“A last call for human sanity in a digitized world and a summons home to the nature that nourishes the best human qualities of creativity, intelligence, connection, and compassion… The message [of The Nature Principle by Richard Louv] is urgent: unplug, boot it down, get off line, get outdoors, breath again, see, experience, touch, hug, feel, become real in a real world.” – David Orr
You are coming to the end of your first year of college, or are half way through your second, and you’re feeling overwhelmed, unsure of your direction. You seem to be just blindly following everyone else’s plan or one you yourself set in place but are no longer sure of. You may be uninspired by classroom learning, but don’t want to feel like a quitter by leaving college altogether. You don’t want to disappoint your parents or be left behind by your old friends.
Does any of this sound familiar? Well, you’re not alone. We are hearing from many college students that are feeling a need for a break from the classroom experience. Just as an increasing number of high school graduates are taking up to a full year after high school to decide how they want to spend their college experience – typically known as a Gap Year – we’re finding that many college students are feeling a similar need after a year or two of college to reimagine and reinvigorate themselves for their studies.
The Expedition Education Institute (EEI) is a chance to learn what can’t be experienced in a static university environment (to learn more than you ever thought possible, in the words of an alum) and still get college credit. You can travel and learn at the same time!
Here are 5 Top Reasons Why You Should Get on an EEI Bus (if you’re feeling burned out at college):
At EEI you are living outside and (mostly) disconnected from technology. This fosters deep and critical thinking, the ability to communicate face-to-face, and supports creativity and collaboration, reducing the anxiety and distraction that are two of the major issues associated with increased cell phone and device dependence. As this article clearly articulates, “Constant connectivity makes it hard to sustain attention on one task at a time. It can make us get all willy-nilly with our focus, giving our attention to whatever is right in front of us, without thinking about whether or not what is in front of us is truly worth our time. As a result, it’s harder to engage in deep thought, critical thought, and creativity.”
Find your passion — Get reinvigorated about your education and learn to stay motivated!
Many students find themselves at college simply because it was “the next step”. It is all too easy to walk through high school and “end up” in university classes with a declared major without ever having given much thought to what you want to learn, what you really care about in life, and who you want to be after graduating from college. On an EEI bus the education focuses on you, not on the expected! You can use these experiences you are being exposed to to figure out what you are excited about and who you are as a learner. It’s easy to stay focused when you are doing something you feel passion for. When you are doing something you love with people who love it too, it doesn’t feel like work!
Learn how to build an unfailing support system (community!)
What’s really cool about living and learning in an EEI bus community is that you all share several things in common: You care about the natural world and you want to work for social change. And yet, you all bring your unique selves and experiences to the group. Your learning isn’t solitary, but is developed, diversified, and deepened by the insights of others – both faculty and student peers. What you share is part of the curriculum, feeding into a more holistic understanding of the issues you are studying and how they apply to your life. The community collaboratively explores the knowledge gained, integrating experiences in a way that rarely takes place within the confines of a classroom. It turns out that relationships formed in EEI learning communities lead to real and lifelong friendships.
Connect to the natural world
We are all connected to the natural world through the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the water we drink that all come from nature’s systems. We just often forget about our dependence on the planet. In fact, we are “a part of” the natural world. We are nature. We are interdependent with the rest of the natural world. There are studies that show that time spent in nature is healing, it helps us psychologically as well as sociologically and physically. It helps us connect to one another and to other-than-human-beings. EEI bus communities help to reawaken our connectedness. We eat outside, we sleep outside, we read and study and play outside. We study the natural world through our pores, not just in textbooks.
Take ownership of your education and earn college credit!
EEI faculty and curriculum work in concert with students to craft an educational experience that has meaning for you and your future. You will gain confidence in yourself and your direction. You will leave with the skills that 21st Century employers value, such as the ability to communicate effectively, leadership and teamwork capacities, experience in creative and critical thinking, and flexibility as a learner with the ability to adapt to changing conditions.
Do you need to make physical and mental space to figure out what you really want to do, within a full time academic program, but one that supports you in this process? Get on the Bus!
From a recent college student who spent the fall of her sophomore year on an expedition semester, “I’ve learned more in just these first five weeks than I learned in my entire first year of college.”