Writing 101 – Day 4: filling the void with self-guided education

It finally hit me – the thing I have been feeling the loss of most is the presence of formal education in my life. For 19 years my itinerary has been driven by school. I came to this realization while deciding what to write about for the day 4 prompt of the Writing 101 challenge. I have been slacking a bit. At first I contemplated writing about how I shelved scuba diving for a while, but that seemed too easy. It’s also slightly untrue, as I have recently picked that hobby back up. The twist of today’s challenge was also to consider making the post part of a three part series, so maybe a topic that is especially important or relevant to me. I have already mentioned how badly I am missing Prince Edward Island, and again it seems like cheating. And then it hit me – what I have been missing and why I have been reading, writing and yearning to travel so much. I MISS SCHOOL!

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A photo from residence in first year. Photo credit to Jenny Andrew.

Formal education imposes structure on your life whether you want it or not. From an early age, going to school means going sleeping and rising at specified times, adhering to a bus, class, and eating schedule and strict time management. As we age and immerse ourselves further into the system, these demands only increase. University was definitely the epitome of this lifestyle for me. My class schedule was king, and after that work, homework, social life, reading time and sleeping were allowed to crowd in and take space where they could find. Somehow everything managed to get done, with what seemed like a Herculean effort at the time. Coffee was drank, tears were shed and much stress was had by all. So why would I miss that?

I’m not 100% sure but I do know that I miss school. Badly. Maybe I’m just conditioned this way after 19 years, but September means school! It means buckling down, reading more and getting productive after the long days and heat that is summer in Ontario. It means make-shift breakfasts on the go, the smell of burnt toast and way too much coffee. Late nights, too early mornings and never getting enough readings done. You’re always pushing a deadline, or four and the only break you’re going to get is after exams. Christmas can’t come fast enough. All of this is in the pursuit of learning, and I love it.

I always noticed that when I was on break from school, my reading consumption went way up. Not just fiction, but non-fiction too. History, biographies and travel memoirs. Now that I have been out of school for over a year, this habit is out of control. My living space is littered with stacks of books waiting to be read by yours truly. The public library and used bookstores have become close friends this summer, both located conveniently down the street and on my way to work every day. Thankfully I have also recently discovered WordPress and the seemingly bottomless well that is bloggers and travel writers. The social media has got me now! Reading the words and experiences of so many other bloggers, travelers and people like me has truly been what inspired me to start writing and put it out there for others to read.

A mix of what I am currently reading, and my to-read books. There is often overlap between these two categories.

A mix of what I am currently reading, and my to-read books. There is often overlap between these two categories.

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More accumulated reading material from the summer.

So despite passing up school in favor of backing in South East Asia (!!!) – I have managed to start filling the educational void in my life with writing, self-directed learning and eventually some serious travel! Looking at in this from this point of view makes me realize that breaking out of that mold and not returning to school right away might have been the best thing I could do. I am never going to have some of those experiences inside of a classroom. School is the comfort zone, and the point of this year is to push the envelope and try something new.

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4 thoughts on “Writing 101 – Day 4: filling the void with self-guided education

  1. Terrific blog! If you’re not already familiar with them I strongly recommend coursera dot com and edx.com. I also love continued learning (not so much the structure lol) and have taken many courses through these free to use sites. (and no, I’m in no way affiliated with either of them other than as a student).

    Like

    • Thank you for reading, and for the recommendations! I find I have a lot of free time compared to what I was used to in university, and so am always trying to find new ways to fill the position for occupier of time and brain power that was school.

      Liked by 1 person

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