Tag Archives: adventure

3 Things I learned Getting Ready for College

While not everyone goes to college, the tendency of young people to choose this path is getting more and more prominent. As the undergraduate degree becomes more common the costs have gone up significantly. I am attending a private College called Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids MI.

Here are some things I learned as I prepared for this journey:

1. College Is Expensive

While I certainly have been given much in life (including amazing parents, a healthy body, and uplifting friends) free college is not one of them. Paying for college is the largest expense most young people face heading into adulthood. Tackling massive or even moderate debt down the road can take tremendous time and energy.

My parents, as many readers may know, are currently involved in missions work in Zambia, Africa. Because of this tight situation financially and their belief that it is my responsibility to pay for school (which I happen to believe with), I have taken it upon myself to pay for school debt free.

The cost to attend college is going to run about $13K per year for me. While this is definitely a lot more than some state schools in which the student receive some sort of financial assistance, there are many schools out there that cost tremendously more. I plan on working both during the summer and during the semester to pay for this expense.

2. The most important things are getting the degree and meeting people

Even more crucial in college than grades or extra credit is the people you meet (connections) and the degree you get (credentials). Coming out of college which will matter more, the fact that you have a bachelor’s degree in business administration, or the fact that you got amazing grades? The degree, in my mind is much more of a stand out feature than the grades themselves.

I truly believe that from a financial perspective, grades are less important than the experience you gain and the credentials and knowledge you acquire. While grades are certainly helpful to have, they shouldn’t be the end destination of every college senior.

3. College Students are Still Considered “Kids”

The last thing I’ve realized is that while college students are technically considered adults, they aren’t, by the middle aged and older crowd, considered real adults. I don’t necessarily agree with this by itself, but it gets a bit annoying for me being called “college kid” when I know that my actions say anything but.

Whether you’re a freshmen entering your undergraduate studies, or a senior wrapping up the last official school of your life, remember: college isn’t the ending point, only a beginning.

The Bad Thing About “Following Your Dream”

Whenever I hear someone say they’re trying to live their dream, I wonder, how many people out there have truly reached the point where they can fully pursue their interests?

I know I haven’t fully embraced my passions but over the last two years I’ve certainly gotten better. In two weeks I plan to take the second step towards pursuing “my dream”. The first step I took was this April when I took my 10 day road trip that drove me through Jacksonville, FL.

The second part of this pursuit will take place when I take my second trip there. I plan on leaving in two weeks. The trip will involve a drive from Michigan down to Nashville, TN, then a 2 day visit to Jacksonville, FL. On the way back up I plan on hitting Forsyth Park, Savanna, GA..

The question you might be asking is, why Jacksonville? That’s a very good question. It has more to do with my future than it does with my present. Currently I’m in college. I work nearby and have friends nearby. However somewhere down the road – maybe in 3 years or 10 years – I will move somewhere better.

It’s been a big thing for me to truly feel that the place I’m living in is right for me. I don’t feel most of Michigan is. For starters I like warmer weather. On top of that I’m looking for a city with more social and economic activity – unlike most of Michigan.

Explaining this often takes up a great deal of time. People will criticize my interests and goals. The dream I have certainly isn’t a common one. What should I do then?

What do you think, should I share “my dream” with the world or keep it inside my head?

Do you have a dream that most people around you think is stupid or weird? Feel free to jump into the comments below…

3 Things Wealthy People Tell Themselves

There are a lot of things that define success. Some value family, others experiences, still others put popularity and fame above everything else. But here in the U.S.(and I’m sure other countries) people emphasize wealth in the tier of importance.

When it comes to making wealth, building wealth and keeping wealth, there are certain activities and habits that set certain people apart from others. One of the biggest habits is internal dialogue. What we tell ourselves, and thus act upon, is the biggest factor that determines where we end up in life.

If you keep telling yourself that your opinion doesn’t matter or that no one will ever listen to you, this will probably come true for you. If, however, you optimistically believe, deep in your heart, that you deserve to be listened to by others, there’s a good chance more people will listen.

In the same way, what you tell yourself about money will probably, for the most part, become a self-fulfilling prophecy. So be careful. Here are three things that I have seen firsthand from a couple millionaires I have had the pleasure of meeting:

  1. You deserve the opportunity to be wealthy (if you put in the work)

Notice I didn’t say you deserve to be wealthy. This isn’t an entitlement mentality. It’s more of a self-worth manifestation. If you truly believe that you are worth it – you will put in the work. If you don’t think that you deserve a shot at becoming wealthy, you are less likely to put the work that goes into making that happen.

2.  Becoming wealthy isn’t luck, it’s a combination of work, smarts, perseverance, and time

One thing that the millionaires I have met, read from, and learned from have all had in common is a true belief in cause and effect. They never thought luck was something to lean on or be expected. While they did get lucky at certain points, they recognized that the luck was more a consequence of years of hard work, and less a result of blind chance.

3.  I don’t have to be like everyone else.

It’s true. Some people think that being like everyone else is just a given. If people sleep in to 10am, eat crappy food, and watch youtube in their free time, that doesn’t mean you have to. The truth is that most people in the U.S. as well as the world, haven’t made the true commitment to excellence in every area of their lives that millionaires have. You can be different.

These three things are just a start. Not only is it in the realm of possibility to become a millionaire, it is becoming easier than ever. Granted, it isn’t going to be easy.

How I Drove 2,300 Miles Without My License (And Why You Shouldn’t) Part 3

As I left Dallas I realized the trip was almost over. “What’s next?” I thought as I drove up towards Oklahoma City, OK.

Later that night I decided I would be traveling up through Kansas. Sounds like a cool place right? So off I went, driving late into the night. I was ready to explore Wichita and Kansas City as soon as I found a place to stay for the night.

At this point I was in southern Kansas, near Wichita. It was near midnight. Out on the country road it was 65mph but as I entered a little town I didn’t see the sign that said 45…  oops.

Lights flashed behind me. Even though this was my first time being pulled over after four years of driving (I’m not a bad driver btw) I couldn’t help feel a little discouraged. Was it a speed trap?

As the female officer walked up alongside the vehicle I pulled out my registration and reached for my wallet. “Hello,” she said, “I just wanted to let you know you were speeding. Not by too much, though. Can I see your license and registration?”

I handed her the registration. Opening my wallet I fumbled as I opened up where the license normally is supposed to be. I pulled out the enhanced license slip that holds the license. Opening up, I looked inside… my license was gone.

“Umm,” I awkwardly said, still looking through my wallet to see if it was somewhere else. “I can’t find my license.”

“Ok,” she said, “Can I see maybe student ID or something with a picture on it while you keep looking?” “Sure.” I handed her my student ID.

I continued to look as she went to her car. A few minutes later another police car showed up. This time a man stepped out. He and the woman walked up alongside the car. “Did you find it?”

“No luck I said,” glancing up. I got out of the car and started looking in the back. “Where is it?” I thought. I was so confused as to where it could have gone. I continued to look. “Here, can you use this?” The man officer held out a flashlight. “Thanks,” I said, realizing I also had a flashlight somewhere in the car.

After a little while they told me to pull up a few hundred yards to a little gas station. Shortly after parking they asked me to put the car keys in the car and get out. “Look,” the man said, “from our perspective this whole situation is bizarre. It looks like you’re telling the truth, but it’s taking a lot time for us to look you up in the Michigan Driver’s records.

Finally, fifteen minutes or so later they were able to look me up and get my drivers license number. I wrote it down and we said our goodbyes. The male police officer, George, shared his name and we shook hands. They were very nice and considerate.

Whatever happened that day, I’m very glad for kinder, understanding police officers.

By the way, I did find my license a few days later, but that’s a whole different story. At the end of the day we can take one big lesson a way: Even if you think your license is in your wallet, it never hurts to double check.

How I Drove 2,300 Miles Without My License (And Why You Shouldn’t) Part 2

The Trip Started like most trips begin, the last minute struggle to get everything else together. As soon as the car was packed I headed off towards my first stop on the way to Florida: Nashville. The day went fairly quickly, with a few stops along the way. Around dinner I arrived in Nashville. The busy city stood still in the orange sunset on the horizon. I liked Nashville but it wasn’t my favorite city.

That night I stayed near Nashville. The next day I drove to Jacksonville, FL. On the way I stopped in Atlanta, Georgia. In a Chick Fil A there was a lady who wouldn’t stop talking. She asked me about my day and all of the casual conversation, but she wouldn’t stop talking. I was glad to finally get my food and get out of there.

I arrived in Jacksonville, my first real stop, around dinner time. After exploring a little, I found a Walmart parking lot to stay in and slept peacefully. I explored Jacksonville, including the beach, the following day.  Beach.JPG

The next day I drove to Miami, with a quick stop in Orlando. At Miami I drove the city downtown during the midnight traffic. What a beautiful sight – all those banks and skyscrapers towering above you with lights shinning. It was definitely a worthwhile trip.

I picked a Walmart that allowed overnight parking and started to sleep. Then I heard a knock on the door. “We’re closed now, you’ve got to move.” I heard the voice coming from outside my car. I looked at my phone and realized this was a different location from the one I thought it was. Ooops!

It was 4:30 am. I was so frustrated that I drove from Miami back up to Tampa the next day. I stopped there and went by the beach. But I decided to head back up soon thereafter. I drove all the way up to Tallahassee by the end of the day. But this time I picked the right Walmart.

On the following day I drove though Baton Rouge and took a stop in New Orleans for a stop at the famous Cafe Du Monde. I had a delicious treat and then it was time for bed.

Next I went to Houston the following morning and got stuck in traffic. After sitting a couple hours I explored Houston and thereafter started driving up to San Antonio.

Next was Sunday. I woke up and saw the Alamo – a beautiful reminder of the men who died for everything they held dear. Then I drove an hour or two to Austin. Austin, the Capital of Texas, is a clean, technology-driven city. I liked it but it wasn’t on the same vibe as me.

That night I went to Dallas and tried to take a picture of the skyline. My Dallas Skyline.jpg

The guy next to me, a photographer with a nicer camera, took some pretty awesome shots. I liked Dallas the second most out of all the cities, right behind Jacksonville, FL..

At this point my trip was beginning to look like it had come to a close. Now I was starting to think about heading home…

How I Drove 2,300 Miles Without My License (And Why You Shouldn’t) Part 1

You might be thinking this is clickbait. Or is that a typo? No, I really did drive 2,300 miles, without my license, by myself, at 18 years old across the country. Now before I tell you how I ended up in the middle of Kansas, at midnight, with no license I need to give you some background.

In the summer of 2017 I started thinking about what I wanted to do with my life and what I wanted to become. This was around my 18th birthday in July. As the summer finished and the School year began, I started realizing that I could, if I wanted, take a trip that would give me further knowledge about what was out there.

In December 2017 I decided to follow through. During this time I was working full time as well as doing school full time so there wasn’t a lot of access time for spare planning. But I did manage to put together an incomplete document that would start me on my preparation.

Around Christmas I headed over to Zambia, Africa (I was visiting my family who moved for orphan missions, but more on that in another post). In Zambia I finalized my plans, which were fairly detailed, deciding against the 8,000 mile trip I was originally planning.

My new plan was to head down to Florida, explore, head back up through Louisiana to Texas, explore, and then head home to Michigan. All with a few minor stops along the way. The trip was around the corner. I was so excited!

It was a bittersweet moment for me. My time in Zambia was about over. And, in March 2018, I said goodbye to my family after 3 very special months. This had been a great period to rest, learn, and spend time with the most important people in my world.

I flew back to Lansing by myself, pondering and searching for a single feeling to feel. But there were so many. I felt alone. Even though I was going to live with my Grandma (and what a blessing that is), I was missing the people who had been with me my whole life.

I also felt anxiety. Here I was, 18 years old, with so many life changes like college, work, summer plans, and then my trip, all coming up just around the corner.

But I was also excited. My life had been, for the most part, out of my control up till this moment. And now the pen and paper were finally getting handed to me to write my own story. I thought I was ready.

With these emotions and so many others spreading around in my mind and nervous system, I really was starting to grow up. Not all at once, but slowly.

The plane landed.

I got to Lansing, spent time with friends and Grandma, and after one week it was time to leave. Finally, the moment I had been waiting for had come. Again, I thought I was ready. So, in the first few days of April, I left.

 

The Cost of Not Spending

Often when it comes to money we get the basic financial advice of reducing spending, increasing income, and investing the difference. However there is an extreme that this can be taken to.

Most have heard the tale, “A Christmas Carol”. In it, Ebenezer Scrooge is portrayed as an old single bachelor who has been hoarding his money, keeping to himself, and worrying pretty much only about himself. While we’d like to think we’re exempt from this behavior, it can become difficult at times to see that we’ve started to show some of his characteristics.

For example some people think that it’s a smart life choice to not tip. A guy I used to work with told me he “didn’t do tips because they don’t need it.” I understand decreasing the tip for bad service, but doing so for other reasons is being cheap. Understand, that’s how many of those people make their money.

Another area where people often lack clarity is in the area of giving. Some think, that by giving, they’re somehow benefiting themselves. While it’s certainly true that giving all your money away isn’t a smart life choice for pretty much everyone, there are genuine benefits to honest, purposeful giving.

Giving doesn’t have to be financial either. I was quietly reading in the park once, in downtown Lansing, when a homeless dude walked up to me. We talked for a while, and I feel that the encouragement I gave him, as well as the insights and story he gave me, were a mutually beneficial exchange.

Whatever your philosophy on giving, tipping, and sharing, keep in mind that sometimes there’s a non-financial cost to not giving.

Why Students Should Work In College

I can tell you why you’re not working hard enough. There are a lot of people who know how to work intelligently, with both work and life in general. They only engage in activities that are precisely planned and efficiently organized. These are often the well-educated people, those who know the best, smartest use of time. But often they spend a lot of it relaxing or enjoying fun activities.

Then there are the hard workers. They’re the people who do the heavy lifting. They end each day both physically and mentally exhausted. These are the people who work 60+ hours per week, striving for some piece of the American dream.

Lastly, but by far the rarest group of them all is the smart-hard worker. This person is someone who not only engages in thoughtful planning, meaningful self-improvement and learning, but also in the daily “grind”, the discipline-filled early mornings, the continuous extension of energy.

By far the last group can achieve the most. Not only do they have the advantages of planning and efficiency, they also spend enough time working that they can begin to get a better grasp of their tasks and gain a larger force of momentum behind them as they get into the swing of things.

One of the best times to make strides towards this happy medium of efficiency (thoughtfulness, planning) and force (work, discipline) is being a student with a job.

Now before you go off and start dismissing this idea as both impractical and stupid, please take this journey with me through my thought process and how I worked 40 to 50 hours per week while going to school full-time (and still spending a little time with family and getting a 3.8 GPA).

First, why work in school? One of the reasons most students work is to both pay for school, and gain valuable work experience in college. I want to add one more reason: better grades. Better grades? Yeah. According to a cnbc.com article there is a correlation between students who work part-time and those who get better grades. The reason this makes sense is that having a job creates a sense of greater responsibility in your life. You not only have a different perspective, but you also have less time to goof off, which makes it easier to get down to business.

I would recommend most students seriously consider working at least 20 hours per week during the semester. Not only will you most likely get better grades, you can also start to see more money coming in to pay expenses.

My challenge: get a job while you’re in school. You might find that you have more confidence, job experience and money.

Out of Air

Most of us at some point have probably felt a deep driving force of determination. Maybe it was during a race or sporting event, or maybe it was on a school assignment when you were in school. Whatever activity you may have been doing when you reached peak commitment, there are probably a lot of similarities between that moment and other moments in your life of true determination.

For example in high school I had my first Cross Country race. I was looking forward to showing my speed out on the course. When the day came I made sure I had enough sleep and nutrition to compete at my best. But I also had something far mare salient to my success: an expectation in my mind that I would perform a certain way.

When it came time to race my expectation to keep up with certain runners led me to run with them at the beginning of the race, a pace I couldn’t keep. A few minutes in I started to realize how poor my decision was. How was I supposed to keep this up for 3.1 miles? But I hadn’t learned my lesson.

The person I was following began to pull away, so I picked up the pace even more. I began increasing my pace when I should have been considering slowing down. At this point I was actually passing runners on the course, not realizing that there was still more than two miles to go.

The guy, Kevin, who I was following, didn’t know I was following him, but it was as if he knew I was. He would always stay just far ahead of me so as to make me attempt to catch up. As we neared the first mile I knew I wouldn’t finish with him. I developed a plan: as long as I could keep within sight of Kevin, I was good.

So as we weaved around bends and over hills I would force myself to keep pushing in order to keep up. By this point I was already at an oxygen deficit. We weren’t even at mile 2! For all you non-runners: you don’t want to be out of breath until the last few hundred yards for the final sprint. Even the last half mile or so would have been better, but at roughly 1.5 miles in, there simply wasn’t a way for me to hold my pace for the next half.

Somehow I kept pushing. For some reason as we neared mile 2 I thought we were at marker 2.5 miles. So while all the other runners knew we had 1.1 miles to go, I thought we only had .6 left. I began picking up speed as we neared what I thought was the end. I was closing in. Then I realized my mistake. There was still a mini loop to go. I felt so stupid.

Friends and family were on the sides of the course, cheering me on as I rode past. I could see Kevin a distance up the course. I could still see him though – that was good. I finished the loop, but my pace had really slowed. People were passing me now, as I tried to keep a little speed in these last few hundred meters.

I curved around the final bend. There was about a quarter mile to go. 400 meters… 300… I was barely jogging. I picked up the pace but my face was red for exhaustion. I was really hyperventilating. 250… 200… I seemed like the distance wasn’t closing in. 150… 100… I put every ounce of my body into the last hundred meters, but it looked more like a jog – I had nothing left. Nothing.

As I passed the finish line I gasped for air. My body shook all over. I couldn’t take in enough air. My chest kept expanding and deflating, like a water-balloon that kept getting shrunk back down to nothing. I had done it!

As with many things in life, simply having a high expectation for yourself can go a long way. I learned more about my potential than I ever thought possible. So next time you run a race, find someone named Kevin to race with you.

From Africa to the U.S.

I made my way back to the US juggling a lot of different thoughts and emotions. As carried myself onto the first plane in Ndola, Zambia I silently said goodbye to Zambia. I stepped on and realized the plane was tiny. Even as a short person the leg room for my bag and feet wasn’t ideal. Eventually I managed to fit myself in.

The next stop was Ethiopia. I got off and waded through the crowds of people who spoke languages I’d probably never heard of. The next boarding was simple enough. This time the plane was ginormous.

After getting myself situated I tried to get some sleep. For some reason my carryon wouldn’t fit above me so I had to fit it in somewhere else. On the flight I took out my phone (which of course was on airplane mode) and began writing notes. I went through all the things I wanted to accomplish in the next week.

My list of things was relatively simple yet most were things I had never done before. The first thing was get new tires and oil for my car. The second was go shopping for everything on my road trip. The third, and probably most important thing was paying taxes for the first time in my life.

I had a week before I wanted to leave for my trip, so there wasn’t a lot of time to sit around. But none of the things on the list took massive amounts of time either, I just had to make sure I didn’t procrastinate.

I woke up just before the plane landed in Frankfurt, Germany. I had just a few hour layover before my flight to Chicago. I got off exhausted and began wandering the relatively empty hallways of the airport looking for my gate number. I finally asked around and got to where I needed to be. There was an hour till boarding started. “Oh boy,” I thought sarcastically, “can’t wait to sit here for an hour.”

I sat down on a bench and felt a trickle running down from my nose. “Even better,” I thought, “a bloody nose.” I snatched out clean-x from my bag. As a kid I used to get bloody noses almost every day but as I got older I got less and less of them. As boarded started I sat there, waiting for the bloody nose to end. Finally it stopped, just in time for me to get in line for boarding.

Fourteen hours later I was in Chicago. Chicago! It felt so good to be in the United States. I went to the bookstore and bought $50 worth of investing books. Anyone who knows me knows my interest and knowledge on the topic of personal finance. I sat and read for half an hour. Before I knew it it was time for my flight home to Lansing, Michigan.

The flight home went quickly. I ate a tiny bag of pretzels given to me by the flight attendant. We landed and I slowly made my way off the plane with my fellow passengers. I descended the escalator in Lansing airport. As I lowered to the ground my grandma appeared waving and smiling.

We greeted each other and talked on our way to pick up the luggage. After locating everything and getting in the car we drove to the nearest restaurant: Chick Fil A. I ate a couple chicken sandwiches and waffle fries. They tasted good. As we sat my Grandma asked me about the roads. “It was like driving on the moon,” I said between mouthfuls of fries. “There would be these massive craters in the middle of the road that we’d occasionally have to go through.” She laughed. “Glad you’re back in Michigan.”

We went home. Now that I was in the US I was beginning to anticipate my next adventure….