When you encourage your kids to choose their own adventure, crazy things happen. My now-graduated daughter offered to share her CLEP experience and where college without debt has taken her.
by Katie Frame (22 and a traveling!)
“I have an adventure prepared for us to go on and we’re going to do it together … we are travel buddies!”
I didn’t realize it until recently, but an adventure is what God has been setting me up for over the last several years, and this is what He’s been saying to me over and over and over again. I just haven’t really been hearing it until now.
I’ve never been good about seeing the happenings in my life as God-ordered and orchestrated. It’s been easy for me to follow the Lord with my head, but hard to follow with my heart. This makes the obedience part of “Christianity” more easy and straightforward, but I really stink at the relationship with God part. I’ve had this idea in my head that once I was saved, God was like, “Great! Now go out there, find your purpose, and DO something for Me.” Wow, does that lead to a lot of pressure and feelings of failure and defeat. When there is no immediate and visible results AND there isn’t an intimate relationship with God, there’s not a whole lot left at that point. Thank goodness that’s not how it is supposed to be! That would be frustrating and just plain rough. I’m learning that God doesn’t just send me out to DO things, rather He prepares me for it, and not only goes out WITH me, but He ENJOYS doing it with me. The end goal of what we DO TOGETHER isn’t results, nor is it how many people get saved, or how much gets accomplished, although that is probably inevitable. The end goal is an awesome relationship with God and enjoying the adventure of getting to know Him. Cheesy, I know 😉
“God is wooing a bride, not hiring a servant”. – Scott DeGroff
So what got me to this point? Actually, quite a bit. The purpose of this blog isn’t to convince anyone that homeschooling is best, or that how I did college is the only way to go. It’s just to share what I’ve been up to, because maybe it will be a great thing for you too.
The idea of going to high school and college always excited me. I loved the idea of going to football games, chatting with my friends in the halls on the way from class to class, buying a prom dress, and ultimately living in a dorm with an endless supply of activities filling every waking hour. My mom always laughs, because when she asked me in 6th grade what I wanted to get out of going to college, every single thing on my list was about my thriving social life. That never changed!
Now, I am 22, graduated from college, and am living out of a backpack in the Philippines working with girls rescued from the sex trafficking trade.
I earned my first college credits in 7th grade by passing an exam – the Introduction to Computers DSST exam to be exact. Over the next four years, as a “final exam” for many of my homeschool classes, my mom would have me take the CLEP or DSST exam associated with that course. By the end of 10th grade I had earned over 100 college credits (120 is the minimum for a 4-year degree). I am not a child genius by any stretch of the imagination, so don’t think you have to have superior mental capabilities to do this!
It was also at this time that I got really interested in psychology, partly because that is what my mom has a degree in, and partly because it’s fascinating to understand how people are wired and what makes them tick. I didn’t really appreciate or understand the purpose behind combining college credits with high school classes because I was still convinced that life would begin when I moved into a college dorm and had roommates! My mom just kept saying, “trust me” and buying me cans of whipped cream to eat al a carte as a woo-hoo for successfully passing another exam. Okay, mom…. But I still want to go to college football games, ok?….
In 11th and 12th grade I enrolled in college through PSEO (Post Secondary Education Option), and my one beautiful semester at community college was the closest thing to a “college experience” that I got. My friend Crystal would pick me up in her air-conditionless car and we’d head off to Public Speaking and Interpersonal Communication, Written Business Communication, and Public and Personal Health. Pretty sure my mom has a picture of us with our thumbs up in front of Crystal’s car on our “first day of school”. At the end of 11th grade, I earned an Associates in Business and had completed all my 100 and 200-level classes and several upper-level classes. In my senior year of high school, I finished my upper-level courses, taking them online from a MN university and finished high school/college at 18 years old with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and zero college debt. Mom likes to say that my college education cost as much as my middle school braces did.
So now what?
Throughout high school I played sports at a local charter school. I was always having friends over to our house, loved exploring downtown Minneapolis, worked part-time at a fitness club, and loved life. But I was still failing to see all the benefits and blessing from the unusual college education I’d been given. In my eyes, all my friends were “going to college” and leaving me behind, and I didn’t know what to do. The next logical step in the normal “adulting cycle” was to get a job and move out. Okay…
I was not quite sure what I wanted to do for a career, but I absolutely loved everything about the fitness club I was working at, so I decided to get certified as a Personal Trainer so I could switch departments from Member Services to Personal Training. Ten months later I was a NASM certified Personal Trainer, Corrective Exercise Specialist, and Performance Enhancement Specialist, and started building my client base. Ninety-percent of personal training is absolutely fabulous. I loved loved loved all the people I got to work with, enjoyed seeing them not only lose weight, but improve their quality of life, and was intrigued that I could put both my business and psychology degrees to work to make this happen. The other 10% of PT is absolutely awful. 5AM mornings and 100% commission was stressful for me and would often put me in tears. Moving up in management seemed to be a good way to further my career and make more money, so I started working toward that. It didn’t take too long to realize that was not what I wanted.
So what did I want? I was 20, a college graduate, working full-time for the last year and a half, yet I just kept thinking, “There has to be more to life than this. Is this really going to be the next 40 years of my life? But what else is there? A different job? My own apartment? What?”
After a failed idea to spontaneously move to Colorado, getting bored with searching for another job and not finding anything that sounded more appealing, and building up more stress at work, I was frustrated. Not necessarily unhappy, just dissatisfied with life.
Around this time, the Bible study I was in started a study called Remembering the Forgotten God by Francis Chan. We also read Wild Goose Chase by Mark Batterson. These rocked my world! The intro to Wild Goose Chase goes like this:
Celtic Christians had a name for the Holy Spirit–An Geadh-Glas, or ‘the Wild Goose.’ The name hints at mystery. Much like a wild goose, the Spirit of God cannot be tracked or tamed. An element of danger, an air of unpredictability surround Him. And while the name may sound a little sacrilegious, I cannot think of a better description of what it’s like to follow the Spirit through life. I think the Celtic Christians were on to something…
Most of us will have no idea where we are going most of the time. And I know that is unsettling. But circumstantial uncertainty also goes by another name: Adventure!
Looking back, I realize that other things were happening at the same time I was searching for something fulfilling –
- Since a lot of my friends were away at college I was becoming more independent and was actively searching out new friends. I was getting more comfortable doing things on my own and putting myself out there.
- A few of my personal training clients would talk quite a bit in our hour of training together about their travels around the world. It definitely spiked my curiosity and sounded amazing, but wasn’t something I really considered for myself.
- My dissatisfaction was growing which prompted a HUGE change, not just a small one.
So, the Holy Spirit wants to lead me on a crazy adventure and at this point I am ready for one…. Then, I woke up one morning to an email from a Working Holiday Organization with the subject line: “You Could be Working in New Zealand right now!” It sounded nice, but was too out there for me. I kind of joked about it to my mom and she said she thought I should do it. After quite a bit of back and forth thinking and some research I bought a plane ticket.
So what is a Working Holiday Visa? It’s one of the best things ever invented! Basically, it’s an agreement between two countries that allows young people (usually under 30) into the country for one year and gives them the ability to work while there. Currently, US citizens can go on a Working Holiday to New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Ireland, and South Korea.
I had no student loans to pay off (thanks, mom!), and I had been able to save quite a bit from living at home. Now I was really starting to appreciate her wisdom. Worst case scenario, I fail or hate it and come home, right? So, off I went to New Zealand knowing no one, jobless, and only my first week booked in a hostel. See y’all in a year, friendsies!
It took me about a month to find a job, move from a hostel in to a flat with roomies (best roomies ever too! Shout out to you!), and buy a car. I was set. Over the next year I worked at four different paid jobs, working for food and accommodation at what is considered ‘the Eighth Wonder of the World’, and traveling across the country meeting people from all over the world. My mom got to come visit me and meet all of my flatmates and friends when we hosted a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Though, not one of them was from the US and none of them had celebrated Thanksgiving before!
About three months into my NZ travels, I realized that I would not be home in a year as I had originally planned. World travel would probably consume the next several years of my life. I’m pretty sure Mom and Dad are thinking, “What have we done??!”
Over that first year, I became extremely grateful and appreciative for the opportunity to do college like I did. My mom definitely had a bigger vision than 7th grade me, dreaming about playing intramural sports and having movie nights in my dorm. I could probably count on my fingers, and maybe one or two toes, the number of Americans I met in New Zealand. I’m convinced that a major piece of why they are not out there traveling like the young people of other countries is because the majority of 20-year-olds are stuck in college debt and the cycle of needing to get a job pronto to start paying off loans. So they never get the opportunity or think they have the option to do something else. Such a bummer!
After 9-months in New Zealand, it was time to pick a new destination. For the last four months, I have been living in the Angeles City, Philippines, which is the second largest sex tourism destination in the world. I get to be here volunteering with Bella Goose Coffee and Wipe Every Tear who exist to rescue girls from the sex trade, providing them with a safe house, free education, and life skills. In a few short weeks, I will be meeting my brother Levi (yep, degree with no debt!) in Singapore and we’re going to spend the next few months together backpacking through South East Asia. I’ll go home in May for Levi’s wedding, and will probably stay at home and work for the summer. After that? Maybe a new country!
The last few months have been a huge time of learning and so, so good for my relationship with the Lord. I’m realizing that the purpose of these adventures isn’t for me to just have fun, and it isn’t just a vehicle for me to do things FOR God while He watches and gets disappointed when I fail or the results I have hoped for don’t appear. It’s God saying,
“I have an adventure prepared for us to go on, and we’re going to do it together … We’re travel buddies.”
**You can read all about my New Zealand adventure and what I’m doing now on my blog Frame My World. If you have questions about anything I wrote about, want some travel resources, or just want encouragement, you can find me on FB and message me.