Travelling is a major part of being young, let alone life as a student. Yet with restrictions and life as we know it today making that essential part of life increasingly difficult, what ways are we finding to jump through the loopholes that make travel possible? And how are we affected in that process?

For a start, let’s look at the likes of J1’s, Erasmus, and exchanges…

As gruelling and pedantic as visa forms and financial plans are, at least they have proved themselves to show as a precursor to what is can only be a staple year of your life. Yet, many students – both incoming and outgoing – question the worth of all that hassle. A lockdown is a lockdown at the end of the day, no matter what country you’re in. 

But there is a way around such cynicism.

Despite the ups and downs of changing restrictions and allowances, it can be seen as just another part of getting used to a foreign culture. Many students, adaptable as we are, are choosing to take the bull by the horns and not allow the pandemic to get in the way of their lives anymore. We are getting our boosters when we are fortunate enough to be scheduled in for them, and we’re doing our PCR Tests when we’re fortunate enough to be on the waiting list for a vaccine. Evidently, as the students of this country, we are taking it upon ourselves to reclaim lost time and be the pioneering “risk-takers” dipping the population’s toes back into leisurely travel. 

And with this, we find students beginning to submit their course’s ‘study abroad’ applications again. We can overhear the chatter of Summer plans in campus cafés. I myself had a major discussion with my flatmates trying to decide between Erasmus in Copenhagen or Paris. 

The excitement of travel is now being met with an element of ease that hasn’t been seen in a very long time. Even with looming pre-requirements and extra documents, it is refreshing to see that we are taking everything in our stride, proving how resilient we have been and will continue to be throughout this pandemic.

But where do international students weigh-in in all of this?

Maddison Bruce, Second Year Law Student from South Africa, says that for her, studying abroad is well worth the travel.  ‘I think it’s dependent on what course you’re doing,’ she adds, coming at it from all points of view. She concludes that ‘if it’s going to cost you more to go away, but you’ll just get the same experience, then, of course, that impacts the decision.’

And so, we revert back to the age-old saying that Life is indeed what You make of it; 

Student Life included.

Apart from the academics, students are also getting back into the swing of holidays; with friends, their course, and everyone else in between. After all, all work and no play makes UCD a very dull college. Despite being forced to see the joy in staycations – which were a lovely experience in their own right – sometimes all we want to do is to go somewhere with a bit more sun than clouds and a better drink to euro ratio. And so, with the somewhat easing of restrictions, we see more and more twenty-somethings in the airport finessing the Ryanair ‘one small bag only’ value fare. Instagram Stories are parading party destinations such as Prague, Lanzarote, Greece even, and what a beautiful sight that is to see. 

The world is returning to its prior stance of big and bold and vast, but no longer out of reach. And we, as students, are returning to our inquisitive and curious stance of no longer cautious but fearless. We’re returning to life as we once knew it, and some of us are being given the chance to experience such a life for the first time. So finally, with travel being the first step to this, we may be able to let go of this knock-off version of student life and ramp it up to what it always should have been.

Rhoen Eate – Features Editor