My 2015 Learning Roadmap | 11 Months of Focused Learning

gaspesie road trip Hey! Long time, no post see.

Maybe you don’t need a plan to learn. Much of learning comes through living. I get that. There are, however, a lot of things I’d like to learn that I know I will not simply pick up without making a point to. Living in Montreal for two years and thinking it’d be great to learn French does not a French speaker make.

Learning often takes intention and planning.

Thus, I plan. Better late than never.

I started November 2014 with the best of intentions. Of course, my problem (like so many others) is not a lack of intention, but never moving beyond those intentions. In November, I was focused on finding a place to live and reviewing that resume I had buried in my computer’s files. These are very valid concerns, might I add. December was filled with unpacking things into that apartment that we found, planning our serendipitous trip to California, and sending out that resume. The New Year came and went. January was here, and I still hadn’t taken any time to plan or think about what I really wanted to learn in this year. Then I found some work, started looking for volunteering positions, and getting used to the city I am calling home for the year being.

Here’s the thing. You can still be intentional, even if you missed the January 1 mark. I missed it, but still want to be make the intellectual most of my free time in 2015, allowing time for binge watching House of Cards and keeping up on The Mindy Project, of course.

This is what I plan to learn in 2015.

Be Here Now

vancouver seawall1. Learn about Canada

I’m not sure how long I’ll be in Canada, but I know that after living a minimum of four years in the country, I ought to be able to tell you some basic facts. I’ve got a handle on Québecois history, but as for anglophone Canada, I’ve got work to do.

2. Go Local: British Columbia and Vancouver

Same idea as above. I’m a firm believer that if you try and understand the history and culture of the place you live, you’ll find the experience to be much more rewarding.


We all need music in our lives, even if we aren’t the ones making it. I want to make just a little, but mostly learn how to better appreciate it. I think my music goals are pretty self-explanatory.

music1. Master 6 Songs on the Harmonica

2. Learn 3 Campfire Songs on the Guitar

3. Complete the Readings and Video Lectures for a Classical Music Course*

4. Complete a Course on Jazz*

5. Learn a Dance. Any dance.


sourdough xmas tree1. Perfect my Sourdough

Our west coast sourdough starter has already been producing some decent loaves, but I feel each time I bake, things happen just a little differently. This is fun, but I’d like a little more quality control over my loaves.

2. The Pearl Project 2.0

A couple years ago, I had this other blog. Go figure. I was trying my hand at recipes from cuisines from all countries around the world. I stopped and don’t plan to resurrect the project per se (to give one day to Indian Cuisine in an entire year is not only superficial but also far from cost-efficient), but am still inspired to keep exploring global cuisine in a focused way. My at-home meals each month will focus on the following cuisines:

hmong foodFebruary: Japanese
March: Thai
April: Chinese
May: Indian
June: Mexican
July: Korean
August: Moroccan
September: OFF (probably, but we’ll see)
October: Indonesian
November: Vietnamese, Laotian, and Cambodian
December: Malaysian and Singaporean

I know, there’s quite a focus on one continent. This is partially because I want to take advantage of having access to Asian food products in Vancouver and partially because I’d like to use my cooking to help familiarize myself with some of the products where I work. And before you call me out on cheating later, I’m not planning to stick to each cuisine for every meal in the entire month, because, frankly, there are times when I need grilled cheese.**


quebec city bookstore1. 45 Books

Really, my reading goal is to hit 45 books in the calendar year, including the lost month of January. But I’d be lying if I said my reading goals weren’t a bit more specific than this.

2. Beef Up on Some Classics (20 of them, to be exact)

While you had an English teacher that made you read My Antonia, Moby Dick, and Brave New World, I had an English teacher that told us many of the classics were too hard to read, so we could watch the movies instead. (This was the English teacher I had for three of my four high school years, and thanks to the Heavens, he is no longer employed as a teacher). In college, I only took one literature class (of the science fiction variety), so any classics I have read came in that one year of high school or on my own. I’m catching up, mind you, but want to make a point to finally read some of the books to which Rory Gilmore and Dan Humphrey make reference after reference.

3. Read Stuff Not in English

I’d like to read at least three books in French (YA level or higher), two of the same in Spanish, and one in German. Naturally, I’m including them in my overall total, though honestly, they should count triple 🙂


Speaking of that non-English business–

French Grammar1. Not Get Worse in French and Spanish

I’m really, truly not going to be as strict as I should be on this. If I was being honest with myself, I’d like to be at a C1 level in both of these languages and never slip back. That said, I also know that French, Spanish, and I have a long road ahead of us. We’ll never be separated. So, if 2015 isn’t the year I pass (or even take) a C1 test, that’s okay. My goal is to maintain my French and improve my Spanish. Not exactly quantifiable, I know. My plan is to practice with people in each language for two conversations a month or so, read articles and books, and work on listening comprehension.

2. Read German by the End of the Year

Is it weird that I don’t think this will be super hard? Yeah, it’d be great to speak it if I ever make my way to Germany, and let’s hope that at least a few words would come out of my mouth if a German emergency required it, but speaking isn’t really my goal. Reading bread recipes and appreciating the flexibility of German vocabulary is. By the end of the year, I’d like to be able to read the average newspaper article and understand what it said.

3. Finish an Intro to Mandarin Course

This goal clearly isn’t about attaining a certain level in the language. It’s about making a point to start it and become interested in the culture. And if it means I happen to catch a label or two at work, that’s nice, too.


crafts 051 (500x336)1. Knitting and Crocheting

I can crochet in a circle. I can knit scarves and hats. 2015 is the year I branch out. The year I complete two new crafting projects of each kind.

2. Sewing

I have a sewing machine. I can sew in a straight line–sort of. I cannot keep moving this heavy thing around without being able to make better use of it. In 2015, I will complete four sewing projects that are not pillows.


1. Brush up on HTML and CSS

Sure, I remember some of what I learned in school and have been using a bit of HTML and CSS on the blog, but I’d like to feel a bit more comfortable with it all.

2. Usurp Husband’s Coding Knowledge

My husband is fluent in the language of Python. I have no desire to reach his level and usurp all that knowledge, but it sure would be handy to know how to automate the renaming of files or other tedious tasks.


garden 043 (500x336)1. Improve Birding Skills

Nerdy? Maybe, but color me inspired by our Chaco trips and walks along the Stanley Park seawall. I’ve already got a bit of start on this!

2. Grow a Patio Garden

Save for a few nearby trips, I plan to be around for the entire growing season. And I have a beautiful little balcony. So why not?

3. Complete a Course in Sustainability*

4. Complete the Planet Earth Course*

5. Get into Nature at Least Once per Month

Even if it’s just an escape onto the North Shore or making a point to spend a full afternoon crisscrossing through the tall trees of Stanley Park, it has got to happen.

Learn Just Enough About Stuff Not on the List to Make a New List Next Year

Learning anything about anything always teaches me how little I know about so many things. Like every good road map, mine has its limitations. Sometimes the best road trip stops are unplanned; the same thing goes for learning. I want so many new things to be on my radar by the end of December 2015. By then, I’ll want to learn about things I don’t even know exist at this point. Can’t wait!

Did you set any learning resolutions this year? Tell me, tell me!


*These courses are open courseware offerings, often from Coursera or MIT Open Courseware.

**Calling me out on cheating would be mean. Okay, not mean, but pointless for both of us. I’d just be cheating myself, and you’d be wasting your time. I reserve the right to not make every goal on this list. I reserve the right to change it. The goal of my goals is to learn as much as I can about the things I want to without feeling trapped by them. I don’t mean to make myself an expert or imply others should want to learn the same things. I just want people to be excited about learning. Anything.