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 week 6: I set a course for winds of fortune…

“What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson


Before I jump in, I’d just like to thank everyone for your support over the years. This site has finally hit 50 followers. A while back I made a plan should I ever hit 50 followers, I would work towards expanding my blog in a more meaningful way. This site is officially a .com now and advertisements are gone so it should make for a more enjoyable experience. I’m looking to put together a team over the next year or so and keep the momentum going. Thanks for joining me on this journey! So, without further ado, let’s get started…


When I was a child, I was asked a very simple question, “what do you want to be when you grow up”? I would always reply, “Successful”. When we’re children, we’re taught to dream big, to go forth and tackle our dreams head on. If only that were a reality we could hold onto for the entirety of our lives… Instead the world tells us what we can and can’t do and our environments begin to mold us… Those who learn to master their own destiny often realize too late.

He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past. This simple idea of being able to rewrite history… And in this context, your own… Is extremely powerful. We write our own stories. The world cannot hurt he who is master of himself. When you learn to weave words, you can simply rewrite your story. Life is a process to be broken down. A series of patterns, data-points to make sense of. As it has always been, we create the narrative. If it sounds pleasing to the ear, then it is pleasing to the ear. Reality is both subjective and objective. We create the story and we can choose to ignore certain laws of nature that remain constant (or we can embrace them). If two people perceive the same reality, then who is to say that is any less real than the objective reality we must all abide by. Is the glass half empty or half full? It depends. If we pour the glass halfway, then it is half full. If we pour the glass full and drink half, then it is half empty. The glass can be both. It’s how you define the terms.

Coffee with My Little

As I mentioned last week, I have multiple spots around campus where I go when I need peace. Many think I’m an extrovert yet I’m actually an ambivert. Or as I like to call it, my introverted friends will say I’m an extrovert while my extroverted friends will say I’m an introvert. As such, I actually prefer to spend most of my time alone. I’ve been taking walks around campus, sitting on my bench as the wind blows through my hair on a warm Spring day. Or I’m in the library, where I’ve claimed a comfy chair as my designated napping spot. My favorite spot? Is a coffee shop on campus that has a balcony overlooking our quad. I like to sit outside, sipping on coffee, and simply watch the hustle and bustle down below. I create stories for those I don’t know and for those I do, I see who they’re with and wonder where they’re going. It’s fun being an observer, as you can watch the world end and begin anew all in the course of a morning. What I love most about this spot is it’s a nice reminder that the world is bigger than we are and that we have a part to play. So I decided for the last time to take my little for coffee. We always go to Dutch Bros so it was only fitting that we end with somewhere that has personal meaning to who I am.

In a sense, this was my goodbye. I used to get coffee with my Little every week. I pulled out a notebook the first time we met and wrote down his interests, who he was, and who he wanted to be. I was with him every step of the way. I watched him go from someone trying to find his way in the world to who he is now, where he no longer needs the advice his Big once gave…

My most cherished moment was when he was in his first interview with the fraternity and was asked, “if you saw yourself in a leadership role, what would it be”? And he said, “I’d like to be the Service Chair”. “Why?” they asked. He replied, “because the current Service Chair is someone I admire and look up to”.

To be honest, I’ve been beating around the bush a lot lately. Soon I’ll have my banquets with the organizations that have been my “tribe” for the last 3 years. Every time I start to think of the impact these organizations have had on my life, I begin to get choked up. I’ll change the subject quickly and avoid breaking down. I’m not one to show my emotions. I’ve spent years perfecting my techniques and methods. Everyone I love could leave me tomorrow and I’d still keep moving forward. I’ve become, in a sense, unbreakable. Every hardship that has ever graciously bestowed its presence on me has only served to make me stronger. A lifetime of betrayal has made the weak, strong.

Family

When I came to college I had the dirt to my name. What was once promised was never meant to be. At this point in time my friends were beginning to disassociate themselves with me. When I needed friends the most, they all more or less abandoned me. And truth be told, I was always the outsider, the David looking to conquer Goliath. And when you’re lonely, it is much harder to make friends. The mornings where you keep on going and don’t even know why… Or the years of counseling because you had no one else to talk to… To avoid mirrors because you hated what you saw when you looked in one… Yea, it’s not pretty. Or tell someone “I’m fine” because it’s easier than saying you’re dead on the inside. Yup, that was my first two years of college… But then I stumbled my way from engineering to business… And I asked my adviser back in 2014, “What do I need to do to be successful”? And she gave me a list… And… I felt like crying. I thought, “how will I ever be able to do all this”? And then I took a deep breath and said, “let’s focus on one thing at a time”. And then I joined management club…

This was my first taste of finding my tribe. Back at a time when I didn’t trust anyone… I went to every meeting, every event, and copied everything my mentors did. I had two mentors in management club, both long gone by now… If only they could know how much of a difference they made in my life… But as I said before, I get too choked up whenever I think about it, so I avoid the conversation… But I will say this; they were like big sisters to me…

Then came AKPsi, the business fraternity… Back when I was a nobody they helped make me a somebody… We have 5 core values: Service, Integrity, Knowledge, Unity, and Brotherhood. These values gave me guidance and direction when I had none. AKPsi, gave me something to believe in… And how do you repay that? When your brothers make you feel as though you’re part of something bigger, that you belong… To take your hand and lift you up when you’re down. That’s family. Not who you’re born with but rather who you choose to be with, to spend your time with… And I love my brothers because they are my friends. When I’m old, these are the people I will keep in touch with.

And my roommates… To have friends to go home to, to hang out with… To listen, to understand… You can’t replace that. So many things had to go right to create the man who stands before you today… And if I could go back and change my college experience, even one moment, I wouldn’t. I don’t know if things happen for a reason but as far as I’m concerned, I’m happy they happened the way they did. I miss the nerf gun fights, the board game nights, weekly get together with the ladies (yes we had a guys house and a girls house), the hiking, all of it. Now my roommates are scattered across the country… Looking back, I can be grateful for the little moments that added up… It gives me something to smile about.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my last mentor/friend. Yet I’ll keep this mysterious. Goodbyes are never easy and I’m saving his goodbye for when I stand tall in my cap and gown.

The Old Man and the Library

To end, I’d like to tell a story. As mentioned earlier, I have my napping spot in the library. Every student should have a napping spot, it brings a tear to my eye when I hear that a student doesn’t. I’ve tried other napping spots throughout the years, but it’s not the same… I always have come back to this one spot… 5 years, this spot has personally seen my journey from beginning to end. Whenever I’d have a break, I’d go here. I’d read, listen to music, listen to podcasts, etc. It was great. Over time I’d always notice a man sitting at a table. Freshman year… Sophomore year… Junior year… Senior year… And never once did I ask, “what’s his story”? Until this year. This is a man who has seen me come in and sit down at the exact same spot for the last 5 years… Is he a professor? A researcher? A community member? I couldn’t tell you. Yet just like me, he has his spot. What’s his story? Should I know? Should I care? Perhaps before the term is over I’ll ask him. Or perhaps not. I’ve built his narrative and I have to wonder if he’s done the same for me… What would he say about “the kid and the library”? Would he say anything?


Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed this post and feel free to share, comment, and like! Next week is an open book but I’ll most likely take time to talk about my college bucket list and what’s next.

Germany: The road less traveled, now more traveled

So, Germany. This has been a hard last week. I still remember the first day I arrived. I was absolutely terrified. Had it not been for my fellow Oregon State students, I don’t think I would’ve made it out of the airport. Yesterday? I navigated the airport with ease. I booked a train, took a bus, and then caught a flight to Chicago and then a transfer to Portland. Absolutely no problems. And now that I’m back in the United States, it feels extremely weird. I actually feel like a foreigner! That’s something I never expected. But if you saw me now, you’d see my demeanor is completely different. Not only do I act different, I also speak and look very different than the last time you saw me. I’ve been mistaken as Australian, British, French, and German during my time over here (now there). So how was my last day? It was sad. The moment I went to city hall to say I was leaving was the moment it really hit me that this was it. 4 months were over and it was time for me to go. The flat I had spent living in for 4 months was empty, everyone trickling out one by one until there was me. I arrived with others yet the final stretch of my journey was taken alone. A fitting, if not somewhat somber end to what has been an absolutely fantastic experience. And my night? That was spent in the red light district. Now, before your imagination runs wild, that’s where I booked my hostel because it was a 4 minute walk to the train station and the hostel itself got good reviews. So…

I’ll Tell you all about it when I see you again…

Goodbyes. I hate goodbyes. Goodbyes are messy, awkward, and almost always never fun. A genuine goodbye? Heartbreaking. Now imagine yourself spending 4 months together with a group of individuals. Taking class together, living together, eating together, and hanging out together. You did pretty much everything with these people. And then? In a heartbeat, it all comes screeching to an end. That’s me. I had fun till the bitter end. Heck, I spent my last week in Berlin! But the goodbyes… Once someone starts crying everyone starts crying. Normally I just get choked up, you may even see tears start to form. But to straight up bawl my eyes out? That is extremely rare for me. We had our “official” goodbyes a few weeks ago, where I said goodbye to most of my German friends. That was extremely hard. Then came the non-Germans. The first to leave was my roommate, Javi. That was painful. I was upset but didn’t cry. The next to leave was Florian. That was when I started to really get choked up but still didn’t cry. At that point I was starting to feel pretty sad; luckily after a few days I left for my first (and last) solo trip, Berlin. There I caught up with an old buddy that I hadn’t seen in a few years and that was extremely refreshing. When I came back? Almost everyone was gone. Thank God Derick was there. We grabbed a few beers and chatted about the term for our last few days. And then? Derick was gone. So on Wednesday after I told city hall I was leaving, I wandered back home, sat down, and realized everyone was gone. And what did I do? I absolutely cried. I must’ve cried for a good hour. And then? I was gone. As quickly as I came, I left. So… what now?

Journey’s End

Of course, that was extremely depressing, so I can’t end there! So… memories. Years ago I heard that you may forget what someone says to you, but you’ll never forget how someone made you feel. And I have to say, I’ve never felt happier. My experience abroad has absolutely changed me. When I arrived, I was the shy, socially awkward guy who as a good friend told me, his first impression of me was that I was “weird”. That same friend was also willing to pay me 5 euros on our first trip to go talk to a cute girl at the train station. Of course, I refused and almost jumped in front of the train to save me from the horror of talking to a girl. In Paris, the city of love, another good friend told me to go talk to three cute girls in front of the Eiffel tower and what did I do? I literally ran. And then… in Berlin. Well, let’s just say Berlin was a lot of fun. My love life aside, that is just a small taste of how much I’ve changed. Another friend has described me as being a caged animal being set free and I think that sums it up perfectly. What’s more is, I could’ve of never done this alone. While I may have not learned how to become a cool girl, I think I learned how to become a cool guy. I was surrounded by cool people, so it only makes sense. In the U.S I was a tense dude, preferring to give you a handshake rather than a hug. But with a little help from my friends, I learned to relax and simply enjoy the present moment. It really is hard to believe it’s over. But how these lovely people made me feel… That, I’ll never forget. And every time I feel alone… I can always look back and remember that I’m not alone.

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See you Later