My first thought for the sentence you’re reading now was not child-friendly, and I know I’ve got kid readers. Let me start again. (adults, you can translate)
Holy. Bonking. Poop.
Out of nowhere, the university I’m going to in Europe (which will not be named for fear of them finding me and punishing me) blindsided me with a request for a bank statement showing an account that has my cheap-ass name on it and “at least” $10,000 in it. Not including the $450 application fee. Uh.
I’ll start by saying that this whole “going on exchange to Scotland… oops, the Netherlands” thing has been absolutely, 100% insane. I will admit that when I first put my name in the bin, I was not prepared. At all. I almost missed the deadline. But don’t get me wrong. When I decided I was going to do this for real, I committed to the max. I researched. Thoroughly. I’ve been in the international studies office with questions so many times that when I walk in the door, they sigh my name and smile super duper brightly (no, seriously, I wish I were kidding). And STILL, I have been blindsided at every single turn.
But hey, it’s just $10,000. Only enough money for me to live on for a full year, anywhere in the world. No biggie. Surely I can get that in enough time. I mean, I have a full two week’s notice.
It’s fine, I’m figuring it out. No big plan goes without a hitch, it just makes you want to barf when you land a $10,000 hitch. What I actually want to talk about is this:
The way that exchanges and travel programs cater so exclusively to rich kids in such obnoxiously privileged ways is absolutely not okay.
It’s no wonder people think travel is only for the rich. When you try to do it through a program, they eat you alive, especially as a young person. To assume that someone participating in the program (mostly kids 19-22) would be able to quickly and easily funnel $10,000+ into an account on 2-4 weeks notice is INSANE.
And this was assumed. I was extremely involved and attentive. This was not mentioned to me until this evening when I received the official documents. How is this okay? Essentially, if you’re a rich kid and your daddy is giving you a massive allowance or paying for your life still, yay for you, congratulations on your acceptance to our program. But if you’re a normal kid who works two jobs outside of school, fights for scholarships, and $10,000 is your family’s full savings (if you’re lucky)… sorry kid, you’re out of luck. You can take an expensive loan out if you’d like, but otherwise you’re screwed.
I don’t know if there’s anything I can actually do about it besides speak out. However. I want to encourage those of you out there who are like me: adventurous, close-to-broke, and wanting to travel.
We can do this.
It’s stressful sometimes (understatement), but there is almost always a solution. Sometimes you have to fight the system to make it work for you. Sometimes you can find an out of the box way to tackle a problem that has you stumped. And occasionally, you have to ask for help and seek someone else’s perspective on your mess. BUT: don’t give up. It’s almost never the end. Often you just need a cry and a glass of wine and a best friend to help you discover the next step. You’ve got this.
To those of you who are finding solutions to this problem, who are giving kids scholarships and finding ways to help all of us travel if we want to, THANK YOU. You are the change we want to see in the world. Keep up the good work.
(humble brag: my mom is one of these people. Cool, right?)
To anyone who wants to help me out, because I am working my butt off right now trying to make this happen, here’s what I need:
- Work opportunities: This is my dream. I’m going to work for it, hard. I work as a: social media manager, SEO manager, website developer, writer (primarily travel and education), editor, creative writing teacher, and I’m doing a bit of Spanish-English translation work at the moment. If you or someone you know could use any of the above services, please get in touch with me.
- Super duper cheap (but not disgusting) Groningen housing. I think I have a place sorted out, but if you know of something amazing, let me know. I’d be willing to room with someone or live in an attic. Dobby has a sock!
- Encouragement. Seriously. Would love to hear from you guys, I love it so much.
- Money. I mean, I feel a little sketchy about this one… I’d much rather work and earn this on my own. However. My birthday is coming up. If you’re someone who was going to get me a gift anyway, or someone who just really enjoys what I do and wants to help me out, I’m not above the help right now.
Thanks for reading! If you’ve ever experienced some crazy travel glitches, I’d love to hear about them. Please, help me feel a little less of an idiot for being so blindsided by this. Ha! Comment below!