Traveling the world and studying full time sounds very unrealistic if we are honest, right? Wrong! What if I tell you that I found a way how everyone, you and I can achieve both at the same time. Traveling the world while getting a degree is absolutely possible and I am going to share today what it takes to make it happen and how my experience on this looked like.
By now we are already very far through the series of post-travel depression. We’ve already covered what it is exactly, how we can start loving home again, overcame the desire to fit in, maintained a travel-life balance and last, we discussed the first step of combining travel life with whatever “serious life” you want or have to live.
In the last post, I showed you a general way of how to continue achieving your goals while you are traveling the world. Today, I want to get a bit more into detail and talk about studying and traveling at the same time. This post should be a guideline and inspiration for everyone who wants to get a degree and still continue traveling.
Are you ready? Okay let’s get started. Here is what we will cover:
- What it takes to travel and study (Pros and cons)
- How to make it happen
- My experience
Let’s dive in.
1. What it takes to travel and study at the same time (Pros and Cons)
How about we start with the pros first.
As you can probably imagine there are a lot of benefits of traveling and studying at the same time, otherwise you wouldn’t want to do it, right?
Though here are some of the major ones I want to point out to remind you how worth it is to give it a try, even though it seems hard sometimes.
I think that’s self-explaining. You can continue doing what you want, e.g. traveling and still build a career through studying. Isn’t that the ultimate freedom?
Sometimes studying can be very boring. Like high school or work, you are always at the same place, see the same people and do the same things. How tiring. Though if you take that step and get started to combine traveling the world and studying, you will have a way more adventurous life. Trust me.
Going to university and traveling around is not easy. You will have to face challenges all the time. But that’s a great thing because you will learn and grow and that’s what you should aim for in life anyway. Just through challenges you will become a better self and be able to life your best life.
Okay, let’s admit it, the privilege to do what you want and get a degree with very little effort (class wise speaking) is a great feeling, right?
However, as mentioned before, doing both at the same time isn’t an easy thing and you have to put in some effort to make it happen.
Here is what it takes:
You have to be stress resistible
If you can’t handle a little stress, this is probably nothing for you. You need to deal with the feeling of not making it, being late on deadlines and having to do a lot in very little time. So before taking this path think hard if you are willing and able to give what it takes.
There will be times, where the pressure is drowning. You will feel like you can’t do everything at once but you must to not fail.
To travel and study at the same time applies a lot of pressure to your overall life. When choosing this journey, make sure you can handle it.
Say goodbye to being good
I must be honest with you here, traveling and studying at the same time is absolutely possible. But being good in university and traveling is a whole other thing. For your own sake and heartrate, choose to screw being good and settle for being average. It’ll save you a lot of stressful moments.
Plan and show commitment
The way you are about to go will be full of struggles and challenges so you have to be committed to what you are doing. In addition, you have to make a plan. Things like that don’t go without a strategy (I show you how to make one later). Remember the fun you get out of it and stick to your strategy you have outlined to make this happen. Show commitment.
Be aware of not having a normal student life
I’m not sure if that is a bad thing after all but I want to point it out anyway. Be aware, once you choose to travel while going to university, you won’t have a normal student life. I know that can be a great thing if this is what you want. In fact, it can be incredible because you get to do so many other awesome things. But know that you will have to say no to student parties, mates at university and all that stuff cause you’ll be busy traveling.
You see, it’s not coming to you easy, but it is worth the effort, trust me. So, if you still want to do it, here is how you build a strategy to make traveling and studying at the same time happen.
2. How to make it happen
a. Choose the right classes/subject
The foundation of this being possible lies in the classes and overall subject you choose.
Now if you already study and picked your subject you obviously can’t change it anymore so you have to work your way around. I’ll show you how just in a bit.
Though if you’re still in deciding what to study and you know you want to travel as much as possible while you are doing it, here is what you should consider when picking your subject.
- Pick a course you don’t have to be physically there
- Pick a course where there are no practical classes
- Pick a course without a lot of homework, writings and projects
- Pick a course that is interesting to you
- Pick a course that is easy to learn
The same applies to the classes you pick each semester. Try to make studying as easy as possible. And this is something that is crucial even for those who already study.
If you now already study and some of the above things don’t apply to your course I won’t lie, it is getting harder. Especially when you have to be at university physically. I would suggest getting more information about semesters abroad or breaks and stuff like that to use this time to travel.
In general, try to get as much information about your studies, exams and classes and how they work as possible.
Then try to figure out how you can meet those obligations when you are traveling.
If you need help there, feel free to write me a message. This is very individual, so I can’t really give you a solution for it here, but I try to help you as good as possible via E-Mail.
b. Make a plan
Before you start traveling, it is necessary to outline a strategy what and when and how much you are going to study.
I suggest, and I know you might not like this now, but it is the best to study one semester at university and actually get to know how everything works. Then you have a better impression and can plan your studies abroad easier and more realistic.
When planning, consider the following:
- How much time do I have to study every day?
- How am I going to study, are there online classes, is the lecture being uploaded online, do I have mates who give me the material?
- When do I need to be at university, are there any meetings, deadlines?
- When are my exams, how much time do I need to prepare for them?
c. Book a flight ticket home
I know that sounds of topic and unnecessary, but I speak of experience when I say if you don’t have a return ticket the chances you’re not showing up for exams are pretty high.
So, make sure you got this covered.
d. Stick to your plan
Last but not least, you have to implement your strategy and stick to it.
I know it’s hard sometimes and often you have to adjust it a little bit because we know how it is with traveling, you can’t always plan everything. Though even if something doesn’t go the way you thought, always remember it’ll work out in the end. Have faith and keep hustling.
Okay to make a point here and give you a better impression of how this could look like, I will share my experience with you.
3. My experience on traveling and studying at the same time
For those who don’t know, I spend one semester working in France as a surf instructor, while studying fulltime.
It’s been ups and downs but after I got all my results and everything I can tell you how it went and what I took out of it.
First here are some details on my current situation:
I’m studying sports science at a public university. So, my studies aren’t a degree by correspondence courses. But I don’t have compulsory attendance, what made it easy for me to just go to France and work there during the semester.
It wasn’t an easy decision for me, but as I couldn’t stand the thought of not going to France (it is basically my second home, I get “homesick” very often during my time in Germany and the thought of just having a couple weeks there, was just too depressing). In addition, I really needed the money.
Therefore, knowing from previous experiences, that I’m capable of being determined enough to sit down and study there, I decided to spend my semester in France instead of at home.
Also for me it didn’t make any difference, if I’d learn all at home or in France. Because I knew, I wouldn’t attend classes that often anyway, as I have to drive about an hour and a half there and back. That’s just too far to do every day (in my opinion at least).
So, my plan looked like that:
Before I went to France, I sorted out everything. I made a plan what, when and how much I had to do every day, so I just had to sit down and do it.
Though, planning is not the hard part, the sitting down and doing it is where it gets really hard and you need a lot of will power and determination to actually free up this time, sit on your ass and learn while everyone of your friends is chilling and having a great time doing nothing but having fun.
Also, you have to make sure you won’t make excuses, not even if there was a lot of work to do that day or the surf was good. You must get out of that habit of procrastination and do what you’ve planned to do.
However, from my history I knew, I’d be capable of doing it. I’d knew, I had the willpower to overcome that laziness and do what I need to do. In addition, I had the motivation of passing that semester with quite better grades than last time and I knew that, what I was doing wasn’t quite the common way of studying and I counted myself lucky the whole time.
Before I went to France I made a deal with myself. I gave up on my desire to go to France during semester time, although I should have been at university. But instead I’d study for three hours, three to four times a week, so I would finish all my classes for the week by Sunday. If I don’t need all those 9 hours to finish all classes, I’d win time and in case I’m too slow or procrastinating I had to do it anyway and might lose time. This was my motivation to get everything done quickly and not procrastinating anything.
I can’t tell you how I stayed on track. But what I can tell you is, all I did was implementing what I’ve planned at home. Just do it. I’ve just centred all my willpower and determination on that goal. I didn’t set myself any other obligations but studying these 9 hours a week. Because of that I mustn’t spend that willpower on something else. It wasn’t easy and there were days where I wished I wouldn’t have to study. And for sure it’s not an option for everyone but what are 9 hours of studying a week and 75 hours of fun and surf compared to no surf at all and having to study anyway!?
I bet all of you would choose the first, right?
For those of you wondering if I haven’t had any doubts at all, sure I did and not just once. I doubted my decision almost every second day. I had the feeling of not doing enough all the time and was quite afraid I would miss too much and not pass the exams.
On the other hand, though I also wished, I wouldn’t have to study in the first place. I wondered a few times how it would be, if I’d just drop out of university. And the day I had to fly home for exams, I’d almost did so. If I wouldn’t have had that flight already booked, I wouldn’t have come home.
So, this is my second and most important tip. For those of you, who’re thinking of doing something similar: Book your flight before you even leave. Otherwise you’re maybe not going home. Because the time is so great and at that moment there is no “real” reason for you to go home and continue studying. But later, you’ll probably regret not having written those exams. So, go and book that flight before you leave and make sure you catch it too.
In addition, be aware, the month I’ve been at home, I’ve done nothing but studying. I started the day I’ve landed and prepared for exams 6 hours a day until the very last day of my exam period.
It was the toughest time and I probably wouldn’t have had to learn that much if I had stayed in Germany. But I’ve always reminded myself, when I again was about to throw my hand in the air and scream: I quit (which happened almost every second day), what a great time I had and how worth it was.
Now let’s look at the results. Because going away and still studying the amount you’ve
planned and then passing the exams are two different things.
About a month after my last exam I’ve got all my results and I’ve passed all of them. Not very well but I’ve passed and that’s what I was aiming for.
At this point you have to know, my goal is not to have the best grade at the end of my time at university. My goal is to pass and learn as much as possible.
Grades, for me, are not important, as I’m not planning to do any further studies with numerus clauses (I’ve got other plans, where grades aren’t that important ;)).
So, to sum it up:
For me, this was the best decision I could have made. Although I had some struggles and doubts, I got the most out of my time. And this is the most important thing for me.
Time is the only thing you can’t get more of. Time just passes by and never comes back. I don’t want to waste my time doing things I don’t want to do, and that is sitting around at home and studying.
Don’t get me wrong, studying itself is not the problem, it is the sitting at home part. I want to be out there in the world exploring as much as possible. There are so many things I want to do. Like working on my goals and improving my surfing skills and spending time with my friends. And most of it I can’t do at home.
With making that deal, I was able to do both: studying and having fun.
However, the two things that really made me succeed where, planning what I had to do and second, buying that flight ticket in advance.
Everything else was just willpower and the good thing is, you can learn willpower. All of us have it, you just need to find it, center it and then use it.
And in case you ever think you’re not going to make it or you want to give up remember:
Happiness requires struggle – Mark Manson
I hope this post helped you to believe that traveling and studying at the same time is possible and convince you to give it a try.
If you found it valuable please share it with everyone who could need it as an inspiration or motivation.
Otherwise check out the other posts of this series:
And stay tuned for more on working and traveling in the future.
See you soon.