If you love travelling and meeting new people along the way, then the Student Voyagers club may be a great way for you to see some new places
The COVID-19 pandemic has prevented people from travelling the world and exploring local communities, but the University of Ottawa’s (U of O) newest club is working to give students future opportunities for adventure. The Student Voyagers club was formed in September 2021 for travel enthusiasts who are interested in both international and domestic trips and events.
So far, the Voyagers have held a game night at Level One Game Pub, a trip to the Parc Omega safari park in Quebec, and an ’80s and ’90s themed night at the Sky Lounge (in collaboration with Telfer International).
The club’s founder, Sydney Johnson, a third-year commerce student, was an active member of the Telfer international club before she created the Student Voyagers. When Johnson was promoted to the director of events at Telfer International, she decided that she wanted to promote travel in Ottawa.
“I noticed there wasn’t a travel club and thought many people would be interested, so I decided to create one,” said Johnson in an interview.
Creating a travel club amid a pandemic was no easy feat. Johnson mentioned that COVID-19 restrictions and many students being off-campus prevented them from being able to market the club effectively.
“[COVID-19] definitely affected the start of the club. It was really hard to get the news out there. Our recent club fair was online which made it really difficult to engage with students the way you would in person. Not many students know about Campus Vibez and can’t find clubs they are interested in,” explained Johnson.
The constant changes in rules and restrictions in response to the pandemic have also affected Johnson’s ability to plan trips and maintain student engagement.
“We have a trip to Costa Rica planned for reading week, but after the Omicron spread got worse many people dropped out because they thought it wouldn’t happen. We’ve had pretty good turnouts in the past, but haven’t been able to do anything in the New Year yet because of Omicron,” added Johnson.
Despite the challenges the pandemic poses for this club, Johnson clarified that the Student Voyagers ensure that they follow all COVID-19 restrictions at all places and events they attend by informing their participants about vaccine requirements and mask mandates ahead of time.
“Everyone has a different range of comfortability, so students can choose which events they want to attend and should only do what they are comfortable with… My aim is to have fun. We don’t just have to do conventional things like get dinner, we want to do more exciting things. So let’s have fun!” said Johnson.
Katherine Martin, a second-year communications student, is a member of the Student Voyagers. She explained that the club is important because “University is so much more than just what you learn in class. The bonds you form with people because of those common experiences are unbreakable, so if you get the opportunity to join, do it.”
Martin noted that she appreciates that trips are created with the student’s finances in mind. “We try to plan early so that we can let students know to start saving early on, so they’ll be able to afford the trips. We’re planning a trip to Europe and are looking at Portugal as an option because it seems like one of the cheapest options and it’ll be lots of fun,” said Martin.
Martin said that she was interested in the club because it brings together people from many backgrounds that can share experiences.
“It’s important to me to meet people from many different backgrounds, we have international students, Ottawans, Torontonians, and more in the club and they are all interested in seeing new places,” said Martin.
Similarly, Nolann Vandermeiren, a second-year biology student, joined the club because of his love of travel and interest in meeting other travel enthusiasts.
“There are a bunch of events that are fun to go to. I would encourage anyone who is interested to join because it’s not too time consuming and there are lots of interesting international and local trips. You get to meet people who have the same interests as you, see new places, and explore local spots,” said Vandermeiren.
The Voyagers’ next trip will be in Costa Rica during the Winter 2022 reading week. They are also planning a trip to the Flying Squirrel Trampoline Park and Portugal in October 2022.
Any students interested in the club can become members by signing the form provided on the club’s Instagram page, which will allow them to be informed early about trips. The club’s trips are also open to non-members and students are encouraged to bring their friends.