You've graduated: Go abroad
Warning: This flies in the face of all the responsible advice you're getting from other Walletpoppers. Yes, you should get a job. Yes, and start saving for retirement. Oh, and don't forget about cleaning up your credit, saving for a home, starting your career, yadda yadda yadda.
Or, you could dodge all that for another year and go abroad.When I graduated from college more than 20 years ago, I was the very model of responsibility. I had already moved out of my mother's home at 18, and after graduation I worked and worked and worked until graduate school, then worked some more. And here I am, a real, bona-fide grownup.
Know what I wish I'd done back in the day? I wish I'd listened to my elders and taken a year or two off before starting the rat race.
Sit at my knee now and listen, young one: Unless you have children, there is nothing you can't drop for a year in exchange for experience, language acquisition and/or possible memorable and tragic love affairs abroad when you're 22 or 23.
Everyone else will tell you to get a jump on your career, which means, really, get a jump on saving your money to buy stuff. And maybe if you work really, really hard you might be able to retire in your '40s or '50s...at which time you can travel the world...as a 40 or 50-something, worried about the business and the mortgage and your kids and all that grown-up stuff. Not to mention the fact that going abroad and staying in nice hotels as an accomplished adult would want to is a completely different experience than backpacking on the cheap at 22, sharing a baguette or a bottle of groc with friends you met at the hostel.
And here's a little secret: the best way to learn a new language? Get a boyfriend or girlfriend who doesn't speak anything but.
Yep. Travel abroad has lots of upside. And I say do it now, when you're young and adventurous and your bones don't ache at the end of the day and you have nothing to lose. Time is the greatest asset you have at this point. What's 12 short months or so in the big scheme of things? When you're 70 years old you'll relish the memories of the year you spent teaching English in Japan more than the years you kept your nose to the grindstone, socking away pennies for your retirement. All of the responsible things you're supposed to do will be here when you get back, I promise.
Ah, grasshopper. I see you looking at me dubiously. You're so ambitious with your degree in hand and all. But you must bow to my greater wisdom here. Take a year off and go abroad. Learn another language. Experience food, wine, song, love...life in another part of the world for a bit. Ask any adult who has done so. The experience doesn't disappoint.
Start here, or here. And bon voyage!