After my undergraduate studies at Pace University, I was one of the few students of my class who decided not to continue immediately with a Master’s degree. Instead, I was lucky enough to get hired by Amazon Europe as a Project Manager in the company’s headquarters in Luxembourg City. My six-month contract just ended and I decided not to extend it, but instead travel for a few months by myself.
A lot of friends and colleagues have asked me:
WHY would you not keep working for Amazon if you have the opportunity?
Well there are a few reasons:
1. Renew your energy and motivation
After three years of moving around for my Bachelor studies (Luxembourg – Strasbourg – New York – Strasbourg – Paris – New York) and three whole summers spent interning, I need a break. When you’re away in foreign lands, you learn to appreciate what you had back home, and you can come back feeling re-energized and ready for the next challenge.
2. Explore other cultures
Traveling is all about discovering new places and meeting new people. As I have never been to Asia before, it will be an invaluable opportunity to learn more about the different local cultures and experience first hand how these nations develop at such an incredible speed. According to PwC, Vietnam may be the fastest growing of emerging economies by 2025.
3. Reflect on goals
Traveling also gives you a lot of time to think about yourself and to set new goals. Where do I want to live? Should I continue to study or take advantage of new job opportunities? What are the sacrifices I want to make? Most travelers say that their trips have been life-changing and still have an impact many years later.
4. Challenge yourself
A backpacking trip can be very challenging. You have to cope with a new climate, adjust to new sanitary conditions and deal with unfamiliar languages. You will be lost, and it will take time to adapt to this new environment. But overcoming these obstacles will empower you and make you more confident.
5. Learn new skills
If your perception of traveling is limited to tanning and binge drinking, employers won’t take you seriously. Instead, use the opportunity to learn a new language, take diving classes, learn to cook exotic meals or study the history of ancient civilizations. Many backpackers also choose to donate their personal time and volunteer for a good cause. As a Couchsurfer, for example, you can join kids in Thailand and teach English at Summer Camp.
If you choose to take a gap year, make sure to take your time and choose the best destination for your personal situation. Do you want to travel by yourself or in a group? Is the region safe for backpackers? What is the climate at this time of the year?
Getting started: First stop, Singapore