It’s no surprise that us as Millennials and the upcoming Generation Z, aim to travel as much as possible. We’ve got wanderlust in our blood and will not only look at postcards of Paris but want to get there and smell the croissants and kiss by the Pont Neuf. But do we have to choose between getting a degree and travel?
During youth years, we want to learn a skill and craft a career for ourselves. The spring break and summer is sometimes all we get to take some time off before we go back to studying, hoping all those loans and long hours will pay off someday when we will be rich enough to cruise the whole Mediterranean Coast.
But instead of going to university for several years and then looking for a job, and then making enough money to fund your travels, there is a way to both study and travel at the same time. It comes down to the following points:
The best advice right out of the box is just don’t settle. Don’t take the easy way of giving into peer pressure or satisfying family wishes right away. There will be a time for traveling, a time for studying, and a time for enjoying the first cuddles with your little bundle of joy, even with just a few hours of sleep, trust me on this one.
The most important part is to map out your dream and find the ways to live it, no matter how impossible it seems at first. Nowadays, the job options available online, youth programs, and globalization are making borders irrelevant, and the only limitations are our own.
If you want to travel the world, but still dream about a college education and value your academic training, study abroad! This applies to both undergrad and graduate studies, so whichever point in life you’re in, it’s always an option.
Europe offers a wide range of universities, some dating back to the middle ages, like Oxford, Cambridge, Perugia, Coimbra and more. Living in such a place for a few years is a life-changing and eye-opening experience.
Although I truly enjoyed living in my hometown (Mexico City), my wanderlust was bigger than that and as soon as I graduated high school I went backpacking around Europe for the summer and then moved to London to study Media Arts (Film) at the University of the Arts.
Living in a completely new country satisfies every wanderer’s dream. Plus, travelling around Europe is very easy and affordable! Visiting your surroundings is as easy as jumping on the next train or booking a cheap 45-minute flight. It’s also sometimes free if you are not afraid to hitchhike.
Did you know that you could even study for free in some European countries? Nordic countries see education as a right, and so do Germany, France, and the Czech Republic. Not only do you get to skip student loans, but some of these universities give scholarships to help with accommodation fees, so you don’t have to get a job to support yourself right away.
Think about what you could learn, like a new language from natives, delve into foreign cultures and make life-long friends along the way. If this doesn’t sound enchanting, we don’t speak the same language.
Defer and take a Gap Year
Did you know that you can go through the college application process, be accepted, and not attend for a year? It’s called deferring your admission. Some colleges might deny your request to defer, but you can always try. I learned about this option, accidentally. I got accepted into my BA the second year after the “intro year” in my university, and I was told I could defer for a year.
If this works for you, take a gap year or semester to travel and then resume your studies.
How are you going to pay for everything?
Of course, you could be asking yourself how are you going to afford all of this? How will you even afford the plane tickets and the housing? If your parents don’t already have a college fund waiting for you, there is still hope, if you didn’t do any crazy spending with your credit card lately.
There are options like the Pave personal loans designed specifically for young borrowers with a limited credit history, but a huge desire to improve themselves. The only requirement is to be at least 18 years old and with a score of at least 660 (FICO or Vantage). The great thing is that the rate is fixed, so you don’t have to worry about variations, and the APR for higher scores is similar to credit card spending, but you have a maximum limit of $25,000.
Draw your budget, get your admission letter from a top university abroad and get some money to fund your trip. The great thing about this kind of loans is that they offer better rates to those people who intend to spend the money on personal development. Of course, traveling while studying fits the bill perfectly.
Is it worth it?
If you want to get a college education, you are looking at about $20,000-$25,000 of debt on your name anyway. However, if just a fraction of this amount comes with both the diploma and some unforgettable memories around the Old Continent it already sounds like a bargain. But hey, don’t just take my word for it, start small. You can take it one semester at a time.
Who knows, you might end up finding your soulmate during your travels, dropping out, and moving into his home country. (This is what I ended up doing! And 8 years later, still together.)
Now go follow your travel and education dreams.