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Learning Time with John

Call me the professor

Learning | Johniversity
October 10th, 2021

I love learning. That was one of my favorite aspects of university. Every course was a look into a different area. A time to try something new and explore new interests.

For example, I had no idea I would enjoy reading and writing poetry until I took an into Poetry course. I fell in love with the condensed meaning and symbolism, the word play, the thought and care, and sometimes excruciating effort to craft these little pieces of beauty.

I didn’t like the idea of narrowing down focus too much and limiting myself from all these different areas. Luckily I was able to pick a major that was quite diverse and then add on a creative writing minor to make it even more spread out.

My major Electronic media and communications was a mix of journalism, photography, videography, film studies, media studies in general, and then the additional of creative writing minor in poetry. So I got a little taste of a range of areas.

I’ve kept this same love of learning new and unrelated things in life. But I've found over the years that I often don’t reach my potential because of a lack of structure.

To combat this, and to enable tme to effectively explore many different interests at once, I had the idea to make myself a sort of "curriculum" of courses for myself - a sort of custom learning path for myself.

And so, I’m making my own “university” learning-format for myself. Johniversity, Unipotesserty, Unipotesserohnerversijohnty, …the name is still a work in progress…

The Plan

Unfortunately there’s not enough time in the week to work on and learn about all the areas I’d like to, so I had to break it down into a few core areas I want to grow in.

Music Theory / Production

This is the primary area I want to focus on.

Since finishing my studies at South Plains for music and audio production and playing with my, other than my electric drum kit music has take a backseat other than dabbling on the keys and bass or playing acoustic percussion in fire circles.

Now I have the time to refocus on this area, brush off the music theory and take it beyond what I learned in my earlier studies.

For production it’s been more recent that I worked in audio. I did live sound and studio engineering for a few years before moving to Denton.

Then started a podcast post-production business that kept me working in post-production mixing and editing up until a couple of years ago.

However, now I’d like to dig into electronic music production. I have a solid foundation in the software for production and editing/mixing in the studio/live sound.

I’ve never created music fully all parts myself - always being part of a band in the past - so I’m looking forward to the exploration and challenge.

Plan of Attack

For the music theory, I’m starting out with going through the Berklee music theory classes that are offered through Coursera (so cool, if you love learning and haven’t looked into Coursera before - do it - university courses for free - amazing).

I’m starting from the beginning to refresh and get up to speed in areas that I have have no doubt forgotten.

For the music production, this is more exploration. I have logic pro now, I worked before primarily with Pro Tools and to a lesser extent Cubase in one of the studios. But I don’t think it’ll be much of an issue to transition over.

I also bought the Arturia Pigments 3 software synth earlier this month. And it’s been blowing my mind with the infinite possibilities.

Music production will look like learning through these tools, experimenting creating music - not much for structured learning other than setting asside a set amount of time each week for deep work (creation).

I also have a Masterclass subscription - and there’s TWO courses one there, one by Deadmau5, and the other by Armin van Buuren 🤯. So I’m going to go through these bad boys.


I want to always be learning a language. I love getting to know new people especially from different countries and backgrounds and I want to be able to communicate with locals in their own language wherever possible.

My dream would be to be conversational in at least five languages - and fluent in 3 of those. That’s going to take a while, but by consistently working on them - plus the possibility of living in those countries to expand on them after a certain point - totally possible.

Currently I’d guess I'm about here:

  • English - native
  • Portuguese
    • Reading - B1/B2
    • Writing - B1
    • Speaking - A2/B1
    • Listening - A2/B1
  • Spanish
    • Reading - A2/B1
    • Writing - A1
    • Speaking - A1
    • Listening - A1/A2

One stumbling block I realized this year, after spending some time in Colombia, Mexico and Spain, is it was quite difficult for me to switch from Portuguese (PT) to Spanish (ES).

I was consistently mixing up the two because of how similar they are. I then found that when I was back in Portugal, my Portuguese had also deteriorated into a mixed up Portenhol - super frustrating.

My thought here is that since I was monolingual before starting to learn Portuguese, that I currently have two categories in my mind:

Native - English Other - grouping all things not-English

With the other group created because I have nothing to compare it to besides English. This plus the fact that ES and PT are so similar makes it difficult for me to place ES in a separate category from PT in my mind.

A potential solution here - or we’ll see - is that I decided to stop learning PT and ES for a while, and bring in a fourth language with a clear difference from romance languages so that I can create a new category so to speak.

I’m hoping that will prepare my mind to have multiple language categories and get away from this English vs not-English that I seem to currently have.

Plus I want to learn multiple languages anyway. When I focus back on Spanish (2022) we’ll see if this played out as expected.

Plan of Attack

In September i’m making German my language focus (I’m in Austria the whole month of September) and I know of course this won’t even get me to an A1 level in a month - but the main goal here is to see if I like German, the way it feels and sounds - as a potential future language to focus on more intentionally.

Starting in October I’m switching to Croatian through January, this is to get a taste of a slavic language and since I’m planning on spending a couple of months in Croatia, a nice way to pull it all together.

  • LingQ - This is one of my favorite tools ever, fantastic for reading interesting content and ebooks
  • Memrise - Useful for pronunciation, common phrases that you can immediately try out in the wild, fun and easy memorization / practice
  • Googling around for grammar rules and basics of the language Immersion course - In Zagreb I’ll join a language immersion course.
  • Video calls - Starting in Novemeber

Adventure Sports

I’m on a journey to try all the adventure sports and discover the ones I enjoy and make them a part of my life.

Over the last year I’ve tried and discovered a love for kite-boarding, scuba diving, and freedivine - I'd like to make all of these an ongoing part of my life (to add to bouldering).

I’ve also done surfing, skiing, and paragliding. But I haven't connected with those the same way (although I would like to give surfing a proper go at some point).

I want to always be improving and enjoying (or discovering a new) one of these sports. Whenever I go to a new place (and decided which places to go to) the availability of one of those sports strongly factors into my destinations.

One sport that I want I want to dedicate a good amount of time and give a solid effort to is snowboarding and freediving. I’m planning to go to Greece to do the next level of freediving certification, and then stay in the balkans through the winter and stay a month in Bulgaria to learn to snowboard.

Plan of Attack

In Vienna there are plenty of legit bouldering gyms. And I’ve booked a spot for the month in walking distance of a nice, modern gym. To improve I’m going to go every other day, which seems about right to give my body time to recover and make technique gains.

Wow - mid-month updated - Masterclass added a climbing course - it was solid for the technique walkthroughs.


There is SOO MUCH THAT CAN HAPPEN HERE. Poetry, memoirs, short stories, screen writing, blogging. Wow, incredible.

I enjoy written communication and I want to try out some of these areas that I haven’t (save for a couple courses when I was in university) - like screenwriting, memoirs, short-stories. And then to get back in the flow of the ones I do enjoy for sure - blogging and poetry.

Specifically blogging is a good one because it gives me the opportunity to share what I’m doing, which helps me stay engaged and on track. Two birds with one stone.

Plan of Attack

I don’t have all of this planned out yet, but for the first two months, this is going to look like me getting back into writing blog posts. I’ll lock down just the act of writing and then I can go from there into more creative endeavors.

Rotating Topic - Environmental Conservation

A rotating topic allows me to set aside time to intentionally explore new ares that I might otherwise not make space for. I have a list of these, but through the end of October this is going to be environmental conservation.

Plan of Attack

Current Location History/Culture

I enjoy learning about the culture and history of the places I stay. I was kind of already doing this of reading a book about where I live whenever I change locations for a good amount of time. This just formalizes it.

Staying in Austria in September and traveling through Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary through mid October - there are so many options of locations and time in history or cultures to learn about.

I’m settled on reading about the Habsburg empire: The Habsburgs: To Rule the World by Martyn Rady


Another ongoing area, and not necessarily part of the learning university. But I do want to make this a consistent part of my life. And having a solid wellness lifestyle will enable me to stay motivated and ready to grow in these areas.

Plan of Attack

  • More Water - ~1.5 liters a day
  • High Intensity interval training - daily 10 minutes
  • Yoga practice - on non-adventure sport days
  • Meditation - daily, starting with 5 minutes

Time blocks

I’m going to adjust the schedule and find what works best for me as this goes on. But initially the weekly hours break down I’m shooting for is:

  • Music - 10hrs
  • Languages - 10hrs
  • Adventure Sports - 3 days per week (~2hrs each)
  • Writing - ~10hrs (1 blog post per week)
  • Rotating Topic - ~10hrs
  • Wellness - 1hr per day
  • Location History/Culture - ~3hrs/week
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