You are about to graduate, so what’s next? Save the world? Become a billionaire? Cure cancer? What is the first thing you are going to do? And how are you going to do it?
As a recently paroled inmate of UCLA, I’ve been asking myself the above questions, but mainly asking, what now? The intent behind this column is to attempt to answer that question. At the minimum to present a possible answer.
Plan a college farewell
So for starters, how about doing something simple like take a vacation?
You’ve just spent the last four plus years studying your butt off to earn your degree or to get into grad school. The road ahead to your life is just beginning, but right now you have an opportune moment.
Once you start in the real world with a job or grad school you’ll notice a difference in your free time. You have more of it, but it isn’t usable.
For example, when you are working, your day has very fixed boundaries; get in the office around 9, get out around 6. There is no homework, no weekend projects, nothing. Once you leave the office, your time is yours, which is really cool because now you will have time to do things regular people do, like sleep, relax, read books, and have fun.
The only hang up with working is that you no longer have long vacations in which you can travel, or visit old friends. You have to first earn time off, then once you’ve earned enough hours you have to get permission from your boss to use that time.
Unlike school you can’t blow off a week of work just because you felt like it or you wanted to travel. You’ll get fired for that.
So as a grad-to-be, you might want to plan on some kind of final farewell to your college life. A farewell to waking up at 1pm, missing classes as you felt like it, roaming around SoCal on a whim, attending various conferences and, a farewell to your college friends.
We all go to our separate corners of the world after we graduate, and once life kicks in, be it marriage, work, family, and so on, you won’t be seeing your friends as often.
For example, one of my roommates works in an office that is about a 3 minute ride from mine. For nearly a month now, we haven’t had a chance to meet up because our schedules just aren’t syncing up.
So all your friends may be in SoCal, maybe even in your city, but you might not see them as often as you like because you are both busy.
That being said, you and your friends should try to plan some kind of farewell/ “hello future” adventure together.
If you have been granted some wealth by Allah, maybe you want to consider visiting another country. Places like Europe, Africa, Australia, or your home country come to mind as possible locations. Since you have some free time available, try to schedule such trips during off peak times for better fares. Hit up websites like Groupon or Livingsocial to find deals on various kinds of trips.
If you are on a budget, a new thing is to hook up with a relief organization that is doing work in an area you’d like to visit. Often times such organizations need help with building schools, homes, or other kinds of infrastructure. As part of your pay they will fly you out to Haiti, to Africa, or elsewhere in the world, provide a place to stay, and give you around a week to “vacation” in the area once the work is done. These trips can be free or nearly free and would be an amazing way to give both sadaqah and seeing the world.
…or go somewhere closer to home
Now if you are broke, much like the author of this blog, then this alternative is even better: simply hang out with your friends for some time after graduation before they all have to go their separate ways.
LA is home to some pretty cool sites and activities. You can go horseback riding up to the Hollywood sign, hiking in Malibu, cruising on LA’s Numbergring, ice skating, karting, star gazing, shopping, eating, movie going, exploring, and the list goes on and on. There is plenty of stuff to do in LA that doesn’t cost much. You can even get to some of it using the bus or try to get a buddy with a car.
Do your best to end your UCLA experience well, as what comes next in your life is going to be interesting…
Photo: Yahya Fahimuddin, “Me at Point Dume (Malibu, CA) with my favorite brothers right after my last quarter.”