The question, ”What’s next?” always pops up when thinking about life after graduation. There are so many possibilities, but deciding where to start is the hardest part. After spending the majority of a lifetime in school, trying figure out what to do for the rest of a life is an overwhelming process. Locking down a career is usually the first thing students plan on doing post-graduation. Paying off student debts, buying a house and other responsibilities come with a cost. However, there are other options before settling down with a lifetime career.
Traveling after college is a great opportunity to go out and experience the world first hand. Planning to travel abroad can be intimidating. There are many sources online that can help students find opportunities to travel after graduation such as TransitionsAbroad.com. Morgan Brown, an elementary education major at UAA, studied at Semester at Sea through the education abroad program at UAA for college credit. Though this program was through UAA, Brown plans to do a similar abroad program in the future and advises others to do the same.
“I absolutely want to travel after I graduate, there’s nothing else I find more important in this world than immersing myself in it,” Brown said. “If you are about to graduate and you are considering traveling, do it, at least research places and programs, I promise one will pull you in.”
Traveling abroad differs from the study abroad program with opportunities that don’t include homework. Shannon McLaughlin, hospitality and restaurant management major, has done the study abroad program through UAA and is looking forward to traveling after graduation.
“Since I am so close to graduating, I don’t think I will be doing any more study abroad programs, but I am wanting to travel and live abroad as much as I can, which of course is similar to study abroad without the homework, tests and grades.”
Many think of a vacation when the topic of traveling abroad is brought up. Leslie Tuovinen, education abroad coordinator in the Office of International and Intercultural Affairs at UAA, explains how this is not the case.
“Participants in quality study abroad programs, such as those in UAA’s portfolio, upon thoughtful reflection, might mention gains such as a broader perspective and awareness, a deeper appreciation of where they come from and what they have, deeper self-knowledge and maturity, cross-cultural sensitivity, the ability to deal with ambiguity, increased employability and/or competitiveness for graduate school,” Tuovinen said.
In today’s society, it is easy to get stuck in a job that leaves no time for traveling. While it is important to take on new job opportunities, it is also important to take on life opportunities, which includes traveling.
“For people graduating and deciding to step into a lifelong career, as someone who has traveled before making a huge like that, I would suggest to travel first, once a person is committed to a career, they tend to let it become the priority of their life,” Brown said. “One thing most Americans will never understand until they travel abroad is that those other places in the world actually exists.”
Before settling into lifelong commitments after graduation, there might not be a chance to get out and explore until your future kids are all grown up and out of the house.
“I know it’s not everyone’s ‘cup of tea’ to just go and travel the world,” McLaughlin said. “Some people are more than content to just stay in one place their whole life, but for the rest of you, remember that you have your entire life to settle down, get a career, get a house, get married and have kids, now is the time to do something for yourself, take risks, and go explore the world.”
When considering traveling abroad, remember to do a fair amount of research on programs, especially before giving credit or debit card information.
“It is critically important that individuals looking into programs abroad for after graduation vet them very carefully. Know who you are dealing with and where your money is going,” Tuovinen said. “What is promised is not always what is delivered. sometimes you are applying to and paying one organization and getting passed off to another.”
Traveling after graduation does not entirely mean go out of the country for years at a time, a week vacation can be adventurous to some. For those planning on moving out of Alaska after graduation, taking a road trip through Canada to reach the lower 48 instead of taking a plane can be a fulfilling journey.
Traveling may sound like taking a vacation or just stalling until getting a job, but why not celebrate the hard-earned graduation with a trip? It can be a two-week vacation or a two-year expedition, both gaining experience of an unfamiliar place. There is much that can be learned just by stepping out the front door and into a new territory.