Don’t be a passenger your whole life

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Why driving is a life-long skill worth having

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published by The Other Press. March 16, 2015

Younger generations are no longer putting car ownership as a top priority, and because of that the attitude towards learning to drive or earning a driver’s licence is left idling. Many have even accepted that they will never own a vehicle and that public transit is just something that will be a part of their lives forever. It’s true that owning a car is a big responsibility and learning to drive is a hassle, but while the economy may place a roadblock in our plans, we cannot be ignorant towards a fundamental skill of urban society.

Being able to drive is more than simply having an alternative to walking or taking the bus, being able to drive is being fluent in the rules of the road and having a lifeline for travelling. If you don’t know how to drive you will always be a passenger—always. It doesn’t matter if you are taking a taxi, bus, or if your friends are chauffeuring you around, you are always governed by someone’s driving habits and navigation skills. In a way, you are someone’s luggage.

Having the skills to drive gives you the freedom to travel. If you decide you want to—in a split second—rent a car and visit another city, province, or country, you can. The ability to drive will take you further in life.

You become a more valuable, respectable, and dependable person when you know how to drive. Pedestrians who don’t know the difference between a turn signal lever and a windshield wiper controller have little sympathy toward drivers and behave as though they own the roads. They are blind to what drivers have to deal with on a busy street and seldom give them a benefit of the doubt.

People who have never driven also have weaker navigational skills and direction-giving abilities. Often they will tell the driver to take a turn too late or have no idea where they are because they are not travelling along a bus route. Driving enables people to understand the layout of a city better. Getting lost is not a big deal when you are in a car, unlike if you take the wrong bus.

Not everybody needs a car. In fact, if you have spent time pondering life in rush hour traffic, you would believe that fewer people should actually drive. But that does not change the fact that cars are one of the most valuable technologies of the past century. Traffic is the pulse of a city and we need to help it beat. Knowing how to drive is the ability to see how a city functions. It’s a language we should all understand.

The millennial priority shopping lists

Photo illistration by Joel McCarthy

Five things you should purchase if you actually have money

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published by The Other Press. January 27, 2015

Youth is wasted on the young, but money shouldn’t be. I know we might be a little strapped for cash here at the moment, but that is not going to be the case forever. We have our five-year plan and all our investments are in order. No time to worry about the future. That’s why we should take advantage of our current disposable income. The question is, what should we actually spend it on? Booze? Rent? Food? Those are all legitimate options, but here are my top five purchases to make if you are lucky enough to get a sudden influx of cash.

Plane ticket to anywhere: Any extra money I have I deposit into a saving fund dedicated to plane tickets and other traveling expenses. I’m passionate about traveling and I can’t imagine my life without the anticipation of another trip. Instead of spending money on more things around the house, I choose to go somewhere, see something new, and create worthwhile memories and experiences. There will come a day when I won’t get the opportunity to travel, but before then I want to see as many different places and experience as many different cultures as possible.

Better, healthier meals: It’s easy to get into the habit of eating poorly. Fast and unhealthy food is convenient and cheap and that is why we gravitate to it. When we receive some extra cash, why are we still making excuses not to eat healthier or fancier? Buy some vegetables or go to a restaurant that requires reservations. I enjoy fine dining as much as I enjoy McDonald’s. I have to tip more at one, and that is why I’m not a regular at Tojo’s, but I like treating myself and my friends and family to an evening of extravagance when I can.

New furniture (especially bed): Nothing symbolizes growing up like purchasing your own furniture. The day you decide to throw away your parents’ hand-me-downs and go shopping with the mission to create your own space is a monumental milestone that many people fail to commemorate. Obviously you can get by with what you have. You know, the couch from Craigslist, the table from your aunt’s garage, and the cheap, squeaky IKEA chair that pretty much grew up with you. I don’t care how sentimental you are, things get old, and you deserve new furniture that represents your taste.

New “comfy” pair of shoes: Few things in the world can guarantee to ruin your day: missed opportunities, regrettable comments or actions, and painful shoes. You might have one pair of shoes, you might have a thousand pairs, but what is important is that you have at least one comfortable pair of shoes. If you have one, then buy another one. Buy one in every style that you need. If it’s not comfortable, throw it away! Live a life where every step is enjoyable.

New technology: If you are the kind of person that says, “Yep, the Motorola flip phone from 2006 is still good for me, I don’t need smartphones,” then there may be no saving you. Technology is here to make our lives better. For it to improve we must continue using it, even as consumers. We must continue learning from it. We might not be the innovators, but we should be able to identify with the latest software and certain standards of technology usage. So buy a new desktop, buy a new tablet, and subscribe to digital media. There is a whole world out there waiting to be explored.

Ben by Elliot Chan

Buy it HERE! 

Cover Ben1

Book Description:

A sheltered young man sets off on a trip to South East Asia in an effort to escape his business-oriented father and his pretentious North American lifestyle. The hot sun, the bug bites, and a man who calls himself Ben lead him through the lust, ecstasy, and agony of a life too far from home.

 

Origin of the book:

In 2011, I drained most of my savings into a five-week-long backpacking trip to South East Asia with my friends, Antoine and Michael. It was my first real experience traveling outside of North America, and needless to say, I was anxious and over-the-top excited. I even purchased a camera to documented my trip in a “travel show” style I’ve grown to adore. Sadly due to my sprained knee, gum infection, and acute case of homesickness, I only managed to film the first three weeks of my trip. I entitled the series The Chronicles of Elliot Chan.

Here is the first episode:

Here we encounter a landslide:

And here we visit an elementary school in Bayombong, Philippines:

The trip was exactly what the 22-year-old me needed. I learned more about myself in those five weeks than I did in my five years of high school. Sparked with new inspiration, I wrote Ben, a novella about a boy who finds himself alone in a foreign country, clinging onto a friendship as strange as the culture and landscape. Far from autobiographical, the novella was an exploration to seek out all the things I hated while traveling. It’s hard to confront the same challenges back home, and I miss those minor/major inconveniences of living in a place where I was ignorant to the directions and languages. My trip was hard, and I regret giving up when I really could have kept on going. This story was my way of facing my disappointments head-on.

Ben is available for purchase on Amazon.