Elica is a student trying to juggle working for Wild Junket, taking occasional jaunt in a far away land, and studying for school. She is Wild Junket's web editor, a self-professed language geek who has studied six so far, and is aspiring to travel the world during and after her studies in university.
Thank you! I'm a sophomore in college in the US and am thinking about majoring in linguistics or some foreign language. I'm Wild Junket's web editor, so I get to work from home a lot, which works well with my sometimes-hectic-sometimes-not school schedule. Other times I'm on the job "full time" because I'm fortunate enough to be able to attend a few press trips here and there. Besides being Wild Junket's web editor and occasional traveler, I'm also their columnist who writes about foreign languages.
–So, I’m curious, how well does travel and student life balance out for you? What are some things that you do to ultimately travel as best as you can, without interfering with your studies?
Travel and student life usually works out just fine; keyword: usually. The smart thing to do would be to travel between vacation dates if I'm the one planning it, but sometimes Nellie lets me go on press trips (2/2 which have been during school). For the first press trip I went on, I only missed one day of school, which barely interfered with my grades or learning. Recently I went on a press trip to Catalunya, Spain and missed over a week and I know I'll be a little stressed until my debt in homework and tests is paid off.
For me, I know it's worth it to miss a day to a week of school because traveling the way I do isn't very common among my peers, and it's an amazing and new opportunity. I'm a pretty good student--I always do my homework and (depending on the subject) study for my tests and quizzes. This always helps in the long run in case I slip up or I can't make up any work while I'm away traveling. Another thing that helps is communicating with my professors and making sure they understand the situation.
–There are other ways, outside of one’s own school to travel abroad to learn – what options are available out there for students?
Outside of school, there a few options.
One of the first that comes to mind is taking a volunteer opportunity in another country. Because college students are trying to stretch their dollar, it might take a while to figure out the financial situation of the flight, housing, program fees, etc. but there are programs out there that are cheaper than others, you might just have to do a thorough search before you find one.
Another travel opportunity is to just travel during breaks. Though it isn't a formal learning opportunity, travel in itself is an amazing opportunity to learn about who you are and to find out more about yourself, and to learn more about the place you're visiting.
I easily get bored with where I live (California) so it's always weird to hear people say they're envious of me living here--I've tried being a tourist in my own home and gone 2 hours away just to explore the desert for a day. It was a new and exciting experience (I had never been there before) and I didn't have to go very far or spend very much.
Tied with traveling on breaks, there's also the possibility of staying with family (or even friends) if you're welcome or if they invite you. Though you'll probably have to pay for the flight, you won't have to pay for the accommodation, which is always a plus! I have family in Japan, and I never get tired of going because I always get to see and experience new things. Even if I visit the same places, I have a new perspective because I've gone to Japan at different points in my life. Another positive point of visiting family or friends is that you'll have a guide who is familiar with the area, they'll know about the places the locals go to instead of the typical tourist hotspot.
–Please offer some advice to those individuals who are interested in pursuing schooling abroad...
I'm kind of in that boat where I have to start thinking about studying abroad, and even applying.
I knew from even a while ago that I'd have trouble trying to figure out where I wanted to go, because I have a bad case of the travel bug and want to go everywhere, but also because I want to go somewhere where I could learn a new language or build on the ones I already know.
I think one of the most important things to consider is where you want to go. Duh, that's obvious. But for this, consider either...
- Somewhere you've always wanted to go. If there's a study abroad program for a country or place you've always wanted to visit, college is the time to do it. You'll not only be able to study under a university but you'll be able to familiarize yourself with what is essentially your "dream" country and meet the people that make up the country you've always wanted to visit. Considering somewhere you've always wanted to go is a given, but consider it especially if you're too shy or scared to travel there by yourself.
- Another important thing to consider (especially if you're in a time crunch) is your course of study and the kinds of classes you can take abroad. You can try and do a search for which countries offer courses that you need to fill your major or general education requirements, because some universities may not have classes you want or may have a completely different program for another major.
–I’d like to hear more about your connection with the travel blog Wild Junket... What do you do for Nellie and Alberto? What travel experiences have you had with them?
I have never actually officially met Nellie or Alberto in person. That being said, from my interactions with them online for over the past year have all been pleasant. Nellie is a great mentor and I really admire her.
For Wild Junket, I've been to Loreto, Mexico (Baja California), Nicaragua, and Catalunya in Spain. All three of these places were vastly different, so I'm really lucky I got to experience a variety of environments, people, and energy.
Before working with Wild Junket, I've only been to Japan (outside of the US) and a few other states in the US. That being said, I know I haven't experienced nearly as much as the typical traveler or travel blogger, but my favorite experiences (so far) have been snorkeling in Baja California, kayaking in Lake Nicaragua, and...I would say something about my experience in Catalunya, but there were too many that I can't pick just one!
–Thanks again for joining me for this interview... It’s been a pleasure! Last, but not least, could you talk about your favorite travel experience, and what particular place, person or situation you’ve had that had the greatest influence in your life?
It's so hard to pick just one travel experience because each location I've visited has had some sort of impact on me and how I view the world but in a nutshell...
I'd say my favorite travel experience was going to Catalunya in general. Going to Spain has always been my dream since I started liking Spanish/foreign languages, and foreign languages is what originally got me into traveling--it's like the dominos came full circle.
I got to see so many different parts of Catalunya (Barcelona, cities, small towns, the mountains, beaches) as opposed to just being in one spot. I was also put a little bit out of my comfort zone by going white water rafting and going to an FC Barcelona game, but it was all part of the experience that made going to Spain so amazing. I actually missed a week of school to go to Spain, but it was really really worth it; I wouldn't trade my week in Spain for the world and I would say if I could relive one week in my life, it would be my week in Catalunya. When I got back home and had to go to school the next day, it felt like it was all a dream.
I've also had the opportunity to meet so many amazing people in and out of the travel blogging world while working for Wild Junket. Of course working for Nellie changed my life, which lead me to meet all the amazing people I've met, but I would have to say that one of the biggest influences in my life up to date (that has to do with travel/travel blogging) would be meeting Marcello from Wandering Trader (shh don't tell him or else he might tease me about this).
I met him when I was in Catalunya for the press trip, and seeing how he lives and what he does for a living is so inspirational. Because I just met him a few weeks ago, the effects aren't very visible at the moment, but meeting him has made me reconsider a few things in my life and I think that will ultimately change my future from what it was before I met him or before I even went to Spain.