Welcome to Week 3 of the BootsnAll Indie Challenge 2012.*

The prompt for Week 3 of the challenge is:

Have you ever studied or taken classes on a trip? What did you study, and perhaps more importantly, what did you learn while on that trip?  What would you like to learn on your travels this year?

Oh, BootsnAll, you read my mind! I just wrote about this very topic earlier this week when I addressed my efforts to learn Russian on my current trip.

But of course, while speaking Russian is the one specific skill I set out to learn on this trip, it is not the only thing I have learned or hope to learn while traveling for a year.

In nearly five months, I have already learned quite a bit:

When I ran the Tallinn Marathon in September, I learned to relax and enjoy the process of running a marathon rather than obsess too much over my finish time – and in doing so, I set a new personal best.

When I lived with a family on the outskirts of St. Petersburg for a month in the fall, I learned that there really is no such thing as a “typical” Russian family – or any other kind of family for that matter.

When I hiked in the Stolby Nature Reserve outside of Krasnoyarsk in Siberia in temperatures well below zero (Fahrenheit), I learned that I am tougher than I thought I was – and that my Minnesota upbringing prepared me for anything!

When I visited a Soviet bunker in Lithuania, I learned about the realities of life for citizens of the former Soviet Union during the Cold War.

When I spent a week in Warsaw, I learned far more about World War II and the Holocaust than I ever learned in high school or college.

When I received an e-card on Christmas morning signed by thirty of my friends back home, I learned that out of sight doesn’t necessarily mean out of mind – and just how much all those friends mean to me.

And when I wrestled with the decision over how to spend New Year’s Eve, I learned how important it is to focus on what will make me happy on this trip – not what will appeal to others or make for an interesting story. I learned that I need to travel on my terms.

With several months left to go on this journey, I hope to learn a lot more.

But just as I didn’t go into my trip with a vision of learning almost any of the things listed above, I think whatever I learn in the next few months will be unexpected as well – and I am looking forward to what the journey has to teach me!


*The Indie Travel Challenge 2012 is a weekly community blogging effort in which travelers from around the world share their stories. For every week in 2012, BootsnAll will post a prompt, question, or even a challenge.

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