Should I Quit Law School so I can Travel the World?
Ask Rolf: Vagabonding traveler Rolf Potts answers your questions about travel
05.06.08 | 11:00 AM ET
I recently spent a few months traveling in Thailand and Cambodia after finishing my undergrad degree. Now I am in law school, and all I can think about is how jaded I am with studying. I think constantly about selling my belongings and traveling the world, doing things my own way. What would you do in my position?
What you’re feeling is a very common phenomenon, sometimes called “reentry,” that occurs after returning home from a long-term journey. During this time, fresh off your travel-high, you will have trouble settling in and reintegrating into a normal, home-based routine. Nothing will feel as fresh or exotic as it did during your travels, your old friends won’t relate to your amazing overseas experiences, and you’ll feel a strange sensation of homesickness for the road.
Rest assured that this happens to everyone who’s recently spent lots of time traveling. So should you drop all, sell your belongings and start traveling again?
I’d say maybe, if you feel that’s your calling—but definitely not yet. First, you need to give law school a chance.
As part of this process, you should try to figure out if studying law in particular is causing your angst, or if trying to settle down in general is causing it. If law is truly not your calling, then you might consider studying something else.
But if you determine that your current unease is just a matter of trying to restart a settled life, I’d advise you to go ahead and stick it out and train as a lawyer. After all, law expertise is a great skill to have, not only for scoring the kind of work that can fund future travels—but also for enabling travel itself. In addition to working at any number of global law offices overseas, a number of international volunteer and aid organizations (such as Global Citizens for Change) are looking for help from people with law expertise. For more information on international employment and volunteer opportunities for lawyers, check out Idealist.org, or peruse the links on the Public Service Abroad page at Marquette University Law School.
Again, if law simply isn’t your calling, then by all means feel free to resume your travels or study something else. But if you really do have a passion for law, there’s no reason why you can’t combine this career with any manner of international experiences.