A Month of Freedom
February 28, 2009 9:26 PM   Subscribe

How should I spend a month between undergraduate and medical school? Spontaneity/adventure preferred!

I am getting ready to graduate from a bachelor's program. I just recently found out that I have been accepted to a combined medical/graduate program that is probably going to dominate my existence for the next 7-8 years. I will be doing research at this institution over the summer, but I have about a month to burn between the two programs and I really want to do something that I will remember for the rest of my life. I have never really been much of a spontaneous person, but I don't want to live the rest of my life regretting the fact that I didn't do something spontaneous when I had the chance.

Just for a little bit of background, I live in the Midwest United States. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), my parents have forced me to be pretty independent when it comes to making my own money and paying my way through life, so I don't have a tremendous amount of money to spend (around $1000 at the most). I'm thinking an extended road trip, but my roommate studied at Oxford for a semester and has some connections on housing, so living there for a month and traveling around Europe could be an option, but I think, the plane ticket alone would eat up a good portion of my budget (unless you have other options). I will have April 28-May 28 free, just in case the particular time is important in your suggestions. Also, my college roommate will probably be traveling with me.

So, MeFi, give me some ideas for potential trips that will have an impact on me and stay with me for the rest of my life. Whether they are trips that simply make me aware of the world's beauty or those that teach me new things, I am open to new experiences.

I'm a bit new here, but from what I can tell these questions are closed to comments after a certain period of time. So, I will post details of (fill in the blank with whatever you suggest!) on my soon-to-be blog at http://www.sciencemandan.com/ for your perusal.
posted by sciencemandan to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total)
Best answer: Find a job in a hostel and work for room/board and maybe a little walking around money. I did this back in 2004 in Rome. Message me if this interests you.
posted by The White Hat at 9:37 PM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

$1000 for 30 days food/accomodation and airplane tickets is gonna be almost impossible to make it to Europe.

My stock recommendation for a cheap quick getaway for several weeks of eye-opening adventure is Guatemala. You could live on $1000 there for a month without difficulty, although getting there would probably cost you $3-400. Once you're there though, things are very cheap and there's lots of stuff to do; Jungle treks, volcano hikes, coffee plantation tours, Spanish lessons (super cheap and surprisingly fun). Dollar for dollar, it's probably been my best travel experience, I spent a little over two months there and plant to return someday.
posted by bluejayk at 9:39 PM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

mb a bit on the expensive end, but climbing machu pichu was the best experience of my life
posted by happydude123 at 10:08 PM on February 28, 2009

First of all, congratulations on the combined MD/PHd program (that's what I'm assuming that you're in). I'm not an MD/PHd myself, but I am a med student and I'll tell you that med school will be both rewarding and extremely stress-inducing at the same time. I wish you only the best of luck in your endeavors.

Now to answer your question. I think that whatever kind of trip you'll most benefit from will depend on what your personal needs are at this moment. It sounds like you're looking for something a little on the wild side, but you might want to also consider if you'd benefit from doing something with a spiritual bent (visiting Buddhist temples in India, something one of my friends did) or something supremely physically challenging (biking across the country, something a lot of college students do). You're definitely right when you say that your med school / grad school program will more or less occupy the entirety of your time for the next many years, so if I were you, I'd think about what I feel like I'm going to miss most when I'm stuck in the next few years, and do that thing now.
posted by Ephilation at 1:54 AM on March 1, 2009

Road trip around the US.
posted by j1950 at 7:52 AM on March 1, 2009

I was in a similar situation last month, with some free time before starting my new job.

I went to the southwest and worked on a farm through the WWOOF organization. You put in a modest amount of work, 4 - 6 hours/day, 5 days a week - depending on the host - get free room and board, and spend the rest of your time exploring.

There are farms all over the world....find some cheap airfare and go.
posted by pilibeen at 8:19 AM on March 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Wow...thanks for the great suggestions! I will certainly look into some of these (and wish I had known about some of them earlier!).

Quick question for The White Hat and pilibeen: do the jobs you mentioned require a certain time commitment? My only concern is that many of these types of jobs would want help for longer than a month, but I could be wrong.

Thanks again, and keep the suggestions coming!
posted by sciencemandan at 8:59 AM on March 1, 2009

Hike the West Coast Trail! Rated the best hike in the world by BestHike.com since 1999! Some photos here.

(Congratulations, too!)
posted by limon at 9:54 AM on March 1, 2009

Most WWOOF hosts spell out their min/max length of stay in their listing - it really varies. Anywhere from a week to a year. A month is a pretty typical length of stay. I've wwoofed at 3 farms over the past few years, and stayed about a month with each place.

You can preview the hosts on the WWOOF-USA site. You can get a pretty good sense of some of the farms and the work involved. Might wanna stay away from the intentional communities...
posted by pilibeen at 10:53 AM on March 1, 2009

Best answer: I was there for two months, but some folks I worked with were only there for a week at a time-- one archaeologist would come and work between different digs. I'd try to call ahead to several hostels in the city you intend to visit and arrange something in advance, though. I sort of did mine by the seat of my pants. Language skills are a plus but almost completely unnecessary (in Rome, that is, and probably most of Western Europe with the possible exception of France).
posted by The White Hat at 1:14 PM on March 1, 2009

I 2nd bluejayk's recommendation. Guatemala tickets can be had for under $500 and you can certainly do a month there on $500 or less, sleeping in hostels, eating lots of comida tipica (ie, rice, beans, chicken) and taking chicken buses everywhere. It's also different enough that it will be a good adventure, but there are enough travelers there that it's pretty easy to get around. Guatemala also has one of the most beauitful places in the world, Lake Atitlan, some really amazing Mayan ruins, and great, friendly people.

I would recommend against working. If this is going to be the only significant break you have before starting 8 years of intense schooling, it would probably be best to do something really fun and independent that will leave you refreshed and ready to start your program.

If Guatemala seems daunting, you could go to Costa Rica instead, but that will be much more expensive.
posted by lunasol at 7:23 PM on March 1, 2009

Sleep. You'll need it.
posted by tiburon at 7:51 PM on March 1, 2009

Response by poster: I just wanted to add something here in case someone else came along with the same question. I found this site through a friend, and it looks amazing!

posted by sciencemandan at 6:59 AM on March 10, 2009

« Older I really don't know what to put here for this...   |   Why are all the newspapers talking about libraries... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.