Reader Question: Hi Trisha! I hope you are well while reading this. I just wanna ask if it’s worth it to quit school (college) to travel?You inspire me a lot since I came across your article on Rappler. You are a true definition of a strong woman. You are one such brave soul! Keep writing to inspire more! You just awaken my inner little dream of travelling. In fact, I have started it already. Last July, I went to Hong Kong all by myself. Just me and my backpack. It was such a liberating experience. I think I now found my calling. Hehe. But, priorities first. 🙂 Thank you and safe travels!” – Chin, the Philippines
“When will you finish school? You only have 1 semester left,” just last week, my mother asked (again). You see, even if I am already traveling for a long time now, my parents are still asking. It’s not general knowledge but I only did not quit my job to travel the world but I also didn’t finish school. Every time I say “no,” I know I am deeply hurting my parents dreams for me but I am not regretting saying “no” because I am no longer identifying my success through diplomas and scholastic achievements.
I am from a country where your degree is a trophy. Through all the years I was in University, everyone were struggling to be an A student — I did the same, unfortunately. I spent all my younger years writing essays, making school projects and dealing with dreadful theses defences. During my second year, I realised I didn’t want to be in school anymore. It was boring. It was horrible. I didn’t want a classroom to be my learning space. I didn’t want to sit all day and listen to long lectures. It just didn’t made sense to me. Still, I went to school everyday, struggling to be on time with my classes but miserably failed. I just didn’t have the energy to wake up everyday and tell myself: “yes, I am going to school!” It was just an obligation for me. Everyone were doing the same, I can say. Because of societal pressure, I struggled to fit in and convinced myself that I am just adjusting to University life. Maybe it will progress along the way.
But it didn’t. On my third year, I still didn’t have the energy to study and I am pretty sure adjustment period is over. I was already overstaying in college as I am a transferee from another University in the Philippines. While I was studying, opportunities presented itself. I got an internship in over 12 fashion brands all over Asia and Europe and realised that I can work even without a degree. My superiors were very impressed of my performance, thus, it encouraged me that I really don’t need a diploma to prove my worth. I just needed to be me.
To be honest, my parents and I never talked about it when I left. I didn’t explain my scholastic status and luckily, we just all let it go as we didn’t want to spoil my ‘adventures.’ I was very young when I started traveling but never did it cross my mind to delay my travels just to finish school. I just had the urge to leave and I never questioned my decisions. I freed myself from the pressure that everyone were giving me: “If you quit school, you will have difficulties to find a job in the future.”
So I went, without thinking about how education will greatly affect my future. I felt a little guilty as all of my friends were about to finish University and I was there, all packed and ready for my big life adventure. Luckily, in my travels, being a college dropout is not a big deal. I met a lot of travellers who also didn’t finish Uni but are very good at what they do. I even met someone who didn’t dare go to University at all. They just finished High School and took off.
Six years and counting, I am still here and it’s the best decision of my life. There are a lot of things I learned by being out here that was never taught in school. I speak over 5 languages fluently, I can cook local food perfectly and all my life experiences are so fundamental and I don’t think I would have learned this if I stayed in that kind of learning environment. The world is my University now and even if it won’t give me a diploma at the end of every trip, I know my learnings are valuable and are applicable to everyday life. I do not worry about my future because I know my learnings will help me land into something beautiful. Something that is for me. Something that I won’t be doing for money but I will be doing because I love it.
You know what? I also want to make an experiment. When the time comes that I will have children, I will try schooling them on the road to see how it works. I know a lot of kids raised on the road who can speak three different languages at the age of 6 or can read a map/guide book at the age of 5. I am not closing my doors to introducing my future children to a school setting as this is where they make friends. I am pretty sure always moving around will make them weary and like me, they would also want to have long-term best friends. School is the best place to do/have that.
I used to be ashamed when talking about this subject but now, I am very glad of what I am because I quit school to travel the world. I am honest about myself and I know that my dreams will take me to greater heights. Some of you might consider my move as stupid and reckless but I am not telling you that this works for everyone. It just magically worked on my favour and I am happy that it did.
Disclaimer: This post is written based on real-life experience(s) and does not encourage students/young people to quit school and travel the world. It aims to give another point of view about pursuing a career. Of course, your point of view(s) are very much welcome! Please feel free to leave a comment below and tell me what you think!