“I really think everyone should travel,” civil engineering senior Chrissy Ford said. “My dad looks at it as an education and that’s kind of how I look at it. Traveling, you learn so much more about yourself, about other cultures, you become understanding, you become patient.”
The pressure of finding a job after graduation hangs over the heads of many students. However, some see this time as the perfect opportunity to explore the world.
Whether it is volunteering in Africa, crashing on a friends couch, joining the Peace Corps or chasing storms, many graduates have the thirst to travel.
For civil engineering senior Chrissy Ford, traveling has always been the plan. Ford grew up with traveling parents, so she caught the travel bug at a young age. Her sister went to Egypt after she graduated, so her parents promised her the same.
“And ever since I was little we’ve had this huge map on our dining room wall,” Ford said. “And I’ve always wanted to go to Vietnam, don’t know why, but now I finally get to go.”
Ford will be graduating this December and her trip is set to begin shortly thereafter.
“I’m leaving the day of graduation to go to Jackson Hole (Wyoming),” Ford said. “We’re road tripping, a big trip, and we’re staying there all week. Then we’re going down to Colorado where I live, or grew up, Steamboat Springs. We’re staying there until Jan. 27 and then I’m flying to Southeast Asia with my parents and my sister. We’ll all four travel around for about four weeks and then my parents are flying back and me and my sister are staying there until about mid-April.”
Ford then plans to fly to Zambia to volunteer at the Appleseed School until mid-May.
According to Ford, the school is in a compound outside a large city. Students attend due to the inability to afford the uniform or supplies required to go to free schools in the area. People sponsor the children for $25 a month. The money provides the children with uniforms, school materials and two meals a day.
“Most of these kids are orphans or something has happened where their parents moved away, or they can’t live at home so maybe they sleep at the school,” Ford said. “So it’s great for them to at least even have two meals because sometimes they wouldn’t even get that if it weren’t for the school.”
Ford will teach mostly eighth graders.
“Going to high school there is kind of like going to college here,” she said. “You have to pass this huge exam so we’re going to be working one on one.”
Ford will be teaching mostly English and math for all different ages and levels.
“And of course I’ve never experienced it,” Ford said. “But I’ve talked to my friend quite a bit and she was just saying it’s amazing seeing these kids and how much they want to learn and how excited they are about it.”
“I really think everyone should travel,” she said. “My dad looks at it as an education and that’s kind of how I look at it. Traveling, you learn so much more about yourself, about other cultures. You become understanding, you become patient.”
Others don’t have a set itinerary like Ford does — the plan is simply to travel. Nutrition senior Michelle Zamora graduates in December and knows she wants to take the time between work and graduation to travel, though her plans aren’t yet set in stone.
“Right now a friend (Ford) and I may be going to volunteer in Africa for a couple months in April of 2014, so I’m looking forward to that,” Zamora said.
She also hopes to apply for the Peace Corps in the future. She’s interested in the masters international program that integrates a masters degree with the full two-and-a-half year program for the Peace Corps, Zamora said.
She has been gathering information on the organization by researching, and talking to her professors and the Cal Poly Peace Corps recruiter.
Other possible plans include a backpacking Europe trip, visiting a friend who is ‘nanny-ing’ in the Netherlands or a backpacking trip in Southeast Asia such as in Thailand or Nepal.
Zamora expects to travel by WOOFing (Worldwide Organization of Organic Farmers). The organization has hundreds of locations around the world.
“It’s like couch surfing but you go and live in a homestay and you work on the farm,” she said. “Then they feed you and they house you for free.”
Like Ford, Zamora has wanted to travel for a long time.
“I’ve wanted to volunteer abroad since I was in eighth grade,” Zamora said.
Her plans mean more to her than just traveling, but volunteering as well. Money won’t be too much of a problem either because her potential volunteer programs are free.
“I don’t think you should have to break the bank to volunteer,” Zamora said.
For other graduates, a plane ticket is the only thing needed for adventure.
Computer science senior Coleman Hindes has already bought a plane ticket, though he doesn’t know what he’s going to do during his trip to Hong Kong. He graduates in December and will begin his travels in January.
“I plan to go visit my friend Daniel in Hong Kong where he’s working as an architecture student,” Hindes said. “I’m also considering visiting Thailand while I’m there.”
He knew he wanted to travel but decided on the location due to the convenience and opportunity of having a friend in the country.
“The fact that my friend is there definitely makes it a lot easier, it’s also relatively cheap,” Hindes said. “So I can get by on less a day and I think that allows me to have a longer trip.”
As of yet, Hindes plans to crash on his friend’s couch and have him show him around.
While many graduates look internationally for their travel plans, many graduates look nationally as well.
John Normoyle graduated this past spring with a degree in environmental management and protection. He’s about to begin a road trip throughout the United States.
“In winter, another student and I will be chasing storms,” Normoyle said. “Kind of just hopping around throughout all the skiable areas. So we’ll be in Colorado, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Canada, down the coast through (Portland) Washington and Oregon and that area. … When we do the whole West Coast part of it — like the coastal states — we’re also bringing surfboards and we’re just going to surf and snowboard, going between the mountains and the ocean.”
Normoyle has been snowboarding for 12 to 13 years and surfed a couple times when he was younger, though he picked it up more during the last two years in San Luis Obispo. So he decided to combine these hobbies with travel, and knew he wanted to take time after graduation to travel due to feedback from others.
“Just by talking to family and friends and people who were working full-time jobs, most of them adults, that’s the one thing they wished they would’ve done,” Normoyle said. “I don’t want to look back you know 15 years and be like ‘I really wish I would’ve traveled while I had the chance,’” Normoyle said.
Normoyle and his friend will be helping run college ski trips, which are similar to Cal Poly’s annual Ski Club trip.
“We’re essentially helping a touring company that sets up trips for colleges,” Normoyle said. “So we have lodging set up through that. … Or using the couch surfing website which I’ve used a couple times. It’s really nice and a really good way to meet new people and see the city in a different way than if you just stayed in a hotel room.”
Normoyle sees travel as a time of growth and learning, something he hopes to experience during his upcoming travels.
“There’s one aspect of just being a person or just having a career that you can’t learn from school or from an internship,” Normoyle said. “Whenever I have friends who studied abroad or took a quarter off to travel for whatever reason, they always come back a different person — in a good way — a lot more mature and patient and they have a different perspective on life. And I think it’s important to go out and do that for yourself and it helps you figure out who you are and what you want to do in the world.”