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0000017c-60f7-de77-ad7e-f3f73a140000WMUK's weekly show on the literary community in Southwest Michigan. Between The Lines previously aired on Fridays during Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

Between the Lines: Gypsy Professor

Courtesy KC Weaver

Many of us talk about the exotic places we'd like to visit - someday. But we usually just stay on the couch, dreaming. We get bogged down in daily routines and obligations. That was never enough for KC Weaver, a Grand Rapids native and history professor who just can't sit still. Weaver calls himself "The Gypsy Professor" and writes a blog about his adventures, and misadventures. He's visited 69 countries in 14 years and he’s just getting started.

“My original goal was 30 countries by age 30,” Weaver says. “I ended up at 36 countries, and then I accelerated after that.”

The road began calling to Weaver when he was a kid. He heard dreaming out loud about a life of adventure, but few matched action with words. “They’d imagine themselves in an office; they’d imagine themselves as a doctor, a firefighter, a policeman. But when someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, the first thing that came to mind was Indiana Jones.”

A conversation with "Gypsy Professor" KC Weaver

Weaver didn’t need the whip that Jones carried on screen, but he did like the idea of traveling while being in academia. And the more remote and exotic the place, the better. Weaver was especially fascinated by a huge and mysterious country when he was young.

Credit Courtesy KC Weaver
Courtesy KC Weaver
Weaver at Chernobyl

“I grew up in the 80's and back then I’d look at this giant, red place on the map and ask about it,” he says. “I was told it was the Soviet Union — the 'bad guys.' I knew it was important but no one seemed to be able to tell me why.”

Weaver eventually earned his degree in Russian history. His college years also offered the opportunity to study abroad, and he traveled to Krakow, Poland. The more he saw and experienced, the greater his wanderlust grew.

Now, Weaver says he watches airfares rise and fall online the way others watch stock markets. And when he a price falls far enough, he doesn’t think twice. He books the flight to wherever it leads. Among his favorite destinations are Chernobyl, where he’s been twice, and Thailand, where Weaver says he people seem to be the happiest anywhere in the world. He prefers traveling alone. That way he more easily develops connections with locals that often lead to lasting friendships.

Read about Weaver’s travels and see photos at his blog, The Gypsy Professor. If you are still sitting on that couch, Weaver's advice is simple: “Stop making excuses. Go.”

Listen to WMUK's Between the Lines every Tuesday at 7:50 a.m., 11:55 a.m., and 4:20 p.m.

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Zinta Aistars is our resident book expert. She started interviewing authors and artists for our Arts & More program in 2011.
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