Take Opportunities As They Come And Create Your Own

Take Opportunities As They Come And Create Your Own

Stop planning, start going.
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I, like many other people, have a bucket list. However, mine spans multiple pages in a notebook. And when I say multiple, I mean like ten pages, front and back. It's a lot. It's not even things that I want to do. My buck list is just a giant list of cities, parks, monuments, buildings, theme parks, etc. that I want to visit within my lifetime.

Unlike many people, I have been lucky enough to already have crossed some of those places off of my list. Within this past summer, the majority of places I wanted to visit in Italy were checked off. I've even been able to take day trips to places on my bucket list.

Sometimes trips to cross these places off are almost perfectly mapped out. I create timelines, routes, spend months saving up the money. I dedicate a considerable amount of energy trying to find the perfect way to visit some of these locations.

I spent seven months planning my trip to Italy.

However, I spent all of two days planning a trip to the Grand Canyon.

All it took was me telling a friend that I really wanted to go see it and that maybe we should see it during one of the long weekends we had this quarter. His response? "Let's go this weekend."

We went and it was awe-inspiring, to say the least. I never really thought I would ever get to the Grand Canyon. Nor did I think it would affect me as much as it did.

Yet as I stood on the precipice of the South Rim, I realized many of things I had added to my bucket list, I never really thought I would actually get to see. I just wrote places down and thought, "Maybe someday."

But someday isn't going to cut it.

I managed to see part of the Grand Canyon in a weekend. Yeah, I would love to have seen more of it, but it is also completely amazing to actually be able to say that I have seen even the tiniest bit of it. And it was all thanks to spontaneity. To a slight bit of recklessness. To creating a moment when the opportunity presented itself.

I saw the Grand Canyon because I did not hesitate when my friend said let's go. We should all do more of that.

Take opportunities as they come and create your own. Yeah, money is a little tight because we're young, broke, and in college but that doesn't mean we have to wait for a "better" time to make memories. We only have today. Use it. I did and I loved every second of it.

Cover Image Credit: Erika Salazar|Josue Llamas

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Meet The College Student Who Took A Solo Road Trip Across The United States

With only a cooler, a bag of electronics, and a bag of clothes, Alex Kim embarked on the trip of a lifetime.

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Not many college students can say that they've taken a road trip across the United States. Even fewer can say that they've gone on that journey alone.

However, Alex Kim can say that within one month, he drove from the east coast to the west coast of the United States by himself. And he made sure to hit all the major attractions on the way.

You name it — the White House, Cloud Gate, the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, and Yosemite — Kim has been to all those places.

Kim is currently a senior at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, majoring in religious studies with a minor in human rights. He plans to attend law school in the fall of 2019. So, he knew that if he wanted to take a trip across the states, the summer of 2018 would be the perfect time.

Courtesy of Alex Kim

I had the opportunity to meet Kim when he briefly stopped by Lawrence, Kansas, near the final stretch of his journey. When he told me about his trip, I was baffled, intrigued, and impressed all at once.

To take a long road trip with friends is one thing, but to take a month-long road trip by himself is an entirely different story.

Kim said he simply wanted to meet people. He had the opportunity to meet other brothers in his fraternity, Pi Alpha Phi, and made quite a few friends (myself included!) on the way. He also visited family friends and people that he knew through Greek life.

Besides meeting people, this trip also consisted mostly of driving an 6-8 hours per day, listening to educational podcasts, and traveling to national parks, monuments, and memorials. He even bought along a burner and pot to cook ramen noodles in the national parks. Kim called these meals his "ramen adventures."

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Kim said this trip was extremely of out of his comfort zone, but it helped that he went alone because he was able to set his own schedules, plan his own routes, and do everything at his own discretion.

When asked about why he decided to go alone, Kim said "Going with someone else means that I will spend way more money than I should… If I went with another person, I also have to cater sleeping accommodations as well."

There were many times where Kim simply slept in his car because he didn't know anyone in the area, or he didn't want to pay for a hotel or Airbnb. But he didn't have to sleep in his car the whole trip. Half the time, he had friends or family members who were willing to house him for a night or so.

In addition, going alone gave Kim a lot of time to reflect on his past and what's to come in his future.

"I can't tell you how many times I thought of what my next chapter of life will be," Kim said.

However, going alone also presented its fair share of obstacles. Some difficulties included bad weather, over exhaustion, too much caffeine, and lack of sleep and nutritious food. One of the biggest problems that he faced was loneliness.

Kim admitted that there were periods of time where he felt extremely lonely. When he knew that he wasn't going to see people for a while, he would call his parents in the morning to tell them where he had been and that he was doing well.

There was one instance where he was first traveling to a national park, Yellowstone Park, and he internally freaked out. For the most part, Kim heard nothing but complete radio silence because there was no reception. Kim said that he felt scared because he wasn't in control of his loneliness.

Aside from those challenges, Kim was glad to say that the road trip went well, and he didn't have any car trouble.

For him, some notable locations were New York City and Los Angeles. Kim didn't really go to L.A. for sightseeing, but rather to pay his respects to an old mentor who passed away. Even though he explored much of nature and national parks, he said that the most breathtaking view was not in fact at a national park, but at a family friend's farm in Harlington, Nebraska.

Courtesy of Alex Kim

"I never thought I would say this, but I really enjoyed the countryside in Nebraska. Being away from the city lights, it was very peaceful and quiet. The sunset was breathtaking," he said.

Overall, Kim approximated that he traveled across the United States for a grand total of 9,700 miles, and despite some challenges, he really enjoyed this trip. He met new and old people and witnessed stunning views that he wouldn't have seen back in North Carolina. As a lone traveler, Kim practiced humility and now sees the world with a fresh perspective.

Kim also learned many lessons along the way and here are six that he shared:

1. Learn to rely on yourself.

2. Sometimes it's good to play it by ear. You'll have the freedom to do so much more.

3. If you can't play it by ear, always have a contingency plan.

4. The people who constantly kept up with you throughout your whole trip are you true friends.

5. Get out of your comfort zone; learn to be versatile.

6. Take time to yourself to reflect on your past, make amends if possible, and plan out your future.

After his trip, Kim returned to North Carolina, taking with him all the experience and lessons he gained from his travels. Nowadays, he keeps busy by studying for the LSAT in September and working towards getting into law school.

But would Kim take this extraordinary road trip again if he could? Most definitely.

See more pictures from his trip below.


Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

All photos here are provided courtesy of Alex Kim.

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5 Cheap Adventures To Go On Before Summer Ends

Sometimes the best memories are made with the smallest amount of money.

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One of my favorite things about summer is going on vacation. I'm usually so busy during the school year that I don't get to go do a lot of fun stuff with my friends, so I tend to splurge more in the summer.

However, going to the beach or the big city can have its costs. My wallet and stomach both agree. So, I spent some of this summer trying to find cheaper activities that weren't lame in a small town. Here, I present to you 5 cheap adventures that you can do at any time of the year without breaking the bank:

1. Natural areas/ state parks

This summer we ventured out about an hour and a half from my hometown to the Clark Creek Natural Area. This is the home of several waterfalls and hours of adventure. After about three hours of hiking through the woods and checking out the waterfalls, not only were we exhausted, but we were so glad that we did so! With only a five dollar donation, some water bottles, and gas to get to and fro, we had one of the best adventures of the summer.

2. Cheap/ free concerts

When you think of going to a concert, you're usually willing to fork out hundreds of dollars for the best seats. That's not to mention parking, food, hotels, gas, etc. While this is usually the norm for big names, not all concerts have to be expensive. We went to a Halsey concert for $30 tickets a piece!! Concerts like this at amphitheaters are usually cheaper due to the seating. Getting to lay out in the grass and listen to music was one of my favorite summer memories. Sure, most big names won't be that cheap, but some smaller entertainers will be. You might discover your next obsession or a flop. Either way, it's an adventure that doesn't require a lot of money.

3. Going to the park/ playground

Whether you are six or 36, going to the park is always an adventure. Taking your dog for a walk, swinging on the swings, or just running around throwing a football, there is never a boring day at the park. This is great for families trying to get outdoors or for friends to meet up and hang out without getting into trouble. Your dog, your grandma, and your children will always remember the days you spent outside at the park!

4. Movie marathon

Sometimes the best adventures aren't in real life. Staying in and renting some movies from Redbox can be a chill adventure as well! Netflix and chilling with your friends can be just as fun as going out. Sleepovers with the right people can be just as adventurous as doing anything else.

5. Day trips

Road trips can be expensive and hard to plan, working over the summer can take up all of your time, and sometimes nothing more than a day trip is all you have and need. Driving out of town to a nearby city for some fun or even becoming a tourist in your town is all the adventure you never knew you needed. There can be hidden gems in your town; you just have to be willing to look. We visited antebellum homes, walked the cemetery, and took a stroll downtown just looking at the window shops. All of that can be as cheap or expensive as you make it.


No matter where you are, near or far, adventure is there and waiting for you. You just have to be willing to go look for it!

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