Travel: AKA the Best Teacher

My trip to the Berlinale film festival this past year.

Regardless of how passionate you are about your major, I feel like having a few classes you’re less than thrilled about is an inevitable experience in college. For me personally, a lot of my first-year classes were extremely introductory and could be a bit boring at times. However, with the free time my less-than-packed schedule allowed, I decided to take advantage of being in Europe and travel as much as possible.

My school has what are called reading weeks, which happen twice a semester and are essentially just a week off of school. Despite the name, I think the average Trinity student can tell you that not very much reading gets done during reading week. However, for the first reading week of my freshman year, I was a little nervous about going on a long trip. I didn’t have any super close friends and was definitely not brave enough to try traveling somewhere alone. So, two friends and I made the crazy decision to try taking a day trip to London.

While Dublin is only an hour and a half flight from London, we failed to factor in all the additional time of getting to and from airports as well as potential delays (if you’ve ever flown Ryanair, you know exactly what I’m talking about). However, the chaotic-ness of the whole thing was probably what made it so memorable. We were up at the crack of dawn, spent the few hours we had in the city speed-walking from sight to sight, and collapsed in our dorms back in Dublin at the end of the day. Even today, as I’ve gotten to know those friends better, it’s always a great story to tell.

Day trip to London!

For my spring reading week however, I was determined to cement a longer, more elaborate trip so I could really get to know the culture and layout of another country. A group of friends and I finally settled on the city of Barcelona and I began an extensive few weeks of researching and compiling an elaborate spreadsheet (I am most definitely my mother’s daughter). I had every day planned to the hour, although I reassured my friends that nobody was obligated to follow the schedule I set. Surprisingly though, they were all mostly willing to follow my lead and try to cram in as many sights and activities as possible.

Barcelona was truly an incredible trip and I fell in love with the city over the week we spent there. We started our trip by visiting the stunning Sagrada Família, the remarkably massive church that has been in construction since 1882. The architecture was insanely intricate and, despite having seen pictures online before, no photo could capture the feeling of standing inside the church and gazing up at the ceiling. Another memorable attraction was the Park Güell, a lovely green space with ceramics and architecture designed by the famous designer Antoni Gaudí.

The stunning Sagrada Família

Without getting into every little thing we did, some more memorable moments include a three-hour hike we did up the Montserrat mountain, a visit to a creepily empty theme park on Tibidabo, and a cello concert (followed by a meet-and-greet) by the talented Sheku Kanneh-Mason. No shade to any of my classes or assignment from that semester, but I think it was well-worth taking a break from school to make some of the best memories of my freshman year.

Post-hike on Montserrat! (the photographer let us pose with their dog)

While I am definitely not the first person to say it, I don’t think the educational benefits of traveling can be preached about enough. I fully recognize that getting the ability to travel to different countries and have experiences in new cultures is a privilege, one that not everyone can afford.

However, if the opportunity does arise, and the resources are available, I highly encourage every college student to seize the moment and travel abroad. Whether it’s just for a week or a full semester, it is so beneficial to physically spend time in another country to immerse yourself in newness and see firsthand how other cultures live and operate

Especially coming from the US, it is all too easy to get caught up in your own bubble and forget about the rest of the world to whatever extent it fails to factor in your day-to-day life. However, unawareness often breeds ignorance, and getting to spend even just a little time outside of your bubble can help you remember how big the world really is.

The benefits of travel don’t only apply to travel outside of the US borders. College schedules are hectic, and funds can be tight, so traveling abroad may not be a viable option for most students. However, one can still travel to places that are closer to them while also receiving the beneficial lessons learned from visiting a new place. Whether a neighboring city or state, there are more easily accessible locations that can inspire the same amount of learning and open-mindedness as visiting a foreign country.

For me personally, travel has helped me see the bigger picture in all aspects of life. Getting bogged down in the college environment makes it all too easy to stress over the most trivial of things, from assignments to friendship dramas to what you want to eat for dinner. In that sense, travel in any capacity is not simply a break from the lull of everyday life, but a chance for a new perspective on the world, and how you might fit into it.


  • Freshman year I saw travel as a way to get the most out of my education
  • My first trip of college was a day trip to London
  • My week-long trip to Barcelona opened my eyes to the benefits of traveling
  • Traveling can help put the stresses of your day-to-day life into a bigger picture

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By Bella Littler

Bella is a second year film student within the Trinity College Dublin / Columbia Dual BA program. She grew up in Iowa, but is currently living and studying in Dublin. On the average day, you can find her watching obscure movies, going on aimless walks around the city, or raving about any and all Taylor Swift lyrics.

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services.  

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