When I started university, I never had the immediate urge to travel to foreign lands. This was mainly because of my lack of savings and just general nervousness of starting this new phase of life; leaving the high-school routine I had gotten ever so used to and stepping into this large, scary pond filled with new knowledge and a whole bunch of expectations.
But as I progressed through my first year of studies, and after I had gotten over my mini mental educational breakdown, I had realised that, yes, university is stressful, but it is only present for 28 weeks of the 52 weeks contained in a year. What was I going to do for the other 24 weeks? Sit around and dread the next semester where the stress was bound to hit me again? I decided… nope. One thing I had always knew I wanted to do when I was older was travel; so why not do it now when I am ‘young, wild and free’? I had a new job where decent pay checks were a new thing for me and I was a pro at saving money. So I set my goal, travel to New Zealand for two weeks at the end of my second year of university, and that’s exactly what I did.
I have now finished my third year of my degree and I have one semester of university left until I am a business school graduate. I enjoyed New Zealand so much that as soon as I returned home I jumped on the internet and researched flights and tours to Europe. Europe has forever been my top continent to travel to, but when I was younger I never thought that travelling there would happen so soon. I thought that I wouldn’t have the money, and would settle into the mundane life that is going to university and studying, the going to work to earn money, falling asleep, and eating somewhere in between there. Three years after finishing high-school I am now off on #RacsSoloEuroTrip to Great Britain, Ireland and most of Europe in 34 days; eighteen year old Racquel would be buzzing and completely gobsmacked/speechless.
In order to travel to 13 countries and have a decently lengthy experience in each you need to roster off at least a month and a half of your regular life. This means that I could have either taken this trip in the Christmas university break, or take it when university is actually on. Younger Racquel didn’t really know that this was a thing, but you can actually tell QUT that you are intending to travel during the semester and they will allow you to take six months to a year off of uni to do so. How cool is that?!
Of course, for this to be possible you need to be on track with your studies as well as coinciding with some other guidelines set by your study area department, but most of the time it is possible. It is termed a ‘leave of absence’ and you can file to take one for other reasons besides travelling also. I’m sure other universities also offer this to their students, but I was so impressed with the ease and simplicity that QUT has with a matter such as this.
QUT’s leave of absence process is completely online and smooth sailing. It was so much easier than I believed it would be. Here I am going around to student centres and asking about taking time out of study when I could literally just do it sitting in bed, dressed in my pajamas, watching YouTube videos. Goals, right? QUT has made it possible for me to study full-time, work part-time and still be able to take time off to fulfill my wanderlust by taking time off without incurring any financial and academic penalty.
If you get the chance to travel while you study, do it as much as possible! You won’t regret a thing. And who cares if you push back your graduation date by a year? You are young, there’s plenty of time to be a serious adult and work a nine to five job after busting your butt studying for the past three years. Take chances and make memories; QUT will be there to help you make the most of your younger years!