In the realm of mental constructs, education is the king. Classic education gives us the tools to form abstract theories and mathematical axioms. However, the more something is abstract, the farther it is removed from our lived-in experience. Therefore, it is harder to grasp, and it requires a higher degree of mental discipline.
To ground ourselves in reality and learn something along the way, there is no better way of learning than traveling outside of your comfort zone. Suppose you are enthralled by a particular historical event but can’t quite form a coherent picture of it because you have never visited its native environment. Traveling and visiting historical sites deeply cuts into your memory, which otherwise would have been easily forgettable data points.
Mont Saint-Michel, France
There are many benefits to traveling as a student. Immersing yourself in the spirit of the present and past world will grant you many boons on your educational path.
Foreign Language Immersion
When you are in a foreign nation, you have no choice but to adapt to their ways quickly. It is true that most people now have some knowledge of the English language, but you will nonetheless have to tackle the language to maximize your experience. Duolingo app is a good way to start on the basics on your smartphone, and then apply it to everyday interactions with people in bars, cafes, theaters, grocery stores, stadiums, and student dorms.
Moreover, having to learn a foreign language while traveling is one of the fastest ways to master nuances, subtle intonations, and colloquialisms that you can’t find in textbooks.
You may think you know this from textbooks in history, sociology, and biology. Still, there is no substitute for understanding what this truly means when you encounter extreme differences in the real world. Moreover, you may rethink the popular notion that all people in all nations should mingle to such an extent that all cultures are erased, and only artificial corporate consumerism remains.
Therefore, it is important for traveling students to appreciate the diversity of cultures in their own original place and time instead of trying to import them or subvert them.
Linking Our Present With the Past
If you only learned from history textbooks, major historical events, and critical points of inflection become dry, boring, and irrelevant. Through our long-recorded history, there have been so many events that they all become similar and interchangeable if your only reference points come in the form of words and stock footages.
Visiting the ruins of glorious civilizations, museums, and old city cores, brings all of that dry data into life, forever branding itself into your brain. Moreover, you will often find that locals have a starkly opposing view of historical events to what you have read in a textbook. By interacting with them, you achieve the trifecta of your traveling as a student – learning language, culture, and history.
La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
Making Sense of the World
Traveling and exploring different regions of the world from the perspective of the locals makes it much easier to understand complex geopolitical situations and socioeconomic woes. By just comparing what you know from textbooks and what you experience gives you an important insight if you are willing to entertain it.
Can Students Travel Cheaply?
If you are struggling to meet ends meet, keep in mind that not having to pay rent in the US is still much cheaper than traveling abroad, which will almost always offer way better lodging rates. Moreover, if you have a laptop or a tablet, the student market is always looking to buy essay samples, so this could be a viable source of daily income.
However, the best way students can travel cheaply is to rely on institutional arrangements, whether they be private, governmental, domestic, or international organizations:
- Government departments provide cultural exchange student programs. With them, all the travel and subsistence costs will be covered.
- Applying for an English teaching position within foreign camps or schools, even if you are not fully credentialed to be an English teacher in your home country.
- Applying for travel grants, like the SPRET educational trust, UNESCO, and many others.
- Applying for the job of a tour guide.
- Studying abroad as a part of the ERASMUS exchange, or some other student exchange scheme that fully covers your cost of tuition and living expenses.
Outside of these institutional arrangements, you can always pool your resources with your friends, which makes everything much cheaper and safer as you travel abroad and encounter interesting people and places.
Lastly, before committing to a trip, please read up on specific countries you wish to visit. Some regions within countries are particularly volatile and dangerous to even the local populace, let alone inexperienced students.