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Travel Is My Grad School

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It would seem I still have a lot of friends and followers that think my year-long gap year is just a joy trip. A lot of money for a lot of fun. Well, you're wrong. This year of travel I've got ahead of me is my grad school. You may be paying $20,000/year to get a degree; I'm spending a similar amount and getting just as much out of it. Maybe it's not a piece of paper I can frame, but the skills and qualifications are still there.

It's a matter of priorities.

Maybe the best thing for your future is a prestigious university degree. But that's not the case for everyone. Some of us don't need nor want a graduate degree. For me and my career plan, it's not necessary yet. However, the skills I'm learning on this trip are absolutely invaluable to my future career goals. This is just what made the most sense for me right now. As I'm sure grad school makes sense for you.

But aren't you just having fun taking in the sights?

Yes. And I'm allowed to. When else will I be in Morocco or Jordan or India? This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I'm taking every advantage I can get. You've got your leisure time as well. Weekend trips and nights out on the town, I'm sure. I just happen to already be abroad, so I can spend my free time in ancient cities and famous museums. I happen to pick up quite a bit of cultural history I couldn't get anywhere else, too.

But don't you just go out drinking all the time?

Sometimes, yes. And that's part of the experience as well. I'm learning skills I've never had before and never had the opportunity (or courage) to learn. But when traveling, I have to. I get to learn about Finland and Colombia and Oregon and Australia. I get to meet people of all different backgrounds. I'm more extroverted than ever. More willing to trust strangers and understand their culture. These aren't easy experiences to come across and I get to do it every single day.

Are you convinced?

Probably not. From the outside, I understand this looks like all fun and games. But that's why I'm here and why you're there. We've different ideas for ourselves and our futures. It's whatever makes sense for you. For me, my $20,000 is being spent in the best possible way -- for myself, my mind, my body, my career. And I hope you feel the same way about your decision.

And stop calling me lucky. Was it luck that got you into grad school? No. It was hard work, dedication and a whole lot of cash.

This post originally appeared on the blog, Travels of Adam, in 2010.