Photo: Courtney Hennigan
If there is one thing I have learned in the past few years, it is the importance of following your own life path. Two years ago, I was a full time student at a university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I was so used to my society’s idea of getting a four year undergraduate degree immediately after high school, that I fully immersed myself into a private university as a psychology major without even having an idea of what I wanted to do with my degree once I graduated. I made friends, joined clubs, and had a blast when it came to the social aspect of school. But when I thought about my studies, things were hazy. I did not want the internship that I was required to complete during my spring semester of sophomore year. I could not see my future as a psychologist vividly in my head when I thought about my career. I knew something was off, so with much thought I decided to leave.
Leaving my university was terrifying, but also relieving. I missed living with my friends, but I finally felt like I had free reign to explore new topics besides the study of the human brain. I went to music school and picked up guitar, I got a full-time management position at my job, and I bought my first car. But the best thing that happened to me when I left school was discovering my passion for travel. In the last year and a half I have been to Manhattan, Long Island, Canada, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Port Canaveral Florida, New Jersey, the Bahamas twice on two different cruises (Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay), New Hampshire, Disney World, and Disneyland. I have completed some of these trips with family, some with friends, and others with my significant other. I have lived in the middle of the ocean, I have hiked for hours in the red wood forests of California after a six hour flight, and I have spent a day on a private Caribbean Island with the only other people on the island being my five other family members. The thrill of traveling is something I never thought could be so powerful. Witnessing locals in their home environment inspires me to lead a more open-minded life. It can be so easy to fall into a routine and get used to a specific lifestyle. Traveling allows us to explore the vast multitude of cultures, art, landscape, beauty, and people. I would never have discovered these roads and destinations if I had not traveled down my own road to begin with.
Photo: Courtney Hennigan
I have recently pursued my interests in tourism by publishing an online blog dedicated to my travels. I have also gone back to school online at Arizona State University as a business tourism major. Taking time off to truly discover my passion first-handedly has given me that vivid picture of my future that I once lacked. I have chosen a career path that will not only allow me to keep discovering new parts of the world, but will also help me light a spark for others by supporting exploration and hands-on personal growth. I encourage young students to live passionately and to live for his or herself, even if it means straying from the crowd. Delve into all sorts of hobbies, no matter how messy or how difficult. After all, taking the road less traveled can lead to the most beautiful destinations.
Courtney Hennigan is a twenty-one year old student, traveler, and writer from Boston, Massachusetts. She is a sophomore business tourism major at Arizona State University and has recently published an online travel blog called https://offandaway.blog. She hopes to one day open a travel agency with her mom, who is currently a travel agent. In her spare time she enjoys antiquing, music, reading, drinking coffee, and coaching her high school lacrosse team.