DESTINATIONS - PLANNING & PACKING
Many people seem to think travelling is a luxury reserved for later in life when you have no commitments: academic, professional, familial, or otherwise. For a student, the thought of travelling seems particularly daunting as you’re likely in a constant state of catch-up with assignments and exams while living on a tight budget.
The great irony of this predicament is that the ideal time to travel is in your 20s; especially if you’re keen to explore the rough-and-ready Outback.
Not that travelling later on in life is not equally thrilling, but travelling through the often-unforgiving remote parts of Australia at a young age allows you to establish yourself as an independent, self-assured individua. Also, your health and fitness levels are likely to be at their optimum and that makes facing the harsh conditions, extreme heat and rugged terrain easier than if you were older and less agile.
The good news is that there are multiple ways that you can combine studying and travelling — both Down Under and abroad. This will, of course, require a certain degree of self-discipline, hard work and patience. But if you’re committed to living your dual dream, then you should absolutely consider the following options.
Find a course that allows you to study abroad
There are many university courses that offer a module or semester abroad. This may apply if they have multiple international campuses, or if they have partnered with a sister university to offer interested students the opportunity to travel. This system is most common among language, cultural and arts faculties.
If you do your research on these faculty exchanges, you may have the opportunity to visit another country and study at the same time. This is both an excellent learning opportunity and an ideal way to explore a part of the world that’s new for you.
Consider studying at an online university
Although many might feel intimidated by the prospect of studying online, Covid-19 has shown us that remote learning is a highly feasible alternative. Online learning even opens up many degrees and courses that may not appear on your local university curriculum.
You should note that for your remote learning experience to be enriching, efficient and relatively stress-free, you need a reliable internet connection, power source and workspace. If you’re planning on exploring the Outback, this may not always be possible, as the more remote locations are not equipped for this connectivity. Do your homework before you decide on your itinerary, to ensure you can study and submit assignments when you need to.
A further benefit of studying online is that these degrees are typically far more cost-effective. This ultimately allows you to use more of your funds for travelling.
Enrol at a well-placed university
If there is a region that particularly sparks your interest, try studying at a university that would place you in close proximity to this. If exploring the Outback is high on your list, you can find a local university in some remote areas of Australia, or better yet, take remote classes as many universities provide online courses – all you’ll need is a WiFi connection.
Alternatively, if you want to explore somewhere like Europe, a Schengen study visa covers a wide range of countries. You are also in close proximity to the UK and should you wish to visit a neighbouring country that does not fall within the Schengen category, visa applications from within the EU should be relatively hassle-free.
Take multiple short courses
This is the option that many enthusiastic travellers opt for, because it comes with a variety of benefits. If you’re taking short courses, you can drastically diversify your field of study.
You might choose to take a course in international politics, followed by a module on marine wildlife, a beginner’s guide to electronics, teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL), or a part-time data science course.
There really is no limit to your options when you are doing short courses online. You might even choose to do a few in person, depending on what’s offered in the region where you’re travelling. As each course is a shorter commitment, your time is slightly more flexible should you choose to take a week off here or there.
Travel during your long holidays
If, for whatever reason, you cannot study online or abroad, then we would highly recommend doing extended travel during your mid- or end-of-year holiday, instead of studying while you’re travelling. One of the greatest perks of studying is that your holidays are much longer than working professionals.
If you can plan adequately ahead of time and save money by working a part-time job, then your 3–4-month annual break is the ideal time to go exploring. A trip to the Outback won’t set you back a huge amount, but if you’re planning to explore elsewhere, do your research into what your costs will be.
Road trips tend to be cheaper than air fares and camping is far more cost effective than staying in hotels. It’s also not a bad idea to team up with other students and embark on a road trip adventure together. There’s safety in numbers, especially in the Outback and if you’re 4x4ing and camping, having a free schedule allows for a greater flexibility.
Planning is essential
As much as idealism and romanticism come part and parcel with youth and the excitement of travel, you have to balance your enthusiasm with pragmatism if you want your plans to work out.
There are certain aspects of travel that you need to research well in advance, such as visa requirements (if any), necessary vaccinations, safety concerns and local customs. If you’re taking a road trip you also need to know what the local laws are and how to stay safe when travelling through new terrain.
With a bit of careful thought, travelling and studying are activities that you can combine. The trick is to do your homework, know what you want out of both and understand what the limitations may be.