“Ukuhamba Kukufunda” – Andrew’s Final Post
Today is my last day as the summer Enrollment Coordinator at Interstudy. It’s been a fantastic 10 weeks working here in Boston. Being able to witness first hand the other side of study abroad and has given me a greater appreciation for the experience I had with Interstudy in 2010 studying in South Africa because of the legwork done by those in this office that make it all possible.
Now, before I get all misty eyed from the realization that this is my last day in the office, I felt it appropriate to share my somewhat worldly wisdom to those who take the time to read the Interstudy blog. So here’s my list of things to live by. Whether it is during a semester/year abroad, traveling, working, or recently graduating (as I just did) I hope this list will help bring some insight into what I believe to be some true necessities to know and practice.
1. Keep your friends close – especially when they’re at a distance:
Keep the contacts and friends you make as best as you can. Whether they be from school, work, abroad, or just from meeting on a bus (happens more than you think), be sure to stay in touch with those people who were once in your lives. These friends could end up being your host in their home country, or connect you with someone halfway across the world simply because they can vouch for you, or might even be the reason you are at work right now.
2. Don’t let traveling alone intimidate you:
It’s important to say that traveling alone does not truly mean you are ‘traveling alone’. To be perfectly honest, some of the greatest memories I have had were in direct result of deciding to break away from the group I was with and venture off onto my own path. If you simply allow yourself to be immersed into the idea of traveling alone I can promise you will not regret it.
3. Slow and steady wins the race:
If there is one thing that I have learned upon graduating from college is that there is NO RUSH in beginning your career in the ‘real world.’ Disclaimer: I am not saying that you should not look for work, hold off on getting a job, and be a bum. What I am saying though is there is no reason to jump onto the first offer you receive simply because it is a job. Give yourself a time to process what it is you want, not for a job, but for YOURSELF.
If you want to travel (like me) do your research, make a budget, and make it happen. Or, if you truly are 100% ready to enter to full time workforce, do it! But be sure to keep in perspective what your true worth is and do not let the knowledge of all your friends taking jobs before you deviate you from finding the one that truly fits.
4. Keep a Journal:
I think that whenever the word journal is tossed around people immediately think about someone writing their feelings into a notebook and essentially keeping a diary. While there is nothing wrong with this I am talking about a slightly different type of journaling. Utilize this journal to keep any ideas that may float through your mind at the most random moments. Keep small notes of what you did during each day if you are on a trip. Write down new contacts you may have randomly met. However you would like to use it, keeping a journal in my opinion enables creativity and enhances memory.
5. Ukuhamba Kukufunda: Traveling is Learning
I saved the best (in my opinion) for last. Ukuhamba Kukufunda is a Xhosa proverb from South Africa. Obviously it can be interpreted countless ways, but to myself personally, I view every kind of traveling I do as an opportunity to teach, learn and reflect. Having the courage, wherewithal, and open mindedness to not only travel, but immerse yourself into your surroundings will always prove to be invaluable experience. Not all the moments during an extended trip will be go smoothly, but all those moments will lead to something better, and that’s where that true sense of accomplishment is found.
There you have it, my personal two cents that I have picked up along the road less traveled so far. Good luck to all of our current and future students wherever you may be. I hope my slight wisdom can help you out in your experiences and future travels. Thanks to the Interstudy staff, it has be a pleasure working this here this summer. Stay tuned for updates on my upcoming adventure across Europe, Peace, I’m out.