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Graphic by Liv Schanck

Letters from the Dean – Edition 4

Travel: Where to now!

I have only a few laments in life. Chief amongst them is that as a child my family and I never traveled — no trips to exotic National Parks or even Disneyland. I understand, there were 7 kids, too-busy lives and little inclination on my parents’ behalf to pack us all up and move out to some exciting experience.

That approach stuck with me as I grew into adulthood, and while I made quick forays to Bermuda and to Quebec City with friends, I really didn’t think about travel broadly, about the world around me or what it would mean if I did strike out. In fact, it wasn’t until I was married and had kids that we took our first big trip to Italy and France. I never looked back and since then we have made a point to invest in a travel fund, jump on great deals when we see them and take risks in going to places we never thought of before. We’ve been to a lot of places in the U.S., Europe, Africa, Canada, Mexico and beyond and we are only beginning because, while it’s big in many ways, the world is not that big at all and travel to points unknown is easily available and reasonably accessible. There are so many ways to think, so many different cultures, so many opportunities and so much to know that we can’t possibly stop now.

So, the point of writing today is to encourage you to travel, to enjoy new cultures, languages, places, foods, architecture and people. Traveling, with friends, family, in a tour group, or alone will make you feel more independent and more conscious of the world in which we live. You’ll be more interesting, have a broader repertoire to call on and you will have lots of great stories. 

Now, travel does take some planning. There are wonderful tour books for every place on the face of the earth and these guides are a great place to start as you ponder the question of where to? Saving for travel is also key but many domestic and international destinations are relatively inexpensive for travelers. There are discount travel websites, trip consolidators, and a number of different housing options when you arrive at your destination. Some universities rent rooms, churches do, and there are hotels, hostels and family stay possibilities. Figuring out what’s what requires research and persistence, but there are deals to be had that work for almost any budget.

Other possibilities include Study Abroad experiences (Call UMaine’s Study Abroad office at 207 – 581-3437), volunteer experiences around the globe, and a large number of course-related study away experiences available to you. Check things out on the web, call the Office of International Programs, speak with family, friends, faculty and advisors. The key is to dip your toe in and begin thinking about what’s possible. 

If you decide to travel, be prepared for where you are going, be safe and thoughtful of the cultures you are exploring, stay flexible, and open your arms and mind to all the possibilities before you and enjoy. You deserve to be an explorer!

Send me an e-mail if you have any questions or want to share your travel plans. I’d love to hear from you.

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