For as long as I can remember there has only been one real thing that I’ve wanted to do, travel. However, when I left school at 18, I made the ‘sensible decision’ to start university in London, studying for a journalism degree. Why? Because that’s what all of my friends were doing.
The thing is, for an impatient person like me, spending just three hours a week in uni, being tied to the UK, and the prospect of doing so for the next three years didn’t really make me very happy. I was anxious to start living the life I wanted to live, so I dropped out.
I am now living in Australia and have found that my true passion in life is coffee and I’m hoping to get into a coffee sourcing in the future. Leaving my life in London was a risk, but I can say in all honesty that I am very happy that I did.
There are so many great reasons for doing a degree (if it’s in something that you love). I’m not writing this post to say that going to university is a bad idea. I just want to show that there are other options too. So, here 10 things I accomplished instead of doing a journalism degree.
1. I started my own blog
I had tried and failed to start a blog many times before this one. The thing is, when you’re at home studying, keeping up a travel blog is pretty tricky as you don’t have that much to write about. It was only after I dropped out of uni and started travelling that I had the time to write and the experiences to blog about. Now years on, I couldn’t imagine not having this platform to express my own views on.
2. I went solo backpacking
Solo backpacking around Asia was my biggest dream and it was one of the first things that I did after leaving uni. I know that my friends and family had their doubts about my trip and so did I- but despite my fears, it was something I had to do. That first trip alone around Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia was one of the most liberating and exciting times of my life and it shaped me forever. I came out of that trip as a completely different person, with loads of confidence and a whole new perspective on life.
3. I completed an NCTJ Diploma In Journalism
I didn’t want to spend three years studying however I loved writing and was keen to get some kind of training in journalism. Instead, I decided to do an NCTJ in my hometown in Brighton which was a much better option for me.
An NCTJ is a short diploma in journalism, that can be completed in three months, studying full time. Unlike the degree I would have done, my NCTJ was both exam and coursework based, it was accredited, came with work experience at my local paper in which we would be published and it was a fraction of the cost. Of course, it didn’t have the social aspects of a full degree but I had a great class and I was happy to get the learning done quickly so I could get started with all of the other things I was desperate to do.
4. I worked (a lot)
The last few years have given me plenty of opportunities to work both during and in between my travels. Since leaving uni I’ve done everything from working as a social media executive and copywriter at home, working in cafes both in England and Australia as well as doing guest blogging alongside this. All of this has helped me build up loads of confidence, gain experience for my CV and helped me to save money to entirely finance all of my travels. It was through my cafe jobs, that I realised that I was happier behind the coffee machine than at a desk. Melbourne’s speciality cafe scene was the best place to kickstart that and it opened my eyes to the many careers combining coffee and travel.
5. I did loads of internships
If I could give one peice of advice to someone going into their 20s, it’s to get as much experience as possible. I had so many interests and so much enthusiaum when I left school but I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. Very few of us do.
Over the last few years, I have done internships and eventually paid work, in everything from a media agency producing one of the UK’s most popular tv news shows, to digital marketing and journalism. This has resulted in a whole portfolio of published work, all with my own byline. A lot of the other interns I have worked alongside have just graduated university themselves so it shows you that degree or no degree, we all end up in the same boat. It was a great way to get some life experience, test the water and see what I liked, and did not like, without any financial obligations.
6. I Lived out my dreams
I was in my early 20s and I had almost complete freedom to live out my dreams. One of these was going to Central America and that’s something I got to do for a few months on a tour with G Adventures. Countries like Mexico, Guatemala and Costa Rica had long fascinated me but I knew that the region had a reputation for being a little dangerous, hence why I ended up doing the tour. If anything, this trip awakened a whole new level of wanderlust in me and it gave me more friends and once in a lifetime experiences than I can name in this blog post. Another one of my dreams was to live abroad which brings me on to my next point.
7. I Lived in Australia
Travelling is amazing but having the opportunity to live and work in abroad is one of the best things you can do in your life. I have now lived in Melbourne for almost three years and it has been the most significant period in my life. I came here on a working holiday with a friend and I now study over here. Having the chance to travel around a country as incredible as Australia was fantastic and getting to live in a city as vibrant as Melbourne has been life-changing. These days, Melbourne has come to feel like home. I have learnt so much about the city and I’ve also learnt so much about myself too. I have gained valuable life skills like living out of home (particularly during the pandemic). I have learnt how to manage my finances, look after my health and I’ve also had the chance to work and discover what I want to do in my life.
8. I saved up a lot of money
I don’t know how many thousands of pounds worth of debt I saved from not going to university, but it’s a lot. The last couple of years have given me the chance to save up loads of money through working, enabling me to fund all of my travels. What’s more, I’m now completely debt free.
9. I lived alone
I know that uni seems like the obvious way to move out of home but if independence is all you crave, there are easier ways to do it than signing up to a three-year course. I love my home and staying back with my parents for a few months in between trips has helped me save up loads of money. However in Australia, I’ve lived in sharehouses, learning how to look after myself and having the opportunity to live with friends. Sure, money’s a little tighter when you have to pay rent but it’s also so much fun.
10. I made lots of new friends
The social aspect is another huge drawing point for going to university. However, I can vouch for the fact that the last few years travelling has given me more new friends than I’ve ever had in my life. I’ve met so many amazing and truly inspirational people from all over the world through work, internships, through my friend’s uni friends and throughout all of my travels. The only negative about having friends spread out all over the place is that it can be tricky to stay in touch. My friends in Melbourne have become like family to me and I dread the day that I have to say my goodbyes.
People are often surprised to hear that I didn’t do a degree. ‘What did you study in uni?’ is a common question. You see, not completing further education goes against the norm and it’s a shame there’s still such a taboo against not going. We have to realise that everyone is different and a degree isn’t right, nor is it necessary, for everyone. I wanted to write this post to discuss some of the benefits that come from not going to uni and to show that a lack of further education doesn’t mean you have to work in retail for the rest of your life either (but you can if you want to).
Do you have any more questions about any of the topics mentioned in this post or do you have a similar story? Feel free to drop me a message here.