He went to university for woodwork and architecture
Escher attended the Haarlem School of Architecture and Decorative Arts from 1919 to 1922 and studied architecture before dropping his studies due to health problems. He instead focused on the decorative arts.
He thought he was terrible at math
As Escher developed his artwork, he discovered his passion for geometrical patterns and tessellations. While these are heavily based in mathematics, Escher wasn’t ashamed to admit that he was terrible at math. He did, however, have close friends who were mathematicians, such as Harold Coxeter, George Pólya, and Roger Penrose.
He found his eventual fame thanks to travel
Escher was an avid traveler, and it was during these expeditions across Europe that he discovered his love for geometric patterns. His study of Moorish architecture across Spain, specifically in Granada and Cordoba at the Alhambra and Mezquita, respectively, led to his love for tessellations.
His trips across Italy further inspired his passion for the countryside, and the architecture there would later figure prominently into his drawings of impossible structures.