Coming from an International student from the other side of the planet, this is going to sound like a total lie, but I’m going to say it anyway: I don’t like traveling that much. Sure, I packed my bags in a jiffy and moved across two continents and an ocean, but I’m still not that much of a fan of just traveling. I don’t have a car (or a driver’s license for that matter) and I’ve only been to a handful of US states over the last four years.
The thing is, I really didn’t understand the value of travel until last summer (there are a lot of things I didn’t understand the value of until this academic year, but all that will have to wait). I was in Italy for January interim session class when one day one of our professors, Rado Pribic, was telling us about why we should travel. I forget his exact words, but I remember the lesson: Traveling is a mind-expanding activity, just like reading, writing, drawing, programming. It exposes you to knew people and ideas and helps you see your everyday problems in a new light. Of course this requires that you have an open mind to start and that’s not necessarily true of all travelers, but we’ll let that slide for the moment.
Traveling is more than just the physical activity of going from point A to point B and stopping at point C on the way. To get the most out of traveling it has to be a mental journey as well. A shift in perspectives and viewpoints. Part of me wishes that I had taken a semester abroad while at Lafayette (then again part of me wishes I had taken up an art major as well). But at any other time before now I would have lacked the mental preparation to make the most out of it.
However, if you do happen to be more of a traveler than me, then there’s definitely places to go while you’re here. Rethna Eddy, who went to Italy with me, is now writing from New Zealand. Next semester another friend of mine, Sarah Swienckowski-Eckhart, is going on an epic trip across India, Tanzania, New Zealand, and Mexico. And from what I’ve seen, it doesn’t have to stop once you graduate. Hayley Rosado, a former floormate of mine, is now teaching English in Japan (yes, she’s been writing about the earthquake; no, she is not standing in a pile of rubble or getting radiation poisoning).
So travel. Travel while you’re here and then keep going while you’re not. It’s scary, it’s unfamiliar, it’s dangerous, it’s mind-expanding and it’s unforgettable. Pack your bags and go.