Living in a college town is a great thing. It has its advantages, but just because it sometimes feels like its own tiny world does not mean you have to stay in Starkville, Mississippi all the time. Freshman year, I stayed in Starkville for the entire school year, with a few small exceptions. My sophomore year was a very different experience. For example, the summer leading up to my sophomore year, I took a train to New Orleans, Louisiana, and I also stayed in Ocean Springs, Mississippi for a week.
Junior year, I moved into an apartment off-campus. Moving to an apartment showed me there is much more to do than what was provided on campus. Just in the first semester, I took a few day trips to Tupelo, Mississippi and Birmingham, Alabama. My friends and I went with no plans and a camera, which can be a plan in itself. Additionally, I went to Tuscaloosa, Alabama to go camping with some friends over spring break. Before going, all I knew about that area was The University of Alabama. However, I soon found there was much more to the town, and it led me to start charting a goal to attend graduate school there. Traveling outside of Starkville, no matter how far away it is, can broaden your horizons.
College gives you so many ways to travel, and you should, at least, take advantage of one of them. If you can afford it, or can receive scholarships, try a study abroad program.
According to Mississippi State University's Office of Study Abroad, "Students who study abroad will gain a new perspective on the world and develop skills that cannot be acquired while at home in one’s comfort zone."
If you are taking a foreign language, and especially if you are majoring in a foreign language, you can benefit from these programs immensely. While doing this program, you should do the tourist-y things, but also, go off the beaten path and participate in local activities. Try to live as the locals do. This will give you a deeper appreciation for another culture, which cannot be achieved within the borders of Starkville.
However, if you are unable to participate in a study abroad program, the school does have many breaks and long weekends to take advantage of. You can try going to other historic towns in the South or catch a plane to go somewhere else in the country.
On the other hand, small day or weekend trips in towns close to Starkville tend to be the cheaper way to go. Perhaps, you might learn about an important event or an important person from somewhere in the South. Why not go there? Actualizing the locations one learns by visiting them can help enforce the reality of the information one takes in. Sometimes, we need to see for ourselves how a community is shaped by history, and traveling allows us to get a glimpse of this.
According to Asako Maruoka of Wandering Educators, "Exploring the world brings history to life for students. They get the chance to take an adventure away from their textbooks and into places where history was actually made. They can walk through battle fields, check out a thriving political center, or visit the ruins of an ancient civilization. Seeing places they've only read about may totally change the way they learn and understand history and social sciences."
There are other reasons to travel outside of Starkville than just educational ones. Traveling outside of town, even if it is an hour out of town, allows students to decompress from the stress of university life. Although college might seem like all fun and games, it is not. College is quite difficult, and it requires balancing school, a social life and general adult activities. College is made, in part, to be a transition stage for young adults, so it is not uncommon to need a break.
As Noma Nazish of Forbes states, "Thus, taking a break from the daily hustle and bustle is essential for your mind to relax, recharge and rejuvenate. And what better way to do so than to pack your bags and cross wanderlust-worthy destinations off your bucket list? Traveling promotes happiness and helps you take your mind off stressful situations. This leads to lower cortisol levels, making you feel more calm and content."
Overall, it is beneficial to travel outside of Starkville, whether it be for academic purposes or for vacation. Being in college, it can be hard to afford fancy trips, but as nice as fancy trips are, they are not necessary to traveling. You do not have to spend massive amounts of money to take a trip. All you need is a little research and creativity. If you get the chance, travel as much as you can while in college, for it will benefit you academically, mentally and it will also give you amazing memories to look back on.