Should I Follow My Head Or My Heart?

If i could do my gap year again -- a post about the changes I'd make and the things I'd keep the same

Lately I’ve been struggling with what I should do: should I follow my heart or my head. I know in my head and heart I want to be a teacher and I want to be able to teach abroad but to get there with any decent opportunities I have to do a three year degree. This is something I have mentioned several times on the blog and at the end of last year I accepted an offer to study at Roehampton University in London this coming September. Since accepting that offer my heart has moved on…

Earlier this month marked three months of living in Glasgow, three months of being in a routine, three months of being without sunshine. Since that three month mark has passed I have done nothing but read blog after blog of amazing adventures. Be it something I’ve already done or something I now want to do. I have been yearning to get my backpack on again and set off on a new adventure. The lucky thing is I get to do that in two weeks; the problem is, it’s only for a week and I know it’s only going to make life here seem harder and more mundane.

Knowing that I start a degree in September, you are probably wondering why I’m spending the last nine months of freedom in the UK. Well there’s several reasons for that; firstly my boyfriend got offered a contract until August that was well paid and an opportunity he couldn’t turn down. Secondly I have bridesmaid duty for my two best friends who are getting married in the summer. That has me wondering; should I be doing that? I see them saving and buying houses, my head knowing that is sensible my heart wanting to run away from sensible. Hell I don’t even know if I want to live in the UK forever let along stop travelling just now. I don’t think I could bring myself to spend my savings on marriage or a house when my other option is seeing the world.

Taking photos in Krabi

Taking photos in Krabi

I read stories of backpackers’ lives, I imagine the way their day to day life is and I’m instantly jealous. I want sunshine every day and a beach right on my doorstep, I want little to no responsibility except getting a few hours’ work done. Yet I’m the one who has applied for a three year degree tying me to one place, with responsibility and my bank account being drained. Having to live in the same place for three years is a bit scary but not having the money to get away on adventures is more than a bit scary.

Seeing so many people on facebook getting engaged is scaring me, it’s making me question myself and think sensibly. What do I want in my future? Do I want to be stuck in some bullshit job because I’m yet to qualify in something better. I don’t want to be a nanny forever or work in a bar – owning my own café would be okay but that would then tie me to that place. Do I want to be rent an apartment for the rest of my life or should I be putting some money aside to buy my own place one day. These are all questions I don’t need answers to right now but I do need to think about these things before suddenly I’m 30 and regretting being silly with my decisions. Asking myself these questions puts dread in my mind that growing up isn’t fun, I don’t want a mortgage to pay or to ever have to settle down.

Making these decisions and even taking the step to start uni feels like growing up to me. I started travelling because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life and now the thought of not travelling scares me. I’m sure there is a balance to a work and travel life but why can’t I just travel. I like travelling, I’m good at travelling. I don’t like knowing what the year will bring, I don’t like having everything mapped out so far ahead of me. I like being spontaneous, I like being able to follow someone else because I like where they are going.

I know what I want in my heart and I know what I want in my head; I just don’t know what I want to choose. I want to be a grown up and a traveller but I don’t know how to be both and I don’t know which one I want more. I know what is sensible and what is me. I know I want to teach but why can’t starting a degree wait just another year?


  1. 28th January 2014 / 10:30 pm

    Well, I did my degree and then started travelling. By the time I’m done travelling I guess I’ll have to study again, just to get back into the business and get some experience. It’s a tough choice, but life is long enough to be working later on in life. Whatever you do, go abroad as much as you can during your studies. For example an internship and a semester abroad. And even Europe has a lot of cool places to explore!

  2. 29th January 2014 / 12:17 am

    The crossroads of a traveller indeed. Have wrestled with this many times myself. You can’t just stop travelling completely though surely be crazy! Hope your time in Glasgow hasn’t been too bad, we do get at least 4 hours of daylight this time of year after all 🙂

  3. Gina
    29th January 2014 / 9:41 pm

    Could you apply to a university somewhere else in the world? Somewhere with a beach and sun too? My boyfriend feels like he missed his chance to go to Uni and now he is every day frustrated about only getting bar jobs. Whatever you decide, there’s no right or wrong choice. I believe you can always change your direction if you want to.
    Good luck!

  4. 30th January 2014 / 7:01 am

    Your choice of career will open many doors around the world, the skills you learn will be transferable. A 3- year degree doesn’t mean never leaving the country, it just means the travels will be a little more planned & a little shorter that’s all.

  5. 31st January 2014 / 4:40 pm

    I know exactly how you’re feeling… I was obsessed with travelling when I was younger, then travelled in my gap year before starting university in Southampton. The thing is, the travelling didn’t stop. If you aren’t too stupid with your money, and you get a part time job, then you can save up during term time for the holidays. Don’t forget uni students get around 4 months off in the summer. In my summer between 1st and 2nd year I spent 5 weeks in South East Asia and then 3 travelling around the Greek islands- both on the super cheap, but ti was worth it. The next Summer I spent 8 weeks away discovering Morocco, Spain, Portugal, France and a teeny, tiny bit of Germany. Sorry, I’m not trying to show off about my travels, but now I have a degree and am saving to travel to South America and teach English. Just wanted to reassure you that you can do both!

    I’m still not sure my degree was very useful, but you don’t really have to worry about the debt until you are earning enough to pay it back- in my case that might be a very long time away!

    Whatever you decide to do, keep on saving to travel. Your blog is fantastic and your passion for adventures will keep you going in the times between.


  6. 12th February 2014 / 4:49 pm

    A degree doesn’t mean you can’t travel! I’m now in my fourth year and have managed to travel during holidays and summer to make up for all the studying 🙂 if your uni offers it you could even do a year abroad? I want to teach around the world too and I definitely think the degree will help with getting those well paid jobs abroad which means you can travel even longer once you get there! It’s a tricky decision now but it’ll all pay off in the end. Plus London is an exciting place to settle for a while 🙂 I wish you lucky with it! And don’t worry, all my friends are getting engaged and buying flats as well and it terrifies me too! Break the mould 🙂

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