Jacob Budler ’17 and his younger brother Nicholas Budler ’19 slept on the floor of their home the night before the big trip. Their family had sold most of their belongings in order for their parents to become missionaries in Cape Town, South Africa. But they, as Jake said, “were just along for the ride.”
“We were kids,” Nick added. “We had the typical questions like, ‘Are there lions?’ You don’t really know what to expect, and that’s probably the biggest part of it. I think that was tough – knowing that you’re flying into the unknown and it wasn’t just for a vacation, but I’m glad I was forced into being uncomfortable.”
The brothers from Aurora, Illinois agree that their time in South Africa was a good experience for them. They went to school, became friends, and lived amongst people from different cultures, places, and languages.
The two really didn’t have a choice when it came to moving to South Africa. But after realizing just how different and yet strongly connected people from around the planet can be, both Jake and Nick have a passion for learning about those very people.
“I don’t really subscribe to travel in such a soul-searching, find-yourself way, but more as a way to get other people’s perspectives,” Jake said. “The more you can understand where people are coming from, in the future, you can understand more people.”
Combined, the two Budler brothers have been to countless U.S. cities 15 countries – both because of and beyond Wabash College – including Botswana, Spain, Venezuela, and, next year, Nick will be studying abroad in South Korea.
“I think it’s important to put yourself in other people’s shoes,” Nick said, “to scrap all of the prejudices that you have and put yourself in another environment in order to educate yourself and be a better person and better the world around you. And I don’t think you can do that as well if you just stay in one place all the time.”
For the Budler brothers, travel is not just part of their college experience – it’s enhanced it. They both have made friends at Wabash with whom they decide to travel with. They’ve brought back stories that have helped them connect with others on campus. And they’ve taken what they’ve learned around the country and across the globe and applied it to their readings, their studies, and their classroom conversations.
“I think it should be a priority for everybody,” Nick said, “especially considering the number of opportunities that Wabash gives.”