What is an Edumad?

Zach Clenaghan
May 28, 2020

ed·u·mad \ e-jə-ˈmad \

A student who chooses to combine online and/or experiential learning with world travel.

No, you won’t find the word Edumad in the dictionary, not yet anyway. But as the creators of this word and the movement, this is how we would define it. Yes, we did just make up a word, but we figured that’s how all words were created before anyway, and there wasn't an easy way for us to describe what we’re doing on our programs to the people we met on the road.

No, we’re not backpackers.

Backpackers are usually not studying anything, or if they are, it’s secondary to their travels. The addition of learning as a priority completely shifts the approach that Edumads take to their travels. Backpackers typically stay in hostels, sharing dormitory rooms with 8 or more other travelers. This is totally impractical for an Edumad, who needs their own space to focus and recharge.

Backpackers usually bounce between locations at a fast pace, moving on every 3 days to a new location full of new sights to see and experiences to have. Edumads on the other hand, need some semblance of routine in their lives in order to be productive in their learning, which is near impossible if you find yourself in a totally unfamiliar environment on such a regular basis, not to mention the toll that traveling so frequently can take on your body.

No, we’re not studying abroad.

Studying abroad typically means one location for at least a whole semester (3+ months), attending lectures in person at a university other than your own. For Edumads, since their studies are 100% online, they have far more freedom than someone studying abroad. Yes, they could stay in one location for an entire semester, but they don’t have to. They could go to a new place every month or so, as the Edumads on our programs do, or settle in to a location and experience it as the locals do, maybe even learning the language.

Studying online rather than at a university also means you’re not restricted by lecture attendance. You don’t have to haul yourself to class every morning, nor are your prospective destinations restricted by the international partnerships that your home university has. 

No, we’re not digital nomads.

Those of you that have come across the digital nomad movement may see Edumads as close cousins, and we’d tend to agree. There are some subtle differences which mean we felt we needed our own definition and community. Digital nomads are people working online while traveling the world. Working, not studying. This distinction usually means that digital nomads are much older. Most digital nomads have laid a foundation in their professional career over several years back in their home country, which means their ages tend to be closer to 30 than 20, as it is with our Edumads.

Making connections with 30+ year olds who have spent a decade in the professional world, as a 20-year-old who hasn’t finished their degree yet, isn’t impossible, but they don’t come easily. Mixing travels with studying rather than work also means a more flexible lifestyle. Remote workers are at the whims of their bosses or clients, and missing deadlines for deliverables or scheduled calls (that are often late night due to time zone differences) can be devastating.

For digital nomads, work comes far ahead of their travels and any fun they want to have. For Edumads, this isn’t quite the same. Yes, when you’re enrolled in credit-bearing classes, you'll have deadlines you need to meet. But these are typically set before the class even begins so you can ensure that they’re met with plenty of time to spare for those last minute day trips to the waterfall, or midnight hikes up volcanoes. For Edumads, the balance between studying and traveling is much more even than with digital nomads.

So as we’ve outlined, an Edumad is none of the above, which is why we felt the need to create the term. If you’re still trying to get your head round the concept, you can read the profiles of Edumads from our previous programs. These are the real people that have been pioneers of this movement during its infancy. And if you’re wondering what a typical day in the life of and Edumad looks like, we asked some of them to share theirs too.