Self Directed

Special: Cecilie Conrad on raising Worldschoolers

September 19, 2023 Lizz Quain and Cecilie Conrad
Special: Cecilie Conrad on raising Worldschoolers
Self Directed
More Info
Self Directed
Special: Cecilie Conrad on raising Worldschoolers
Sep 19, 2023
Lizz Quain and Cecilie Conrad

This is a repost of an interview Lizz Quain from Trailblazing Families did with Cecilie Conrad.

The conversation moves beyond the typical travel tales; we plunge into the depths of unschooling and how it complements the nomadic lifestyle beautifully. Cecilie shares the roller-coaster ride of transitioning to unschooling, navigating the pandemic, and choosing to stay in mainland Europe. We'll also discuss the importance of emergency preparedness and the inherent challenges of this alternative form of education. Expect to hear rich anecdotes and get a sneak peek into our current life and future plans.

The final segments of our conversation venture into the future of world-schooled children. Cecilie and Lizz engage in a meaningful dialogue about unschooling and how it equips children to the demands of the 21st century. We delve into the realms of self-directed learning and the significance of children designing their own life paths. Hear about Cecilies own experiences with her daughter, who became a writer at 11, and my son, who's on his own unique journey. We close our conversation by engaging in the challenges of world schooling, from financial hiccups to socializing on the road and facing health issues. Get ready for an episode packed with real, relatable, and inspiring stories from a world-schooling family!

🗓️ Recorded August 30th, 2023. 📍Chateau Jasmine, Passais-Villages, France


Cecilie Conrad's blog in Danish:
Cecilie Conrad's blog in English:
Cecilie Conrad on IG:
Cecilie Conrad on FB:
Lizz Quain and Trailblazing Families on FB:
Lizz Quain on IG:
Trailblazing Families on YouTube:

Send us a Text Message.

Support the Show.

Podcast website:
YouTube Full Episodes:
Apple Podcasts:

Support on Patreon:
Share a review:

Self Directed
Become a supporter of the show!
Starting at $3/month
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

This is a repost of an interview Lizz Quain from Trailblazing Families did with Cecilie Conrad.

The conversation moves beyond the typical travel tales; we plunge into the depths of unschooling and how it complements the nomadic lifestyle beautifully. Cecilie shares the roller-coaster ride of transitioning to unschooling, navigating the pandemic, and choosing to stay in mainland Europe. We'll also discuss the importance of emergency preparedness and the inherent challenges of this alternative form of education. Expect to hear rich anecdotes and get a sneak peek into our current life and future plans.

The final segments of our conversation venture into the future of world-schooled children. Cecilie and Lizz engage in a meaningful dialogue about unschooling and how it equips children to the demands of the 21st century. We delve into the realms of self-directed learning and the significance of children designing their own life paths. Hear about Cecilies own experiences with her daughter, who became a writer at 11, and my son, who's on his own unique journey. We close our conversation by engaging in the challenges of world schooling, from financial hiccups to socializing on the road and facing health issues. Get ready for an episode packed with real, relatable, and inspiring stories from a world-schooling family!

🗓️ Recorded August 30th, 2023. 📍Chateau Jasmine, Passais-Villages, France


Cecilie Conrad's blog in Danish:
Cecilie Conrad's blog in English:
Cecilie Conrad on IG:
Cecilie Conrad on FB:
Lizz Quain and Trailblazing Families on FB:
Lizz Quain on IG:
Trailblazing Families on YouTube:

Send us a Text Message.

Support the Show.

Podcast website:
YouTube Full Episodes:
Apple Podcasts:

Support on Patreon:
Share a review:

We hope you will enjoy this special episode where Cecilia is interviewed by Liz Quain from trailblazing families. Enjoy.

0:00:00 - Lizz Quain
 I have a really awesome world-schooling mom today to chat with. She's been nomadding with her family, her husband and kids since 2018. I'm super excited to have Cecilia Conrad today. She's a cancer surviving psychologist, former single parent, co-sleeping, yogi, gluten-free, primarily plant-eating, happily married, stay at home, organic, barefooted hippie and mother of four living in a bus. I want to hear about that and, yeah, just having an amazing life. So thank you so much, cecilia, for joining us. How are you today? 

0:00:42 - Cecilie Conrad
I'm good, I am in rural France and the church bells just started. I think maybe they're calling for respite, so maybe you have to talk another two or three seconds until they're gone and I can eat them. 

0:00:58 - Lizz Quain
I don't really hear them, don't worry about it. 

0:00:59 - Cecilie Conrad
You don't Okay. It's really loud. I'm just across the street from the church. 

0:01:04 - Lizz Quain
I hear it a little bit, but don't worry about it. Tell us about yourself. You're from Denmark originally. Yes, Mm-hmm. 

0:01:11 - Cecilie Conrad
Yeah, you just said a lot of things, so I don't know what to add. Really, I don't live in the bus anymore. We set off in the bus in 2018 when we started full-timeing and thought we needed a bus to leave our house. We went from 200 square meters to 20 and then we drove the bus for about three months and parked it where it is still parked. It's been parked in the same place for five years. What country is it parked in? It's in Spain, and it's been amazing. 

You know how life will take you down the stream you need to go down. Maybe you think you know where you're going, but really you're not, and I think there are some very good vibes that are helping us. So we have had a base in Spain in the bus for the entirety of our time as Nomads. We bought a little car, started traveling in that one, did a little flying here and there, bought another van rebuilt. It took forever. I hate doing van conversions. I'm probably going to do one more. I've done four. It's a nightmare, wow, but you get the van you want. So now I live in a Mercedes or I'm based out of a Mercedes. Yeah, a seven meter thing. 

0:02:33 - Lizz Quain
Yeah, and you're traveling with three kids. Now You're fourth one grown, so tell us the age of your kids now. 

0:02:41 - Cecilie Conrad
So the oldest is 24. The second is 17. Then the third will be 15 next month and the fourth is 11. 

0:02:52 - Lizz Quain
Okay, awesome. I rented a camper van I don't know the size the same size as yours, but in Portugal and Spain and I only have two kids, so we're a family of three and my kids complained that it was too small for us. But you guys have five of you traveling in a van, so that's really amazing and two dogs. Yeah, I think I'm going to have to wait until my kids are grown and then I'll do van life and I have some friends, other world schooling parents. We've decided to have a world school parents empty nesters group and caravan together so hopefully. 

I heard about that one. Okay, cool, anyway. So let's talk about what motivated your family to take the plunge into world schooling. Because you were unschooling for a while, so let us know. I think you had that help. You had a health problems, so let us know a little bit more about what motivated you. 

0:03:40 - Cecilie Conrad
It's always a multiple situation. There are many things in our lives, that life that was just not really nice and I can tell you a lot of different reasons. I think the main thing was that just wasn't really enough to stay in one place and go on vacation a month or two a year, and I think that's a good indication, the month or two a year. There was a lot of wonderlust going on in our family. I had the seasonal effective disorder living in Scandinavia, so I was really struggling with winter. It was really hard for me. Yeah, at the end, the final years we lived there, I would, I would dread winter when summer was peaking, just knowing it's coming, and so it's a lot of the year being touched by that and I did try all the conventional things and unconventional things that you can do to overcome it. But basically there's nothing like sunlight to me. 

So, that was for me a major reason. And another really big chunk was the fact that just didn't really make sense that we lived in a house. My husband had an office job and we unschooled the three youngest kids. The oldest was in a self directed style school. We didn't really have to be there, except for the fact that he had to go to the office. We didn't really want to be there because we had already been there for a long time and we really wanted the adventure. We had a van conversion just standing out there in the street waiting for us to go off, but we couldn't because there was the Monday to Friday. So we wanted him home, we wanted him out of that context. 

And when we did the math we realized from Monday, tuesday, half of Wednesday, you go to work to pay your taxes in Denmark it's 50% and then Wednesday and Thursday you go to work to pay for the house the house is a really expensive in Denmark and a good chunk of Friday morning you go to work to pay your bills pay for water, pay for the phone, pay for the gas, pay for heating, and then sometime around 11 on Friday you can start working so that you can go out and ventures, buy food, buy shoes. It didn't add up, it really didn't. And the more we thought about it, it didn't. And we talked about it, talked about it, talked about it for years and years and we didn't really know how to figure out, how to convert that dream into actually leaving, because it was scary, yeah it was, but I think that's the three main things we really wanted to get out there. 

I was struggling with the winter and it was very clear all we needed was sunlight for me from October to March to make life bearable for everyone, because when I was in such a bad mood, everyone was affected by it. It was really hard for me to be the person I want to be struggling with the lack of sunlight. And my husband why would he be at the office? Why wouldn't he be around? 

0:07:19 - Lizz Quain
So was he able to figure out how to work online and then you can take this on the road. 

0:07:26 - Cecilie Conrad
Yeah, yeah, so we spent three years building for it. And we had that three years because our oldest daughter got accepted into an author's school where they take 12 students every second year and they actually called her and asked her to apply when she was only 16. So she's really talented at what she does and there's no way you could tell her, oh, but you could do that online or you could do that in another country, because really you can't. When it's writing it's best to do it in your own language and also there's only one of these schools worldwide. So when she got accepted into that school, we felt we have to stay until she's done with that. So we had a very specific, you know, anchor holding us for a specific time and within that time we wanted to build a business to earn a certain amount of money that we wanted to have before we felt safe leaving. 

0:08:24 - Lizz Quain
Right, right. And I'm guessing that you de-registered from your country so you don't have to pay such high taxes anymore, since you're out of Denmark. 

0:08:32 - Cecilie Conrad
That saves you so much Because we're not in Denmark 182 days a year, which we're supposed to be to be registered, so we had to unregister yeah. 

0:08:41 - Lizz Quain
Yeah, so it gives you more freedom, financially and educational and all that. Yeah, that's awesome. 

0:08:47 - Cecilie Conrad
Okay, you can also afford to pay tax if you're not all, on top of that, paying for an expensive house Living in one of the most expensive cities in the world. That's right, was our context. I think Copenhagen is on the top five at the moment. 

0:09:01 - Lizz Quain
It's really expensive. Okay, so you sold your house or you rented it out. 

0:09:05 - Cecilie Conrad
No, we sold it In the beginning. We rented it out. We did like a test year Good. 

0:09:11 - Lizz Quain

0:09:11 - Cecilie Conrad
That's a long time ago. 

0:09:12 - Lizz Quain
And then that works. And then you decided to go full on with your big bus and now you're in a smaller van and since, you know, for the last six years so amazing, so you've been traveling via driving your vehicle, mostly in Europe. Yes, tell us about some of your favorite countries. You don't have to listen to them all, but what places have you liked? 

0:09:38 - Cecilie Conrad
We tend to like most of the places we go and what we really like is the change. So I couldn't say I prefer a country. I usually prefer the place where I am and the next place where I'm going. I just arrived in France yesterday, so now I'm all hyped about France and just find it's so amazing and I can finally speak French again and everything is all alala. You know, we're just having fun with that Going to Spain next week. So Spain is on my favorite right now because I'm going there voluntarily. But what we really like is the fact that we can go wherever we want to go. 

0:10:15 - Lizz Quain
Do you fly to the parts of the world or do you stay? 

0:10:19 - Cecilie Conrad
So the reason we don't fly is COVID. Covid combined with the dental situation of our oldest son, who needs a specialist who is in Barcelona. When the whole COVID craziness happened, we decided we will stay in mainland Europe where we can drive back to the dentist whenever we need it. And that's been going on for four years and it will be over this year or maybe next year. Okay, awesome, we will fly out this year, because now we just can't wait anymore and it's also less urgent now. We have more wiggle room now. But the first years we just had to know that we could come back to the dentist and with what happened with COVID and the big lockdowns, we thought we're not going to risk needing flights. 

0:11:12 - Lizz Quain
Right right. 

0:11:14 - Cecilie Conrad
Well, things are opening up. Europe is pretty big when you think about it. It's not big, but it has a lot of different areas, countries, places, cultures, languages, everything you don't need to drive far? 

0:11:27 - Lizz Quain
Yeah, and I assume you can go to Morocco or Turkey or other places nearby? 

0:11:31 - Cecilie Conrad
yes, no, we could have, but we didn't, because it was the same thing. If they do the lockdowns and they close the borders, I want to be able to drive back, not needing a boat, not needing a bridge Could do a bridge, but I don't want a boat Because it's quite critical when you have something glued on your teeth and it has to happen in the growth explosion of the specific years of teenage. We didn't dare risking it. There was no reason to either. Europe has been amazing. 

0:12:05 - Lizz Quain
Yeah, and people do ask about how kids, teenagers or whatever can handle braces while you're moving around the world before. So we've chatted about that before One of my daughters. She has a little overbite and a gap and so I know it'll take only about six months to handle that and it's very expensive in the US to get braces where we are right now. So I'm trying to figure out where can we go in the world where we can be there for six months, maybe in and out, and then it's affordable for her to get the tightening and all of that. So we're hoping to do that in the future. Let's talk about the way your kids learn. So you chose unschooling a while ago. Why did you decide to move away from the traditional school system into unschooling? 

0:12:52 - Cecilie Conrad
We were never really in the traditional school system. We have our oldest, who was in a self-directed school in Copenhagen, and our second child the short version is he was never there and when we decided basically he decided he didn't want to go to school and we complied. In the beginning, my husband wanted me to teach him whatever they learned in schools and I pretended to try to but never really did it and I felt I had a really sore conscious. I don't know. It wasn't really happy times. Were you trying with something? It was happy times, but inside me I was struggling because I didn't want to do it, and he certainly didn't want to do it, and my husband wanted it and he's the dad I am not the only parent, I will respect the two in this team but he was in the office job so he didn't really see what was going on. 

0:14:00 - Lizz Quain
So you were trying to have your son follow some type of curriculum. Is that what you're saying? No, not written. 

0:14:05 - Cecilie Conrad
No, it wasn't Okay okay, I was trying to try to. Can you put it that way? I mean it wasn't really wholeheartedly doing it, because it didn't make any sense, and then at some point I gave up and just didn't do it Okay. 

0:14:20 - Lizz Quain
And then you started. You guys moved to a more unschooling philosophy, self-directed learning. So how did that go Good? Or was it bumpy at? 

0:14:34 - Cecilie Conrad
first. How did that go? How can I answer that? 

0:14:38 - Lizz Quain
How did it go? 

0:14:39 - Cecilie Conrad
So, yeah, we started living our lives as if school doesn't exist, which it doesn't for us, and we're happy. 

0:14:47 - Lizz Quain

0:14:48 - Cecilie Conrad
If I don't know, I'm not. I don't think in this context, I have to speak. Education is how did it go? I mean, now they are teenagers, almost all of them, and they speak languages. They know things. Of course they can read and write. We're not going into that. And they do brush their teeth. We're radical unschoolers. I don't. I don't demand anything of my kids. I don't believe in ageism. I don't believe in who am I to know what they are to do with their time? The smart people. They know where their passions are and they know what makes them they're happy. They know what makes them happy. They know what feels right for them and that's what they've been doing the past 10 years. 

0:15:34 - Lizz Quain
So it's gone really smoothly. You didn't have any like de-schooling issues like you didn't have. I had to struggle with it. 

0:15:42 - Cecilie Conrad
Yeah, yeah, yeah, it wasn't easy for me. I'm a trained psychologist. I was in school for 23 years and all of my family's academics, and of course, of course I come from schooling. But that's my problem. And I have happened to have some great friends who are in school and I have gained more after I started on schooling and they, we help each other out, and so we have we call it black days. 

Sometimes I have a black day. I don't have them anymore, but in the beginning I had black days of doubt where I felt I am ruining everything. Now it is going to hell. You know, this is the worst decision ever and my kids will just go down the drain. And I learned pretty quickly that the solution to that feeling is to talk to your children and tell them you know, this is what I'm feeling, because I come from schooling and my mind is set within a school world and I know I believe in your personal freedom. I know schooling doesn't make any sense at all in reality. But now today I'm having a black day and I have my doubts and I feel fear and I don't. I don't feel comfortable. I'm afraid. What can I do? And then I talk to them and they tell me you know what? We're happy you could give us more cake, but besides that, all is cool and so, yeah, then we would maybe read a book, watch a movie, go for a walk and my black clouds would disappear. 

0:17:19 - Lizz Quain
Yeah, it does take time for us to kind of let go of those expectations. And I think traveling, you know the world is true so much. The kids learn. They're so exposed to so many different things, so they're more likely to be interested in things I'm guessing and want to just naturally learn about them, not because it's in a book or it's on some school curriculum that they have to do right. 

0:17:43 - Cecilie Conrad
So I'm not going to sign up for the idea that unschooling is better on the road or more right on the road than not on the road. I think unschooling is right because it's right, because it's not right to enslave kids into doing things that they don't want to do all day long for 10 years of their lives. I think that that's really unfair and, in many ways, totally crazy. I don't know why we do it. I really don't. I don't get it. I've moved so far away from it I don't get it anymore. So do they naturally become more interested in things because we move around? I don't know. I mean everyone, all of us, 100% of human beings, are quite curious. None of us want to sit down and look at paint dry. We don't like being bored. No one likes being bored. So if you do something you find interesting, it's interesting because there's something you don't know, there's something there, there's something to find out, something to work with, and that's basically learning. Yeah, it comes all the time for everyone. 

0:18:54 - Lizz Quain
I agree with you and, again, we didn't unschool right away when we started traveling seven years ago, but we've kind of moved in a more self-directed manner but, and I helped launch an online school that was about self-directed learning. So I'm with you. I just know that there are so many different types of families who start world schooling and I've met world school families who have who homeschool and they're happy about it and their kids are happy about it. So or they put them in online schools or they enrolled them in a local school somewhere around the world. 

My daughters had gone to a school in Peru just to kind of soak up the language and went to Mexico, an Agile Learning Center, so that was an interesting experience, but anyway, but I just now that you're, some of your kids are becoming teens that have been world schooling. They're gonna be your son maybe in a year or two or three I don't know when he may be out on his own and do you feel that he is gonna be prepared for the future, cause your daughter had it. Your oldest daughter has slightly different experience, but you're 17 year old. How do you feel about that? 

0:20:03 - Cecilie Conrad
Can I give you a? You know, shoot it back at ya, Sure. Do you feel prepared for your future? Well yeah, you don't know what you'll be doing in 10 years from now. 

0:20:16 - Lizz Quain
Yeah, I do. Okay, well, I hope to be doing what I'm doing now. But I had a traditional education background and went to university and I did what I studied for a while and it evolved and it grew and then I became an entrepreneur and then I started world schooling seven years ago so, but the self-directed learning didn't happen until, I guess, you know, when you're in university you can finally choose your major instead of, you know, following a curriculum of school. So I've always been the type of person to try to figure things out. But I meet people all the time who are not like me and they don't have the critical thinking skills, they don't research things, they don't dig around, and so I'm trying to help those people either the parents, and especially their kids, with world schooling, you know, try to be more prepared for the 21st century. 

0:21:08 - Cecilie Conrad
I know what we're here to talk about today, which is the older kids and the future of them. It's just that I kind of I think we're putting a lot of weight on the 17 year olds and the 15 year olds to be responsible for their future, to be entrepreneurs, to know what they want, to have a plan to go for some, you know, to know how they make their money and where they want to live, and all these things that are very, very mature and it's a long journey to travel from being a child to being an adult. And, as you know, I have a 24 year old who didn't take the beaten path, who did her thing, and today she's an artist. She just published her third book and it's quite a risk to decide to become a writer and she decided that when she was 11. So she knew what she wanted to do and she went for it and she skipped high school and you know she did all kinds of crazy things that most people would say that's not safe. And my 17 year old now, where will he go? I don't know where he will go, but I'm quite sure he'll find his way and, based on a life where you speak several languages, you know how to handle yourself in all kinds of cultures, all kinds of contexts, all kinds, with all kinds of people in so many different places, and you've had time to evolve your skills, the things that you can really get nitty gritty about, because that's what you've been doing for the 10 years that you've not been sat down in a school. Of course, of course they'll figure out what to do with their lives. Of course they will find their way, and maybe sometimes they won't, sometimes they might get lost, and then they'll find their way again, just like everyone else. 

You see so many young people coming out of schools being totally off, being off their I don't know, not knowing who they are, not knowing what they want. You see so many people taking university degrees halfway through they quit because they realize, oh, that was my father's dream or that's not really what I want, for some other reason than parents. Or they even finish. They start the job. They realize they hate it, they want to I don't know sit at the beach and meditate. I don't know. It's not like those who go through school systems, who live in safe houses behind nice hedges and wear school uniforms and do all the right things. They all land in a beautiful life with two kids and two cars. It's not. That's not the reality. That's the fake idea that we're being pushed to believe in by everything around it, by movies and commercials and books, and it's the lifestyle that. It's one big lie for some people that works, for some people that doesn't. 

In our family, our little family, not statistically significant, but yet I have a very nice university degree. My papers are with gold stars, beautiful, and I make almost zero money. And my husband was looking out the window for 10 years of school time, did his high school while doing a thousand things on the side, not really focusing on the high school thing, but he did. And then we get a hat. Maybe you do that everywhere else also. Ours is not the square one, doesn't matter. He got the hat, he got the diploma and he started. I think he was at university for like a week or two and then he got offered a job and he was like God, I'd rather have some money and have some fun. So he's been the breadwinner and he was never at university. He was never paying attention in school. He doesn't have any gold stars or anything fancy. So in our family it doesn't look like university will bring in money for you and for me. It's not real. 

0:25:52 - Lizz Quain

0:25:53 - Cecilie Conrad
That's the thing. It's not real that you need this in order to have a life. Let's have it to fall back on or? 

0:26:00 - Lizz Quain
Cecilia, I'm on your side. I agree with you. This is why I pulled my kids out of traditional school and we've been world schooling and unschooling for many years and I'm a world schooling and alternative education advocate. I just know people watching this video are not where we are yet. I also think the school system is really antiquated and it's not preparing our kids for the future very well, and I think world schooling is a better option. So I also think that universities no longer have a monopoly on knowledge and education and there's so many other ways for kids to learn. 

So I'm thank you for sharing your perspective, especially on the unschooling, and last week we talked about unschooling. I had some Sarah Beale, our mutual friend, who was talking about it, and a panel of parents who unschool, and then yesterday I interviewed some grown world schoolers the Lain and Liberty, son Miro, and then Jennifer Milliver, son Ezra and Rachel Dreyer, who was world schooled for a year and then she started world schooling her kids. So I love interviewing grown world schoolers and parents of kids that are a little bit older and kind of closer to being out there and independent in the world. So are you telling me that we, as parents don't need to do anything to facilitate our kids path. They're learning and should just let them do what they want and not really facilitate anything. And just you know. Cause I wanna know what's? Where's the line between facilitating versus ignoring or neglecting, like how do you make sure that you know? Do you have conversations with them? Like, how do you help them? 

0:27:43 - Cecilie Conrad
There's definitely a line you can cross where you transit into un-parenting and you don't want to do that and of course, you're facilitating. It's just like when your kids learn to walk you hold their hand. It's that simple. Everyone does that. No one says no, I'm not going to let my child walk until he can do it himself. Everyone holds their hand and in many ways it's the same. They're just older now, but when you live with your children 24-7, maybe in a van, you have something like 8 square meters so you get to know each other really well. Maybe not, but if you unschool, most families who unschool will have more time to talk to their children with their children, listen to their children, which is more important than talking to them, and what will mostly happen is that you grow a really nice relationship of mutual respect and trust and curiosity and whatever comes up will be part of that ongoing conversation that you have time for, because you're not freaking out about getting the next promotion and the next yoga class and the next rebuilding of the house and the next exam for the kids. You have time for life, and so that is the facilitation basically comes from there, and I could list examples, but I'm just so afraid that it will sound like some sort of backwards way into education, and I know that's what some of the listeners will be interested in, and I just have to hold my ground here because it's not the center of it. Everyone will find their way in life and what you really need to find your way in life is to know who you are, to know where you are and who you are. And if you're being bombarded by everyone else's agendas and someone's curriculum and someone's opinion and someone's plan and someone others plan and your friends' ideas, maybe you don't really have the space to figure out who you are and where you are. But most unschooled kids tend to figure that out because they have the space for it mentally, time-wise, emotionally and that's the ground for it. But of course, if they want to learn a language or whatever, we buy a course or a book or travel to the country. If they want to I don't know study something, we figure that out. If they want to learn a skill, you know we find a tutor. If they want to go swimming, we go swimming. It's just, it shouldn't be all about the academics. It might as well be. 

I really feel like spending some time in the forest. Maybe there's some treasure there you didn't know. Maybe there's something really important going on with that forest and the future of one member of the family. You couldn't know. So we try to follow our hearts and we're not pushing our children to grow up fast. I think that's another very, very toxic agenda of the modern world that you have to figure out everything out very young and you have to be so mature and so I don't know. I'm looking for the words in English right now. I have some. No, I agree. 

0:31:47 - Lizz Quain
I think in our modern society we expect the kids to leave the home when they're 18 and then go to university, and then they're out on their own and you only see them during the holidays. 

0:31:56 - Cecilie Conrad
You know so In my country you expect them to walk to school all by themselves when they're eight. There's a lot of do it yourself. You know you're in nursery and then, before you're three years old, you're expected to be able to use the bathroom by yourself because there's not enough stuff to help the kids. It happens so much earlier. There's even almost this competition between the mothers whose child will walk first and who can say the words first. It's not about being first. It's not about doing things young. 

Yes, there is a correlation between high IQ and early onset of, let's say, reading. There is a correlation between high IQ and a successful life. But IQ is something you cannot really change. So maybe forget about that and go live the life that you're here to live and let your children live the life that they are here to live. Help them do it. 

There's no reason to walk a week earlier than you would have if no one had pushed you. There's no reason everyone has to read at five. Some people read when they're 12 or 13 or even 15. It's okay, they'll read at some point, and not everyone leaves when they're 18. They don't have to. I don't make my own money. I'm 48 years old. It's not mandatory for everyone to make their own money and well, I do make some, but I'm definitely not making all the money that I spend because I have help with that. So maybe we have to open our minds a little bit to life can be many other things than this standard idea of the job and the house and the cars and the kids and the mortgage and the Ford element. 

0:33:55 - Lizz Quain
Yeah, totally. I mean, I'm plugged from that matrix a while ago so I hear you on that. Can you share with us what your three kids that are traveling with you because we've already talked about your oldest, what your three kids are interested in, and it might change all the time. I mean, my kids are very creative, they're self-directing, they're learning, but also one of my girls has ADHD, so she changes her interest every month, which is fine. But what are your kids into nowadays? 

0:34:26 - Cecilie Conrad
Just working with how much privacy I think they should have. Okay, I don't really know what audience whatever. They learn languages. One of them is obsessing over Shakespeare and that has some ripple effect to the others as she keeps quoting. One is into dogs very much and studying Japanese. They're all very much about literature. 

Like really heavy readers, as in a lot. As in, it's really hard to get their attention because they're behind the Kindle all the time. Lots of stuff really. We always look up things, they always ask questions, we always discuss things. We're hyper social. It's a little bit too much. That's my name. We're around people all the time, all of the time. This year, I think, we've had maybe in total, seven days of just being the five of us. It's all yeah, we also love it. But you know, when you're around people, you absorb the things that they are doing and it sparks questions. And then you look up things and you watch your documentary and you get a little overwhelmed. I think we get a little too much information sometimes. I would like to do a little nothing. 

0:35:59 - Lizz Quain
Right, well, that was my next question is I know you socialize a lot, and how do you do it? You go, I think you go to some home school kind of pop ups, world school stuff, and you're traveling around so you meet lots of different people. 

0:36:11 - Cecilie Conrad
So I've done one pop up in total. Okay, that's not a lot. The ones that Rachel is doing it's amazing. It's just not really been where we were and we did one world school summit with Lainey five years ago where we met a lot of great people that we've seen. But really I'm back to this. I know it would sound very, maybe a little bit, annoying, hippie style, but really, for real, we just bump into people and we get invited and we have too many invitations, too many places to go. We're always busy, which is our next level. That's the thing we're learning next year. This year it was planning. We're trying to learn how to plan, which is really hard, and next year we have to learn how to slow down, because we yeah. 

0:37:12 - Lizz Quain
How to say no, maybe yeah. 

0:37:15 - Cecilie Conrad
I remember I had a great story I at one point we were at La Palma. It's one of the Canary Islands. It's a really small one. The homeschool community at that point I don't know now but at that point it was very small. Homeschool community is about eight years ago I think. Maybe there were five families in total homeschooling at the time at La Palma, full time living there. 

Of course the travellers homeschool technically because they're on some sort of vacation or break from their normal life, but people based their homeschooling all year was about five families. We'd heard about them, that they were there, but we didn't know any of them. We didn't know where to find them. So we went to the beach, we sat down. It was a quite crowded beach because it was Christmas time and there are not many good beaches at La Palma. It's a lot of cliff and a lot of dangerous waters, but one of the good beaches. I sat down, I sat high, so the guy sitting like less than a meter from me because it was a very crowded, very small beach, that was one of the homeschool fathers. It's just how it goes All the time. 

0:38:21 - Lizz Quain
Small world, small world. 

0:38:23 - Cecilie Conrad
Yeah, and sometimes it's homeschoolers, but sometimes it's not. Right now we're at a castle in France and that was because we went to a festival a year ago and dogs were not allowed and I had my dogs with me. So I went to the owner of the castle and said please can I take my dogs in, because I didn't know and we want to hear the music and they're really really small, nice dogs. I'll keep them on the lead, the thing you do. We asked politely and he said, yeah, sure you can do that. And then we talked the rest of the night and we became friends and now we're here and he's not a homeschooler, he's just a dude but my kids really like him and I really like him a lot and my husband totally down with him. 

So I don't know. There aren't quite a lot of people in this world. So how you socialize, maybe you walk up and talk to some of them. Yeah, that's how I do it. 

0:39:17 - Lizz Quain
I think you have to be somewhat extroverted to do that, or just bold enough. And I'm very friendly and social. One of my daughters is very introverted and she is just a gas whenever I talk to strangers, but hopefully she'll learn to do that. She doesn't really care, she doesn't need to be around a lot of people. So our friend Sarah Beale is watching. She says hello and then Lillian says another great interview. Thank you, ladies. So yeah, anyone watching. If you have any questions for Cecilia, let us know. And you know, let's talk just about some really great lessons that your family has learned while world schooling. Is there something that you know now that you wish you knew when you started off? Maybe you can inspire some newbies not to worry about certain things. Don't buy a bus. 

0:40:05 - Cecilie Conrad
Don't buy a bus. Okay, don't mean that, no, but really it doesn't take all that preparation, just go, and a year is a really short time. That's another thing. If you think you know what you're doing after a year, you really don't. You have to do more than one year. One year is it just runs by. 

Forget about school. Do forget about it. Try to forget about it. It takes more than a year, but try to live as if it doesn't exist. It's more fun and it's a waste of time to try to teach kids and bring school. All of that. All of that, just let go of it. Find someone. Listen to some podcasts. I have a great one, but there are other great ones out there about unschooling, and I knew that before I started full-timing. What else? Learn the languages. At least learn a hundred words. It's not that hard. When you go somewhere, there's nothing really. I wish I'd known, because I like the process of life, and the reality is that you can always look back and say I wish I'd known and then you would feel some sort of regret that you didn't. And where would that put me Regret? It wouldn't help me at all, would it. 

0:41:33 - Lizz Quain
Right, but you enjoyed the process. Have there been any challenges that you had while world schooling and how did you overcome them? I guess your big bus was a challenge. There were challenges, no the bus was fun. 

0:41:46 - Cecilie Conrad
It was fun Really. I'm just saying you don't need it. No, it was fun. We had a lot of fun. Yeah, I still own the bus and we decided to sell it, but no one bought it, so now I'm really happy I have it. By all means, if you dream about a bus, buy a bus. I had a lot of fun with my bus, except for the conversion part. I hate converting buses and vans and cars and everything. I'm not into that. I think no, I asked me the question again. 

0:42:23 - Lizz Quain
Well, just if there's any challenges, you know that you've got there is. 

0:42:28 - Cecilie Conrad
I mean, there are challenges. If you live in a, in a house, that are challenges. If you have a job, you might get fired. You know it's not for life to have a job. Lots of people get fired. This illusion of stability is just an illusion. So of course we have challenges. Of course we do the challenge, the real challenges, to handle it with grace, to handle it with positivity, to handle it with some sort of trust in life and to handle it while loving each other. 

When we set off, we had us, we had built a business, so that we had an amount of money we thought we needed and within the first week we lost two thirds of that. We didn't die. And then it's been up and down financially, a lot of down and a lot of up and then more down, and at some point we were down at zero, which was quite stressful, and then it went up again. Of course there are challenges. And someone fell sick and we had to cope with that and my mom died. That was not fun. And then my dad died, and that was equally not fun. 

Lots of things happen when you live your life Period and the problem is how can you handle it? I mean, I think it would be an entire new episode, and then I'd have to make a list of what were the challenges and how did I overcome them the ones attached to traveling. I don't think it would make sense, really. I don't think so because it's the same challenges I would have had if I had lived in a house. Now, I just had the same challenges while moving around. It's not that different to move around, it's just living in several houses. 

0:44:14 - Lizz Quain
I did post in one of the Facebook groups for World's Going about. You know any hiccups or mistakes, or newbie mistakes and people did list them and it is helpful for the rest of us to know. You know how not to get ripped off, how not to get pickpocketed, whatever the issues are. You know how to make sure that your visa is proper and you're not overstaying your visa. There's little things, I think, that some newbies who are just winging it don't know, so it's just helpful to share those of us who have been doing it for a while. 

0:44:41 - Cecilie Conrad
But I still think that the most important thing is how to handle it. If you do get pickpocketed, if you lose your passport or you lose your income, or you arrive in a country, you have the visa but you don't have the vaccination, what do you do and how do you handle when it all crashes? Your plans just fall apart. It's all shit. Just let me say the word it's just shit. 

Once we had just had our car fixed three times the same week, which was financially really annoying, and then we drove off to a dental appointment in Spain from Copenhagen. We drove for about five hours and then the car stopped in Germany, just outside of Colonia, during the COVID lockdown, where it was completely illegal to be in Germany if you were not German and I'm not German, and neither are my husband and three children and no one. All hotels closed middle of the winter not middle of, but it was November it was raining, it was kind of cold and it was exactly midnight. I had just looked at my clock to see, oh, it's midnight, and then the car stopped and it would not start. It was on the highway. 

Oh my gosh, that was not fun. Yeah, that was not fun, but what would have made it worse would have been if we had all freaked out about it and started shouting at each other and started crying and started I don't know what we could have done. Can you handle a situation like that with some sort of grace? Can you handle it with love? Can you handle it with trust, some faith that it's going to be okay? It would be a very funny story to share at Christmas. 

0:46:34 - Lizz Quain
Did you sleep on the side of the freeway? Is that what you had to do in your car? 

0:46:41 - Cecilie Conrad
Half of the night and the other half of the night we slept on the side of a major road with a Volkswagen mechanic that would open at seven in the morning, turning us down, telling us he wouldn't fix our car. It would be a very long story if I share this specific story, but it's just a story. It's one of many stories. It's not the only time it's been really shit. But what I think what's important is to grow that stamina, and when we set off on our journey, our goal actually the adults in the family was we wanted to grow that stamina and, personally, to not get stuck in a life in one place where, maybe when we were 60 or maybe 70, we would have a little fear of leaving our city. We would need the coffee brand that we'd always had. You know how it goes on, you the habits and there's some beauty to it, but not for me. I think it makes me suffocate to even think about it. But I felt it coming in a way and I felt I need to get out of this. This is a trap and I need to grow that stamina. We were good at it before, but we've become much better and I wanted to show my children, you can hit a wall and you can get up from that. I wanted to teach them. They are so amazing, my kids now they can handle whatever. 

A few years ago no, maybe that was this year we set off to go for a walk and we read the sign, but it was in Italian and we don't really speak Italian. So we read the sign and there's this pass and it said there's this round this loop, you can do four kilometers. Oh great, we thought four kilometers, that's nothing, let's just go. And we went and when we came so we brought nothing literally no raincoats, no, not even water. Four kilometers, you just walk, it's an hour, you can do it. And we just wanted to see. That was some beautiful church ruin thing that we wanted to see. When we came back, we'd walked 16 kilometers, Wow, and we'd met a bull, which is kind of scary. And now we know we can walk 16 kilometers even though we're really hungry and really thirsty. 

0:49:00 - Lizz Quain
Oh, my God. 

0:49:01 - Cecilie Conrad
And we call it the four kilometers trap. So so, yeah, that was not really bad, but it is an experience where you just grow some balls. Yeah, yeah you learn. 

0:49:15 - Lizz Quain
No, I agree, I think world schoolers we have to deal with, you know again, building our stamina, flexibility, you know, just being versatile of all that the world just throws at us. Most of it is wonderful, but once in a while there are some hiccups, so let's just finish up. So I think Kenya is saying, and who I met in Germany and we're friends with, she's friends with both of us. She says love Cecilia, that's all another of my favorite families to bump into. And I bumped into Cecilia. I mean a Kenya and her daughter in Kaiser Slout in Germany, just out of the blue. But let's talk about your project. So you do. I mean, you do have your own video podcast and you focus on unschooling. And I took a look at your YouTube channel and you've interviewed, you know, one of my heroes, peter Gray, and yeah, and Sandra Dodd, and a lot of luminaries in the self directed learning world. So that's amazing. And again, my niche is world schooling, yours is unschooling. 

0:50:13 - Cecilie Conrad
So tell us a little bit about your programs and anything that you offer to other, to families who are interested in whatever podcast that I do is not officially about unschooling, okay, but it becomes about unschooling because it seems that all the rock stars of unschooling have agreed to talk to us, and it is. It is very close to my heart. The unschooling is very important for me to try to share, because when I started out, it was not that I mind Americans, but it was only Americans speaking about it, and it is a different culture, it is a different context and and I just think we really need different voices from over here in Europe, some other perspectives, some other roots and it for the European unschooling movement, for everyone. We need different perspectives. So I wanted to do something about that. But we do interview whoever we meet, who or find who. Has this, the filters, this vibe, you know, did you get up and do what you really wanted to do? Are you passionate about what you're doing? Did you do something different, something that didn't look like success when you began? I like people who go do something crazy and after that they go do something other crazy. 

So I talked to a guy who's building handpans, which is basically banging with a hammer on iron all down not iron metal all day. It's very noisy. I was in his workshop you need, yeah, and he's doing that for eight hours a day because he loves it and he's amazing, making amazing music, musical instruments, so so, yeah, so the podcast. I just want to open the idea, just like I didn't want to answer your question about what jobs or career paths are my kids on, because the knot and life is not that, and the podcast is also to open the perspective. We talked with a great guy who we met in in Czech Republic, who's doing what's the word in English, caricature drawings, because he loves it. And you're not going to be recognized by Guggenheim with caricature, but he's great and he just loves doing that. So, yeah, the podcast is about all kinds of stuff a lot of unschooling, but a lot of creating your own life, finding your own path, doing what you're really passionate about. 

We talked to Janet at wood, who did created the passion test. She's a wonderful friend of ours and she listened to that one. It's a great, great interview. She's great woman. Also, I do. I have a challenge this year of writing just a thought or a memory from each day of the year, which is very hard for me. I fall behind all the time, but I'm trying to do it and the algorithms are not with me at all, but okay, I'm happy doing it. Um, then we have. If you go to the Conrad, the Conrad family, I think the website is or is the ceiling, conrad, calm you can see. Whatever, all the things that we do. 

0:53:41 - Lizz Quain
My husband is doing. You know. I'll put them in the chat later. 

0:53:46 - Cecilie Conrad
Yeah just do it, and then I travel the world with my kids. I try to avoid the computer as much as I can because I like life. I like everything outside the internet more, to be honest. Yeah. 

0:54:02 - Lizz Quain
That's awesome, wonderful. Well, cecilia, it's been such a great pleasure chatting with you and I really hope that we'll be able to meet in person. My daughter, gabby, and I will be back in Europe, probably in Germany, in December, so I don't know where you'll be, because you said you have a very busy. Next. I'll be in Mexico at that point. Okay, darn wrong continent, anyway, but hope we can meet in real life. And yeah, and I just encourage everyone to check out your website and your YouTube channel and your podcast, or PM me, because I'm not on Facebook, that much. 

Thank you, cecilia. Super great to hang out with you for a while and enjoy. It was fun. And in France, thank you. 

Interview With World-Schooling Nomad Cecilie Conrad
Unschooling and Travel
Future of Worldschooled Kids
Unschooling and Alternative Education Perspectives
Homeschooling and Worldschooling Challenges
Challenges in Worldschooling and Unschoolin