Jessie Voigts from Wandering Educators is a traveling teacher who is strongly invested in imparting the value of travel to students around the world. Today, she discusses the value of student travel from an adult’s perspective – why it’s important and what you can gain.
Why Travel in College?
You’re busy with classes, extracurricular activities, sports, culture, friends, and maybe a job. Who has time to travel? And why are international experiences so important?
While you’re in college, you have many options for gaining valuable international experience. You could study abroad, and gain credit toward your degree. You could volunteer abroad, work or intern abroad, or travel. All of these options are extremely valuable, and will change your life.
How does travel, especially international travel, affect your future? Studies have shown that students who have studied abroad are more valuable to employers. That’s right – employers are looking for employees that can function in the global marketplace. They want skills that you can only gain from international experience – knowledge of difference, personal growth and more maturity, intellectual skills, intercultural understanding, language skills, and the ability to problem solve and thrive in various environments. It’s amazing, what a few trips, or a few months to a year abroad can do for your economic future.
It is well known that the more global your worldview, the more empathetic you are – and the richer your life is. You’ll have a richer understanding of life around the world – which, in turn, increases your respect for and valuable interaction with others. Your knowledge of cultural diversity will lend itself to both daily life, and to your future in terms of where you will live, where you will work, and who you work with. The economy is now global – your coworkers will likely be international.
And what about the personal? How can you bear to leave your friends for a weekend, week, summer? Well, you’ll gain new friends, of course, on your journeys. But your friends at home will also be there for you, from communicating via skype to rooting for you on your adventures. You’ll inspire others to get out and explore the world, too. You’ll also discover new interests – new foods, literature, arts, music, and culture. You might find a best friend, or your most favorite places in the world (Paris, Scotland, Tokyo, I’m looking at you!). You could discover a great new bookstore, art museum, or concert venue. You might find a new cuisine, restaurant, shop, or hobby. The world will expand, once you open those doors.
I recently asked my students to write about why international experiences are important. Their assignments were as you’d expect – full of the goodness of diversity, global experience, and learning about other cultures. One of my students wrote about Why you should hate travel, which I just love. It’s a tongue-in-cheek look at worldviews, and ways of being. It’s also a strong message about the importance of getting out and exploring the world, firsthand.
Why do YOU think you should have international experiences? How will they change your life?