Why University is Equally As Eye Opening As Travelling

Nowadays, those who have travelled the world have an obligation to tell those who haven’t travelled to go travel. They make it sound like a shampoo advert with the adjectives they use to talk of their time in Thailand. There is a quote of “A mind once opened never closes” which I have no idea who first said this but I have it on a t-shirt as well and I completely agree with this.

But I’ve come to realise you don’t have to go to the other side of the world to have similar eye opening discoveries about yourself. I had all this in the nutshell that is University which was undoubtedly life changing and shaped me into the person I am today.


Now I didn’t even fly far from the nest, staying in Bristol where I’d always gone to school and about to go to UWE (geographically the closest university to where I lived) but moving out of my parents’ place to live with strangers was a more daunting than refreshing thought at first.

But the independence that was away from the parentals was just one of the many contributing factors to how the whole span of university finds you having moments of “hmm not sure how I feel about that”.

Some might argue I have no right to draw much initial comparison between travelling the world and only travelling down the duel carriageway into Frenchay. One being for leisurely discovery the other being for a hideous amount of debt and to learn and maybe even pursue a career in something that you thought maybe, just maybe there was an inclination of passion for.

But trust me, as I write this now with a degree and masters degree that I’m not even sure will ever be put to use in future, I can confidently say those “hmm I’m not sure how I feel about that.” were the absolute fundamental catalyst in making me me.

Now the learning was of course a big part of it. For some, they dread the task of being forced into a group project and having to do a full blown presentation knowing every single slide is being scrutinised. For me this was where I was in my element.

But away from the learning, this is where the real growing up happens.

The biggest factor is probably the people. Let’s stick a load of similarly aged people into student halls and see how that pans out eh? Besides having your accent completely dissected and made known to you. You grow to understand what other people are like very quickly. Assuming you want to keep everything positive, you know the best outcome is a good balance of give and take.

But this is University. Not travelling. So here you aren’t a tourist being offered the finest delicacies a particular culture has to offer. Instead this is your Tom, Dick and Harry being incredibly influential on you, sometimes without you realising it, sometimes for all the wrong reasons but you learn to take a walk on the wild side.

Chances are I’m preaching to the preached here, but being pushed out of these comfort zones, being forced into making decisions on a daily basis that had not even been considered when signing up for Uni, were in the grand scheme of things, invaluable.

Shall I go out tonight? Would it actually kill me to try some drugs with them? Shall I watch one more episode on Netflix even though I have a 9am start tomorrow? Am I even going to go into that 9am lecture? Have I got enough food? Shall I confront my flatmate about my missing food?

Like I said, daily basis. All the things that make you stop and think for a while, are the things that make you a malleable and ever developing being.

University was an absolute minefield that was a privilege to tread through carefully. But I’m curious to know if you feel it’s possible to detect in a person, a common set of behaviours or beliefs that indicate “Yeah, this person definitely went to Uni.”*

*(And I don’t mean tried it for a couple of weeks and dropped out because he realised Business Management is over saturated and duller than watching paint dry.)

The same with travelling though, can you pick up on that in a person? Knowing who’s trekked up machu pichu and sat in a picturesque swing in Bali?

University is definitely not for everyone but I still recommend it. It’s hard for me to think of a more life defining period of time in my life, or one which will come in future. Truth be told I’m not well travelled and would love to see more of the world, but I just feel University had THAT much significant an impact on me that it will be like apples and pears and hard to imagine anything else occurring to me that will have an equal or greater amount of ‘life- shaping-ness’.

Being catapulted into being solely responsible for what I bought and cooked (or during first and second year did not cook) and ate, was absolutely invaluable and has subsequently made me take very different perspectives and priorities towards food and even now it’s still developing. And that’s all come about through Uni. And the documentaries on Netflix watched during my time there.

The point I’m getting at is I’m absolutely sure this would not have happened or had a lasting change on me if I went travelling only to return home to my regular habits and lifestyle.

And I’m not going to lie, I kind of miss the freedom and independence of uni dearly so sod it maybe I’ll go travelling and ‘find myself’ all over again but experience the joys and cultures of some place other than the cider drinking, pasty eating capital.

Thanks for reading,

You can follow me on Instagram and Twitter @stevegrayfs ✌️

Like what you read? Give Stephen Gray a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.