The passive aggressive conflict between Millennials and their Baby Boomer counterparts seems to be becoming more pronounced all the time. With major newspaper publishing opinion pieces like ‘It’s millennials’ turn to take the blame for the downfall of society’, it is quite easy to think that both sides of this futile argument need to grow up a little. One major disagreement arises out of the characterisation of Millennials as being lazy. Whether it is their failure to engage with politics and perform their civic duty by voting, or their perceived reluctance when it comes to finding work, they are the target of a lot of criticism. Another thing that older people seem to see as being wrong with today’s youth is that they take years out from university. The diatribe is simple and predictable: what is so hard about going to one or two classes every day and writing a few essays? What is it about these young people that is making them so stressed that they need to get away from it all for a while? These questions miss the point completely. Taking a year out is not about being unable to keep up with life, but about experiencing it to a greater degree. After all, there is only so much that you can learn in the company of someone who decided to settle down and become bitter. If you are thinking about seeing the world and learning about a culture not your own, here are five places you should see:
Eastern Europe: The former Soviet Bloc countries are incredible places. It is no surprise really since they, in the heart of Europe, played such an important part of 20th-century history. Krakow, in south Poland, is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and is rich in both history and local culture. You should also visit the Balkans as well as Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia if for no other reason than their mesmeric forests.
India: It may seem like a rather obvious option because so many 20 somethings go to India to ‘find themselves’, but in their defence, there are an awful lot of places where you can get lost, from the world-renowned natural beauty of the Kashmir region to lesser known but still fascinating places like Assam.
South Africa: While South Africa has developed something of a reputation for being dangerous, the reality is that a lot of the crimes take place in the country’s poor townships which are not typically frequented by tourists. It is an exciting place and is welcoming people from all over the world, a fact demonstrated by its hosting the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
Scandinavia: If you are going to learn about how best to live your life, why not visit Norway, Denmark, Finland and Sweden. They are the first, second, fifth, and ninth happiest countries in the world according to the UN’s 2017 report. They must be doing something right.
Wherever you want to go: Taking a year out is about doing what is right for you, and while there are lots of fascinating places to see, you have to go where you will enjoy. Take your time and plan the best year of your life carefully.
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