As one of the many benefits of membership in the California Aggie Alumni Association (CAAA), UC Davis graduates have the opportunity to travel the globe with pre-planned itineraries in the company of their fellow Aggies.
Over 33,000 former Davis students are currently members of the CAAA in an effort to remain connected to the UC Davis community. After spending four (or more) years becoming a part of the university, many graduates want to remain in the company of like-minded individuals in their travels abroad, said Aggie Adventures Director Nichole Silva.
“I think there’s an affinity with your fellow Aggie, to travel with someone that has a common thread such as having gone to UC Davis. People find that rewarding,” Silva said. “They like that everything is taken care of for them and that we’ve already done all the legwork- that’s what will initially get them on the trip. But what we hear a lot is that the thing they enjoy the most is having their fellow Aggies there with them.”
Aggie Adventures is currently accepting reservations for a total of thirty-three trips for the 2012 year. Trips are categorized by how physically rigorous they are projected to be, from leisurely (such as the one planned in Ireland) to challenging (hiking around pyramids in Egypt).
“A lot of the cruise trips are leisurely, where you can take day trips in port and walk at your own pace,” Silva said. “And then there are trips like Machu Piccu and the Galapagos Islands, where you climb to very high altitudes, [so] you have to be very physically fit.”
Aggie Adventures plans detailed trip itineraries that will maximize the educational as well as cultural experience for all travelers, working in lectures by UC Davis staff and other figures when possible to supplement the sights, dining, and activities. During the “Changing the Tides of History: Cruising the Baltic Sea” trip planned for next June, travelers will get a chance to hear speeches by former President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev and former President of Poland Lech Walesa.
A particular trip that students can look forward to is the Essential Europe summer tour, designed specifically for new and recent graduates. A 24-day adventure that makes its way by bus through 11 countries/principalities and priced at only $3,400 (not including airfare), this trip is one that is sure to appeal to seniors such as exercise biology major Richa Gupta, who is eagerly anticipating some sort of celebratory pilgrimage abroad before pursuing their post-grad goals.
“That’s exactly why we want to go,” Gupta said. “We realize that as soon as next fall comes around, we’ll all have a new routine going and it’ll be hard to meet up and do something so crazy. It’ll be like a last hurrah.”
Gupta, who is in the process of planning a three-week trip around Europe with a group of her closest friends, is prepared to spend the rest of her money on a memorable vacation before she goes into the real world to earn it all back. She is open to the idea of traveling with Aggie Adventures, who would appoint a coordinator to direct the group and take care of potential problems. However, she noted that while traveling with an organization would be beneficial by removing the burden of figuring out logistical aspects such as accommodations, it would sacrifice some amount of flexibility.
“Sometimes I don’t feel like I’m on vacation, when things are so scheduled,” Gupta said. “That’s how my everyday life is- a schedule. If I feel like going to the beach for six hours, that should be fine. I don’t want to have to walk through a museum instead, when I might not be [in the mood to] fully appreciate it at that time.”
Silva, who has directed Aggie Adventures for four years, addressed this concern and pointed out that although the itinerary appears to be densely packed, there actually is a fair amount of free time on the trip.
“There’s enough structure so that you don’t feel lost, so that it’s not overwhelming,” she said. “But for those who have traveled a bit, it’s not stifling. It’s a nice balance of structure and freedom.”
Matti Lee, who graduated from UC Davis in 2011 with a degree in genetics, went on the Essential Europe tour before starting at her current job working for chef and fellow alum Martin Yan.
“After looking back, if I planned my own trip I would have never been able to see or do half the things I did in 25 days,” Lee said. “Thankfully, the tour company also gave us recommendations on what to do when we had free time because we could not see everything.”
For those who have already traversed Europe and are looking to explore somewhere different, Aggie Adventures is offering Young Alumni China Passage, a trip geared toward recent graduates to Beijing, Xian, and Shanghai in May 2012.
“At $2,400, all inclusive with air and meals it’s super, super cheap,” Silva said. “Not a lot of people would feel comfortable going to China without having some sort of structure. This trip provides that, and a lot of guidance when you are there.”
While membership in the CAAA is required to participate in the program, it is not required to be a UC Davis graduate to be eligible for membership, so students with friends attending other schools who wish to partake can still take full advantage of the program.
Currently, the program is offering an early-bird registration special for the Essential Europe trip. Future graduates who pay in-full from now until September 15th will receive a discount of $400.
“Travel while you have the time to when you are young because you may not have another opportunity to do so when you get older,” Lee said “Live it up when you travel, have no regrets, and try everything!”
LANI CHAN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.