Every single step that you take while travelling is a step towards greater knowledge, writes Julia Zaremba.
Whether that be figuring out the ticketing system at the Ceský Krumlov train station, examining flight patterns of migrating Canadian geese, or just sitting back and observing the quirky habits and exotic hand gestures of locals, every day is full of opportunities to keep learning and expand your noggin.
If you would like to make a more conscious effort to up your IQ and become a star graduate from the great School of Life, below are several ways to do just that. Take note, review, and practise often!
1. Talk to People
No matter where you end up (unless you find yourself in the middle of the Cape York Peninsula), there’s going to be people. And most people will have a story to tell.
Listen, interact, and find out new perspectives about the world. Meet locals. Talk to strangers. Extra credit if conversation takes place in a different language; learn new facts and practice your Afrikaans at once!
2. Take an Online Class
If your feet are itching to explore, but your mind is craving some structured education, consider remote learning. If you sign up for an online class, you will not only feed your transcript, but also will be able to host your study sessions in some pretty exotic locations.
Even studying statistics won’t seem like such a drag if you’re lounging in a hammock in the jungles of Costa Rica, active volcano on the horizon and maracuyá margarita in hand.
3. Read Books
Make historical novels, autobiographies, and anthologies your new textbooks. While the selection of free books at hostels might not always scream intellect, there are the occasional gems or unusual, local publications.
If not, hit up the used bookstore and pick a work by a national author that will help you understand the history, culture, and context of your current country. This lets you appreciate all around you even more (and serves as a great train companion).
You’d be surprised at how much you learn about yourself and others (as well as about nailing boards of wood together, planting seeds, and preparing recipes with limited ingredients) with a volunteer program.
Dedicate your time to bettering the world and becoming a better global citizen while mentoring kids and building bridges. Happy heart, happy mind.
5. Do an Internship
If you are afraid of long-term commitment, try a mini-career abroad with an international internship. You can dip your toes into a field you’re interested in, pick the most beneficial country, and maybe even earn a few dollars while overseas as you develop your skills.
Travel with a purpose and label that half-year trip to the Caribbean as “professional development.”
6. Take a Language Class
Whether you want a language refresher or you found yourself falling in love with a beautiful country you can’t communicate in, language schools are great temporary engagements that have all of the fun and none of the stress of real school.
You have the welcome party (classes start every week!) and get to meet cool fellow travellers, make friends with local teachers, learn a few verb charts, stumble through new vocabulary, and end on a high note with another fiesta. Plus, you get custom schedules and plenty of opportunities to support local organisations. A++.
7. Sign Up for an Exchange Program
There’s new knowledge-exchange websites popping up every day; join in on the trend. From WorkAway to Help Exchange to GoCambio, there are plenty of opportunities to put your skills to work and pick up some new ones along the way.
From organic farming to wine harvests, from construction projects to art commissions, from language exchange to child care, there is something for everyone in almost any corner of the world. Bonus: As a thanks, you usually get fed and are offered a roof over your head. Score!
Each excursion you embark on is going to enlighten you about the place you’re in, about the place you’ve left, about yourself. Regardless of location, duration, and itinerary, travel is about opening your eyes and seeing the world for what it really is - a beautiful backdrop full of learning opportunities. And plus it can really look great on your resume opening up a variety of different opportunities.
Been bitten by the travel bug? Want to make travel your career? Research career opportunities and roles in Travel and Tourism here.
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