Training My Brain: Post-College Edition

April 13, 2015

One of my top three loves in life, after bacon, is learning. It’s one of the main reasons I chose public relations as a major. Why study one subject for the rest of your life when you can be a semi-expert on the industries and businesses of all of your clients? The deal was too sweet to pass up.

But, I admit, since graduating college I’ve felt a serious yearning for more learning. Don’t get me wrong, I’m more than okay with no more tests, essays or group presentations, but I’m in withdrawal from the abundance of knowledge available for the taking (for the paying?) in college.

And then a few weeks ago it hit me – we are living in the information age! There’s knowledge for the taking everywhere, if you only know where to look.

I started my quest at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.


Not as cute as she looks

Art was a subject that I shied away from in college — my drawings make third graders’ work look like Michelangelo. But there’s more than one way to immerse yourself in art – and I decided to become a member of the MIA. I now have access to thousands of years of history and culture, and special access to collections that have made their way from prestigious museums in Europe to our humble little city.

Last weekend my family and I took advantage of the free member days to learn about the Habsburgs –one of the most powerful and longest-reigning royal families on earth, with a collection of art and opulence to match.

So what did I learn?

  • The Habsburgs’ giant extended family has graced nearly every throne in Europe since the Middle Ages – most importantly as the Holy Roman Emperors
  • The royals paid painters to make themselves look much better than they did in real life (ancient Photoshop)
  • I would rather pick out a carriage with gold leaf and a velvet interior than a new car
  • Inbreeding is the real legacy of royal families
  • Inbreeding is no joke – the Spanish line of the family ended with one man who could barely think, speak or move on his own

My future whip.

That’s my old-school way of learning – visiting a museum that is celebrating its 100th anniversary of educating Minnesotans. Being a child of the 21st century, however, I had to embrace an app for my next learning journey.


Speaking of Europe, my family and I are planning our first vacation in nearly 10 years. My mom’s choice? Italy! So, in an effort to not be the totally helpless tourist in a foreign country, I am learning Italian. All thank to Duolingo – the app that makes Rosetta Stone look like a gigantic waste of money.

After a week, I am on level four of Italian and thrilled to be learning a third language. I can say multiple phrases that should guarantee me a fantastic trip:

Io sono una donna!

Una birra per favor!

Il formaggio, la colazione, il burro, l’acqua, la cena, pasta, pizza, prosciutto!

(Translation: I am a woman! A beer please! Cheese, breakfast, butter, water, dinner, pasta, pizza, heaven!)

 I think I’ll be set – arrivederci!