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Chapter 5: Some Thoughts After Two Weeks Abroad

Less of a recap, more of a look into my thoughts so far.

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What’s up guys, happy Hump Day! I’m going to post my next recap in Krakow, Poland in a couple of days. Now that I hit my two week Europe-versary, I wanted to take a second to reflect on my experiences and thoughts so far.

Then and Now

Before I flew to Barcelona, I was full of nervous energy. Quitting my job to fly across the world solo? Sure I was anxious, but the idea of unlimited opportunities in a new world was enthralling. I didn’t know what to expect out of my trip, but I knew I would have a blast. When my plane landed, reality started to sink in. What am I doing? I don’t know anybody or anything over here.

The original plan: Barcelona for a week, then train around Spain to see old friends in different cities. 48 hours later, I threw that plan in the trash after hanging out with Rylan and Tanner. I have met dozens of fantastic people on the trip, but I was fortunate to meet two guys cut from the same cloth as me within 24 hours of arriving in Barcelona. If they lived in Atlanta, they would be instant staples in my friend group.

We’re about to part ways tomorrow, and that sucks. These travels are much more fun when you’re exploring the world with good friends. That being said, my two weeks traveling with them showed me that there’s countless good people out there, and I have no doubt that I will make plenty more friends over the next several months.

Going into this, I wanted to see this set list of cities, no matter what. Now I want to go to cool cities, but I’ll drop everything in a heartbeat if someone I like offers me the chance to take a voyage with them.


Many of you know that I’ve been writing a personal finance newsletter for a while now. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my own experience in the stock market. To summarize, I turned $6k into about $300k in less than a year, and promptly lost about half of it because I was playing way too aggressive with some unproven stocks.

You’re probably thinking “That’s incredible. Life changing money to make at 23.”

Here’s the truth: I grew to hate it. Sure, in the beginning it was incredible. We humans love making money, and it all felt like a game. I was really, really good at the game. But after the turn of the year, I noticed a shift. It went from a “fun game” to an obsession. As in opening my phone every 10 minutes to check my portfolio. My subconscious was being suffocated by “the market”. It was damn near impossible to tear my eyes away from the screen, and the effects spilled over to my personal life. I was rarely fully present, especially during market hours. Losing that $150k was the best thing to ever happen to me, because it was a wake up call. I was finally able to unplug. I realized that I wasn’t invincible, and I hated this existence. Obviously money is important, but pursuing dollar bills at the expense of my personal life was a tradeoff that I wouldn’t be making again. I sold everything and bought some ETFs, and I’ve hardly looked at it since.

I’ve had 100x more fun scraping by trying to survive in Europe than I ever did making money trading stocks. It’s ironic, isn’t it? I mean, for a while I was really, really good at making money. But what was the cost?

I’ve done a lot of thinking about money, income, career goals, etc. over the last few weeks. I don’t know what exactly my life will look like in 5, 10, or 20 years, but I do know one thing: I will never again choose financial wealth over social wealth. Nick Maggiulli had an awesome article on this topic.

Pretty weird, considering I was a finance guy in college, had a great job, and plan to attend Columbia Business School. Do I hope to make a lot of money? 100%. But I’m never going to sacrifice experiences for money. Matthew McConaughey said it best in Greenlights, “I’d rather lose money havin’ fun than make money being bored.”

At the end of my life, I would rather have a bank account balance of $0 and a journal with millions of incredible entries than the other way around. Experiences and people > money.

Besides, no one wants to talk about EBITDA at a cocktail party.

Priorities, Priorities

What really matters to me now?

Building relationships with great people and living out incredible experiences. Every once in a while, you just might get the chance to live out these incredible experiences with those great people. You lean into that, and jump on that opportunity every time.

Maybe that experience is crushing karaoke night in a Hungarian dive bar.

Maybe it’s climbing to the highest point in a foreign city to see the sunrise of a lifetime.

Maybe it’s kicking back and singing country songs with good people in a cozy loft.

And maybe all of those experiences came in the same night. Surround yourself with people that fire up your soul. People that make you laugh, cry, think, and marvel at the world around you. Everything else is secondary.

Similarities > Differences

I’ve met people from all walks of life. Someone made $400k on the stock market before losing half of it, and he promptly quit his job and moved to Europe (sound familiar?) Someone is working a full-time job from halfway around the world. Someone is going to be a pilot. Someone wants to travel the US in a van. Someone sold software for a well-known NYC tech firm. Someone is a British Ex-pat in Morocco. Someone worked for a prominent venture capital firm in Berlin. Someone lost their job to COVID, and saved up money to travel the world.

All of these someone’s have so much in common, it’s crazy. Different schools. Jobs. Paths. But you know what’s the same?

Desire to fit in. Longing to be part of a community. Struggles with “what to do with their lives”. Financial concerns. Enjoying laughing with friends. Seeing incredible places. Anxiety about the future. Eagerness to learn.

We have all these labels that we attach to people. Christian. Muslim. Atheist. Rich. Poor. Republican. Democrat. All of these preconceived notions of what different people should act like. Screw all of that. If you take people as they are instead of what they “should be”, you’d be surprised how many new neighbors you break bread with.

Stay Spontaneous

Life is more fun when the script isn’t set. I was always the planning guy in my friend group. If we were taking a guys’ trip to a new city, I wanted to know when and where we were doing everything. Initially I came to Europe with the same mindset. When my two new friends asked me to go to Prague with them, I threw caution to the wind and went with it. By far my best decision of the trip.

If someone invites you to do something that just might make a good story, do it. The best stories aren’t scripted, they’re dynamic.

Be intentional with your actions, but stay flexible. The best opportunities tend to pop up when you least expect them. (This is career advice as much as travel advice. Don’t limit yourself.)

To My Friends and Family Back Home

I miss you guys more than you know, and you better get your ass over here to visit soon. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to talk to you all so much from overseas (though many of the conversations have come while I’m walking home at 3 AM while it’s 9 PM in the States). Phone calls and facetimes are no replacement for face to face fellowship, but they do help make the distance a bit easier. I hope to see you all soon.

That’s all for now. I was supposed to go to Vienna this afternoon, but I wasn’t quite ready to leave my friends in Budapest. I’ll head to Vienna tomorrow, Krakow, Poland the next day, and Auschwitz after that. Stay tuned. 🤝


See below for the previous and next chapter:

(Also, here’s some of my favorite memories so far. Enjoy.)