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Personal Musings

University of the Road

It’s been said before that our senses are the closest thing we have to a time machine.

The melody of a favourite song, the taste of certain foods and scents can send the person affected back in time.  This week I was sent back in time by a number.  The number twenty.

I was lying in bed and suddenly thought to myself what I was doing twenty or so years ago.

I suddenly remembered that I had just begun one of the great periods of my life.

I had been granted a 24 month sabbatical from work and was taking a trip around the world (try asking for one now).  In January 1994, I had landed in Sri Lanka and would not get home until November 1995

My travels took me across India and China down through SE Asia to New Zealand and across Canada and the US before travelling across Europe.

It was a journey of a lifetime but one I was lucky to repeat three years later when I travelled across central and south America but why did that first trip have such a profound effect on me?

  • This was pre e-mail and mobile phones. Contact with home was when you were travelling was via phone cards and poste-restante i.e. post office holding on to letters for you to pick up.  News from home could take weeks if not months to catch up with you.
  • No internet. Imagine travelling to a spot 1000s of mils from home and imagine no internet – Yahoo, Google, Hotmail, Facebook, and Twitter.  In those days life truly was without a safety net.

So I was literally cut off from home and news of home aside from getting to post offices by certain dates or having enough cash for a phone card.

It was a trip which taught me the importance of forward planning, time management, resource and financial management and a myriad of other skills which I needed to use not because I was paid to do so but because my life would be at risk if I screwed up.

I would often think how my life have turned out if I had gone to university but in many ways I had the best on the job training/internship I could ever get . It’s a shame most employers only recognise formal/traditional education.

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