Confessions / Inspiration


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Last Updated on 27th January 2017 by Sophie Nadeau

Study or travel? Well, first things first: some of the most inspiring people in my life didn’t even go to university. If I’m honest with you, they didn’t even do well in high school. One of them flat out failed at the ‘important‘ subjects. And that’s because of one simple fact: the path to ‘success’ in life (if it’s even definable) has nothing to do with a piece of paper.

For months and months I’ve been thinking hard and long about a choice I have to make: Do I quit school and pursue my dreams or do I go back and finish my studies? Do I move away from France to London in order to finish my studies or do I quit school and find a full time gig in France to tide me over while I figure out what to do? Besides, I’ve made no secret that I’ve never been so happy as I’ve been in France (you know, despite London being lovely and all)…

So… Study or Travel?

Well, I can tell you, it’s not been an easy choice to make. Every ounce of me is screaming to quit school, follow my dreams and ignore the potential consequences. The prospect of losing another year on something I’m not particularly passionate about and spending vast amounts of money on finishing my education (in the U.K. you have to pay for school. You have to pay a lot for school) is definitely not appealing.

I honestly wish I were brave (or stupid?- I don’t know?) enough to sit here and say ‘I’m quitting school and not looking back‘. I’ve spent hours reading articles by various people who quit school and followed what made them happy. But I just can’t. Something in my gut is telling me to stick with it and get that degree. Besides, I have a feeling I’m going to need it….

So should I study or travel? Well, if I really can’t stick it out, then at the end of the day a degree is just a piece of paper and nothing more. It’s a tool that you can use and that’s it. Besides, travel gives you just as many tools, albeit different.

study or travel

So you’re thinking about quitting university (or not going)?

Well, there are pros and cons to both. If you’re really not sure, before taking the plunge, I definitely recommend taking a gap year! I can’t recommend it enough… This should definitely help you clear your mind and will enable you enough time to think things through:

  • Study or Travel (aka School of life vs school of academia). If you do decide to take the ‘plunge’ and travel, then you’ll get just as many different tools. They’ll just be different. And different doesn’t necessarily mean difficult or bad…
  • Think about what you want to do (like, seriously). There are things that you’re always going to need a degree for: dentist, doctor, lawyer, etc. If you genuinely want to pursue one of these professions but are thinking about not going to school, how serious are you about actually wanting to be a medic etc.?
  • Think about the cost. If you’re studying higher education in many countries (such as the U.S.A., U.K. or Canada), then chances are, you’ll be forking out a lot of money! Make sure you choose something you’ll not only enjoy, but you think will stand you in good stead for the future. When I first started university, I was seriously considering becoming an auctioneer. Obviously I’m no longer considering this (hence study or travel?) But at the time, a degree was the right thing to pursue!

study or travel

But, what happens if I want to study AND travel?

Well, good news! We are in the 21st century after all…

If you really want to travel and study, then make sure to find a course where you can combine the two. There are plenty of schemes and university courses that will allow you to combine the two. Just make sure that you make yourself return to finish your degree in your home country at the end!

Read more: 

12 things that happen when you return home from study abroad

5 times study abroad made me wish I was back home in England 

travel or study

About Author

Sophie Nadeau loves dogs, books, Paris, pizza, and history, though not necessarily in that order. A fan of all things France related, she runs when she's not chasing after the next sunset shot or consuming her weight in sweet food. Currently based in Paris after studies in London, she's spent most of her life living in the beautiful Devonian countryside in South West England!


  • […] do what you want to do unless you decide to, regardless of your present responsibilities. Only the determined few can pursue their studies, excel in them and travel the world at the same […]

  • Tour Nha Trang Today
    7th September 2017 at 9:04 am

    Thanks for sharing and keep it up as i come back and check new comments and posts.
    If you’re just going to school to go to school, then it’s kinda a waste, but if you want a job in a specific field then it’s a great choice

  • halong bay cruise
    22nd March 2017 at 7:13 am

    Well, definitely schooling and study first then once you get a good job it allows you to travel frequently, however, traveling as a student is also very joyful. Thanks for sharing and keep it up as i come back and check new comments and posts.

  • Katelyn
    1st October 2016 at 8:15 pm

    Going to school online is also an option for a lot of courses of study. (Here in the USA at least and I’m pretty sure I saw some online degree programs in Australia.) As long as you have a reliable internet connection at least once or twice a week, you can travel and go to school at the same time. I’ve taken online courses toward a Master’s in Library Science without ever visiting my university.

  • Hermandez
    20th September 2016 at 3:34 am

    You also get knowledge from traveling. I ever confused that problem. Traveling or schooling? Which thing is more important?Finally, I choose raveling and I never regret for my decision.

  • Clara
    8th September 2016 at 7:03 am

    Degree gives you an option in case your primary passion fails to takeoff. But the time and cost can be prohibitive for many. It’s a very individual choice as only you have to face the consequences.

  • Connie Beatrice
    6th September 2016 at 3:29 pm

    Oh I understand you so well! I still have 2,5 years left of my studies and right now, all I want to do is travel. But deep down I know that finishing my degree will be helpful in the end. I’m learning a lot to start my own business some day and that’s where I’m going. And to be honest, studying in Germany is almost free and I have two huge breaks every year in which I can travel. I’m also planning a year abroad at the moment, to combine the two as good as possible!
    Somehow I sometimes get the feeling that in the digital nomad community it’s almost frowned upon to finish your degree 😀


  • Samantha
    6th September 2016 at 2:04 pm

    I think it just really depends on what course you want to study. If you’re just going to school to go to school, then it’s kinda a waste, but if you want a job in a specific field then it’s a great choice. But travel is also an excellent choice and will teach you more than school ever will. Are you able to go to school in France or take a short course there while working as a sort of hybrid option?

  • Tanja (the Red phone box travels)
    6th September 2016 at 1:18 pm

    I think it’s important to get that piece of paper called a degree. You never know when you might need it! you can travel and study, and work and travel and even travel with kids (as I see in blogs!:) ).

  • Emily
    6th September 2016 at 12:41 pm

    Good for you Soph! I thought about the same thing so many times, but the truth is it’s way harder to go back to school later if you do decide you need a degree than to just get one now- especially in France where degrees mean so much! Besides, now you can show us all the coolest nooks and crannies of London 😉 can’t wait to visit!


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