Sean and Mittie | Learning through Travel 2

Learning through Travel

Learning through Travel

Sean and Mittie | Learning through Travel 1

I believe every moment is an opportunity to learn. It isn’t about classrooms or travel if you consider every step you take is a form of travel and any environment is a classroom. That being said, some of my coolest learning experiences have been traveling, most often when official classes weren’t involved (but books undoubtedly were) and my ah-ha moments were about culture and how we can understand ourselves through an encounter with something absolutely foreign.

When I was fourteen, my parents sent me in an exchange program to Pontoise, France where I lived with a local family and attended a boarding school outside Paris. To be honest, I remember little about the lessons I was supposed to learn and a lot about the lessons I wasn’t. I learned not to trust French boys, that skipping class is easier than one might think and that wine is …well …awesome.

On the cultural side, I discovered the basic components of the French diet and the starkly different schedule that they eat on. I learned that not everyone buys their food at a supermarket and walked store to store choosing everything from cheese to bread and meat to vegetables in a specialty shop. And most excitingly of all, I began dreaming in French.

Sean and Mittie | Learning through Travel 2

The times I’ve learned the most haven’t been when I set out to learn but when knowledge fell into my lap. Studying the structure of the Ghanaian school system, for example, left me unsure of many things that teaching in a Ghanaian school set straight; just like reading about the Inca Trail in anthropology didn’t compare to hiking it myself; and discussing the socio-political implications of a Romanian orphanage seemed slight in comparison to working in one.

However, I do believe that the intention to learn and even books specifically play a huge role in the transfer of information. To me my “learning experiences” have been the kinetic moments where I have put my acquired knowledge to the test by physically interacting with it, but without the foundation of understanding the action would only serve as a reference to other experiences in your life. There is no independent story for it to follow. That is to say that you discover more when you pertain a basic understanding of a thing and then test your own knowledge against the thing itself – in the flesh. Not just learning, but insight.  It’s taking learning to the next-level by living the thing you’ve studied.

Sean and Mittie | Learning through Travel 3

During my time in Ghana I was also studying the traditional religion of the Ewe in the Volta region. I had read so much about it by the time that I went that I was devastated to find out that it was completely clandestine. It had become taboo to practice and though much of the community still did, nobody talked about it. When I finally got a teenager to help me gain access, I wondered if I would have the same experiences I had read about.

Sean and Mittie | Learning through Travel 4

Seeing as I was an outsider, sneaking into a sacred cultural ritual, how much would they really allow me to view? To my surprise I was welcomed by most and I even think some things were exaggerated for my benefit. In the end, I felt that while I disagreed with some of printed material, much of the things I’d seen were the pages of my books coming to life – the precision of the rituals and even my sense of wonder in experiencing them first-hand.

  • Dayna
    Posted at 16:12h, 18 January Reply

    I completely agree – I left university one year early to travel. I felt I was draining my wallet and draining my life trying to learn so much about the world from within a classroom. I want to go back and finish someday, but it’s as you say – the world has so much to teach us. We just spent time in a Romanian orphanage as well, and found it so different (and in some ways so much better) than we ever expected. Keep on learning through travel!

    • admin
      Posted at 20:26h, 30 January Reply

      Thanks for your comment! It’s great to know others out there are striving to get involved in both the good and the bad of travel. It can’t always be rosy, because that’s not how the world is. And getting involved in the difficult things not only makes a difference for others but also for ourselves. Cheers and safe travels!

  • The World of Deej
    Posted at 22:47h, 18 January Reply

    Great experiences…Especially the awesome wine in France. Learning more about wine was my submission for this week:)

    • admin
      Posted at 20:27h, 30 January Reply

      What a tough life! Learning about wine …and French wine at that! Where do i sign up?

  • Tarveling Matt
    Posted at 08:29h, 23 January Reply

    I love checking out new countries as well it is really hard to ever get enough seeing the world. I want to enjoy all that this fantastic earth has to offer. The really interesting customs is my favortie part of exploring the world.

    Posted at 16:31h, 08 November Reply

    I love checking out new countries as well it is really difficult to get enough seeing the world. I want to see all that this planet has to offer. The extemely starnge cultures is my favortie part of finding new parts of the world.

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