Reflecting back on my time as a student at Ball State, one of the most eye-opening experiences I’ve had so far was, undoubtedly, the photography internship I completed in New York City over the summer.
My internship was only two months, but being away from my friends and family and living in the city was a huge leap for me. New York City is nothing like Muncie, so adapting was a challenge.
It also wasn’t cheap; however, the cultural awareness and independence I gained through the experience was priceless.
After getting back to Indiana and quickly readjusting to my final year of college, I realized something: my dreams of traveling could become a reality. New York was just a teaser to the opportunities that awaited me after graduation.
I sat down one afternoon to come up with a pros and cons list of being well traveled. I started off with the cons.
A lack of money was my first concern. Paying off college is not an instant process. As a senior, this is just the beginning of a continually empty wallet.
Although there are ways to travel more affordably, the cost of traveling is not a cheap hobby when you consider food, lodging, and gas. Plus, who travels without collecting a few souvenirs along the way?
The amount of planning travel entails, the length of the trip and the effect it can have on relationships over time were a few other disadvantages I came across.
Also, planning is not always a smooth process and traveling far away usually requires a decent amount of time to fully immerse yourself in a new place. This means figuring out how to plan a trip around work or a class schedule.
Luckily, I didn’t have to worry about structuring my internship around classes. My main focus was to be an intern and to enjoy the city.
Although the time I traveled didn’t create any issues, staying close with loved ones posed a new challenge for me.
Traveling forces you to learn how to cope without your loved ones.
I did OK on my own, but when a decent length of time passed with little communication, naturally I wanted to fill my loved ones in on my adventures.
Being in a massive city with so much life and culture gave me a lot to say when it came time to call friends and family. Phone calls left me exhausted every time I recapped my adventures. Thank goodness for photography for allowing me to keep everyone in the loop.
When I ran out of cons, I moved on to listing the benefits of traveling. It wasn’t long before I realized the pros outweighed the cons.
Traveling at a young age opens your eyes by showing you why others think, act, and dress the way they do. This broadened understanding lessens ignorance, allows us to accept others and even helps build leadership skills.
A study conducted by Brightspark Travel, a leading U.S. based educational tour operator, found that “key leadership traits developed through travel, including independent thinking, an appreciation for cultural diversity, risk-taking and confidence, gives young people a competitive advantage over their peers, especially when it comes to realizing success in their adult lives.”
Experiencing incredible scenic views also makes traveling worthwhile. Growing up in central Indiana, I realized I missed out on seeing the world. And each opportunity I’ve had to leave my home roots since, has allowed me to grow more culturally aware and independent.
If I had never interned in New York City, then I would have been more anxious for life after college. With less direction and experience, I would have second-guessed my ability to adapt in a culture and place so different from my own.
No matter what age you are, growth through travel is inevitable.
If you stress about the cons, you may convince yourself to put off traveling or to avoid it altogether. Instead, try considering how much there is to gain from stepping foot onto foreign soil.
Don’t let a few cons be the deciding factor of never unleashing the wanderlust from within.