The best moments of my life have happened while travelling around the world. There’s something about being surrounded by clear blue waters, tall palm trees, soft white sand and foreign foods that is so tranquil. It’s an atmosphere I’ll never tire of.
As my university career comes to an end this April, I often wonder about the future. I’ve spent the last four years studying journalism and have thoroughly enjoyed it. I remember my first few weeks as a first-year student. I was 19, young and naive.
Looking back, I can say that my 19-year-old self, who thought she knew it all, knew very little about herself and her surroundings. These last four years in university have expanded my knowledge of not only the journalism industry, but also the wider world.
I’m passionate about journalism and travelling, so I began experimenting with both in my first year of university. My very first time on a plane was to Cancun, Mexico, for spring break. When my friends and I weren’t partying, we were admiring Mexico’s beauty. I was mesmerized by our ocean-view suite, which overlooked the beautiful Caribbean Sea. My first travelling experience surpassed all of my expectations.
When I got back to Toronto, it was freezing and I wasn’t happy to be home. I looked at my vacation pictures daily for two weeks straight. I felt like I was suffering from travel withdrawal and all I could think about was where I’d venture off to next.
After being home for only three months, I decided to book a trip to Varadero, Cuba, for early June of that same year. I knew I had been infected with the travel bug.
In the last four years, I’ve been to 10 cities in five countries. For the amount of money I’ve spent on trips, I could have paid off my student debt, but every trip was an experience that was well worth it. My university career just wouldn’t have been the same without them.
My love for travel has been a cause for stress as I near graduation. For a long time, I’ve known that I wanted to travel as soon as I finished school.
Travelling isn’t only about fun; it’s also about broadening my knowledge of different cultures, customs, languages and most importantly, learning about myself.
The predicament I’m currently facing is to choose between my two passions. I have an internship lined up for this spring, and I know I need to be open to the possibility of getting hired. This, of course, would be a great opportunity to begin my career and start making money to save for my future.
I know a lot of students are facing this dilemma of what to do when they graduate. We are all trying to decide if we should pursue further education, get a full-time job, or take some time off to travel.
As undergrads about to enter the real world, we’re constantly pressured by our educators, the media, our parents and even our friends to get a full-time job and make a name for ourselves.
At 22, I feel somewhat ready to enter the work force, but there’s still so much I want to learn about myself and the world around me. That’s why I want to travel as much as I can before I begin my career.
I travelled to Italy two summers ago and I realized how different life is for people across the world.
After visiting Rome, Florence and Venice, I stayed a week with my best friend’s grandparents in a small city just outside of Bologna. Their laid-back lifestyle is very different than the fast-paced one we tend to live in Toronto. People are working to live. They work only if they need to, and the rest of their time is devoted to family, relaxing and, of course, eating.
In North America, we live to work. We’re so consumed by the message to constantly work and make a better life for ourselves, but we rarely stop and realize that these are, in fact, the best days of our lives. We should be enjoying them, taking chances, doing the unexpected and making mistakes. If not now, then when?
I don’t want to be that person going through a mid-life crisis at 30 and feeling regret for the things I wished I’d done at 22. There is a time and place for everything in life, and this is the age to experiment.
After years of being a student, I think we all deserve a long vacation.
This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on February 12, 2014.