I’m graduating this June. The prospect is absolutely terrifying yet wildly exciting. Having stayed at the same girl’s grammar school for 7 years and headed straight on to the University of Southampton, forgoing the ever popular post-6th form gap yarr (so called because people generally think its a ‘posh’ thing to do – say it aloud) I realised this Christmas that I haven’t enjoyed a festive season in 7 years without January exams looming in the painfully near future. To be fair I really didn’t have confidence to travel alone before now; two years ago the prospect of heading to uni 150 miles from home was very ‘small fish, frighteningly large pond’ thought inducing, but now it sounds like the best thing in the world.
Don’t get me wrong, university is a fantastic experience. The people, the freedom and EVEN the studying are worth every second, and dare I say it, worth every penny. But these do come hand in hand with some hardships and stresses that increase very quickly in intensity throughout 2nd and 3rd year; coursework deadlines, lab reports, dissertations, exams, housing agreements and relationships all add to the workload. Compare this then to 1st year when the worst things were the hangovers and not knowing where to start with laundry.
So all in all, we all get a bit stressed in final year, everything counts just that little too much, so next year a gap is calling. Earning money will be a revelation, student life is 100% spending (whether on the tangible things like food, clothes, utilities, or on the more painful rent and fees) with realistically no time to earn more than some pocket money. I also hope to publish parts of my dissertation and write for some journals, sending in bits, pieces and reviews just to get my name out there, but really I can’t wait to travel!
One of my best friends is in Mysore, India studying medicine and I very rarely see her. I love to keep up to date with her progress, seeing beautiful pictures of her antics (visiting waterfalls, climbing mountains, scooting around on her whizzy scooter!) and miss her a lot. I visited Bangalore with her and her family and my other friend Emma before coming to Uni in 2012 and loved it so, Bangalore/Mysore is definitely on my list! Either before or after this I’ll travel to South East Asia, ridiculously high on my bucket list every since my brother travelled there a few years ago, returning with stories of buzzing culture, stunning scenery and fantastic people. Plus I really love elephants and the idea of helping out at an elephant sanctuary having bummed around on a white sandy beach for a while just sounds faultless.
However I guess the one problem could be money. I’ve been saving, but inevitably unexpected costs spring up, flights get more expensive and souvenirs will be bought so I’ve been researching and some savvy little articles come up! The article linked below highlights ’16 useful travel sites you probably didn’t know about’ ranging from itinerary planning and travel time efficiency to interactive travel guides by city and food/restaurant maps to make the most of every meal. My personal favourite has to be Homestay, a personal accommodation option connecting like-minded travellers with local hosts in their home. Sometimes the accomodation is slightly longer-term, gaining free board in return for a few jobs around the house or farm etc – perfect for the wandering backpacker.
Budget travel post-uni seems so popular, and I love the idea of going on a wing and a prayer with just my toothbrush and sandals but I guess some prior planning makes life easier.
So does anyone else have any hints and tips for student travelling?