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COLUMN: When college students become a travel agency



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You meet a stranger on a Monday. By Tuesday, you’ve learned each other’s majors. By Wednesday, you’ve booked a trip together to Portugal.

Maybe this isn’t how international travel plans usually go, but welcome to a study abroad program. Armed with a list of budget airlines and a class to get back to by Monday morning, somehow a gaggle of college students become the world’s newest travel agency.

They’re open for business, and the first trips of the semester are quickly getting booked. But for a bunch of students trying to find their places in a group of strangers, traveling all of a sudden doesn’t just mean buying a ticket, but buying a spot in the social hierarchy. 

In high school, you may have chosen your clique by choosing a lunch table. Now, you’ve grown up – it’s time to choose a country.

Yes, you’ll be going there in two weeks. No, you still don’t know your travel companions’ last names. And yes, the hostel they want to book looks like it’d be infested with a family of bed bugs.

Still, you’re going to have to get your passport stamped. What will your choice be?

Let’s take a look at option one:

At every high school, there’s always onespecial lunch table reserved for this clique. In order to sit down, you either had to be wearing a varsity jacket or swapping spit with a person wearing one.

Back then, they turned in every AP Literature paper two weeks late. But now, they’ll be the first to book a trip – Oktoberfest.

Had you also wanted to go to Germany? Too bad, their hotel reservations are airtight.

Not to worry though – maybe you’d be interested in exploring Central Europe. In high-school terms, this is the debate team’s table, where they spent lunch period fine-tuning their rebuttals.

Now, they spend your class period asking long-winded questions on Slovakia’s immigration policy. I’d suggest bringing headphones for the flight.

Or better yet, if they’re not your crowd, maybe you used to sit at the theater table. If so, your high school boyfriend probably asked you to prom with a thrilling rendition of “Sixteen Going on Seventeen.”

And if so – lucky you. You’ll find your friends headed on Austria’s “Sound of Music” tour – this time you can be the one to dance around the gazebo.

But on the other end of the cafeteria, I strongly recommend you not end up at the mathletes’ table. People used to cheat off their homework in high school – what makes you think it stops happening now?

Finding cheap flights and the best hostels is a lot of work, and you don’t want someone constantly stealing your answers.

With so many options, I understand it can be tricky to pick a seat. Frankly, it’s exhausting to have to find your spot on the social ladder while simultaneously travelling across Europe to find yourself.

A month ago, I walked up to the first table I saw and booked a ticket to Lisbon. We leave Wednesday.

Looking back, I definitely didn’t know the last names of those sitting there at the time, but I’m sure glad we all sat down.

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