This will mark the first post in a series about my life as a nomad. I often receive questions about how I handle this or that situation when I don’t have a permanent home and I’m limited in how much I can carry from place to place. While I don’t think living out of a backpack is a cure-all solution for peoples problems, I certainly think I’ve learned a lot from the experience and hopefully in this series everyone can find a little something of use.
Education on the Road
I have an addiction to universities. It hasn’t be easy either. They’ve used up ten years of my life and have cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $400,000 (not that I paid for it all). If that’s not depressing enough already, I don’t even use a single one of my degrees in daily life. The good news is that unlike a drug addiction, an addiction to education has some fairly wonderful side effects. Lucky for me too, because unlike my shopping addiction, I think this is one habit I’ll never really break.
So what to do? Although there are plenty of ways to learn while traveling (and I’ll be writing another post on some of my informal education tools at a later date), traveling around the globe makes regular class attendance an interesting challenge. Yet the Fates have smiled on me and provided away. In fact, at this very moment I’m in the middle of two courses: one in biochemistry at MIT and another titled “The Greek Hero” at Harvard. That may sound impressive but the fact is that thanks to new initiatives and the wonders of the internet, anyone at all can take classes at these exclusive institutions – anytime, anyplace and completely free of charge.
I’m not the only person who thinks this is a big deal either. Articles have been popping up everywhere (here‘s one from the NY Times) as the big universities and big money begin to flow into these projects. While I’m not particularly interested in the business side, I am interested to see students from some of the poorest countries in Asia and Africa contributing to my class discussions. Students who would have trouble getting access to a library are now able to benefit from world class professors and free online textbooks thanks to sites like Coursera and edX.
I couldn’t begin to do the social implication of these changes justice in this post, but even sticking life on the road this is a fantastic innovation. Just one more way in which technology has saved me from sacrifice and helped me to live a life of freedom. Ok, enough writing for today, I have homework to do…