At Reverse Tide Learning, we want your educational journey to be a great experience. Whether you’re using this as an alternative to traditional education, learning new skills, or using the site for continuing education, this is applicable to you. The goal is simple: we don’t want your learning to solely consist of sitting at a desk and studying. We encourage you to get out into the world and enjoy the learning process. You will learn much more by feeling motivated, getting out and communicating with others, and gaining many diverse experiences (including your field of study). There are three parts to our Experience Based Learning:
1. Getting Professional Experience
Learning by getting actual work in your field of study. This improves the retention of knowledge, significantly boosts your resume, and allows you to apply concepts in a real world setting.
2. Getting Life Experience
Taking your learning beyond the physical study material. Here you’ll gain knowledge and skills in communication, critical thinking, self-improvement, and other less tangible things.
3. Enjoying yourself
We hope you’re taking some dedicated learning time rather than cramming it into a work schedule. Part of the education process is to enjoy the time this affords you to reflect and enjoy life. So we also want you to have a memorable and enjoyable time.
While Reverse Tide’s Learning Pages focus a lot on #1, this article will focus a bit more on #2 and #3. How can you gain life experience and enjoy yourself? Let’s explore a multitude of ways…
Traveling is probably the best life experience you can enjoy. The benefits are truly amazing. You’ll learn how to communicate with people of different backgrounds and cultures. It enables learning more about the world, which gives you educational benefits in geography, history, sociology, languages, political science, and international business. It gives you a worldwide network, which is crucial in a global economy. And best of all… it’s really fun!
Travel is a great way to minimize life costs as well. Too many people associate travel with luxury resorts and special vacations. However, you can take a longer term view of travel as well. Say you were committing two years to your studies. Rather than spending time on a campus and whatever living accommodations this entails, you can spend it on the road. If you choose the right spots and search for the right deals, you can significantly minimize expenses. How can you work travel into your education plan? A few ways…
Live abroad. Places like Southeast Asia, South America, Eastern Europe, and many other locations are quite cheap and have a huge expat scene. You can live for less than $2000/month in these places and maintain a high standard of living. This is the perfect retreat to focus on your learning, projects, freelancing, and career development. You’ll be surrounded by interesting cultures and be able to derive all the travel benefits we discussed. Airbnb makes this easy but in many places, you can do short-term rentals directly as well. Co-live spaces are also an interesting way to minimize costs and maximize your experience.
Teach English. You can actually earn good money in certain locations like China, Japan, Russia, and various other interesting places. It’s not very difficult to get qualified and in these high-demand places, it’s quite easy to find a job. The schools will then handle visas and other logistics, pay you a middle class salary, and leave you plenty of free time to pursue more long-term learning. Check out some of our country-specific international business learning paths for more details.
Working Holidays. If you’re younger, we’d suggest doing some research into working holidays. The gist is that you’re able to get a longer term visa (which allows you to work abroad). Then you can get simple jobs like bartending or hospitality gigs to pay for your cost of living. In the meantime, continue your learning in this new country!
Getting a degree abroad. You can skip the expensive or low quality degree programs in your home country and study for low costs around the world (see our page Get Your Degree Abroad for English speaking programs in various countries). Studying in a foreign country allows you to pair a tangible degree with our skill based programs and then take advantage of our career services. This is our suggested options for people at the university stage of their lives.
Travel often. If you don’t want to move for a longer term then we simply suggest traveling often! It’s well worth it for so many reasons and since our learning pages are fully digital, it won’t inhibit your progress. With some planning and choosing less expensive travel locations, it doesn’t have to be too expensive. And you can freelance (use our page!) to fund any excess expenses.
If you’re looking for good travel resources, here are our favorite sites for booking…
Skyscanner – this is the best site for booking flights because it compares prices across all the booking platforms and gives you a “flexible travel” option to find the lowest prices.
Airbnb – Live in a real home! It’s probably our favorite site out there and allows you to live anywhere in the world. Airbnb has the most listings but also consider VRBO and Homeaway, as they have some variety and advantages.
Hotels – If you prefer hotels rather than homes, we find this to be the best booking site.
There are a million ways to be social no matter how you choose to learn. Part of the learning process
is to get out and build great relationships with other people. If you make an effort, there are social opportunities all around you. And being social doesn’t necessarily mean going out to bars and getting as drunk as you can. While you can certainly do that if you choose, being social can actually help your educational pursuits as well. A few suggestions…
Meetup – this is a great website to meet other people and attend events you’re interested in. They’re active in most bigger cities and give you tons of great opportunities. And if nobody is organizing anything then nothing is stopping you from showing some leadership and creating group/events yourself.
Couchsurfing – this is a site where you can actually travel for free by staying on people’s couches. The people hosting travelers are often really high quality (because they travel themselves). And they also have options where you can meet up with local people 1v1 or through their events. This is a great way to be social and learn about the world from others.
Travel Tour Groups – Doing a travel tour group is probably the most fun you’ll have in your entire life. It makes the university experience look tame and boring. And the best part is that it’s great whether you’re a solo traveler (you’ll meet scores of other people your age), with friends, or traveling as a couple. The groups mesh so well comprised of all these traveler types. We’ll assume most people on this site are under 40 years old. Our favorite is Contiki but Top Deck and G Adventures are quite amazing as well. Go to these sites and check out their tours. This is a way to have life-long friends from around the world and learn more than you’ve ever experienced before.
Facebook Groups – A lot of people are organizing fun events through Facebook. Every city is different – some are bigger via Meetup and others via Facebook. Search the groups and we’re sure you’ll find something interesting.
Don’t just work and study all the time. Part of experiential learning is to diversify your time with productive activities in your leisure time. The sky is the limit but we have a few suggestions…
Any physical fitness. Every study in the book says that people exercising on a regular basis have better cognitive function compared to staying idle. The benefits of yoga, cardio work, strength training, and even just taking daily walks cannot be underestimated. If you can combine fun, health, cognitive enhancement, and the social aspects of whatever you’re doing into a single activity then you’re truly being productive.
Cooking. For very similar reasons, we believe this is a really productive hobby. You can improve your health, develop a valuable life skill, save some money on your monthly food allowance, and turn this into a social hobby!
Learning a language. This is great whether you’re traveling and immersing yourself in a language, joining local groups, or socially practicing using online platforms. A language is a great hobby that is still keeping yourself mentally sharp. It has real professional benefits and even better social ones. This is a great idea for anyone to pick up!
Art. Practicing any form of art will really enhance your experiential learning. It allows you to free your mind from stress and deep thinking but also trains the creative side of your brain. Art can work its way into any professional endeavor. Creativity (for strategic thinking). Communication (for marketing). Design. And plenty more. So get involved in some form of art, whether it’s music, visual arts, dance, creative writing, or anything else that suits your interest.
Immerse Yourself in Technology
While this could easily be another hobby, we think it’s important enough for it to be its own category. It’s no wonder that the millennial generation is revolutionizing every industry despite much less experience than older generations. It’s because this generation has embraced technology as part of their education, social life, and general lifestyle. So it’s only natural that they are well-trained in any form of technology and able to make business improvements using this valuable tool.
However, the technology revolution has only begun. Check our our page – The Future – for our thoughts, perspectives, and predictions on how technology will shape our world. And then experience it for yourself. Become an early adopter of VR even if software development is limited and the hardware will inevitably be upgraded. The perspective you’ll gain would be equivalent to understanding the power of computers and the internet in the early 1990s (which would have done wonders for your career if you were an early adopter then). Ditto for machine learning, biotech, alternative energy, 3D printing, and robotics. These forms of technology are the future and the more you immerse yourself in any or all of these subjects, the better off you will be.
So attend conferences. Buy the latest gadgets. Pay daily attention to the latest news and perspectives. Tailor your learning toward these subjects and ensure the curriculum includes the newest technology. Go work for companies in these spaces. And keep your mind open the entire time. Combining skill based learning and technology immersion will do wonders for your experiential learning.
While we have encouraged self-learning, you’ll notice all of our learning paths try to encourage collaboration. In our technology learning paths, we talk about how important Github, Stack Overflow, coding challenges, and other collaboration is to the learning process. And in every single project, we encourage freelancing before you target your ultimate career destination.
This thinking is the same no matter what you’re studying. You should be seeking out real projects to apply your skills/knowledge but should prioritize ones where you’re collaborating with others. It’s great to learn from an instructor but you’ll learn more from your peers, bosses, clients, and other collaborative participants.
So find other learners and work on projects with them. Form a freelancing team to improve the size, scope, and quantity of your work. Enter industry challenges similar to what programmers do. Join industry trade groups and online forums related to your learning subject. The experiential learning benefit of collaborating with others cannot be understated.
We strongly encourage you to give back. The best learners will be confident in what they’re accomplishing but humble enough to give back to those that aren’t progressing at the same rate you are. Go do some volunteer work and help others. While you can choose your cause, we’d suggest avoiding polarizing topics like political groups or organizations fighting a specific cause. While these groups might do important work, experiential learning would call for doing something that focuses on positivity, opportunity, and the chance to work on something that you’ll benefit from as well. There are thousands of way to do this.
Also consider that you can do more than volunteer your time. In our “Getting Experience” series for each subject in Reverse Tide Learning, we talk about getting actual resume experience through not-for-profits. For example, if you’re learning marketing then you can volunteer such services for the organization of your choice (increasing donations, building awareness campaigns, etc). If you are learning tech skills, you can help a local charity improve their website or mobile app. It has the triple benefit of doing good for the organization, helping you learn/apply these skills, and build up your resume with real experience. That’s pretty much the definition of great experiential learning!
Daily Creativity & Critical Thinking
In our current era of fake and partisan news, social media portraying unrealistic living, “reality” television, and marketing every direction you look, we need to learn to think for ourselves. Reverse Tide is committed to helping you do this in your learning and careers. The idea is to train you to think creatively and through a critical lens. You may not agree with everything we write and that’s the intent. We want to teach you how to think differently than your peers and derive benefit from that. So please subscribe to our feed, email, and social pages so you can get this content.
However, don’t stop with just our content. Do something every day to free your mind from sinister influences. Exercise your brain with critical thinking tasks. Do something creative (pretty much everything we’ve listed in this article qualifies). The more you commit to creativity and critical thinking, the better you will feel and achieve.
Experience Based Learning – Conclusion
We will stop right there. Any and all of these methods will enhance the quality of your education. But you rarely get these things from traditional sources of learning. Reverse Tide has a much different philosophy. For all the time and money you’re saving by doing self-learning, you can apply that to experiential learning. We build it into all our learning paths as much as possible, however, it’s up to you to supplement it with everything we’ve mentioned in this article. That’s why we feature this at the top of the Reverse Tide Learning page. It’s that important!
Best of luck. By choosing to take control of your learning and career as you have by using Reverse Tide, we’re confident your outcomes will exceed even your own expectations.