Travel While You're Young.
Travel while you're young....
Apart from expanding your horizons and learning to look at your own culture in a different way, and the experience of opening your mind to new experiences (including sex and novel food), it's just a beautiful thing.
If you are in college right now getting your degree and you can afford to drop your chipotle habit, miss a few of the same douche bags at the same parties you have been going to for a couple of months, shopping, and experience something new and profound. Even if you are a vegan studying bio-mechanical engineering you can make it happen. Traveling and seeking the unknown is even more exciting than it sounds. Unless you do give a shit about life experiences and fun, in which case stop reading this right now and look forward to eating soup through a straw in an 800 dollar a night hotel in London at the age of 75 on your nonexistent pension.
Seriously, don't wait until you're a geriatric to have an 'adventure' at a chain hotel in Paris for 4 days eating overpriced tourist garbage as a 'senior ' citizen. Let's face it. That shit sucks, and you know it. Yeah, it might be a nice little escape if you're 70, but let's face it, going to Italy when you are 70 (assuming Venice isn't under water at that point and you're still alive) is about as adventurous as sitting at home eating 'authentic' pizza and watching a documentary about Rome. 'I can't just up and leave for Thailand right now! I have a career that AI robotics won't take over! I'll have to wait until my 'golden' years, or when I have a family and the kids are grown and'…No, you don't. Most of you really can do it right now. Even if you are a paraplegic you can make something happen. Maybe your genitals don't work, and that sucks, but it still can't stop you from seeing the world either.
For starters, America is expensive as shit and you don't get very much for it. Changing the way you think about money can get you to places you wouldn't normally imagine. Whether you are poor or rich or somewhere in between, you can push your boundaries
and find something awesome to do.
Probably the most adult freedom you will ever have comes around this time. Maybe after you graduate, or maybe if you are that person who wins the birth lottery and has enough family money to not have to work all the time might make you more free to go whatever you want puts you in that category as well, but the truth is that when you're mid thirties or younger you are the strongest and most resilient version of you that you will ever be, physically at least. If you are older than that, don't let that stop you either. Not to be to repetitive but you are still capable of a lot more than you think usually, and even 45 isn't old. That said, back to college.
Affiliate programs at University
If you're in school, chances are you can take advantage of some of the study abroad programs they have. I know it sounds obvious, but it is something to consider, and you may want to do something completely different or piggyback other experiences on top of a study abroad program you are already in or signed up for.
Where do you go?
Where do you want to you go is the obvious question, though there are a number of factors that will make your experience awesome
or maybe just mediocre. Basically you have to ask yourself a few questions, and do an honest self assessment of certain things. Also, you should realize that you are probably capable of way more than you think. I know it sounds cliché, but it's true. Yeah, there is that guy with ridiculous confidence who dies because he thought it would be awesome to (fill in the blank with naive thing here), but you don't have to be that guy. Common sense and practicality will get you a long way. I learned that when I moved to Mexico.
Why the 'Ugly American' really exists. Don't be that person.
In the midst of a crowded bar serving dirt cheap beer in Spain, my frat roommate and his 'boys' all grabbed their cups and all simultaneously raised them and screamed 'REAGAN!' Aside from the fact that they weren't even alive when he was president, it seemed odd. They could just as easily said 'BUSH!' Since in Spain that guy is legally a war criminal and generally just a jackass, screaming that while your hammered isn't going to get you that hook up with that exotic girl or guy you have your eye on. Furthermore, you might get the shit beat out of you in a country who's' laws you don't have any understanding of and ending up having a closer than anticipated relationship with your new roommate Jose. At best, everyone around you is going to dislike you and overcharge you even more for whatever it is you are buying. Having an open mind is not something Americans are famous for around the world, so if you just demonstrate a little bit of that along with honesty, you will find people attracted to you and your entire experience will change a thousand percent.
Other Languages.(I know you think you already speak some Spanish, that's not the point.)
(So you don't end up a cliché tourist and you can more fully appreciate the experiences and overcome doubt and fear, which builds character and might even get you laid with a sexy foreigner)
Learn some of the words of the other languages guys. Especially if you speak shitty English in the first place. It really will make your experiences and potential for interesting experiences grow like you wouldn't believe. It is definitely something you will want to consider, and which ones obviously depends on your interests, background, and abilities but there are core ones that you might want to focus on and certain ones that are extremely useful in a ridiculous number of countries and they aren't always what you would think.
One thing about traveling is that the best kind of traveling teaches the invaluable skill of self reliance and helps you grow and become wiser, and that usually comes through making a lot of mistakes. Mistakes can actually be fun given the right attitude. I know that sounds weird but it's true as long as you learn from them and you will become all the wiser for having made them. That isn't to say go start a pub fight in the U.K. because that would be awesome (it might be briefly glorious) and 'I will become wiser' kind of attitude, it just means expect to make a lot more the more you step outside of your comfort zone. If you want to stay more in your comfort zone there are ways to do that, but as the cliché goes the greater the risk the greater the reward and a lot of times what you will find is that what you thought was a huge risk really wasn't nearly as big of a deal as you thought it was.
Just so you know, they are everywhere. No one really knows why (Actually they are encouraged to travel by their schools, and in Holland they are paid.). But they are.
Don't listen to everything I say, obviously. These are just honest words from experience, and wisdom that comes from a decade of running around planet earth. Think for yourself and question everything about everything. That's how real personal growth and adventure happens. But finish your taco first, and then go for it. All the way.