10 Reasons Why Students Should Travel During Their Semester Breaks

10 Reasons Why Students Should Travel During Their Semester Breaks

School’s out! How are you going to spend your well-deserved 3 months of semester break? No idea yet? Here are reasons to encourage you to plan your travel now!

School’s out! How are you going to spend your well-deserved 3 months of semester break? Most university students usually spend their breaks partaking in one of these activities—internships, part-time jobs, school activities, lazing around, and of course, vacationing! As I’m writing this, I’m scrolling through Instagram pictures of my friends holidaying all over the world—Europe, Asia, Australia, etc.

Also read: 7 Dream Destinations for Your Student Exchange Programme

student travel

Image credits: Humairah Jamil, You Jing, Nicholas Chan, Karen Ho

This is how my Instagram looks.

What lures so many students take to the skies during their breaks? After some reflections and quick questions on my part to my jet-setting peers, I present to you my findings:

1. Relieve stress

This may sound clichéd, but it’s a true story for most of us. Even a quick getaway to Penang or Bali does wonders for the soul. It’s the change of scenery that matters, anyway.
Whether it is bustling Bangkok

Image credit: Kevin Poh

or laidback Langkawi,

Image credit: Andrew Lawson

the idea is to get out of stress-cooker Singapore. Many a time, my shoulders usually feel lighter, divested of the usual academic stresses and burdens that so often plague me during the academic semester as I set foot on unfamiliar soil.
It’s the best way to start a holiday proper, since you come back all relaxed and renergised to launch into the flurry of out-of-school activities you have lined up for yourself. And even if you don’t have time to go for a short trip until nearing the end of your holidays, it’s still worth it! It’s also a great way to conclude your semester break. Completely let go, recharge, and gear yourselves up for the next gruelling semester!

2. Escape the climate

Let’s face it; we don’t usually have the best weather during our semester breaks. The months of May- July are too hot to do anything, and we perspire the moment we leave the comfort of our air-conditioned rooms, while the month of December usually brings with it torrential rains that make it hard for us to participate in any outdoor activities. What to do?

Image credits: Jalal Hameed Bhatti, Pixabay

Escape from the area of course! Though in general most of South-east Asia and Asia experience the same climate during those months, it is the opportune time to hop onto other continents. Just 5 hours away by air is Australia, where it is winter during summer and summer during winter. Or, if you have the cash, hop into a long-haul flight to Europe, where the springs are cool and the summers rather mild, from what I’ve experienced.

And if you’d like to experience extreme cold during the June holidays, travel even further up the northern hemisphere to the lands of Aurora Borealis and salmon!

Image credit: SSGT Joshua Strang

3. Student/Youth discounts galore

Even in Singapore we know of student discounts that we make full use of—movie concessions, student meals, and transport concessions. Now, think of those discounts, on a global scale. Yep. Most countries have concessions for students, both local and international. They want to attract the huge global student population, and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t make use of all these offers! Student flights, student train tickets, theme park concessions, hostel discounts, musical performance concessions…. The list goes on and on. As long as you do your research right, there’s no reason why you can’t have an awesome holiday on a student budget! Our dollar will always be stretched fully to its potential.

A word of advice: Get an International Student Identity Card, which gives you discounts on accommodation, transport, entrance to museums, etc.

Image credit: Ilya Rudomilov

There is no other time like now, when you get the maximum bang for your buck!

4. Stay for as long as you want

Short of the money you need, you can actually stay up to 3 months in one single place. It’s pure joy, if you ask me. You can do so many things with 3 months in a place! To cut it short, you get to see all the tourist sights, and then some.

Instead of stopping over for just 3 days in one place and whirling through all the tourist attractions, why not take out some time to simply absorb the atmosphere of the foreign land?

Image credit: Pixabay

I personally advocate staying in a place for a month or so, to learn and take in all the place has to offer. Tourist sights, local recommendations, and their history, food, pace of life, culture…EVERYTHING. You get to really explore every nook and cranny of your adopted city.

Image credit: Leonardo Agular

And wall.

Besides, if you ask me, short of taking no-pay leave, the only period you can send yourself on a months-long trip is during our university days. No matter how much we think we can take some time off for travelling later, chances are we won’t, once we become tied down with the mundanities of cubicle life. More likely than not we’ll be hanging on for those long weekends and short getaways.

Also read: 7 Long Weekends in Singapore in 2016

Now that I think about it, even budget isn’t an excuse for your duration of stay! There are tons of students who either work during the school year to save up money, or go on a work-travel trip sort of thing, where they work as they travel, which brings me to my next point…

5. Gain international experience

3 months in a country is very long, and for some of us who’d like to try this, yet not have the moolah to do so, I have the perfect solution for you—work overseas. The 3-month period is an ideal period for a short internship stint,

Image credit: Go-Abroad.com

some farming chores,

Image credit: World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms

or an au pair stint.

Image credit: AuPairinAmerica.com

Not only do you get pocket money to fund your travels and expenses abroad, you gain valuable international experience. You get to try out new jobs with different natures—retail, F&B, teaching, or even professional attachments. In many cases, you’ll be working with locals or other individuals from around the world, which allows you experience working in a different work culture from that of Singapore’s. This puts you in good stead during job applications, as employers are increasingly on the lookout for globally-minded individuals. That’s akin to killing 3 birds with one stone!

6. Do things you would never be able to do in Singapore

As exciting as Singapore is, the geographical limits that Singapore faces means that there will always be certain things we will never be able to attempt, even if advances in technology means that we can simulate these experiences. It is always better to be actually doing something in real-life, rather than simulating the experience in a plastic tube, isn’t it?

This:

Image credit: Gary Dee

Or this?

Image credit: iFly Singapore

Via Ferrata. Bungee Jumping. Sky Diving. Kite-surfing. I have no doubts that some of these are actually available in Singapore, whether by simulation or in real life. But they are often available overseas for a fraction of the price, and the views are exponentially better, I would think. So since you have the time, limited budget, and the urge to try out some of these adrenaline-rushing nature activities, why not jump onto the next plane?

Take on the world’s highest bungee-jump in Macau.

Image credit: Macau.com

Scale the Kilmanjaro peak in Africa.

Image credit: Marc van der Chijs

Kite-surf in the Philippines.

Image credit: Anastasia Zhebyuk

And enjoy all nature has to offer.

7. Grow as a person

Unlike Western cultures where children move out at the age of 18, Singaporean children have mostly grown up under the care and shelter of their parents. As much as we’d like to try things out for ourselves, inevitably we may be prevented from doing so by our parents, who have nothing but our best interests at heart. In other cases, our parents have also taken care of our every need. There is always a hot meal waiting for us when we get home after a long day in school, clean clothes to wear after a hot shower, a safe bed to sleep in.

Image credits: Pixabay, Chensiyuan, Pixabay, Andrzej 22

A huge thank you to all the daddies and mummies for these!
Travelling abroad, whether with friends or alone, makes you infinitely aware of the need to be in charge of yourself. We are responsible for our actions, our belongings, and our well-being. It becomes a do or die situation. (Okay, I’m kidding.) We start to pick up on essential tips to safe guard our belongings.

Image credit: Reuters

We learn how to protect ourselves. We learn independence. We learn responsibility. Above all, we grow, as individuals and adults.

8. Test your physical (and tolerance) limits

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always travelled in relative comfort on tours. So when I first decided to go on a trip with my peers, it was with gusto that I thought we should do a budget one.
That meant overnight buses and trains,

Image credit: Correogsk

15-bed dorms and shared bathrooms,

Image credit: Pixabay

running after rickety buses and delayed trains,

sem 8.3

Image credit: Buzzfeed

and sit-by-the-roadside food stalls.

Image credit: Dreamers Radio

For someone who stayed away from sleep-depriving freshman orientation camps, it was a pretty gruelling experience, although I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. Do it while you’re still full of energy and stamina to try one of these crazy trips. I don’t think I would have the heart or the mind to travel budget at my mum’s age. I’d much rather travel in comfort and with plenty of time for everything. Well, unless you’re one of those super-fit people who can do this anytime, in which case, please overlook this point. =)

9. Appreciate what we have in Singapore

My French teacher once told me,” I try to stop over in a country that’s more messed up than mine, so that when I return, I think my country isn’t too bad after all.” And I think that’s true. Oftentimes, when we stay in our homeland for too long, we lose perspective and tend to take what we have for granted. We start to nit-pick at everything. The roads are too congested, service is not good enough, the weather is too hot… Getting out of the country gives us a much-needed reminder that we are much more fortunate than some people in other countries.

India and the smog.

Image credit: Onewhohelps

Bangkok and the traffic congestions.

Image credit: Milei Vencel

Europe and the transport workers’ strikes.

Image credit: Trenitalia

Now, don’t you think you’re pretty happy to call Singapore home?

10. Find yourself

We’re at that age where we don’t know what to do with ourselves. Some of us may have had our paths set for us, especially those in specialised courses. For the majority of us, we have to decide sooner rather than later what defines us, which industries and jobs we want to be in, etc.

Travelling is the best time for some introspection. Explore your interests, do things you would never have done, really get to know yourself. Find out your passions; discover what works and what doesn’t work for you. Then come back to Singapore, with a much better idea of yourself and what you want in life.

Image credit: Pixabay

11. BONUS: Gain academic credit, without affecting GPA

One of the biggest motivations a Singaporean student can possibly have for travelling overseas—free academic credits. Nearly all of the local Singapore universities, if not all, have summer programme partnerships with overseas universities and colleges.

 

Image credit: Nanyang Technological University

Image credit: National University of Singapore

Image credit: Singapore Management University

Students can take month-long summer courses available at these partner schools and earn academic credits that can be transferred back to their respective schools. What’s even better is that you don’t even have to ace the exams; as long as you pass the course, the grades do not go towards the computation of your GPA score. Travel, living abroad, school, free academic credits… what’s not to like? This is why you see hordes of students flocking to universities in Japan, Korea, US, France, etc during the 3-month long break.

Well, I do hope I’ve convinced you enough to start travelling during your semester breaks! In fact, there’s no time like the present. To quote an oft-used phrase, YOLO! You only live your undergraduate life once!

Start planning for one now!

Image credit: Dave Keeshan

Also read: 10 Unconventional Ideas for Your Graduation Trip

About Author

Rosxalynd Liu
Rosxalynd Liu

A book-lover who loves losing herself in fantasy and historical fiction, Rosxalynd is working towards her goal of viewing and unravelling the mysteries the world has to offer. On her month-long travels, she eats, sleeps, and lives like a local, whilst taking in the touristic sights her destinations have to offer. Having a terrible sense of direction allows her to experience many things off the beaten track.

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