On a bright sunny day in September of 2016, I handed in my last final exam of my undergrad. I was unofficially done school!
I told myself so many times that I’ll move to New Zealand once I’m done my schooling but the more I thought about it, the more I was hesitant. I was scared to move halfway around the world with student loans. I was scared that I didn’t have a “safety net” to fall back into if I couldn’t make a monthly payment. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to pay rent, expenses, and my monthly loan repayment.
So, I told myself that I’ll pay at least half of my debt before I move. I won’t travel for the entire year of 2017 to prioritize my loans. I’ll just work and get some experience on my resume before moving overseas. I don’t know if I was just making excuses up for myself or genuinely considering this as my plan.
Vancouver is a social hub for young travellers on the working holiday visa. I’ve met many thus far with different backgrounds. Some have no money whatsoever; some have student loans that they’ve barely made a dent on; some saved their money.
The more I got to realize, and the more I took my responsibilities seriously, something clicked in my head. If I can manage my finances perfectly fine, and experience first hand from other people that moved across the world with student debts… well, why can’t I?
If everyone kept to themselves because of their debt, how far would we progress, culturally? Where would I have met all my foreign friends from Ireland? Spain? Australia? The UK? I started to realize that my scenario wasn’t uncommon. There are billions of other people with debts, some bigger than mine, that is still moving on with their lives, seizing opportunities and moving to foreign places and lands.
What’s so different that I can’t do that despite having an education, experiences and most likely a smaller debt?
Nothing is different. It’s just the matter of breaking out of your comfort zone and accepting the fact that a student loan isn’t a debt sentence. The other day, my colleague described student debt as something that’s “just part of life nowadays”. As I reflect on this newfound feeling and realization, I honestly believe I was just making excuses to delay my move to another country… because I was scared. Excuses to not see at least one new city a year because my student loans would cripple me if I dare go out and enjoyed myself.
I’m not saying that I’m going to forgo paying back my loans and take my precious time and rack interests up. All I’m saying is that I’m still going to move on with my life, take fantastic opportunities and risks and just go with the flow with my loans. There will be months when I pay back only a few hundreds of dollars, and there’ll be months that I’ll drop hundreds down on my loan. All I know is that I’m still going to travel and see new places, and have fun, and pay off my loans within 2-3 years (the average Canadian takes approximately 9 years to pay off their student debt)! I don’t want to view my loan as a debt sentence anymore; I’m starting to view my loans as just another part of my life that I’ll need to get over and I will. Not ten years from now, but in a few years.
Student loans seem so scary when you’re fresh out of school, but is so many people can do what you want to do with (bigger) debt on their back, why can’t you?
I’m excited to not view my student loans as set back and using it as an excuse for things I want in my life. I think with proper management and handling, loans are just another mountain to slowly hike and climb over. It’s right in front of you, and it can look big, but you’ll get over it one day. Just keep moving!
With that being said, I promise that I won’t use my student loans as another petty excuse to not achieving one of my goals and seizing the opportunity to move abroad to Australia.