After spring break, while most students are getting ready for the last stretch of the semester and signing up for Fall classes, Sarah Hamilton is planning a solo journey around South America.
On Aug. 8, the sophomore international studies major and pre-med student will board a plane with a one-way ticket to Guatemala. She plans to take at least one year off to travel the continent.
â€œIâ€™m planning on traveling from Guatemala to Argentina by foot and bus,â€ Hamilton said. â€œNo plane rides except the first and the last.â€
Hamilton also wants to spend a few months in Peru, and plans on, â€œmoving slowly through each country.â€
â€œI want to volunteer in each country, trek and hang out with the locals,â€ Hamilton said.
Hamilton made this decision because she is unsure about what she wants to do with school.
â€œThe only thing I do know is I want to travel and be fluent in Spanish,â€ Hamilton said. â€œSo I thought, why not now? Iâ€™m going to regret it if I donâ€™t go.â€
Hamilton said many people wonder if she is concerned about traveling alone.
â€œItâ€™s hard not to be nervous,â€ Hamilton said. â€œI donâ€™t know what Iâ€™m going to run into.â€
Despite her nerves, Hamilton said she wanted to travel precisely because of the â€œunknown-nessâ€ of it all.
â€œIâ€™ll be throwing myself into a challenging situation,â€ Hamilton said, â€œwhere I have to speak another language and not be comfortable with my surroundings.â€
The Center for Advising and Student Achievement (CASA) reaches out to and supports students like Hamilton who take time off and return to CSU, according to Madlyn Dâ€™Andrea, director of advising for undeclared students.
â€œJobs are harder to find,â€ Dâ€™Andrea said. â€œAnd many people want to finish their degree.â€
Dâ€™Andrea said CASA does not currently have a way of tracking the number of students who take time off and return to CSU.
Bethany Siekmeier, junior liberal arts major and Spanish minor, spent a year-and-a-half traveling to Europe, Asia and South America after high school.
Siekmeier started out in Switzerland and Cambodia with Christian organization Youth With a Mission, and eventually travelled to Mexico City, Guatemala and Ecuador with her brother.
â€œI felt like I was not ready to commit to going to school,â€ Siekmeier said. â€œI wanted to do something different and experience things Iâ€™d never experienced.â€
Siekmeier said everyone should take some time off.
â€œThe biggest part was I learned who I was. I needed to do that before college,â€ Siekmeier said. â€œI think people should think a lot more about it (college) than they do. I didnâ€™t want to just waste that privilege.â€
Collegian writer Emily Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.