Itchy feet, itchy feet!

I graduated a while back now…in fact I can hardly believe that it will have been two years this summer which is already more than half the time I spent studying in the first place! So what have I been doing during all of this intervening period of no ‘real job’ and ‘no studying’?  Well I spent six months doing something which I would recommend to anyone and everyone who is about to graduate; go travelling.

In the summer of 2009, we were in the height of recession and the future really was looking bleak for those of us about to enter the big, scary, real world.  For me, it presented the perfect opportunity; the chance to travel the world and see something outside my own horizons.  In the months leading up to graduation, it was becoming more and more apparent that things weren’t going to get better anytime soon and so the plan to take off was borne.

It took a while to get there and a great deal of work but by May 2010 I was ready to set off on my big adventure.  In order to get there I slaved away in retail working full time in a management team for a clothes shop and also in a supermarket.  On top of this, I took on two GCSE English students to help bring in some cash to live off of.  On an average week, I’d clock up 65 hours of working (plus at least another 8 travelling) but at the end of the tunnel, the brightest light was shining and I had no doubt that it would be worth it.

In hindsight, this hard work was part of the joy of the experience and has also added greatly to my CV; at least I show I’ve got stamina and dedication to achieve!  I am a bit of a workaholic but that is rather another story.

So finally, with enough money in the savings and flights all paid for, I was off on my trip of a lifetime.  My route went like this:

London – Los Angeles – Las Vegas – Fiji – New Zealand – Sydney – Singapore – Malaysia – Malaysian Borneo – Thailand – Cambodia – Vietnam – Hong Kong – Japan – Korea – China – India

Phew!  Writing it all down like that makes me feel tired just thinking about it.  So perhaps it is time that I got to the point of this post.

I could sit here and go on for hours about why I think that everyone should travel when they finish university.  But here is the general gist of why if you are umming and ahhing about what to do next, then this could be an option.

If you aren’t sure what you want to do with your life, travelling can buy you some time.  It gives you the opportunity to be free and to get to know yourself better and hopefully along that way you will discover something that you will love and want to turn into a career.

If you are scared about joining the ‘real world’, then again travelling will buy you some time and allow you to gain some different experiences.

Working beforehand in order to save up to go away, feels really good!  When you’ve got that little nest egg in the bank, you genuinely feel proud.  Personally, I think it was one of the best things I have ever managed to achieve and yeah I could have put a down-payment on a house…but this way I had much more fun!

If you choose to work while you travel, you will grow as a person as you have to experience everything from way beyond your natural comfort zone.  Especially if you choose to work in a country where English is not the main language…

…which leads me onto another point.  If you were to go out and volunteer (and I am not necessarily saying pay to go on one of those overpriced volunteering trip things…organise it yourself through a charity) then that will look great on your CV.

You will learn so much more than you ever thought possible.  You will learn about yourself, about other cultures, languages, people…I learnt more in six months travelling than I did in three years studying my degree.

It will change you…more than likely for the better.

And my advice not to do?

Don’t just go away and get drunk for your whole trip.  There is so much more to do than that.  If you are going to travel, ensure you have something worthwhile to discuss with a future employer.  Make the trip work towards your employability and don’t make it work against you.

As for me…I’ve well and truly got itchy feet.  Bring on the Euro Road Trip this summer!