In Europe and Australia, the norm for students is to take a gap year to go travelling, but for some reason, students in North America don’t usually take the opportunity to go out and experience the world outside of the classroom.
However, there is great deal of experience that can be gained from traveling and, best of all, these skills will look great on a resumé when you return from your world tour.
Sure, maybe you lived in residence and eventually got your own place, even lived with a few similarly-minded classmates for good measure, while you were at school, but nothing screams independence quite like packing up and completely immersing yourself in a foreign land.
Even if you decide to travel with friends, you gain an unparalleled sense of independence being abroad, knowing that you must be completely self-reliant, whether it’s financially, emotionally or even as a pedestrian trying to figure out where you’re going on a map.
Being on your own in a new city means you need to be able to roll with the punches. Being able to think on the fly and make instant decisions is what builds character on the road. No matter how good your travel guide is, some things you just can’t plan for, whether it’s encountering new local customs or having your hostel reservation cancelled at the last minute, you need to be able to revise and regroup after every curveball they serve you.
For some travellers, planning a route is a complete nightmare and many prefer the option of letting the wind decide where they end up. But even if your adventure will be decidedly boho, flying by the seat of your pants requires a lot of split-second decision making: six hours on a somewhat dangerous speed boat down the Mekong River in Laos or two days on a slow boat for half the price?
Being able to weigh your options and make an informed decision is exactly the kind of discretion hiring managers are looking for.
It’s not easy for a student or recent grad to head out right after school, as most of us have been spending our hard earned cash on tuition, books, rent etc., but the resolve to go travelling shows your are motivated to accomplish your dreams despite the factors stacked against you.
There are many opportunities out there for students who want to travel. Check with your school community to see if you are eligible for any cultural exchange bursaries and look into work exchange programs that will allow you to earn a paycheque while you are away to finance your travels.
It isn’t a cultural expectation in Canada to take some time off between school and work to travel, so the decision to take that step shows great distinction of character. You don’t follow the crowd, and you make your own decisions, key traits of a born leader! You are able to make things happen for yourself if you are committed to a concept, and qualities like that are definitely resume-worthy.
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