‘So where are you thinking of going to university?’
That is the first question posed to me at any family gathering this year. It’s also slightly different to the question which is really on my mind right now, that is, do I even want to go to university, or just spend a year travelling? You may have clicked on this article as you are faced with the same dilemma as me, here are my thoughts so far…
1. I want life experience, not work experience:
“Wanderlust: A strong desire or urge to wander or travel and explore the world.”
Scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest we are bombarded by images of different cities and sights all over the world. I can’t help but think “I want to go there, and there and then, there”. How am I going to have the time to fit all of this in?
If you’re anything like me, you’re naturally curious about different cultures. I want to learn about different religions and traditions. Just like Alice in Wonderland I am becoming “Curiouser and curiouser”. I want to experience festivals like Holi, I want to be educated on life and the world, something that appeals to me in a way that Law or Finance at University doesn’t. I want to learn through direct experiences and through meeting and talking to people.
2. Either way, it’s going to cost you.
So my basic understanding is that money is needed for everything. You’re going to need it whether you decide to travel or study after finishing school. The cost of travelling for a year while being ‘fairly comfortable’ can range from £7,700 to £14,000+ depending on the traveller.
There is no set cost for deciding to travel, but this shouldn’t put us off because deciding to study instead is still expensive!
Although the numbers for tuition fees and loans set by student finance appear rigid, they are still arguably just as vague as working out travelling costs. Both carry their expenses and provide different yet valuable outcomes. You just need to figure out which you value more.
3. Should I just delay university?
I actually really want to go to university. I want a degree and I enjoy studying. I’m an academic person and my plan has always been to go straight from school to uni and get my degree. But then why not defer, travel, and get my degree afterwards? That way I can enjoy travelling while I’m young and have no responsibilities, and still have uni lined up for when I’m back. Sounds like a great plan, right?
But I have heard stories of people who have taken that route and found it difficult ‘re-entering’ academic life. You go from being completely free to a strict study schedule and being stuck in lectures. There’s the risk of getting frustrated and dropping out before finishing the degree. So is it better to save traveling until after?
4. Jobs are necessary, but do I need one right now?
The basic structure of life is that when you’re a child you play. As a teen you study, and as an adult you work. You’re constantly asked as a child “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Maybe what they should also be asking is “Where do you want to go when you grow up?”
When I was 8 I wanted to be a bin-lady, at 10 a fashion designer, then a teacher, then a midwife. Now what I really want is to be Peter Pan and not grow up just yet. Yes, a job is necessary, but why are we pressured to get one straight away. Why shouldn’t it be expected of us to explore and gain a better understanding of the world first? Wouldn’t these experiences give us more perspective on life?
At the heart of it, I simply want to do the right thing. For my parents and society, but most importantly for myself.
So what is right for me? If you were waiting for the answer, I’m sorry, I don’t have one yet. At the end of the day, each of us, with all the facts in front of us, must make our own decision.
If you’re in the same conundrum as me then comment below as I’d love to hear what you’re thinking right now.