7 Lessons I learned From living abroad in my 20s (Craig Kulyk)

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I met Craig Kulyk at Tribe Conference in Franklin, TN a few months ago.

During summer breaks from his studies at University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Craig would work at a resort or tourist attraction.

He loved the exhilaration and freedom he felt from the traveling across Canada, and it was just natural to travel more after he graduated.

“I mean, it wasn’t even really a decision. At that point in my life, I knew that’s what I wanted to do,” he recalled.

I looked into Craig’s travel experiences and watched for lessons he learned en route. Here is what I found:

Lesson One: Traveling doesn’t foster deep relationships.

When Craig was traveling he wasn’t trying to run away from anything at home in Canada, he was out to discover. At the same time he realized the need for other people.

“I was seeking longer conversations and connections,” he confided, “because when you’re traveling, you can only go so deep.”

He’d meet someone and be around for maybe two or five days and then on to the next location, but he was seeking longer and more meaningful connections.

Then he was introduced to Ultimate Frisbee, and he fell in love with the game.

Lesson Two: Traveling provides the opportunity to learn about managing personal finances.

A key objectives of working the two or three summer jobs of around 30 hours each week, were for Craig to save enough money to travel.

These summer jobs to save money because while he was working away from home he never saved money. In fact, he went into debt because of all the travel and adventuring he did.

His mind had always been set on traveling Europe. But then a seasoned traveler and a fella who taught English internationally, offered that Europe is great, but Europe will be the same in ten or 20 years and it’s really expensive.

With the amount of money Craig had he could travel for 6 to 8 weeks in Europe. Asia is a lot cheaper and it’s changing very fast and the money would last for six months, then he recommended Craig could teach English in one of those countries for income.

Korea was his pick.

The choice was based on how the experience could be maximized and how the teaching position could fund more traveling.

Lesson Three: Traveling in the 20s is ideal before more obligations and responsibilities.

Craig’s experience was confirmed by a video by Gary Vaynerchuk where he recommended traveling in the 20s. This is the prime time simply because typically with age more obligations and responsibilities are destined to creep onto our plate.

Whether someone has kids or not, we usually accumulate more responsibility with the job, family and living situation.

Craig also considers that time as a period of growth and experimentation and a time when we commonly can learn a lot about ourselves.

Different living experiences, different belief systems, and a different way of looking at the world—these can all shape and shift our ideas and thinking.

He summed it up: “It gives you an opportunity to take inventory of the things that you might otherwise take for granted.”

Lesson Four: Adventure as a way of life is exciting, exhilarating, and can set your spirit free.

Craig really likes the idea of not knowing how things are going to play out. That’s called the spirit of adventure.

You don’t know who you will meet.

There are so many people we would miss meeting if we wouldn’t have had contact.

Craig enjoys conversations in quest of finding common ground, and some conversations go nowhere.

“Some conversations, they open up this amazing opportunity or idea, which you can’t get if you’re sitting at home on your computer.”

Lesson Five: Online connection is not authentic connection.

Craig thinks that traveling gives a great opportunity to step away from our own thoughts, devices like TV, phones and computers.

In 2016, Craig returned to Southeast Asia and now they have wifi and phones. When he was backpacking in 2004, they didn’t have all these kinds of ‘connections’. He didn’t even have a phone. Connections with home were made via email from internet cafes.

When he visited Asia he turned off his phone for a week, he found it entirely liberating.

“If I go traveling, or when I go traveling again, I am not going to take my phone. I don’t want to be connected. That completely takes you out of the experience that you’re having.”

He thinks we notice things more when we put away the devices and the cyber connections.

Lesson Six: There is joy in trying to learn a new language and speaking it in another country.

Learning a new language makes everything a game, because you’re constantly looking at signs and trying to understand what they mean.

He said the Korean alphabet is super simple and easy to learn. 24 characters and they’re all phonetic.

Some of the signs are English words written in the Korean language.

He would read signs. Piano. P-i-a-n-o.

He would go to McDonald’s. There’s no F sound in Korean so it sounds like P. French fries are prench pries.

It activates the brain and it made him a lot more curious to learn not only words, but culture and the insider idioms that come along with it.

Lesson SEVEN: ­­­­­­­Be open to changes in plans.

Craig had plan to stay in Korea for no more than one year, but then he discovered the Ultimate Frisbee sport and a great group of friends.

Today, his full time work is Ultimate Frisbee. An international sport he discovered in Korea and it’s slowly sweeping into the West as well.


There is more to Craig’s story including the loss of his mother to cancer at 53 and his father to MS at 68.

His mother passed away when Craig was 17. He had just graduated high school and a week later she went into the hospital and she never came out.

17 years later, when Craig was 34, his dad passed from MS.

These occurrences brought so much depression and difficulty into Craig’s young life. Out of these deep experiences is where he determined the importance of making every day count and he established a morning routine that is the thrust of his online presence at: CreateGoodMornings.com