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Friday, February 19

An inspiring blog: The Spartan Student

Every so often I bump into a blog that makes me salivate with envy. The Spartan Student is my most recent find. Written by Ken Ilgunas, a graduate student at Duke University, it follows Ken’s experience living in a van on campus so that he can graduate debt-free.

For the Cliffs Notes version of his blog, Ken published an article that can be found on

“I pledged that I wouldn't take out loans. Nor would I accept money from anybody, especially my mother, who, appalled by my experiment, offered to rent me an apartment each time I called home. My heat would be a sleeping bag; my air conditioning, an open window. I'd shower at the gym, eat the bare minimum and find a job to pay tuition. And -- for fear of being caught -- I wouldn't tell anybody.”

What I find most fascinating about this blog are Ken’s explanations for how he copes with year-round van-dwelling:

  • · He cooks using a small propane device and never washes dishes (disgusting, I thought, but he claims it’s never made him sick). He brings water back to the van each night for cooking and consumption.
  • · He screwed hooks into the walls of the van to hang his clothes so they wouldn’t wrinkle.
  • · For entertainment he’s found an empty classroom that’s never locked where he can watch TV or movies at night. He also spends a lot of time in the library.

Ken is a fan of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, and his 1994 Ford Econoline van is his own version of a small cabin in the woods. I’ve contemplated having my own Walden many times. I haven’t taken the plunge yet, but reading about people like Ken make me itch with envy at the simplicity of their lives.


  1. An oldie but goodie! One of my readers just sent me this link. Very interesting stuff:)

    The Tuckerbag

  2. Good luck Ken!

    I read your another blog, and it's good. Keep going!

    Toby, data room solutions

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