On Nomaducation: could the next digital nomads be students?

“Digital nomad” is a term that’s been making its way increasingly into the mainstream. As internet access and speeds around the world increase and the economy increasingly goes digital, working remotely or on a freelance basis is becoming increasingly possible. Coincidentally, so is studying online: there are literally thousands of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), more free or easy-to-access educational content than you could ever possibly consume, and even fully-accredited, inexpensive degree programs you can pursue via laptop no matter where in the world you are.

This is all fairly new, so it’s understandable that no community has really emerged around student nomads yet, but maybe that time is close. Maybe the “nomaducation” buzzword is just a few years away from becoming the next “digital nomad.”

I’ve been doing it. Albeit, not on a full-time basis at all: I got my undergrad in the U.S, moved to South Korea to teach for a few years (the savings were a great jump-start), moved back to the U.S, moved to Thailand, and am currently planning on moving to Tbilisi, Georgia. The whole time I’ve been working and studying at the same time, and while it eats up most of my free time it’s been going pretty great. I’ve built a lot of skills and identified some things I really want to work on more deeply. In a nutshell:

  • I’ve improved my math and stats skills,
  • gotten into programming,
  • developed my passion for economics,
  • studied data analysis and visualization,
  • cultivated in interest in behavioral sciences,
  • learned the basics of a few languages,
  • taught English as a foreign language (I actually got pretty good at it–after a while)
  • written for tech, finance, and blockchain publications,
  • learned how small the world can be
  • met people from all over
  • listened to hundreds of hours of podcasts
  • taken so many MOOCs
  • and way more

In terms of knowledge and experience accrued, it’s been a clear win. In terms of time, it’s certainly taking longer than if I’d gone straight to a masters program, but in retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t. I’ve explored so many new worlds since I started my journey that it’s starting to get hard to keep them all straight. That’s why I’ve decided I really need to start specializing–but I digress. Here’s the pitch:

  • Travel is its own form of education
  • Online degrees are getting more common and acceptable
  • Online work is becoming easier to find
  • Living in low-cost countries can often be cheaper
  • Resources to serve the digital nomad community are becoming readily available

Essentially, while it’s certainly not the right call for everyone, I’d argue that “nomaducation,” or studying and travelling at the same time, is a small trend just waiting for a name and a community. That community part is important, and it’s most of the reason I’m writing about this now: I’ll get to that in my next post. Suffice it to say that I haven’t found much of one, I miss it, and (as you might have guessed), I’m taking a shot at creating it.

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