Brian Kung (AB ’11, East Asian languages and cultures) describes to his friend, Sarah Farrukh (senior, journalism), his decision to live part of a school year in a car.
Sarah Farrukh: So, Brian. I heard that during your fifth year here at the University, you lived out of your car during the fall semester. Can you tell me about the experience?
Brian Kung: Well, I figured being a part-time student and needing the money, I could cut rent out of the equation. So I did. I planned as far as I could ahead of time, in terms of meals, where I would stay, where I would park my car, how I would obscure the windows. And everything was uneventful, except for 1) in which I was awoken at 3 a.m. by someone who was under some sort of influence and 2) when it got cold.
Farrukh: So, what kind of car did you live out of?
Kung: I lived out of a Corolla, which is a little four-door sedan. It’s hard to say what you take for granted until you have it taken away from you or you’re in circumstances, in my case, where you put yourself in the circumstances where you don’t have it. And in this case, living in my little sedan made me realize how valuable being able to sleep with your legs straight out is. It’s a small thing, but having a bed and being able to lay down is huge. It would be fine for maybe a week at a time. But then my joints would just start to ache like crazy, like I was already old. What I would do then was I would ask a friend if I could stay and that would work out the kinks for another week.
Farrukh: Where did you usually park your car?
Kung: My plan was to drive to Wal-Mart and park there to sleep, because they let people do it quite often. But Wal-Mart got way too inconvenient. It was seven miles away. It’s just too far. So I did that for the first couple of weeks, and then I just started going to the street parking in Urbana. Also, in the southwest, I think it’s Stadium [Street]. Stadium becomes something else west of Neil, I think. That turned out to be the ideal place because it was dark. You actually don’t find too many streets where it’s dark. And that just keeps you up all night.
Farrukh: So, why did you choose to live out of your car?
Kung: It was an economic decision. But it was also kind of homage to my parents and my grandparents who were immigrants. When they came here they basically didn’t have anything. And that was the state I wanted to live in. Not to say that my parents and grandparents lived out of their cars, but that’s what I wanted to experience. And I figured that doing that would make me a stronger person.