Recently, I began my venture to become a music therapist. A dream of mine since I was seventeen, I finally feel I am experienced enough in life and music to take on this new challenge.
For those who don’t know much about it, music therapy can be used in a variety of medical situations; while there are so many things we still don’t know about the brain, what we do know is that it responds to music, and the remarkable ways it can enhance motor skills, co-ordination, speech, be used as treatment for pain, depression, anxiety… the list goes on.
Becoming a music therapist means completing a two year Masters course at University. That’s it. That’s all that stands between me and my ultimate goal. University? No problem. I’ve already spent five years of my life there, I consider myself an old hat at tertiary education. But something else that has crossed my mind lately, is something that has nothing to do with music therapy itself.
Taking a job in which I won’t have twelve weeks a year to travel.
Okay, okay… You might be thinking, ‘Is that really a problem?’. Hear me out.
At present, I am a music teacher. And yes, I do get a lot of holidays. But let’s establish this right now, I do not teach for the holidays. That’s beyond crazy, because any person who hates their job as a teacher probably hates life in general… because teaching is a lifestyle, not a job. It doesn’t start at 9 am and it sure as hell doesn’t end at 3 pm, nor does it really ever end. Your students are always in the back of your mind, like at 11 pm when you’re worrying about a next week’s performance, or whether little Johnny will come to school with shoes or his lunch tomorrow. I’ve spent countless early mornings, late nights, weekends at school… And I do it because I love my job.
So the holidays are an added bonus. And lucky for me, because I am a travel junkie, and my job allows me the time to indulge in what I love. But what happens when I’m no longer in that job? Teaching was always part of my plan, but I also want to expand my career in other directions. So eventually, that may mean working 9-5, with four weeks holiday like the rest of the population. And don’t even talk to me about long service leave; I’m so far away that it’s not even a blip on my radar.
So what happens when a travel junkie has to give up the juice?
Not completely. It’s a small price to pay for a job that I really want, in a field that I find truly remarkable and ever expanding in its horizons. But those who know me, know that I’m a planner. My partner is a town planner, I am a life planner. Two peas in a pod. So how will I tie travel into this new life I’m creating for myself? Life as a music therapist, while still maintaining my travel junkie status. And these tips aren’t just for me, but for everyone debating how to fit more travel into their already hectic lives.
Ah the weekend… with plane travel being cheap as chips these days, it’s easy to leave on a Friday night and come back on a Sunday. Or even a Monday if it’s a long weekend. Think about your own country, and all places you still haven’t seen. I know there are many on my list. And if your country is anything like Australia, all those undiscovered places are probably relatively easy to get to. You truly can make your weekend feel like a mini holiday if you plan it the right way; refer to my ‘One Day in the Aussie Snow’ photo essay for more on the art of the ‘weekend getaway’.
The UK is calling…
Why not work overseas? And this just doesn’t go for me… it goes for everybody else too. If you can spend some time overseas and work in your field, why not? Music therapy is blossoming overseas, particularly in the UK. As are many other industries. I’ve toyed with the idea of studying my Masters over there and even my Dad has thought about working overseas. Why? Because we both know it’s possible to combine a love of travel with work. Really, what would you have to lose? Nothing. And when that magical weekend comes around, you’ll already be in that undiscovered place, ready to explore new things. How good is that?
It’s not the end of the world…
Four weeks is still a decent amount of time to take off somewhere. I’ve always wanted to go to Vietnam and Thailand, but bigger continents have always beckoned. Bigger continents that take more time to cover. But a week in Vietnam? That sounds nice, refreshing. Perhaps it’s a sign from the universe to further explore the things that are in your own backyard, or on the countries on your doorstep.
All in all, four weeks, twelve weeks… it really doesn’t matter. It’s how you use it that counts. And with proper planning, I guarantee you can make a one week holiday feel like twelve weeks of adventure. Or a weekend feel like more than just two ordinary days off. Trust me, I know.