Haley and I first met our freshman year at Indiana University in 2012 when we were in the same seminar about psychopathy. We lost contact after that course but would later spend several years working to build HOPE Mentoring together during our time in college – she served as one of our first mentors, though that was far from her only responsibility. Haley has always worked extremely hard through school, balancing many different organizations, classes, and projects as she went for her first, second, and now third degree. She always managed to find amazing travel opportunities and I’m really excited to share some of them with you via this interview – I hope you are as inspired by her adventures as I have been over the years!
1. Tell us about yourself.
I’m 24 years old and recently graduated with my Master of Public Affairs degree from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University. I’m currently completing another master’s degree program in information systems, making this my 6th year as a college student.
I’ve lived in Indiana my whole life and I’ve always wanted to travel since I was younger, but I never had the chance to do much traveling until I went to college. I originally never planned on studying abroad because planning for it can be tedious and it’s often very expensive. I had heard about a three-week study abroad program to Vietnam through my school, and one day I just asked myself, “What if I applied for this and actually went to Vietnam?” Once I got that thought in my head, I couldn’t stop thinking about how I could make it happen.
2. Why do you travel?
I travel to learn. Most of my experiences traveling abroad were for school. I studied abroad in Vietnam, went to a conference in Australia, and concluded my MPA capstone project with a trip to India where we did consulting work for a nonprofit. Whenever I’m in a new place, even if it’s just a hotel or a new town, I feel the need to learn about it by exploring all of it. I like to figure out where things are, and see as much as I possibly can while learning about the culture.
3. How do you balance work and travel?
I’ve been lucky to have research assistant jobs that were highly flexible and allowed for me to travel for several weeks at a time, so balancing work and travel has always been easy if I give my employer an early enough notice. Careful planning is important and so is looking for funding opportunities if you’re a student. I was able to go to Vietnam for free thanks to travel scholarships from my school, and I applied for a special departmental travel grant to go to the conference in Australia. They were only offering 4 travel grants for the conference, but I had a feeling it was one of those obscure things that few people knew about and I was right. Once I had the grant, I reached out to another recipient and together we planned on spending another week exploring Sydney and Melbourne. In the future, I’m planning on saving up travel time and money to go on longer trips so I can travel to multiple countries. I’m considering doing freelance consulting work and brushing up on my web development and coding skills so I can work while I travel and have more flexibility.
4. What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from your travels?
After a while, cities all start to look the same and they usually all offer somewhat similar experiences. It’s good to explore them, but don’t neglect exploring the countryside and the other natural wonders that are unique to the country you’re in. Additionally, you’ll have a more meaningful experience if you get to know fellow travelers and local people.
I have many favorite memories but going to Ha Long Bay in Vietnam is probably one of my favorite travel memories. We had a free day to do whatever we wanted in Hanoi and a group of us decided to buy a $20 bus ticket and take a three-hour bus ride to Ha Long. The trip was bumpy and took forever but we arrived safely and got on our ferry just fine. We paid $2 extra dollars to kayak in the bay and we got to explore the caves and giant limestone formations that jut out of the ocean.
Plan ahead, look for opportunities for funding if you’re a student, or look for ways to save money if you’re not. Most importantly, welcome culture-shock and getting outside of your comfort-zone, but don’t forget about personal safety. Finding the balance between seeking new experiences while traveling and focusing on personal safety is unfortunately more difficult for women. However, making it a priority to be exposed to new ideas and a way of doing things is always possible.
Thanks for reading! Want more travel tips from Haley and women like her?
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