Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Big Decision

Last week has been no less than mentally turbulent: my two choices in life have been shrunk to staying in school or leaving the country –and me being me, leaving the US means a PanAmerican adventure, as I want to avoid Spain by all means necessary. So, with my mind equally split, I set on to make a rational, informed decision on where to channel my energies:

1. Timeframe: I gave myself until I talked to a University advisor –Sunday of last week, in theory- to make a decision, as my mind cannot function correctly with these worries and the exhausting tasks of animation and editing for Open Roads. This decision would also affect the workflow of the episodes of the series, and the amount of free time I could have to play with cars and fix things here and there. I did make the promise to Tyler that, if I decided to go down to the Americas, I would have all three episodes finished and ready to put up on YouTube by the time my "period of grace" ended.

2. Money: Probably the biggest factor in my decision. Factoring my living expenses with college tuition, an MBA at Wichita State University would cost me $1,940 a month for a period of twelve months. If I went to Butler College to obtain an Associate's Degree, this number would go down to $1,283; however, I am not thrilled about getting a two-year degree for the sake of buying myself time in the USA. My bare minimum for the PanAmerican expedition, without surprises or breakdowns, would be $9,100 for almost a year worth of travel, art-making and volunteering. The positive side of going down South is that I could open a crowdfunding project to finance the trip (Kickstarter) for an approximate value of $15,000 to finance the whole thing and –maybe, even- drive back.

3. Personal: What would sacrifice if I left? What would I sacrifice if I stay? There are plenty of wonderful friends, living on both coasts and anywhere in between. With the miraculous power of the Internet, I could stay in touch with anybody living hundreds or thousands of miles away. Skype would be my only mode of instant communication, so communication thus becomes a neutral factor. I do feel sorry for leaving Tyler for a few months, as our friendship as flourished into an amazing gearhead camaraderie –I might as well take him to Europe one day and offer him the same degree of hospitality and knowledge. Another factor would be personal growth: both these experiences have things to provide to my life path; however, the order does not matter.

4. Professional: Quite evidently, an MBA would give me more chances to be competitive in today's job market. However, what do I want to do in life? I like travel, I like meeting people, I like the freedom of self-reliance, I like anything that involves a project –improvement, cutomization-, and I LOVE automobiles, these vessels for adventure. My fate and my preferences seem to be heading towards reality TV or international trade. I am thankful that my career paths are laid so clearly at this point of my life. I have great hopes in my NYC project, of it becoming a multinational corporation capable of granting me a Green Card in two or three years –life can only get sweeter from here on!-. So, the decision is to either go out in the world with a valuable diploma and some work experience under my belt, or a unique way of seeing the world with a fabulous story to tell afterwards. Safety dictates one, the Heart dictates the other.

It was the money factor that led me to visit the Business department at Wichita State University (WSU). In less than two hours, I had a very optimistic view of the program, where learning and real world experience seems to be taken seriously. As a side note, I saw the first Pizza Hut ever built. When I asked about financial aid, I was told that in the Graduate Program most students paid off their pockets, but I was invited to visit the Financial Aid office. I did, and much not to my surprise, I was told that my status as a foreigner did not qualify me to obtain any financial aid at all.

The WSU information package I was given today. Ca-ching!

The feeling of hearing that sounded like a heavy steel door slamming in my head. It was somewhat disheartening, but I know I will be able to get to afford an MBA program at some point, maybe in Wichita, maybe in Harvard, or maybe abroad. So, what I am left with, is the dream of a lifetime a little bit ahead of time: ladies and gentlemen, I am going PanAmerican.

The following posts –hopefully more than in the last months– will narrate the preparation process, my management of time before my training "period of grace" expires on August 20th, the build-up of Orwell the 300TD as an expedition rig, the careful planning of the route I will take and some funding strategies –please help me on this one–. I might have to panhandle a little bit, so bear with me and I promise you this will be the most exciting real-time travelogue you will ever read. Once again, it's time to grow some massive balls of fire.


  1. Your choice is bold, brave, and perhaps most importantly, heartfelt. I applaud you sir.

  2. I envy your freedom and applaud your willingness to take on the world on your own terms. Good luck to you, Miguel... but something tells me you won't need it. :)

  3. Colleges will always be there if you chose to make time for it later. And in a world where MBAs are getting to be a dime a dozen, I'd think your adventure is more likely to lead you to an income from work you love.

    Aside from which, when you are 90 you're not going to be sitting around saying, "let me tell you about this MBA program."


    You'll be saying, "Hey kids, let me tell you about driving across the Americas in the early part of this century!"

    Live the life you love, and remember if it gets difficult that there is always another door.

  4. Absolutely incredible. As I read this (some US$86,000 student loan debt), a voice in my head screamed, "PANAMERICA!" Crushing though the MBA funding news might have been, there is freedom in such finality.

    Adventure is calling. The real world MBA is more meaningful and more valuable than anything taught in school. Immerse yourself in real world problems. Reflect on how they are solved and share your findings as you go. Such experience is worth its weight in gold.

    To adventure!