Beyond the Walls of Dental School – Jenn Hecht ’21

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Traveling has been a huge priority to me ever since I was a kid. I can thank my Travel Agent mom who has shown me parts of the world most other people my age have only dreamed of. But now here I am in dental school, where I often feel overwhelmed, poor (thanks school tuition), and plagued with a mindset that simply focuses on one thing: learning dentistry. My saving grace during all these lectures and long days are the vacations I constantly think about and spend time planning.

Let’s take a step back. Why go on vacations now, and how can I afford it? Here is how I feel:

There are so many people out there (both dental student and otherwise) that feel like they need to save every penny, wait several years until they have stable financials, and then maybe.. just MAYBE, they will plan a trip. I find that mindset hard to relate to, because often, people will never FULLY reach their ‘ideal’ financial goals. There will always be something in the way of that goal (kids, new business, etc) and that is okay! But allowing that excuse of “I don’t have the money” is stunting the ability to truly live and experience the world…especially NOW as a dental student! We have all the loans in the world to spend on fun vacations, and while we have guaranteed breaks after every quarter, we should be utilizing that money to experience what we can while we are young and able! Now, I am not suggesting using insane amounts of loans just to plan a vacation, but I think that researching and planning vacations that are affordable seems totally doable while in school. Who knows, any one of us could die tomorrow, so live it up now (responsibly of course)!

There are so many opportunities and ways to travel, especially at Midwestern University. While I am not in any school organizations personally, I know that there are groups (such as the Political Advocacy Committee) that travel all over the country and fight for dentists and dental students at the same time. I’ve seen some members of that group go to Chicago, Seattle, Washington DC, Portland, etc. The community service opportunities at this school are great too! While the downside to these trips are that it must be fully funded by yourself, the school goes to several unique places, such as Samoa, Tonga, and Guatemala. I think these trips are great because you get to go with your peers and familiar professors, and if the trip happens during school, they don’t count against your personal days that you get allotted. What many students do (and what I plan to do if I get chosen to go on one of these trips) is plan a personal vacation after serving these communities. For example, if I were to go to Tonga (which is close to Australia and New Zealand), once we all finish our community service, I will book a trip out to NZ and spend a few days exploring that beautiful country too! Even if neither of these seem like good options for you, planning personal vacations are a great idea too! On my agenda, I have Mexico, Jamaica, Colorado (snowboarding!), the Bahamas, Tonga and New Zealand (crossing my fingers I get the trip), Australia, and backpacking through Europe all lined up as places to go over the next couple years. Am I crazy… definitely maybe, but hey, I am writing a blog about traveling, so what else did you expect? 😉

Whether you explore new states in the country or grab a passport and explore the world, traveling is a great way to take a break from your normal everyday life struggles and open up your horizons! Go with friends or go by yourself, but make exploration a priority in your life.. not in a few years, but NOW!


Jenn Hecht ’21


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