Not all who wander are lost

CWA panel on exploring in your 20s


Perhaps it’s true now more than ever that not all those who wander are lost. They’re just getting ahead of the game in an increasingly connected world.

The panel “Wanderlust: Oh, the Places You’ll Go in Your 20s,” at the Conference on World Affairs, will bring together four diverse panelists — from career experts to graphic novelists to musicians — to talk about … well, whatever comes up.

“I hope we’ll be talking about the importance of global awareness, developing a global mindset, and for these young people in their 20s, being able to appreciate and understand the importance of the interconnected global world we live in, because it’s part of society whether we like it or not,” says Stacie Berdan, an international career expert and author who has been to more than 70 countries.

As the conference takes place at the University of Colorado Boulder’s campus, Berdan says she expects there will be plenty of students in attendance. She hopes to highlight how studying abroad is relevant to all jobs.

“Not just business people, but engineers, manufacturing jobs, teachers. Hopefully [students] will be inspired to study abroad, either as an undergrad or a graduate student. Increasingly, it becomes a real differentiator in the hiring process,” she says. “If you really want [a study abroad program] to work for you and be a career enhancer, integrate into your studies so you can make the most of it. Maybe take a deep dive into a language.”

Tori Hogan, a researcher, filmmaker and educator, agrees with Berdan’s stance on how travel can enhance job prospects. Hogan goes on to say that travel provides lessons that traditional education can’t.

“I personally feel that traveling around the world in your 20s is better than any graduate degree you could get,” Hogan says. “Solo travel when you’re young is a great way to figure out who you are and how you interact with others. There’s never gonna be a better time — you don’t have a lot of responsibilities, you don’t have a spouse or children to take care of and it’s okay to live a little bit more on a budget.”

Hogan, who has spent the past decade traveling the globe to improve the effectiveness of international aid, will travel to her 81st country this month.

Berdan says she also hopes to address misconceptions about studying abroad, particularly that it’s too expensive. Various programs inside and outside universities can fully or partially help students cover travel costs.

And to Berdan, the adventure is simply too exciting to miss out on.

“The world is so much more interesting than anything you can could ever find in TV, on the Internet or in a book,” she says.