Social Question

RedmannX5's avatar

Have you ever traveled far away from home on your own, and if so, what was your experience?

Asked by RedmannX5 (814points) December 10th, 2011

I am currently in my Senior year of college, and I am trying to wrap my mind around the next step of adult life (as everyone does). I plan to go to grad school and receive my Ph.D. in Neuroscience, but before I do that I’m going to take a year off after graduation because I think I want to get away and see the world all by myself. I don’t think many things in this world can truly teach you about yourself like traveling alone to some unfamiliar land can. However, the idea of going somewhere you’ve never been, all by your lonesome self, is undoubtedly nerve-racking. I want to make sure that it will be beneficial for me and not do more harm than good. I think that I have to right personality to do it (I’m confident, I’m hard-working, I’m really easy to get along with), but I just wanted to hear other people’s perspectives and personal experiences on the matter?

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16 Answers

RedmannX5's avatar

Also, does anyone have any suggestions as to where a good place to travel to might be? I speak English and a little bit of Spanish and could probably get myself around a Spanish speaking country. I’m willing to travel outside the U.S. or stay inside the U.S.

wundayatta's avatar

I would start in some of the more developed countries—perhaps an English speaking country, if you have never been overseas. Then I’d go to developed countries that speak other languages, but where there are many English speakers (most of Europe and Japan). Then I’d try counties like Thailand, India and Sumatra, and finally, I’d go to the less stable parts of the world, if you want to. The idea is to gradually learn how to be an American in another land.

A big issue is how much money you want to spend. Will you be doing youth hostels or something more expensive. Youth hostels are good sources of information. There will always be someone coming from where you want to go, and you can get good advice on current conditions.

I would take trains and buses and ferries. You might rent a car in more developed countries, but in some other places, with tall mountains and narrow roads, you may not want to meet a bus in your lane coming around the bend.

Listen respectfully. Don’t judge by American standards. People generally like foreigners and in some places, you are a hero on sight. Enjoy.

HungryGuy's avatar

1.) Yes.
2.) Lots of fun!

bongo's avatar

After I graduated from Uni I went to Madagascar for 3 months. It was brilliant. Highly recommended. I could barely speak french before I went and now email people there regularly in french (with help from google translate). I have learnt LOADS and want to go travelling again. Next I’m thinking some tiny Pacific Ocean Island. I have already started saving as I am doing my masters, I will then leave to go there and then come back and do my PhD.
I have also been to South Africa and Egypt but they were with a friend. Those place are also amazing but Madagascar really was so basic and so much of a culture shock. I camped in villages with no electricity and drank out of wells (using chlorine tablets!). One of the best experiences of my life so far.

geeky_mama's avatar

Wow – kudos to you for taking the time to off between undergrad and grad school to do some self-discovery and have an adventure. I can’t recommend this highly enough and hope my own kids do the same some day.
A few ideas:
1. Start by looking around your university for program information. If you don’t see any posted, go to the building where language classes are taught and look around for posted offerings there.
2. Consider programs like the Peace Corps or Americorps. This is especially good to consider if you don’t want to fund your adventure on your own.
3. Consider donating your time to help in Haiti or other countries in South America. There are a TON of organizations – a little time with Google doing research into which ones are reputable will yield lots of leads. Here’s a possible start:
4. If money isn’t an issue and your goal is to see more of the world (rather than be in one place all year) consider backpacking. You can pick apples in New Zealand, get train passes and stay in youth hostels in Europe and Asia..airlines even offer special “around the world” tickets with the ability to stop and stay for a while in each “stopover” point.

Good luck – a little internet research and a valid passport and oh the adventures you’ll have!

janbb's avatar

Costa Rica would be a wonderful country to spend time in particularly if you like outdoorsy things. Friendly people, Spanish and some English speaking, great natural beauty, reasonably inexpensive. Another place I would suggest is Greece and especially the Greek islands. Great food, scenery and people. Third suggestion: New Zealand. Friendly English-speaking people, great scenery, fun things to do, lots of young people traveling.

I went to England alone – first traveling and then a year of college. I met my husband there while I was hitchhiking around.

JLeslie's avatar

I agree with starting in countries that won’t feel too foreign at first as you get used to planning trips, and figuring out what you like to see. For instance my husband much prefers smaller towns while travellingnthan big cities, it took us a while to realize that is where he enjoyed himself most. I would also plan a little in advance to avoid big stresses. Reserve where you will stay at least when you first get to a city, and then you can adjust plans as you get the lay of the land.

I assume you are American, so we would need to know what parts of the country you habe alread seen, to recommend new places here in the US.

As for outside of the country I would go to Italy, because it is fantastic, and the food is amazing, Spain, maybe Germany and Austria. Especially Germany and Austria pretty much everyone will speak English, Italy not as much, but it isn’t a big deal at all, and you said you know a little Spanish. England, Scottland, Ireland will be easiest for language reasons. Japan is wonderful and will feel more foreign than western Europe, although for me it did not feel very foreign since I was from NY and DC, the Roppongi area in Tokyo has the most Americans, and people speak some English. all the taxi cabs in Tokyo have GPS, so if you have the address written down they can get you there. My parents just returned from a three week tour of China, they absolutely loved it. And, my dad loved when he toured Israel also. Those two countries stood out for them most of all their travels.

You could consider a 60 or 90 days cruise, and see many countries. See a bunch of cities, only have to unpack once, and not have to make a lot of decisions. After that you could return to the places you want to spend more time in. There even might be a cruise that is a neuroscience one, but that would only be a week long cruise.

A lot of it depends on money as someone said above.

JLeslie's avatar

Here is a cruise that was in the Mediterranean with neuroscientists aboard giving seminars. Insight cruises has many different fields of interests, and various parts of the world they cruise.

Sunny2's avatar

The first time I went to Europe, I had a one way ticket and no plans except I had a place in Paris I could stay with a college friend. It turned out to be a wonderful 3 month motor scooter and camping tour of southern Europe. Now, I would advise going on a purposeful trip so that you become more a part of a community. Go to a country to immerse yourself in the language and customs of the place you are visiting. Take classes. There’s a difference between looking from the outside and being a part of where you are. Sign up to work with Doctors without Borders, the Peace Corps or other group. That’s just my opinion, now. I thoroughly enjoyed my first trip, but subsequent trips with a purpose were probably more valuable to me.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Since I couldn’t afford to live at college, I stayed at home while in undergraduate school. I didn’t finally get away from home until I entered law school, whereupon I discovered that the law was as dry as a spinster, dropped out and joined the Army ( since I knew I would be drafted ). Second-smartest move I ever made.

zensky's avatar

Israel! Everyone speaks English here. Tel Aviv is wild, and Jerusalem is, well, Holy. The weather is nice – always.

RedmannX5's avatar

Thank you all for the great advice, I can’t wait to get out and see the world.

@JLeslie I’ve been to California, Colorado, Arizona, and Nevada. So any other places in the United States that I should check out? I’ve kind of been thinking about heading to the east coast, but I’m not sure what cities I would enjoy. Any suggestions?

JLeslie's avatar

Well, I absolutely loved Stowe, Vermont for a few days. You can go to tha Trapp Lodge, you know the Von Trapps as in the sound of music. One of the Von Trapps will tell you the real story of how they got out of Austria during WWII on their history tour. Also in Stowe is Ben and Jerry’s factory tour. You can also see the making of maple syrup and cheese up in that area. Then you can drive over to the Adirondack Mountains in NY or you can drive North to Quebec. Quebec City is really lovely very European feel, and you can see it all in 2 or 3 days.

Also, you could go to NYC, and then take the train to Washington DC (3–4 hour trip depending which train you take) both cities are fantastic. Washington is beautiful in Spring and Summer, early April is Cherry Blossom time. All the smithsonian museums and the memorials. NY has museums of course too, and I love the statue of liberty and Ellis Island, great shopping, but I doubt you are very concerned with shopping. NY also has Niagra, the finger lakes, and more.

And, what about Florida? South Beach in Miami? Then a flight to Mexico?

I guess I would need to know what appeals to? Beach? Museums and what type of museums? History? Food? Multicultural?

stardust's avatar

Yes I have. It was one of the most wonderful experiences I’ve had to date.
If you’re feeling really adventurous, close your eyes and stick a pin in a map of the world. If not, start off by going somewhere you’ve always wanted to go!

RedmannX5's avatar

To be honest I’m not really sure what I want to see when I travel, probably a little of everything. If I have the money I would love to travel outside the U.S., but if not than I might consider going to the east coast (thank you @JLeslie for the tips). I am quite an adventurous person, and I think I’d like to visit more than one city during my travels. I somewhat just want to ride the coattails of life, so to speak, and see where I end up. But thank you all for the great advice, hopeful I’ll have many more questions for the Fluther community after I return!

JLeslie's avatar

@RedmannX5 Yeah, it is a good time to see something exotic and different. I think you should go out of country probably while you don’t have many responsibilities and can really spend some time and see what life is like living in these places rather than as a tourist.

Once you know where you are going I am sure fluther can give you advice on secific countries.

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