Waking up this morning in London, having a coffee with my childhood friend Ben, the strangeness of our situation was not lost upon us. We are both from a small community in central Wisconsin, with little industry and a very difficult job market. Here we are, though, in Ben’s London flat discussing how we ended up where we are. Ben is an artist with a master’s degree from the Royal College of Art and I am an entrepreneur living in Boston. The jobs that we have discovered have many more similarities than differences.
It Was The Chance to Travel
The answer to our success was absolutely the opportunities we each had to travel. Ben’s grandparents live in Germany and therefore he experienced many visits throughout Europe growing up. My parents and grandparents have always pushed for me to see the world. It is not that we do not appreciate our rural upbringing, but to stay put would have afforded us little to no opportunity to do what we currently do now.
Without our travel experiences, we both agreed, our imaginations would not have been open to the possibility of a career “off the beaten path” or in our cases, the opportunity to create our own careers. Living in a small town where the majority of industries are medical, service, agriculture or education and going straight to college before traveling, we would not have had an idea of the variety of options available.
Seize the Opportunity
Seizing every opportunity to see the world is something I would recommend for everyone at some point in their education, whether you are from a small town or large city. It’s as important to build travel programs into school curriculums as well – even though the cost can be daunting. Both Ben and I traveled on a group educational tour during high school and worked to fundraise the majority of the cost of the trip along with about 40 other members of our community.
Worth the Extra Effort
I consider us both incredible success stories in the making. We are still working to establish ourselves in our respective industries and although we have had some success, there is still a long way to go on both our ends. However, when I hear that cost is the main factor in preventing students from travel I must both agree and disagree. Funds for travel CAN be raised over time; therefore, it is the advance preparation and planning that will make travel a possibility for everyone. Sometimes it takes providing a trip only every 4 years (like our school district did), extra help from the community and a little creativity to make it happen. It’s incredibly possible and speaking from direct experience, it’s worth the extra effort.