When an Academic Is on the Road

Always ready for discovery.

July 2, 2013

I love books and reading, but what I really love to do as much as possible is to travel. Beyond the interesting books about history and geography, and after intensive lectures about political systems and complicated international relations dominoes, what always matters to me is how reality really is. Additionally, without direct observation of a country and its people, I cannot evaluate properly or start writing articles about a certain local topic. This could be both an advantage and disadvantage, but after several failures of theoretical juggling, I decided that the mix of theory and practice is what I should follow in my academic pursuits.

It is true that my interests in history and political science are intrinsically related to my daily reality, and until recently, I was not interested in space/time trips across times and history. In this way, it is simpler to combine my passion with my professional or academic interests. On the other hand, when I am visiting a place, I always want to go beyond the contemporary time limits and I usually go to visit a local history museum or to try to find as much as possible about the past. For a better immersion into the local culture, I attend shows, exhibitions, and different cultural performances that will help me to understand the spirit of the culture. If I have enough time to spend, I even want to take some language classes because I want to be able to have a minimal connection with the local life, a gold mine for understanding the specific reality.

According to my personal characterization, an academic should always be alert and ready to discover something new. It might be a completely new perspective from a domain of study that is 100% foreign to his or her academic abilities. But very often, we learn a lot when we are exposed to new knowledge and experience. And where else can one have challenging experiences and learn in five days more than in five full days of intensive study? This is my dearest excuse for not being very active in the academic field lately.

Once an academic, always an academic. On vacation or during the trips round the world or of your own city, you can always find opportunities to better use your intellectual sight. Have a look at the buildings around! Can you recognize the style of the construction? Do you know about its famous inhabitants? You are on the good path, and you don’t have to worry that time spent travelling is detrimental to your studies or applied lectures.

In addition, there it is another pleasant side of the travel that helps me to successfully survive the rest of the year: while I am waiting in the airports or during the flight, or when I travel by train, bus or car, I have so much Internet-free time that I have the time to spend reading 50 pages in a row without the usual interruptions of social media or the obsessive (and extremely time wasting) e-mail checking. There it is so much time to improve your language skills, to learn how to take photos or simply to rest while looking at the green fields and flowers. Life can be so easy sometimes – and always beautiful, including for busy bookish academics.



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