Some people, who are rather genius but have no specific degree to mention say they are students of life. In Amsterdam there is even a ‘school of life’. Ironically they have teachers and lectures there rather than having solely life as teacher. Now of course everyone has life, so what makes some a student of it and others more of a patient? Perhaps it is the difference between reading for fun and ‘begrijpend lezen’. Begrijpend lezen literally understanding reading was one of the more tedious subjects we had in elementary school: there was an ugly purple book that was very boring and a set of ‘geplastificeerde kaarten’ cards which corresponded to certain texts and encouraged you to engage with the text on a deeper or rather to me then: more boring level.
So is a student of life someone who chooses to engage with life in a more boring fashion? Perhaps. But just as well it can be what the objective of the teacher was by teaching us ‘begrijpend lezen’, Helping us to find tools to benefit our understanding, to see a text as more than a sum of its parts. While when reading Dutch or English I rarely seek for signal words and such as you are supposed to do with ‘begrijpend lezen’ . However when I had to practice this while (voluntarily) learning the French language last year I must say I rather enjoyed it. And when applying this to studying life: looking what happens, why, where it comes from, where it is going, (hidden) connections and connotations I must say I enjoy it even more.
The title of this post suggest that I will discuss traveling or studying or rather traveling and studying. A confession: since starting studying ca. 5 years ago I have not travelled without studying, and with studying I then mean: school field trip, going to a conference, going on a holiday ánd visiting numerous exhibitions that I probably would not have visited were it not that I’m an art historian (BA) with an interest in museums and exhibitions. But I would suggest that is not the best way of studying while traveling, sure, when visiting exhibitions and museum I am studying exhibitions and museums (rather than enjoying art) but true discovery takes place (in my humble opinion) when connections are made. Connections is a rather broad term, they can mean you meet other humans, but something I might even find more interesting (though I must say I love meeting (new) people) is that you make new connections. New connections within the network of your brain, by adding new information: the actual experience of being close to the big ben: ‘it is big but I thought after seeing ‘jumper’ it would be a lot bigger than I see it now’. I can go on. But perhaps it is good to limit my personal stories and share an encouragement with my readers: go, be, move and make connections.