A few weeks ago, I went to Lapland to visit a friend of mine that was studying there.
I usually bring back a few souvenirs from my travels, but now I’m bringing something else, something I’d really like to share with you.
Adventure or peace of mind?
One of my main interests in life is adventure.
Since I was a student, 10 years ago, I constantly sought adventure instead of comfort.
I went wake boarding, paragliding and parachuting
I ran at marathons, did 2 years of Krav Maga and a bit of kick boxing
I traveled to the Sahara desert, to the Polar Circle and to Egypt, the land of the Pharaohs.
Reflecting back, I realize I gained something from my travels
Something more important than all the souvenirs I’ve brought home.
It’s not life experience, even though I got plenty of that
It’s not a deep understanding of human nature (even though travelling to faraway lands helps in this endeavour)
It’s peace of mind
It’s a peace of mind different from the zen like peace of yogis or from the finitude of old people
It’s the understanding that I’ve lived my life and that if something happens to me now, I know that I’ve lived it fully, every moment that I was given.
It’s a bit counterintuitive, arriving at peace after travelling and doing adventure sports, but it’s there.
It’s there and it built a solid foundation for my personality.
Having an active life helps keep an emotional balance
Near Oulu, a small town in the center of Finland, I’ve jogged for 7 miles at below 0 degrees.
The air was cold and I felt it with every breath.
Even though it was hard, the place was amazing!
A forest with big trees, frozen land below my feet and a trail used for ski touring.
After the run, I felt relaxed and balanced.
I thought the feeling will pass when the endorphins released by my body would run their course, but no, my whole day was great and it all began with that morning run.
Whenever you feel down, discouraged or you just want a better day try running in nature for an hour, even half if possible.
Physical exercise helps keep your mind sane in this century of distractions.
The best educational system in Europe
Did you know that Finland has the best educational system in Europe? (according to the PISA study, presented on BBC)
I visited one of their schools and I’ve talked with a lot of students there. I’ve got a lot of input, but I knew I had to do something different.
If you want to get the highlights the school system provides, you need to speak with the exchange students.
Erasmus is a student exchange program in which students attend school in other countries for a semester (and the exams get recognized in their home country).
So I visited an Erasmus dorm and spent a lot of hours chatting with the students there.
It seems that the main practical difference between other school systems is that Finland promotes weekly group projects.
Instead of homework, you have a practical project that you have to finish with a team, every week.
This provides you with a lot more than understanding of the course. You experience team dynamics, you learn to lead and to be led and you create something with the help of your colleagues.
I was enthralled by the idea!
In the last few years, I’ve added a lot of experiential games to my courses, games through which the student reaches his own conclusions, without getting directly taught.
The next step is implementing some ideas that I got from Finland to teach the students more than the subject they think they are being taught.
I don’t want to leave you with a conclusion here, just with advice.
Travel! Travel a lot and, after you’re tired, travel a bit more.
Because traveling is more than seeing new places.
It develops your mind
It makes you feel fulfilled
It provides peace of mind
PS: I’m very curious what you’ve learned in your travels. Please write below one idea that you had during one of your trips.