Education broadens the mind. So does travel. It’s tough to have to choose between them – but do you really need to? Increasingly, people are finding ways to study while they travel, with modern technology making it increasingly easy to do. Could it be the answer for you?
Take a gap year
The traditional approach to mingling traveling and education is to take a gap year. Though this is no longer as fashionable as it was, due to the availability of other options, it still has a strong appeal for some people. If it’s done between school and college it can help wear off those rough edges and teach you the self-discipline you need to make the most of your educational opportunities. The problem is that if you find yourself bitten by the travel bug, you’ll be itching to hit the road again, which can be a distraction when you have a lot of studying to do.
Online courses give you the option of learning while you’re on the road, but it’s important to choose wisely if you want to gain qualifications that are worth something to employers. If you read about Bryant and Stratton College you’ll learn that they’ve been around for a long time and already have a well established reputation. Bryant and Stratton also run traditional courses alongside their online ones, giving you the option of undertaking part of your study in the traditional way and part of it while traveling.
Take modules abroad
If you’re visiting places with respected learning institutions of their own, it’s worth looking into the option of studying modules there. This means staying in one place for a semester, and it may mean you have to study in a foreign language (although quite a number of world cities have English language courses available), but it makes it possible for you to get to know a place well, make friends there and connect with the local culture. It can also give you a broader perspective on your chosen subject than you would get by studying in just one place.
If you’re studying a foreign language, spending some time in a country where it’s widely spoken has obvious advantages. A similar approach can sometimes be taken to different subject areas. For instance, if you’re studying politics then a trip to Brussels and The Hague offers you the opportunity to see important world institutions in action. If you’re studying physics, a visit to Switzerland could give you the chance to visit CERN, while astronomy students could benefit from visiting Chile’s Atacama Desert, which offers clearer views of the night sky than anywhere else on Earth.
Plan your travels
Wherever you’re going, you’ll need to be organized if you’re traveling at the same time as you study. Make sure you know in advance when important tests or assessments are going to be so that you can make sure you’ll be somewhere with a good internet connection and the peace and quiet you need to study. Remember that while reading on transport is ideal, it isn’t always practical, and you may find yourself dealing with much rougher rides than you’re used to at home. Don’t plan to party all the time – you will need to do some serious learning as well.
What to pack
Naturally every traveler wants to pack light but if you are going to study on your travels then you will need to have a good laptop and a reliable phone – ideally with a satellite connection – as back-up. It’s a good idea to take spare cables with you in case you have problems connecting or charging your gear. Take an external hard drive for saving your work and keep it in a separate bag in case of theft. Make sure you can access as many of your course books as possible in eBook format – the last thing you need is heavy books to carry around.
One advantage of traveling while you study is the chance to build up contacts all around the world. Make sure you take advantage of this – it can stand you in good stead for the rest of your life, especially if the people you get to know share an interest in the subjects you’re studying. International contacts can significantly increase your options after graduation when you’re thinking about where you want to work.
Provided you put in the work and come out of your experience with good qualifications, prospective employers will generally look upon your travel as a big bonus, demonstrating that you really know something about the world and will be able to hit the ground running in whatever position you end up in.