The Importance of Side Travels Blog

The Importance of Side Travels

Sam McDonald
Exchange to Catholic University of Lille 
Semester 2, 2017

Technically I haven’t started the ‘study’ part of my study abroad yet, but I’m about a week away from arriving Lille, France where I’ll be living and studying right up until Christmas. I’m a Global Studies student so I’ve always known that going abroad was something I was embarking on, but the experiences I’ve had so far have been unlike anything I could have imagined!


I’ve been solo travelling through Europe for almost a month now and while it’s been a wild ride, I’ve also made an effort to purposefully and mindfully set aside time for myself to relax and recharge. When I’ve been city hopping, this idea has meant finding times in parks where I’ve been lounging in the grass and reveling in the summer sunshine, but just this morning after a few days in Sweden, I arrived into Croatia.


While wandering from city to city has been great and I’ve been immersing myself in local cultures and gaping at museums while living off baked goods specific to each country, one of the main reasons I chose Croatia as a destination towards the end of my trip was to relax and unwind before my semester begins.


In two weeks I’ll be undertaking nine subjects at the Catholic University of Lille (or Universite Catholique De Lille as its called in French), at this point you’re probably thinking that sounds crazy and I’ll admit I’m a little daunted by the prospect, but my anxiety is tempered for two reasons. Firstly, the passing grade at Lille is anything above and including a 40%, so chances are I should be able to make ends meet. However, the main reason I feel so ready to begin studying again, and on a bigger scale than my ACU course, is the time I’m having here in Croatia.


Being here has helped me realise and understand the importance of side travels, travelling beyond just your university city in order to find your own piece of mind. Mine exists in a studio apartment I booked on AirBnb a few months ago. The harbour is right outside and the sun shimmers off the water leaving a trail of sparkles in its wake. If you look along the sidewalk you’ll find piers that have rickety joints and look fairly unstable, particularly when next to their neighbours who have caved in planks or half wrecked probably from the ocean’s wrath. This is where I’ll be this week. Not only relaxing and recharging, but mentally preparing for the weeks ahead.


This time away means that when I begin my crazy schedule and plunge into the exams and essays once again, it won’t feel like I’ve been going non-stop for the past few week trying to cram everything in. Instead I’ll be tanned, refreshed and ready for the next adventure.


I’m sure when I’m sitting in class or typing my next essay, Croatia will probably be in the back of my mind and I’ll be thinking again about diving into impossibly blue water and lying on beaches stretching out between cliffs waiting for the sun to dry me off.

The Importance of Side Travels Blog