Travel can be a big investment.
After buying a plane ticket, hotels, food and other transportation, the costs can add up quickly.
However, for college students traveling abroad, many see the experience as worth every dollar spent.
For some students, going to the University of Georgia is already traveling far from home.
Kristen Nicolosi, a senior exercise sport science major and global health minor at UGA, is from West Chester, Pennsylvania. Since coming to UGA, she has been able to explore the state, as well as explore outside the country. Last summer, she took part in a study abroad program in Cortona, Italy, and this summer, she is spending a month in Taiwan.
A study abroad opportunity can teach a student a lot. Nicolosi has already learned valuable skills there.
“I am studying Chinese medicine and their philosophies, which are super cool. I even got to try acupuncture and fire cupping on my classmates, which is a great experience you can’t get in the United States,” Nicolosi said.
Out of all the places she has been, Nicolosi said Taiwan has been her favorite place, mainly for the views, food, and people.
“I have learned so much from my fellow (study abroad) students, as well as the Taiwan students at the university we are studying at. In college, I feel like sometimes we are in this little bubble from the rest of the world and traveling helps students get out of that bubble and learn things you can’t in the classroom,” Nicolosi said.
Tiffany Hines is the president and CEO of Global Escapes, a travel company in Athens. She helps plan up to 600 trips a year.
“There’s so many different reasons people travel. Sometimes I think people travel and get benefits that they didn’t even think they needed. Sometimes it’s to get away and relax. Sometimes it’s to go and explore a new place that they want to go learn more about,” Hines said.
Traveling abroad can change a person’s life. Sydney Leiter, a second year sociology major at UGA from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, says she decided to go to South Africa because her brother went and was changed by the experience.
“He came home a completely different person and hasn’t stopped talking about how the experience changed his life,” Leiter said. “The study abroad program also has a service component which is super important to me because I like being able to work in communities and learn from them rather than just going to a country and observing from the outside.”
Jonny Bradford, a senior industrial engineering major at Auburn University, created his own travel company in college called JB Travel Consulting. He originally started the company in 2017 to help people to find cheap flights.
Bradford is definitely not new to travel. By this October, he will have been to 65 countries.
While working at his travel company, Bradford said the most common place he noticed people travel to abroad is London. He wanted to help people reach their traveling dreams by showing them they can travel, even on a tight budget.
“I first found a flight to Scotland for $171 round trip from Atlanta. I always thought I needed two weeks and $2,000 to travel to Europe, so this shocked me,” he said. “I went for a weekend to attend an Octavian ball at St. Andrews.
“After I found this, I thought that this was the perfect way for people I know to stop making excuses or saying, ‘One day I will go.’ I believed the best platform for me to tell people was to start a company, so I did.”
If a person is traveling alone, they can learn more about themselves and how to be comfortable in their own skin. Also, college students can learn more from first-hand experiences in other countries than any textbook could teach them. Bradford mentioned a time where he learned about the country he traveled to from talking to the locals.
“I was unaware about the genocide of Muslims in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1992-1995, until I was on a bus to the capital city and a local went into absolute shock that I, being an educated American, did not know what happened in her country 20 years prior,” Bradford said. “It still hurts me to think about, but I learned so much from that moment, and from seeing and hearing about history, instead of merely breezing through a hefty textbook.”
Traveling can help a person be more open-minded about how the rest of the world lives. Bradford says traveling has changed his outlook on life.
“I have learned that we are all people,” Bradford said. “We all put our pants on one leg at a time in the morning, (we all) like ice cream, and (we all) desire to be loved. My country is not the center of the universe, and I myself am certainly not either. Things are not wrong in another country, they are just different from what I know to be normal.”