What to Study When You Want a Life of Travel

Welcome to the first post of Twenty-Something Travel Guest Post Week! The topic of this one should be pretty popular and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Humanities, Sociology, Psychology? No, that’s not quite right. Maybe a semester of Fine Arts with a focus on Islamic Architecture; that will pave the way nicely for a summer of field work in Turkey. Then again, languages could be a great alternative, after all people are connected by the spoken word. Portuguese might be easy to pick up, or even Catalan, yes, it’s close enough to Spanish, and I do love southern Spain!

My four years of undergraduate studies in university were plagued with doubt, second-guessing, and about 5 switches of majors and minors. In the end I emerged with a bachelors in Humanities and German Studies, but the truth is I could have been wielding any degree because paper alone does not determine the course of your life or your travels.

Post secondary studies can open many doors, but at times it can also feel like you’ve walked straight into a trap – especially when you are sitting in a lecture hall in the dead of winter and you can see nothing out the window but a veil of grey. It was during those Canadian winters that I kept asking myself, “Do I really want to put myself through four years of this when I could be sunning myself on some beach along the Andaman Sea?” Well, actually, I just might…

My advice to wanna-be travelers struggling with school is:

Choose a field that you are passionate about and find a way to combine that with travel.

Do you dream of teaching English to cute children in Japan? Do you want to develop your business skills through an internship in Singapore? Is it your dream to work in the fashion industry in Milan? Do you want to be involved with a NGO in India? Or have you always wanted to join Doctors Without Borders in South Sudan?

Don’t shun the dream because it seems outlandish and adults raise an eyebrow every time you share your aspirations. If you don’t stick up for your dream, then who else will? Instead, be prepared to work your arse off to make it happen. Be serious about your education (university, college, vocational training, or whatever it may be), save money to help fund your travels, and apply to every possible opportunity overseas that fits the bill.

Why did I choose Humanities? To sum it up: people and their ways fascinate me! My degree allowed me to study the Timurid architecture of Uzbekistan, Guatemala’s civil unrest, European art history, Germany’s literary movements, Greek belief systems, and anything else that provided a window into the way a culture functions. And well, German Studies was just a strange niche that I found incredibly intriguing.

When I think of all the doubt and uncertainty I felt in those days, I realize that a lot of it was self-imposed; I didn’t have the guts to stand by my choices and I allowed other people’s opinions to chip away at my confidence. I may not have emerged with the most useful skill set, but I loved every moment of learning. My education was for me alone, and in a way, reading about all those foreign lands only helped fuel the wanderlust I had felt all along.

So back to you, dear reader. Whether your field of interest lies in ancient history, medicine, microbiology or graphic design, with a little creativity you are free to pursue those opportunities abroad. The first step is to admit to yourself what it is that you’re aching to do.

Don’t silence the dream that’s squirming inside of you; the only remedy is to chase after it.

Audrey is the girl behind That Backpacker. She was born in Canada, raised in Argentina, and now finds herself teaching English to a mischievous bunch in Korea. When she’s not exploring her current home base, she’s hunting for authentic Indian curries, and plotting how to get more stamps on her passport. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter for more adventures!

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35 thoughts on “What to Study When You Want a Life of Travel”

  1. Hi Audrey. I’m an African student in my final year of UG studies in International Business from India. I am very confused about whether to go for my masters or teach kids in korea. my parents want me to apply to different universities abroad for my masters program possibly on a scholarship. But I want to earn as well. I heard about people going to Korea to teach through TEFL but I don’t even know if Africans are allowed to teach there. I want to travel too. I need some kind of advice or motivation as I’m not even sure about what course to take for the masters program. Thank you

  2. If you major in business and/or marketing and you join an international company, you will travel the world on the company dollar and you’ll make enough money that you can travel on your paid sabbaticals and vacations too. You can be a trainer or program manager and you’ll have lots of opportunity to travel to interesting places. I found this blog by accident by Googling for covered Italian entryways and I was intrigued because my oldest son is just now graduating school and wanting to travel.

    My advice to anyone that wants to travel like I like to travel is to work for an international company and ask for the travel because the truth is that a lot of people get sick of it after a while and/or it becomes harder when you have children at home.

    Happy travels!

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