Jay Michael Muller

Student of Lyfe

With ‘Lift Off’ in the Rear View Mirror

Smiles: all day, every day.

I honestly had very little idea as to what it would be like backpacking solo around Southeast Asia. It was something a lot of people talk and write about as being the “best thing ever” and “life changing”. This obviously caught my attention. Graduation was on the horizon and a window of opportunity presented itself between the end of courses at USD and Teach for America. And with Semester at Sea in my back pocket, my foundation for travel had already been set.

So far, it has been a very unique experience. Expectations have subsided, and spontaneity has taken its place. Minor mistakes have been made (summing to insignificant monetary amounts, fortunately) due to lack of prior experience, though these have been necessary to teach. Therefore, like the cliché, I don’t see it as mistakes, but rather lessons. No matter if it’s sports, dance, reading, or whatever – the more you do something the better you get at it. I definitely believe travel is not excluded from this.

Semester At Sea was an incredible introduction to travel, in which experienced vagabonds passed down an abundance of fundamental lessons to us collegiate dreamers. I see it as a truly valuable experience which started my travel engine. From here, now, the sky is the limit. These are some of my favorite takeaways from SAS going into this backpacking trip:

(1) It’s all about the people and culture, rather than pictures with monuments. (2) Be open to trying new things, foods, conversation, and perspectives. (3) The more you know about where you go, the better your experience will be. (4) Seize the day, every day – Carpe Diem. (5) And … leave America’s favorite activity – binge drinking – at home.

I do hope to expand my (currently petite) arsenal of travel wisdom going forward. The current journey will surely help. Maybe one day I can teach 20-year-olds about the do’s and don’ts related to vagabond exploration … we shall see! 🙂

As for now, I believe travel teaches us not only about the world and it’s alternately cultured people, but also about ourselves. It’s an opportunity to take a step back from the monotony of American life – continuous cycles of work hard and play hard. In these experiences – traveling – our minds are further unlocked as we are sponges soaking in newfound realities. This ‘dual-journey’ for me has just begun. For one, I am seeking to better understand these novel environments, cultures, and people. Just as important, however, I am reflecting day in and day out (with the aid of my beloved journal) on my thoughts, emotions, perspectives, goals, behavior … so on and so forth. This, I feel, is helping me settle confidently into my person. I feel already to be getting a better grip on moments of fleeting moments of negativity, anxiety, and overthinking. My time is spent instead being present, making a conscious effort to smile often, internally framing situations positively, and in general just slowing down (amongst others).

I will do my very best to blog often going forward about my experiences. I’ll likely leave out the personal development flowery shenanigans – reserved for my journal and private conversations. But nonetheless I hope to share my travel experiences and acquired insights/opinions with those of you who care – hopefully at least one other besides mom!

Peace & Love,



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4 thoughts on “With ‘Lift Off’ in the Rear View Mirror

  1. Brenda on said:

    Dear Jay,
    I will enjoy every word and look forward to some sharing
    of personal development one day :-). This opportunity you have been given and taken carries with it much responsibility. Make a difference because you were there! God bless your travel.


  2. That was awesome Jay.. Great job relating.. Keep up the good work.. Very proud of you.. Be safe, be smart and miss you !

  3. “Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

    I’ve been reading Emerson’s essays and underlined the quote above tonight. What timing, because this completely applies to you. I love your travels and your insight.

    Keep carrying and finding that beauty.

    With love,

    • Jennifer Auerbach on said:

      You’re a true inspiration, Jay. Keep sharing your light with others.
      I look forward to learning from your insightful vagabond explorations. 😉



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