Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Wanderlust or Lust for Learning

by KAK 

I had the spectacular luxury of seeing a lot of the world when I was kid...as long as it wasn't behind a wall or a curtain. As an adult, not so much.  It's not that I don't want to float between Buda and Pest, trudge across Moscow, or do the Istanbul-Was-Constantinople dance. I do, really do.

However I don't want to visit. I want to experience.

That requires more than a few days in-country. Don't get me started on spending more time in transit than you do on the actual holiday.

Planes. Ew. 

I want to do a "learning" trip. Think "semester abroad" style minus the hostels and oral exams. I'd be a professional student if there wasn't that pesty thing called tuition.

Yeah, yeah.  I'm a little nutters. We've established that. But here's what sold me on the notion of why studying abroad is better than bouncing around the world spending two days in tourist districts. 

St. Peter's College Dining Hall
Once upon a grad-school program, I lucked out. I took sabbatical from the day job and spent a summer study at St. Peters College, Oxford. Our challenge was to develop business plans around new intellectual property owned by the college. Mind-boggling IP aside, I had my first true pub-crawl there, learned the rules of cricket, spent many a night at theaters-in-the-park, and got trapped in Manchester. I also had the misfortune of my first taste of haggis in this dining hall (imagine my surprise when I saw Harry Potter having the same meal in the same place a few years later.)

Jet d'Eau on Lake Geneva
We then headed to Geneva to study with the assorted alphabet soup of international trade organizations. My best "stupid American" moment came when I asked our host to see the Jet d'Eau...as I was standing under said big-ass fountain. Okay, okay, maybe I should have read the tour book first, but hey, I'm all about learning from the locals...and I'm okay with being the butt-end of jokes for a while too. ~doh!~

With experiences like that you come away with more than a hole in your pocketbook. You're enlighted about more than the best tourist traps. You experience the culture and the country. You get a chance to see through the eyes of the residents and try your hand at being one.

Best? You gets to learnt you sumfin nude.

If you could take a sabbatical anywhere and study anything, where would go and what would you study?


  1. Hmmm....... I'd like to go to Boston and study American English or Poetry.

  2. I'd like to spend a chunk of time in Ireland, stay at a series of B&Bs and make day trips to crawl over all the old ruins I can manage.

  3. I'd love to go to Egypt and study archaeology.

  4. Ooo, Boston! A lovely place for a piggy. Should you choose to study American English there, please note not all of us add random "Rs" in words like "wash." (Warsh, Wa,rsh??)

    Jeffe, Ireland? I'll high-five you as we pass on the fairy mounds.

    Laura, I totally see you diving for the lost books of Alexandria!

  5. I'd go back to Salem Mass. and stay at a B&B again, visiting Mystic Seaport and get back into the nautical library and find more piratey stuff, and eating at the pub called In A Pig's Eye.

  6. Okay. There are some cultural experiences I have no desire to experience. Hagis is one. Fugu is distinctly another. Food that could kill me - nah. I'll pass. O_o

  7. I want to live in France and learn to speak French like a native. And then, Italy, and learn to speak Italian like a native. And then - yeah, I pretty much want to travel around and learn all of the languages.