“If you have to leave home anyway, why not explore somewhere exciting?” That was the college advice I got from a friend studying violin at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. She’s in her second year now, and every time I talk to her, she asks if I’ve considered joining her in Wales.
And, yes, for a long time, the idea of going to college on another continent was appealing to me. I’ve lived in the same house my entire life, and for a while my frustration with the monotony made me want as big a change as possible.
Of course, there is a definite upside to having stayed in one place, and I don’t really envy people who have moved from home to home. However, I do wish I had spent more time traveling with my family. Throughout my childhood, we took the same vacation every summer, to visit my family in upstate New York. It was always relaxing and fun, and at the time I didn’t mind that every year we repeated the same pattern of feeding the ducks in Lake Ontario and admiring the cows at Old McDonald’s farm in Sacket’s Harbor.
We did break the routine once or twice by taking a ferry to Canada. As best I can remember, we visited a fort where actors played soldiers and colonists, and I got scared when a deafening cannon blast announced that it was noon. That was by far the most interesting aspect of the trip.
I have left the country one other time in my life, to visit Costa Rica. I was in middle school, so I managed to get more out of that experience than any previous vacations. Still, during the week we spent there, we were decidedly touristy, staying in the resorts where everyone spoke English and filling our days with activities like ziplining. It was incredibly fun, but I didn’t exactly absorb any culture. I wish I had at least felt comfortable enough to practice speaking Spanish, but at the time my vocabulary was much too small to reliably keep up a conversation.
So even though I’ve had a few good experiences with traveling, I feel a little deprived in terms of actually seeing the world.
I’ve been a little jealous over the past year and a half, seeing my friend’s photos as she plays in concerts everywhere from a massive Italian cathedral to a recording studio for “Doctor Who.”
But, of course, when it actually came time to choose colleges to apply to, practical concerns outweighed the lure of adventure.
The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama is perfect for a violinist who has known practically her whole life that she will be a musician, but for someone with less concrete career goals, an American liberal arts college is a much better choice
Luckily, my hope to travel is not lost, since most of the colleges I’m looking at have extensive study abroad programs. If I’m lucky, I’ll get to make up for 17 years of minimal traveling. And I’ll probably appreciate the experience much more than I would have as an exhausted little kid on vacation with my parents.