Learning Through Travel – Indie Travel Challenge

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Week 3 Prompt: Have you ever studied or taken classes on a trip? What did you study, and perhaps more importantly, what did you learn while on that trip?  What would you like to learn on your travels this year?

University Building in Freiburg

Week three of the BootsNAll Indie Travel Challenge asks about learning and studying while traveling.

I like learning. I was actually much happier at university than I have been since in jobs. Ok, the money is certainly nice when working though. Most of my initial travel experiences in Germany came through school. I did a number of study abroad trips in Germany and Austria over the years including a full semester during my masters degree in Germany. When I moved to Germany, the first few vacations to Italy were to Bologna to do an Italian language class.

Study Abroad

Study Abroad is such a great way to start traveling. As a part of a group they should set up housing and university cities are usually cheap to eat in with some creativity. Weekends are often free for your own travels or arranged trips elsewhere.

I’ve studied such a wide variety of things. A summer in Vienna on a program to look at Arts and Architecture around 1900. Homework every day was an address of a place in Vienna of a building or museum or statue that was relevant to the day’s activities. I learned about art and history of the last years of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Add weekend trips to Budapest and Prague and it was a great 6 week summer trip. We lived in dorms of the university and felt a tiny bit like locals.

Spontaneous Arrangement

I got itchy to travel a lot. At one point I just needed to see Europe again so I scoured the university for a group going that summer. I found a program in EU Business and Finance through the finance department. Through some smooth talking I talked myself in. See, I was an engineering student, not a finance student. But they said if I took the finance per-requisites that I could go. This is how I know what triangular arbitrage is. We spent a few months in Freiburg with IES, which is where I got my first taste of the city. We got to see the DAX exchange floor in Frankfurt (it’s all electronic so not as impressive as Wall Street) and visit the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Such a great program.

My last study abroad was a winter semester studying in Freiburg in 2003-4. I picked a few computer classes and a scattering of other things. I don’t remember so much of the classes. Though the German add-drop system meant that I could start in Polish and change to Spanish mid semester. Nope, I don’t remember much of either language.

One of the squares in the Bologna University is this one, Piazza Guiseppe Verdi.

Language School

I have already written about how much I like using language schools to travel. They can often offer classes as short as one week and help with finding cheap housing. This was such a great introduction to Bologna that I have been back several times. And really there is no better way to learn a language than to hear and practice with it every day. And not just in class, but on the streets spoken by real people. My first week there, I made some great friends in class as well as in the shared apartment they found for me. It was cool to be able to sit at the dinner table, share spaghetti (what else?) and half-understand the conversation.


I don’t expect classes will be in the near future on our travel plans. I learn all kinds of things on trips, but I am entering a phase right now with Ali of just wanting to go see things without even that structure. I will still learn things definitely.

3 thoughts on “Learning Through Travel – Indie Travel Challenge

  1. Pingback: Planning for Europe – Indie Travel Challenge » Grounded Traveler

  2. When I was a student, I remember I traveled abroad every summer, on some exchange programs. You are right being a student gives you much possibilities to travel and investigate:) I wish I could have the time back now, please!!

    • Yeah, i am constantly trying to recapture that feel too. The freedom to move is nice. Though the ability to pay for it is a nice balance too.

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