By Alec Vick ’15
After two years of teaching at another school, Admissions Director Mr. Mike Ward decided it was time to see more of what the world has to offer before continuing on with his daily life.
This experience, he decided, would be acquired by backpacking through the vast cultures and numerous landscapes found in Europe.
He started on a two and a half month trip, which kicked off in London, and led him to the countries and cities of Ireland, Paris, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Marseilles, Nice, Rome, Florence, Innsbruck, Salzburg, Munich, Brugge, Oostene and back to London.
“My decision to backpack through Europe was basically an opportunity to spend time figuring out what I was going to do with my life,” Mr. Ward said.
Roaming the countryside and going from small farm towns to large cosmopolitan cities like Rome was a heavy mental and physical challenge.
“I learned a lot about myself – how to deal with issues in a big city, finding a place to stay, to communicate and meet people,” Mr. Ward said. “I learned to trust people, probably the best thing about the experience – learning how to be open to growth and loving. I was always one to wait for things to happen, like waiting for someone to call me, I never really took a risk. My trip to Europe gave me confidence.”
While in Italy, Mr. Ward found himself with a friend in a train station when he noticed a train was leaving for Paris very soon.
He did not know how to speak French, did not have any French money or know where to go when there.
But he decided it would be a good experience. Before leaving he decided he would need French money.
Mr. Ward and his friend left their backpacks to a group of people they had just met in the train station while they set out for France.
Upon returning from their search for francs, they came back to realize that the only things in the train station were two backpacks, theirs.
“We could have lost everything,” Mr. Ward said.
After the four hour train ride to Paris, he ended up staying above a pizza parlor for an amount of francs equivalent to $7 per night.
Mr. Ward said he uses what he learned in this experience as confidence, a reinforcement to his teaching skills and a resource to why he is still teaching to this day.