Little moments: Shared Birthdays

So as my blog expands and grows, I’d like to start doing more organized series. For the last month I’ve currently been brainstorming interesting topics that can continue indefinitely. With that, I’m proud to present, “little moments”, my attempt at capturing those moments that are all too fleeting.

Today is my birthday and it got me thinking, what is it that makes birthdays so great? Personally, the older I get, the less the allure presents have on me. Gifts are just objects and the best gifts are the ones that create memories. This is part one of this post. The simple act of sharing your birthday with others. To make plans and spend your time with good company. A few years ago my roommates baked me a cake and I almost cried at the thought of it. It was the best birthday I ever had and it was the kick-off to one of the best years of my life. Come last year my birthday was spent in Switzerland and that was an absolute blast. Little did I know the girls I went on the trip with would become good friends and my travel buddies for my time abroad.

Now come this year. My birthday has snuck up on me. I’m back in Portland for the first time in 5 years. Corvallis, Oregon has been my home, then Mosbach, Germany. It has been a long time since I’ve called Portland home. Most of my friends are in college or 8000km (about 5000 miles) away and spread across the globe. It’s hard to keep connected. As much as I’d love to say I’ll keep in touch with everyone, it simply isn’t practical. Life is full of tough choices.

So as you can imagine, I was a little nervous come today. While I don’t mind being alone, life is better in good company. And I was shocked that last week, at simply the mention of my birthday, my friends without hesitation were willing to drop what they’re doing to help celebrate my birthday with me. And as I imagine, this will be my best birthday yet.


Now, part two. Part two is simply sharing the same birthday with another human being; it’s a weird sensation. It is something you never really think about. Most of the time we are so focused on our big day that we simply forget about other people.

When I was in Germany there was another student who had the same birthday as me. The class sang happy birthday not to one, but two people. That’s awesome! When you think about the odds of having the same birthday as someone and actually meeting that person and becoming friends with them, it’s rare. As such, it should be something special. Now I’m on a mission to find someone who was born in 1993 and on September 16th because why not? Regardless, the point is, there is an instant connection when someone has the same birthday as you! Some people suck at finding ice breakers. Well guess what? This is an instant icebreaker! It’s fun.


Birthdays are meant to be shared in the company of others. Everyone deserves to be wished a happy birthday. Birthdays are a time to catch up, reminisce, and plan for the future. Some people dredge getting older but I say bring it on! I am 24 years old today and the 5 year plan I set when I was 20 is almost in need of an update. Time flies, so on this special day, I’d like to thank everyone who’s made my life a little brighter. Especially you, my followers. Blogging has been my passion for years but it wouldn’t be possible without your support. Every like, every follow, every comment has put a smile on my face and made me realize we are never truly alone, we just need to know where to look.

The life of a Traveler

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust


As I currently plan out my future from now till my death bed, I thought it would be fun to talk a little about travel. A year ago come August, I left for my study abroad experience in Germany. I forced myself to go. College was a time for stepping outside of my comfort soon and becoming the person I always wanted to be.

As it currently stands and as I will say many times, I am making my way North. Portland is a fantastic city and I could live a happy life here but it would not be a fulfilling one. I would wake up one day and ask myself, “is this what childhood Mike would’ve wanted?” The answer would be no. The kid who would dress up in a suit with a clip-on tie for school photos, the kid who, when asked what he wanted to be when he grew up would reply, “successful.”  It would be a dis-service to every dream I’ve ever had and dreams yet dreamt.  Call it cabin fever, call it wanderlust but the world is meant to be explored.

Life is not measured in the things we own but rather the experiences we have. And as it would come to argue, it is much easier to create new experiences when you’re on the move.

I lived 5 years in Corvallis, Oregon for College so Portland is a nice change. Yet imagine Seattle. Then Vancouver, Canada, then Quebec. Spend a few years in France, then Germany, Austria? That’s the life people envy.

And perhaps we can broaden our definition of traveler. Why limit it to the scope of a geographic location? The reason I love travel is the immersion. I’ve always wondered what it’s like to see the world through someone else’s eyes and am sure many have felt the same, if only for a fleeting moment.

If you’re in Germany, you drink beer. France, you drink wine, smoke slim cigarettes and eat snail. Jokes aside, there is a reason I still practice German. There’s a reason I started learning French. It’s a connection through language.

There’s literally no point in staying put. Take a good friend of mine for example. He majored in chemistry and minored in dance. Guess which degree he uses the most? Dance. I envy him. That’s fulfilling. To go against the tide of others expectations and do what you love. Some spend a lifetime searching and even then…

I think we could all use a little more dance in our life. I’m not talking about black-out drunk, making questionable life choices dancing. I’m talking about something a little more elegant, a waltz. Or perhaps a tango, cha-cha, etc. A little spice, a little fire. Travel fulfills. No one became great from staying exactly who they were. They might become good enough, but does that really sound like a life worth living?

So go travel. Start with a country and then evolve. Through a dart at a map and buy a one way plane ticket. Terrified of a country? Pick a city, a town, a new friend. Start somewhere. Who knows, life might just surprise you.


Thanks for reading! If you like what I write, be sure to follow and tell your friends. Feel free to comment below. Talk about travel, bestow wisdom, anything.

Journey’s End: David Vs. Goliath

“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” – Mark Twain


The story of the underdog. The idea of whether or not you want to be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond. Our greatest strengths often become our greatest weaknesses. The more resources we have at our disposal, past a certain point, can often lead to our downfall. Everyone seeks power yet so few know how to wield it once they have it. And even fewer realize that true power is having power and choosing when and when not to use it. It is a balancing act between strength and compassion. There are times to be strong and times to be vulnerable.

It is easy to get caught up in success just as much as it’s easy to get caught up in failure. People who taste victory want more and those who taste defeat want less. The strong tend to trample the weak and people can be poison. Or the weak can act strong and grow bitter as they claw their way to the top, becoming the very evil they sought to stop.

The lonely road

We, as humans, have a tendency to follow those who are similar. Those who are not like us get left behind. The people who need love the most are often those who do not receive and those who need the least often receive the most. If one cannot communicate, weave words into a story, then one cannot be. Everyone roots for the underdog and yet… It is very rare that an underdog succeeds. Those who do, become Goliath, yet those who don’t become dust. So in a sense, it’s a rare perspective and one I’m willing to share.

The lonely mountain

Climbing mountains aren’t easy and I can’t tell you how many sleepless nights I’ve had just trying to stay alive. College is a time of great excitement yet it can also be a time for great disappointment. And all too often, the experiences build and what once seemed manageable becomes an avalanche.  You’re buried and can’t breathe. You’re trapped. You can dig your way out or you can suffocate. The bright side of moments like these? You have time to reflect. To look yourself in the mirror, and ask, “is this who I want to be”? And for a brief moment you see a better tomorrow, then fear takes over. The, “what if” question. So what do you do? You close your eyes. There is comfort in consistency and there is uncertainty in chaos. Yet few see comfort in consistent chaos. Which there isn’t, so the underdog turns their back on reality and nothing is gained.

My story? I’ve said it enough times and while I could say it over again, with different wording, I won’t. My story is a complex blend much like yours and whatever narrative I once had, I’ve reshaped by not letting others write it. It’s all relative. Hardship to one is a stroll through the park to another. Yet the point is, all that matters is your perspective. If you feel unheard, then you are unheard. And if the other person feels unheard, then they are unheard. The simple solution? Listen. “Seek first to understand, then be understood”. There’s been a common theme since I’ve got to college and that’s been, “Wow, Mike’s such a great listener”. Disclaimer: I wasn’t for the longest time.

Two Ears, One Mouth

Listening is hard and those with the biggest mouths often don’t listen. People love the loudest person in the room. In college people think that automatically makes you the coolest person in the room. But more often than not, those individuals are Assholes.  The best part? Those Assholes don’t even realize they’re Assholes. They rationalize their behavior instead of taking a good look in the mirror. And the worst part? People want to be them. Why? Humans have an innate need to connect and be loved, so it only makes sense. The consequence? People spend a lifetime trying to be something they’re not. The coolest person some might consider a Goliath. And as a Goliath, it is far too easy to overlook the underdog.

Open Mind, Open Door

All too often individuals are closed minded, “I’m right, you’re wrong”. How many times do you ask, “I’m right and you’re also right”. This is not a difficult concept. I like cake and you can also like cake. Yet in practice? A disaster. Yes people are wrong, that’s reality but all too often people refuse to see another point of view. People are stubborn. And what’s worse, is few people find beauty in the differences. There is no reason to talk to anyone if all they do is agree. People grow when they are challenged and while agreeing may reaffirm your values and build confidence, it is disagreement that leads to the best insight. College is a time to challenge and not be a “Yes man”. On the flip side, don’t be an Asshole. Take politics for example. I can say I think Donald Trump is a terrible person and think he represents the worst of America. That’s fine, that’s an opinion. Yet on the flip side I can see why some of my friends can find him appealing and once again, that is their opinion. That’s called respect. See, simple. Is anyone upset? No. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone thought like this? Yet instead what you get is people pointing the finger instead of trying to understand the reasons why. Another question, “does it matter”? An open mind leads to asking the right question(s) and the best weapon against adversity is kindness.

Bringing it all together

So my idea for this series, “Journey’s End” is to provide a framework that I spent 5 years building for myself. Initially I thought I was simply going to talk about my week and have “Story Time”. But truth be told, I have my journal for that and while I still have crazy adventures, they don’t necessarily make for the best article. So as such, this series will be a random assortment of topics, some weeks giving advice, some weeks telling fun stories, and some weeks mixing the two together. This week I wanted to share my experience being an underdog as I am someone who should’ve dropped out of college long ago. So if there’s a take away, let it be this: If you feel alone, look in the mirror and remember that you will always have yourself, so remember to take care of yourself. If you want to connect with others, listen. And if you want to be understood, don’t be afraid to say how you feel (chances are the other person doesn’t realize you feel this way). And finally, don’t discredit others simply because they have a different opinion.


That’s it. Week 2 of my final term is done! If you have any topics you would like me to cover, now’s the time to ask. Thanks for reading and I hope you found the topic helpful!

Stories Abroad: A weekend in Austria

It’s been a crazy past few weeks. All I can say is that I’m glad I’m in Germany while my country is plunged into chaos (or whatever you want to call Donald Trump). Of course, I won’t kill the mood and start talking politics, but it is certainly heartbreaking and embarrassing. And hey, who knows, maybe I’ll end up staying in Germany, drinking beer and eating brezel to my hearts content. Regardless, you’re here for tales of adventure and excitement, so here we go, fasten your seat-belts and get ready for the ride of your life, as I tell you the tale of that one time I was in Austria…

Salzburg

Are you surprised it’s not Vienna? Well, I’m not. Why? Travel. If you’ve been following my blog, you may assume I magically appear in all these lovely countries and have nonstop, action-packed adventures. What I don’t tell you is how long it takes to travel. I spent two days in Austria and it took 12 hours by train to get there. But oh boy, once I got there…

The Salt Mines

I was put to work in the salt mines… All jokes aside, I did go tour a salt mine and it was absolutely amazing. Tourist trap or not, I thought it was worth every penny. We arrived in Salzburg around noon and at 2 we hopped in a van where we spent 4 hours driving through the mountains. What made this drive so special? We had Walter, our tour guide and driver. He told us the history of the area and in no time at all, we were there.

20161119_145556
Getting ready for work…

That’s what I wore, pretty sexy if you ask me (ladies, did you know I’m single?). Once inside, we took a train through the old tunnels. And then we slide down a few wooden slides that were once used to transport salt (not sure if that’s true but regardless, they make better slides). And then… we hit the mirror lake…

20161119_153544
The water reflecting the salt off the ceiling

And we took a raft across… It was extremely cool, but as I’ve said before, pictures don’t do it justice. Then after we got out of the mines… We had an hour to tour a city near the Hallein salt mines (wish I could remember the name).20161119_161134

Is my life a fairytale right now? Yes, yes it is. I honestly could stay in Europe forever. But wait, there’s more! This was day one, now onto day two.

The Sound of Music

Full disclosure, I went with two lovely ladies this weekend and was simply happy going with the flow. As such, I found myself at the site where they filmed the Sound of Music. It’s been a while since I’ve watched the movie, but…

20161120_124721
The Pavilion

Not the same spot as it was in the movie, but still the same Pavilion. And then…

20161120_130757
The house and a Christmas market, what more could I ask for?

And of course, here are some photos of the city.

The City

20161120_150748
Postcard, anyone?
20161120_094659
I wouldn’t mind living here

20161120_132320

20161120_105419

20161120_110141

So there you have it, that’s my trip. I also got to visit Mozart’s childhood home, which I have to say, was pretty cool. Until next time!