This summer, I’ll be writing a series of posts on various summer activities you can do during the break, such as travelling, working or leading in student life.
As I recently returned from a trip to Hong Kong, I felt compelled to start off this series with a post on travelling. Our university summer breaks are the best time to travel. Remember those miserable 4 week June holidays? Packed with holiday assignments, extra classes, and CCA meetings. Now compare that to our luxurious to our Summer break, 15 uninterrupted weeks of freedom! So make use of this opportunity that will be hard to come by after graduation.
Why you should Travel
Cross Cultural Exposure
As we very well know, today’s world is becoming increasingly globalised. “Seeing the world” is not just about tourism anymore, but rather, people travel all over the world for work, study and play. You probably already have international classmates and colleagues, and conversely, you would have friends who have left Singapore to work or study overseas. The ability to interact and work with people from different cultures is now an unspoken additional requirement for the workforce. There is no better way to develop cross cultural understanding and tolerance, than to remove yourself from the familiarity of “home” and immersing yourself in the culture and way of life overseas. You’ll be amazed at how different, yet similar, your counterparts of different countries, races and religions lead their daily lives.
When I was in Hong Kong, I visited the Ngong Ping Village of Lantau Island, the home of the Big Bhuddha. Monks and families on pilgrimages were scattered among the area, in contemplative worship. As a Christian and a regular church goer, I see worship as fiery sermons and joyful singing. I was pleasantly surprised, and fascinated at how the monks and pilgrims carried out their worship. They sat in lotus position, and other than the gentle turning of prayer beads, they remained completely still, in pin-drop silence and worshipped.
Travelling introduces you to a new set of experiences that will highlight different perspectives on similar issues you face back home.
Learning to be street smart
Season 3 of Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice” was particularly controversial as Trump handpicked a team of “book smarts”, employees who had at least a University degree, and a team of “street smarts” , businessmen who had no more than a high school diploma but years of business experience. Trump observed that the street smarts had better business acumen and were more shrewd.
It is a known fact that life in Singapore, with our safe streets and robust infrastructure is rather comfortable and sheltered. Navigating through public transport in a new country, finding your way back after getting lost and being discerning enough to avoid tourist scams requires you to be “street smart”, what urban dictionary defines as “A person who has a lot of common sense and knows what’s going on in the world. He knows how to deal with different people and different situations and has his own independent state of mind.” If you notice the skills described here “dealing with people” “dealing with situations”, and “being independent” are skills very much needed in the workplace, and most importantly, skills that cannot be acquired if one chooses to remain sheltered within a familiar lifestyle. Travelling gives you a head start in acquiring such skills that will become crucial in your adult life.
Saving the best for the last, travelling is truly a fun filled adventure of sights, sounds and experiences that is best enjoyed during your Uni life.
Tips on Travelling
Hopefully this post has inspired you to grab a friend and jump on a plane, here are some tips for travelling, especially if its your first time travelling with friends.
1) Pick a like minded friend to travel with. If you’re idea of a fun relaxing holiday is dwelling with nature through treks, hikes and trails, don’t travel with your friend whi is a city dweller looking forward to museums, shopping and dining.
2) Make your expectations on lifestyle and budget clear to each other; your holiday will go awry if you’re looking to splurge on fancy restaurants and luxurious hotels while your friend is pinching pennies.
3) Start planning your trip 3-4 months in advance so it gives you time to set aside money, and accommodate any unexpected changes.