The late Maya Angelou once said, Stepping onto a brand-new path is difficult, but no more difficult than remaining in a situation, which is not nurturing to the whole woman. Though I do not believe I am starting a new beginning in order to escape a previous negative situation, I do agree forging a new path is challenging. Of course it is. However, it can also be incredibly rewarding. Wasn’t it Christopher Columbus who said:
You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.
In less than two weeks, I will be starting my journey as a graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in social work. I am very excited, and the bookish side of me is squealing over the social work textbooks I bought a week ago. Truthfully, I’m having to fight the urge to start devouring each chapter. However, I’ve been through enough school to know I’ll have plenty of time to read my textbooks over the next 13 weeks. As a matter of fact, I better soak up these last two weeks of blissful “summer vacation” before graduate school takes over my life.
When I graduated from college a few months ago with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, many of my friends gave me a dazed, yet terrified look when I asked them if they had plans following graduation. In response, they either shrugged their shoulders, mentioned travel or said something along the lines of, Get a job, I guess. That being said, I know as much as anyone how scary it is to imagine graduating from college and not knowing what to do next. Halfway through my junior year of college, I realized I’d have to go to graduate school if I planned to do anything within the field of psychology (or even a similar field). Therefore, the choice of going to graduate school was essentially a no-brainer for me. Although, I do know it’s not that easy of a decision for most people.
Additionally, I can also understand the desire to travel following graduation. After all, these are the prime traveling years, right? We might as well get out and see the world while we have the time…and before we take on all those adult responsibilities like paying bills and working full-time. Though I’ve always loved to travel, it wasn’t until I left the comfort of the United States that I started to develop a deeper appreciation for other cultures and areas of the world. The first time I traveled out of the country (January 2010), I was a senior in high school, and I went to Peru with a group of my schoolmates for 12 days. Over the course of those 12 days, I learned more about poverty than I ever could grasp from reading a textbook. I also visited Machu Picchu, one of the seven wonders of the world,ate alpaca for the first time (and loved it!), and saw an incredible sunset over the Pacific Ocean.
Though the Peru trip was phenomenal, I wasn’t home very long before the itch to travel started up again. In June of 2012, I studied abroad in Ireland for five weeks. Ever since seeing the movie P.S. I Love You, it had been my dream to visit Ireland. Therefore, when I realized I had the chance to not only visit Ireland but to study there for four weeks, I took up the opportunity as fast as I could. Even now, two years later, I can honestly say it was the best decision I’ve ever made and the trip of a lifetime.
Since I chose to go study abroad in Ireland without knowing anyone else who was going, I made a big leap before even setting foot in Ireland. However, I wouldn’t have done a single thing differently. Not knowing anyone before leaving was a big test for my introverted personality, but I needed that push. I needed that push to do something that scared me. Because you know what I learned? I learned that traveling “alone” is the greatest way to soak up everything, but it’s also a chance to have an experience that’s solely for you. It’s not the experience your parents would want or even the one some of your friends might have had when they studied abroad. It’s yours, and it’s happily filled with as many used bookstores and ice cream parlors you can find.
We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.-Anais Nin
So yes, by all means, travel. Travel your little heart out. I’ve done that, and I hope to travel a lot more in the future. However, for now, graduate school has my heart…and probably my soul…for the next two years. I’m fine with it, though. I’ll be getting an education in the field I want to enter, and I’ll be gaining first-hand experience as well. It’s not quite as enjoyable as traveling, I’ll admit, but I’m determined to make it a really great two years.
~Til tomorrow, friends.