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  • Kim Kovacik

Why I’m Taking Time Off College To Backpack Europe (And How I’m Affording It)


In less than two weeks, I will be boarding a plane to Europe ready to embark on a nine week backpacking trip. Having dreamed up this idea over a year ago, it is pretty surreal to see it on the verge of fruition- all the while knowing that ahead lies some great days and, naturally, some very hard days. But before I leave, I wanted to write a post explaining why I decided to take this trip.

Why This Trip. Because I know what you’re thinking- Kim, this is your first time in Europe, and your first time backpacking. Why are you doing this? Why not just study abroad? It started with this: I brought in enough college credits from AP tests and advanced courses in high school that I am able to graduate a quarter early. So why not cut college early to travel? This period abroad is all about self-discovery and learning. If I did this when I was already graduated, I would have the looming reality of post-graduate responsibilities. This way I will be able to expand on what I learned abroad when I return for my last year of college and have a clearer sense of where my future is headed.

“Pauses are just as important as productivity.”

I knew that I wanted to go abroad in college, but studying abroad never appealed to me. There wasn’t a program or location that suited everything I wanted to accomplish. Cost was an issue as well. I knew that being abroad didn’t need to require paying thousands of dollars in tuition money. So, I decided to take that time and create my own version of a study abroad. Something that would give me the freedom to explore what I'm passionate about. I decided to take a pause on formal academia and dedicate time to creating and experiencing. Pauses are just as important as productivity.

I’m Taking This Trip To…

Expand on My Creativity by Creating and Viewing Art. I plan to visit art museums all over Europe. As a photographer, I hope to learn about new artists and techniques that will inspire/inform my future work. I want to get better at photography, and use this time to practice and experiment with other creative techniques. I want to read, write, and create as much as possible.

Experience People and Cultures. Having rarely traveled out of the country, my experience of other cultures have been limited. I hope to meet a variety of people and learn their stories- with the ultimate hope of being able to collaborate with other creatives.

Gain Life Skills. Beyond the fact that this trip will teach me practical skills such as budgeting or how to navigate through a city, this trip will most importantly teach me to be independent. I'll be forced to confront myself as the challenges drive me out of my comfort zone. But from that, I will grow.

How I’m Affording It. I got PR internship during my freshman year of college. I was hired on part time at the start of the summer going into my sophomore year where I remained for a year- saving up money while doing so. The next summer I started my own company which is what I’ve been doing ever since. This is what allowed me to fund the majority of my trip. I plan to continue doing freelance work remotely while abroad which will help in funding extra costs that come up.

If you like any of my work or find my trip interesting, please share my story or follow my adventures by subscribing to my website (on the About Me page) or following my Instagram (@KimKovacik). Next time I write, I’ll be in Europe. Until then, everyone!

Thanks for reading.

Where I'm Going: London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Santorini, Rome, Florence, Barcelona, Madrid

#travel #DePaul #student #girl #solo #backpacking #photographer #creative #college #Chicago #Paris #London #Italy #Spain #Prague

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(219) 613-0556 | Kovacik.Kim@gmail.com

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