I am a student at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois studying Material Science Engineering and Integrated Science. About three quarters of the way through my undergraduate education, I realized the fast approaching reality of the “40-hour work week” looming over my shoulders, and the even faster moving competitive environment of determined, ambitious college students trying to accelerate their climb up the ladder to higher tax brackets. Maybe Northwestern isn’t unique in its fast-paced nature, but it is certainly unique in its flexibility with enrollment. Taking a step back and seizing this opportunity, I decided to freeze my studies for two years.

During my first year off, I worked for a materials design and innovation company near campus and had my first taste of full-time work life. Apart from being involved in some of the most cutting-edge research and development work in my field, as well working with incredible people in a vibrant yet relaxed environment, this job experience provided me with a very valuable realization. A 9-5 desk job is not for me. Previous internship and research experiences had already hinted at this, but my longer-term trial was the icing on the cake.

What became painfully obvious throughout the year was that I still had no clear idea or direction regarding what to do in life. But in the process, I achieved some underlying goals, notably, simplifying my life and preparing for my second year off. Which brings me to the topic of my blog.

Beginning in June 2014, I am taking off on a trip around our world. With no set itinerary and very little planning, I will be guided by newly discovered passions and my taste buds. Through a combination of camping, couchsurfing, WWOOFing, working and other yet-to-be discovered mediums of travel, I hope to learn new skills, indulge in unfamiliar tastes, and infiltrate the local culture through the hospitality of my future hosts and friends. This website will serve as a platform for documenting my travels and sharing stories with my family and friends.

I don’t have any expectations from this trip. I look forward to being surprised, embracing new experiences, and fluctuating between the pleasures of company and the exhilarating peace of being alone on the road.

– Kerem Taşkın, April 2014

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