Advice to College Students: Study Abroad

In the last few weeks I have received a lot of email from guys in college asking how to make the most out of their time there. *Funny that the less I post, the more mail comes in*

I’m not going to advise whether or not you should attend University, circumstances are much different from when I attended in the early 2000’s and it seems that prices have done nothing but rise and the administration has even less of a backbone.

Demonstrations and protests against useless shit have always been a part of the college experience and its good for young idiots to scream and yell at the world and get it out of their system. I should know, I was one of those idiots attending and organizing protests.

So don’t let that bullshit scare you from going to University, the only thing that should stop you is if it is going to be a financially stupid choice. If you can spend a few years deep in study, figuring out what you are good at, and have the balls to think for yourself–by all means, go to college.

I’m going to describe in the following what was by far the biggest learning experience during my 7 year University experience that ended with a M.A. and two other pretty little pieces of paper that proved I read a bunch of books.

A Semester Studying Abroad

With the exception of two semesters off and over a year working on the road, I was a full-time student from 2000-2008.

Since I was the first person in my family to attend University, I had high expectations–which were quickly knocked down when it was apparent that you don’t need to put in much effort in American schools to do well–you can learn far more about the world through personal experience, studying and reading on your own. So after a short time I started to feel restless with the complacency and needed to escape. It was time to take control, do things on my own, and encounter a real challenge. I also wanted to get the fuck out of New York and see more of the world. At this point I had gotten a little weird and believed that abstinence was a good choice so I could focus on my studies. This choice was also adding to my stir-craziness.

At the time I was majoring in psychology but had started leaning towards the physical sciences and wanted to learn as much about the Earth and natural world as possible. *It may have been a waste of time drifting along, but I was going to school for free thanks to being poor and having Native blood (thanks taxpayers!).

The first thing I did was go down to the financial aid office and see if everything would still be covered if I went abroad. It turns out that not only would the tuition be paid for but I would receive aid for living expenses as well. The University I was attending actively encouraged students to study abroad and made it easy to find extra aide from numerous sources. When I heard this I knew that the next semester would be spent studying on another continent.

I did thorough research, I had already traveled through most of the countries in Western Europe and wanted to experience somewhere very distant and someplace where I could really get to know the locals. My fascination with the Nature at the time and desire to be as far away as possible from my homeland had me looking at two destinations: Australia and New Zealand.

Both had fascinating geology, interesting cities, and programs that were compatible with my University’s requirements. After reading up on both countries a little more, I picked Australia because it had much more wildlife and an endless amount of diverse ecosystems.

I chose a program where I would study ecology right in the middle of the Atherton Tablelands–a fertile area of new-growth rainforest about 70 miles west of Cairns in the North East part of the continent. For three months we would be studying, doing field work in, and living in a camp that was deep in the rainforest.

Something in the rainforest turned the lights on in my head and all the social anxiety that I had been fighting for the past few years dissolved in the steamy jungle air. During the first moments after getting off the 4×4 that took us miles through a dirt path to camp, I heard a sound that flipped a switch in my head that turned off the anxiety and allowed the wild side to shine through.

It was the call of the Kookaburra:

As soon as I heard that maniacal laugh and went searching through the forest for the animal that produced the call, it put me in touch with the environment around me, and connected me to my own Nature. No more was there the white noise of culture trying to impose its backwards will. I was free to do exactly what I wanted.

For the next few months I truly came alive and was constantly able to live in the moment.

The group I was with was composed of 15 other students from all over the world: 12 girls and 4 guys.

This was before I knew anything about game, and as I mentioned before, I had been focusing on remaining abstinent and suffering from anxiety, but with a 3:1 ratio in the middle of a forest filled with animals things were bound to get wild. Within the first few days I had picked up the nickname ‘Feral Gold’ due to my antics running around the forest with no shoes, climbing up the 70 foot liana vines to swing on them in the canopy, capturing giant centipedes, spiders and snakes, and hitchhiking to town to buy weed from ex-convicts that hung out at the local bar.

A bite from a giant centipede will put you in the hospital. Makes playing with one more exciting.

I had my first double blow-job while sleeping in a tent in the Daintree rainforest and my first real communion with the spirits after sipping hallucinogenic tea with Aborigines and stripping naked for a sunrise swim off the coast of Cape Tribulation.

Three of us got stranded in the forest one night after we went out to smoke pot out of an apple and a rainstorm rolled in and our flashlights died. We huddled together in the mud all night long telling stories and laughing our asses off to keep warm.

I carved a didgeridoo out of a tree that I chopped down with a Native and we drank more tea as he taught me how to play. That instrument has been hanging up in my bedroom to this very day.

I set up a pit-trap and caught two dozen cane toads, then sacrificed them all in fire. *The Natives told me to do this because they are an invasive species that is killing a lot of local wildlife* Fuck-you animal rights activists, I’ll slaughter me some aliens with a clean conscience.

Those experiences were just the tip of the iceberg of adventure that was had every day. Our ‘studies’ involved keeping track of the local wildlife–one of the animals that lived around our camp was a giant cassowary–a bird that is like a modern velociraptor dinosaur and can eviscerate you with a kick from its huge claws. We also had to take care of and monitor different sites that were being reforested. Hardly any time was spent in the classroom, instead I ended up with forest ticks attached to my nutsack sucking blood, terrestrial leaches crawling into my socks and sucking on my toes (one actually fell from the trees and landed on my eyeball), and scars from thorns that had torn my flesh after swinging on vines through the trees.

By the time three months had past, I was completely out of my head and feeling as wild as ever.

We got dropped back off on the mainland and I wandered around the city of Cairns. From there the plan was board a boat for a week out in the Great Barrier Reef and go SCUBA diving three times per day.

It was cuttlefish mating season. This one was hunting for a female. Cuttles are amazing creatures that can change the color and texture of their skin instantaneously to match the environment.

On the first trip, I made fast friends with the hard-partying crew and ended up going out for another week-long dive with them and having my expenses covered by working in the kitchen putting salads together and washing dishes each night. On both trips there were sexy girls who I ended up sleeping with. One became my ‘buddy’ on the first trip and we ended up drinking all night, making love until sunrise on the roofdeck of the boat, and then SCUBA diving drunk in the morning (fucking awesome). The other girl was a stripper who I ended up having quite the fling with.

My buddy and her nice round ass submerged in the sea.

There was more than one nude diving experience, I got to ride on the back of a giant sea turtle, play underwater volley-ball with a puffer fish, saw a 25 foot long hammerhead swim right by, was in the middle of a feeding frenzy of Nurse Sharks, helped predators hunt fish at night by shining my flashlight on certain fish, blinding them, and watching them get devoured *I feel a little remorse about that*, and swimming in a garden of clams that looked like 3 foot long giant colorful vaginas.

There was a ‘garden’ of these huge, vibrant vaginas that I swam around in all afternoon.

When I reached the mainland again, I met up with the stripper and she convinced me to travel with her down to Byron Bay, a small surfing town on the coast, and stay with her for a while. We took the trip down and I spent the next month surfing everyday, smoking fantastic marijuana, making love to her sweet stripper ass, going to concerts each night, and helping her sell jewelry to tourists.

After that I took a bus back to Sydney, explored the mountains around the area, and ended up returning home two months later than I had planned.

It ended up being one of the best experiences of my life and exposed me to a way of living that I had never knew existed. I had credits for the ‘classes’ I took but I learned far more about life from being set free in the jungle.

I still travel often but there will never be an experience like the one I had studying abroad in Australia. It was the right age, the right group of people, the right amount of freedom, and the perfect storm that sparked a fire that stayed with me for life.

If you are in college, I would highly recommend inquiring about study abroad programs. Make sure you do your research, study this harder than any class, it is a major decision that can end up changing the way you see the world.

Don’t imitate the many thousands of basic bitches I come across who get excited to tell me about their study abroad experience and then I learn it was just them getting drunk and taking a lot of dick in Barcelona. You can do that at any point in life and its not going to create any epiphanies.

Instead, think about what is going to give you the most edification, the most liberation, and take you away from your comfort zone the farthest. It might be something that changes your life for the best.

*The program I studied with was The School for Field Studies if you are interested.

About Goldmund

Goldmund grew up a wild-child and was constantly being disciplined. Using ancient rituals and game, he broke free from the shackles of his mind and the norms of this backwards society. He frequents bars in Brooklyn, mountains in Mexico, and retreats to the desert. His passions are nature and women.

3 comments on “Advice to College Students: Study Abroad

  1. I think everyone should be an exchange student. The university I attended had few good opportunities, but I did travel abroad on my own while in college.

  2. Pingback: The 4 Pillars of Self Improvement - This Is Trouble

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