Much like travel experiences, your college years influence the rest of your life. During these formative years, you meet new people, form new opinions and ideas about the world, and you are tasked with finding your passion (as well as your future career path). Here at Contiki, we think that traveling the world also helps shape the type of person you are, so we’re sharing our 10 ways that you can make the most of your college experience…and adapt this to your travel life as well!
1. Join a Club or Group
Whether you decide to go Greek or want to join the local group representing your chosen major, associating with like-minded individuals helps you better socialize with people later on. You’ll get the opportunity to go to fun social events and parties (or even plan them!) and perhaps discover a group of friends to travel with on your next adventure.
2. Take a Public-Speaking Course
We’d all like to charm the socks off everyone when we have to speak in public. Sometimes, getting out of your comfort zone and taking a public-speaking course not only helps you get rid of your stage fright, it helps elevate your inner extrovert–you’ll be more personable, open, and engaging with all different types of people around the world.
3. Learn a Language
Knowing a second language (or being multilingual) is hugely beneficial once your college days are done. It is a marketable skill that is great for your resume, but can also expand your horizons to different cultures. Plus, when you decide to travel the world, you can use your language skills to tap into undiscovered gems that non-native speakers may not know about.
4. Invest in Meet-Ups
There are plenty of off-campus opportunities to meet with people who share your interests and hobbies. Maybe you enjoy cosplay and Comic-Con, or you need a language buddy (see Tip #3!). Investing in a meet-up group (see Meetups.com) will help you meet new people and keep you busy in projects that are unrelated to required classwork.
5. Do Things on Your Own
Learning to be independent–from parents, friends, classmates–and doing things on your own around campus will give you a greater appreciation of the time you get to spend with friends having fun. If you’re comfortable being alone and doing things on your own, you’ll be able to adapt that to many aspects of your life–perhaps even solo travel!
6. Network, Connect, then Disconnect
Networking is essential–we use sites such as LinkedIn to connect with potential employers, colleagues, and future business partners. Start building your network while you are in college–you never know how those people will help you. Also, don’t limit yourself to those online connections–make sure to disconnect and get the chance to meet these people in person–who knows, you may create long-lasting friendships, too.
7. Shop Locally
It’s easy to get sucked into the convenience of the big retail stores we know and love. But it’s good to get to know your campus surroundings and boost the local economy by shopping locally. Maybe you’ll discover a new favorite pub or the best place for a good sandwich. You’ll be exploring the local culture, which is a great way to explore a city abroad, too. (Who wants to eat macarons from McDonald’s in Paris when you can have them at LaDuree?)
8. Discover New Foods
We all know what the “Freshman 15” is. It is usually attributed to college life + lack of options. Don’t get bogged down by the sea of fast-food chains that have made a homestead on your campus. Instead, gather up those newfound friends of yours and explore the different local cuisine hotspots. Develop your palate with cool plates of sushi, get a taste for some spice at a Thai restaurant, or cool off with a strong and sweet Vietnamese iced coffee. By diversifying your diet, you’ll also keep your diet varied enough that you’re not craving greasy cheeseburgers all the time.
9. Participate in Cultural and Special Events in the Area
Expand your horizons by visiting local festivals or going to cultural events with your friends. Whether it’s the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Northern California or an Oktoberfest festival at your local German village, going out and exploring cultural traditions that are different from your own will make memories from the event and also expand your horizons.
It goes without saying, but here at Contiki we think you should make the most of your college experience by traveling every chance you get. Whether you’re looking for choices for spring break getaways or you want to explore the architecture in Spain or Prague, getting away from home and taking time to explore the big wide world will reap you rewards when you come back–and the best time to do it is when you’re young!
Want to make the most of your college experience with an epic trip abroad? Contiki and Follett have teamed up on the “Adventure 101: Win an Epic Trip for Two” sweepstakes– enter now for your chance to win! (If you reside in Canada, please click here.)