school, I thought growing up quickly was the best idea I’d ever had. Now that I’m graduating college a semester early next year I’m having second thoughts. Instead of getting my undergraduate degree and then immediately enrolling in graduate school, I’ve decided to take at least six months to travel abroad.

Traveling abroad will not only allow me to further avoid my inevitable climb toward growing up and adulthood, but it will also enhance my resume. Showing graduate schools and potential employers that I have world experience will automatically give me an edge on the competition.

Trust me, I have had first-hand experience.

Before the thought of graduating college started making me queasy, I was dreading the thought of leaving high school. In order to quell this fear, my friend and I traveled for 2 1/2 weeks to England, France and Italy. It was great way for me to get my mind off of college that was looming just around the corner.

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Besides allowing me to forget about my troubles, traveling is fun and really opened my eyes. I was forced to communicate in countries where I did not know the language and interact with strangers every second of every day.

During those two weeks, I was usually frustrated about getting lost on the Metro in Paris or not being able to find a youth hostel with any vacancies in Verona, Italy. All of that anger quickly subsided when I saw the sun setting behind the Eiffel Tower or when I finally managed to order something off Italian menus that smelled edible.

Sure, traveling to a foreign country is hard work, but it all pays off in the end.

Even though I was fearful of life in college, it was much easier for me to cope with the change than I expected. Whenever I was faced with a difficult situation, like dealing with a roommate that I couldn’t stand, I would just think about what I did in London when I was stuck in a room with obnoxious foreign travelers.

Now that I will be leaving college soon, I plan to travel to Sweden by myself. Even though I’m familiar with the language this time, I want to learn more life skills that will assist me in graduate school.

I’m also planning on using my traveling experiences as a way to show my future employers that I know a little something about the world. I’m sure once they find out I can talk my out of getting arrested by the Italian police without actually knowing any Italian, they’ll hire me on the spot.