Anyone else ever get the travel bug? It's hitting me something fierce recently. Collin and I have a pact that each year we will go on at least one trip. I'm ignoring the fact that we have already been on one trip this year and working on planning the next.
My travel bug started about ten years ago. I can't even tell you how I got the urge to study abroad but somehow I stumbled upon AIFS - American Institute for Foreign Study. I remember getting the brochure in the mail and looking at all the exotic and culture-filled destinations that they offered. I was leaning towards Spain as that was a good option financially but I secretly wanted to go to Rome, Italy. That was my dream. I told my parents and because I was blessed with wonderful parents they decided that Rome was it. I applied, booked my ticket, and headed off (by myself) to Rome, Italy at 16 years old.
Looking back that is crazy! I spent four weeks in a foreign country without anyone I knew and had to figure it out all on my own. Granted we did have a Resident Assistant and a 'house mother' if you will that tried to keep a group of teenagers at bay but mostly I was on my own. And it was amazing. Having that much faith in your child to send them off to Europe with a set amount of money, not speaking any Italian, and having to navigate a major European city must have been a bit daunting for my parents. But for me I honestly thought nothing of it. It came incredibly natural to me. People said I was mature for my age, and that may be true, but I truly think that experience helped me to grow more than anything else could have.
I hope our children today are given opportunities and encouraged to have experiences that ready them for the future. Now, as I do not have children yet I don't dare comment on certain things pertaining to parenting. But personally the opportunities that I was given allowed me to grow quickly and assume responsibilities that many young adults of today have yet to face. An article I read in TIME magazine suggests that "experience in other countries makes us more flexible, creative, and complex thinkers." And while not everyone has the means to have their children study abroad there are other opportunities that young adults can have that encourage independence, responsibility, and maturity.
How can we ready our young people for their futures? I am all about success for young adults. That is actually my job. I feel the urge to be open and honest with them. When they tell me something or ask my opinion I feel inclined to give them the best advice possible. I've mentioned in another post that I wish Americans would hop on the band wagon when it comes to gap years. This is an incredible opportunity that would mature our young people and gear them towards future success. This gap year not only would allow them time to mature but also perhaps figure out their next steps - college, job, life.
Traveling and mentoring young adults, that's what I love to do. Now, if only I could join those two together...
If you had the chance to study or live in another country would you? Where would it be?