From One Classroom to Another – Education on the Trail
April 10 was the last day of classes at Mount Allison University in a small New Brunswick town called Sackville, my mind was in two places at once, I needed to finish school before I could hike. I had purposefully chosen courses that didn’t have exams so that my girlfriend, Ashley, and I could hit the trail as soon as possible. In this past year I have been fortunate enough to have a professor who understood the value in something like doing the Appalachian Trail. He allowed me to do an independent study on the complex history of government and volunteering that helped shape the Appalachian Trail as we know it today. Some of his parting words were that education doesn’t stop at the door of the classroom and the stuff that I, and many others, will learn out on the trail is just as important.
Since ending up in my new, cold, wet, hilly, woodsy classroom I have already learned many things. There are so many interesting people who are doing the trail for their own individual reasons and come from their own individual backgrounds. Meeting these different people has been fantastic and hearing their stories is always entertaining. Listening to these people helps you understand why the trail is such a special destination. It is a getaway for so many people. Some go to white sandy beaches and all-inclusive resorts but many of these people have chosen to take on this epic journey to really get away from whatever they were doing before.
Secondly, I have already learned from friends and family that it is important to make the things you really want to do a priority in life. I can’t count the amount of times I have heard that people wish that they could have done something like what I am going to do and wish they could have left a job for six months to pursue their dreams. I am happy that I have figured it out early enough to do a trip like this and find out what life is really about and what makes me truly happy.
My final lesson so far is that sometimes you need to expect the unexpected. Ash and I have been on the trail for about two weeks now and we have had to change plans constantly, whether that means you need to find a nearby town that you weren’t planning on stopping at or you reached your targeted mileage at noon and you really didn’t want to sit there for eight hours waiting for the sun to go down. Either way, it is important to be able to adapt to any situation and problem solve.
This just goes to show that even after the end of my formal education there is still room to cram some new knowledge up there while I am out living my dream.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot… don’t forget to buy Body Glide before you leave. (Ouch!)
Pictured above is my new school. It is one that I don’t dread waking up to go to in the morning (unless it is cold or raining) and is ruthless with its lessons. Here’s to one extra semester abroad and the never-ending journey of education.
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