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Bonjour, From Paris: ‘Don’t worry about money, just travel,’ is terrible advice

Photo Contributed by Kelsey Morgan
This Tiger studying abroad in Paris, France, shows her CU pride.

I recently read a Time article entitled “Why ‘Don’t Worry About Money, Just Travel’ Is the Worst Advice of All Time.” I completely agree. I know I sound like a bit of a hypocrite, but I’m going to explain. 

I’m not going to defend the notion that I am some kind of exception for this reason or that reason, because the article isn’t condemning traveling by any means. It centers around the notion that travel is necessary for some kind of personal or spiritual epiphany that everyone needs to experience, even if it means forgetting responsibilities and obligations –– because these trump things like having money to keep your lights on or to feed yourself –– is terrible advice. 

First, I want to address future “study abroad-ers”: I don’t care what the statistics say about how many thousands of students are studying abroad each year and how it’s increasing. If you are lucky enough to get the opportunity to study abroad, you are still in a minority. It’s an amazing experience, no question. It can be affordable for many. However, not everyone will be as lucky as you are. I am in no way discouraging studying abroad. I am also not for a second saying that you should feel guilty about being able to take advantage of that opportunity. 

Also, remember this: “don’t worry about money, just travel” –– again –– is terrible advice. Take advantage of the chances you do get to travel. See what’s on your bucket list, try that exotic scorpion on a toothpick, spend ten days living out of a backpack and have an amazing trip. But keep in mind that you can’t conquer the world in four, five months, and that’s OK. 

Many of you will have to learn, as I had to learn and have to keep reminding myself, there are some things you just have to say no to for now. I promise, if you try to see all of Europe while you’re there –– at least if you’re on a budget like many will be –– you will have a very hard time enjoying where you are if you are stressed out about money because you’ve committed to all of these trips that you can’t afford. You will also have a much harder time enjoying those trips without the money to eat traditional dinner, or to get into this museum or to go on this tour. 

Do yourself a favor and pace yourself. Be realistic, and budget your money. Save some money to enjoy the place you’re living, because, I promise, macaroons and French wine taste way better than PB&J every. Single. Night. You will have a much better time if you aren’t worried about running out of money before you get home. 

To those who will not get to study abroad, I promise, it’s OK. You will still get a great job, you will still be a marketable candidate and you will still have an amazing experience in college. Not studying abroad does not diminish how great your college experience is. The money that you or your family has ¬¬–– or doesn’t have –– does not define who you are. You are not a less smart, understanding or good person if you haven’t traveled outside of the state you grew up in. 

For those who wish they could study abroad, but will not be able to, I think the author of the article says it best: “[You] are learning what it means to work hard, to delay gratification and to better yourself in slow, small ways. This may not be a backpacking trip around Eastern Europe, but it would be hard to argue that it builds any less character.”

Study abroad has been amazing. It has been one of the greatest things I have ever done, and also one of the hardest. I’ve had some incredible experiences, taken some great Instagram pictures, eaten some great food and seen some beautiful places. I’ve had a lot of real highs and a lot of real lows. I’ve been lonely, felt isolated, hated the weather and been stressed about money. 

My program isn’t over just yet, but looking back, I can honestly say I’ve grown up a lot. I’ve learned about some things I want in my future and some things I don’t want. I’ve learned how to make tough decisions and to remind myself that everything is okay even when I have my doubts. I’ve also learned yet again to fall in love with the sunshine and the beach, with my home and with my Tigers. 


I’ll see you in August, Tigers. 




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