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 Salon.com:
“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.