Adam writes about why he will miss going abroad this year and what lessons he will learn from abroad to improve his mental health.
Before I start this post, I have to acknowledge that this title is likely to upset some people, and I understand. ‘Not going on vacation this year? Poor man, what a first world problem! ‘There is no doubt that many people are worse off than me – at the moment hardly anyone can go on vacation. I can imagine people thinking that – but listen to me.
At the end of every academic year since I was seven, I had a vacation abroad to look forward to. As a working-class family where my parents work as hard as possible to give me and my sister the best life possible, it felt like a privilege to go abroad on vacation because I wasn’t used to it. In the past few years, this was not possible because the money was tight and we had to save as much as possible.
When we went abroad every year, it became routine for me. I saw it as a rehabilitation period – being able to go abroad, relax, go to a different climate, sleep in a different bed and try different foods. Although we have never vacationed outside of Europe, I was looking forward to it every year, and the fact that we could afford to go out annually between 2012 and 2019 was proof of how hard my parents worked on it.
Let’s take last year as an example. Although vacation was an opportunity to relax, I wrote a few posts for this blog and worked on my journalistic career. However, it was an absolute pleasure to do this as I was in a different environment where I could combine activities and make it the best vacation I could be. In fact, I couldn’t think of anything better at the moment than sitting on a sun lounger, sitting by a pool, and writing a blog post. While relaxing and rejuvenating in Lanzarote last year, I was able to be productive and work on new projects. I’ve seen my passion for journalism reach new heights. Of course, during my vacation, I also spend more time with my family and less time on social media. Poor Wi-Fi in the hotels I’ve been to helps, but in a way I’m grateful that I don’t have the best connection. I’m also replacing this reduced social media time with listening to music, possibly one of the best things you can do mentally if you hear the right songs. Visiting the hotel gym is also one of the things I do abroad that I don’t normally do in the UK.
You could say: Why not listen to music, leave social media and go to the gym at home? That’s a good point – but I always either do university work or try to improve my journalistic career. I have no complaints about it – but I see my vacation abroad as the one week of the year when I can really relax.
The whole “feeling” of a vacation and its process is something I’m looking forward to. The trip to the airport, the plane there, getting up every morning for a fantastic hotel breakfast, trying foods that are relevant to the country I am in, meeting different people, maybe even in one or two to a market and / or days go to a water park. This doesn’t even mention the evenings we go out to eat and enjoy a variety of drinks in different cities. From breakfast to bedtime, everything is a new change on vacation, even if it is only temporary – and I will miss it very much this year.
Seeing that my parents don’t have to work, wash, cook, drive, and do other daily chores is also a great sight. Although I help wherever I can, I don’t even get anywhere near the tasks and work they do, even though I’m at university. Their work ethic has allowed us to go on vacation – and is the main reason why I worked as hard as I could for my apprenticeship. They are my role models and I couldn’t ask for a better family.
I will miss not having a vacation abroad this year. This usual rehabilitation phase contributes significantly to the improvement of my mental health – in particular due to the changes involved. At a time when I needed to go abroad before I completed 75% of my studies last year, the coronavirus pandemic took it away.
However, this is a time when I have to put things into perspective. Going on vacation will always be a privilege and there are definitely more important things in life. For over 40,000 people who died during this pandemic, you are not a statistic, you are real people and I hope you all rest in peace. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people across the UK are directly affected by Covid-19, and my thoughts are with them during this particularly difficult time.
For those who cannot afford to go on vacation, I have to apologize for this post! You are all warriors and no matter how much money we have or who we are, we are all the same. I felt like I had to write this article – because I know that some people think the same way I do.
To forget the impact that a vacation this year could not have, I will try to overcome this by being productive, building connections and starting to implement the good habits that I only get involved in when I am in the Go on vacation. This means eating the right foods, getting my body watch into an acceptable routine, taking time out for social media, and giving myself incentives and free time when I’ve worked hard on a project, although journalism is my passion!
Whether I go on vacation or not, I will be forever grateful to the friends and family I have. I will always be proud of my roots in the working class. They taught me that you just have to work hard for everything you get. My parents have shown me this through their actions over the years – and now it is my turn to work on my mental health and become a better person every day.
For more information on caring for your psychological wellbeing during the pandemic, visit the Student Minds website.
I am Adam, a student of journalism and media production at the University of Creative Arts in Farnham. In the past few years, I have written hundreds of articles at local and national level – including the Daily Express. I not only write about mental health, but also deal with current affairs, sports, politics and education to serve the public.