One recent morning, Munster resident Dima Sergiyenko awoke in a train compartment. The train, however, wasn't moving. It was stopped in an open field in Ukraine.
Rather than walk around and ask what happened, Sergiyenko picked up his camera and began talking to it and documenting this discovery. His speculation was the train had broken down. It was another section of his planned vlog on his trip from Warsaw, Poland, to Kiev, Ukraine.
"The train stopped in the open field is pretty normal," he remarked. "It was just crumbling old trains and infrastructure that didn't mix very well."
Eventually, he made it to Kiev, his original birthplace and where he lived until he was 5 years-old. Throughout that time, he documented images and videos of sights, food and experiences for his vlog and YouTube channel, Discover With Dima.
Sergiyenko started the channel in 2015 after returning from a family trip to South Carolina. He was inspired by other YouTube vloggers with followings such as Casey Neistat, FunForLouis and Mr. Ben Brown. As of this article's publishing date, he has 71 videos and 1,025 subscribers.
"At the time, I was really interested as to why someone would want to watch another individual go about their day and narrate it," he said. "But something had me come back. Maybe it was the realization that it was much more than them talking about their day."
Since then, Sergiyenko has jetted off to several countries and numerous cities, editing his images and audio together into informative vlogs. He likes to explore historic districts, architecture, monuments, parks and surrounding nature.
His travels have taken him far away to Barcelona, Spain, and Munich, Germany, but also U.S. destinations such as Boston and Key West, Florida. He'll even find the unique features of the Region through urban exploration in Gary's abandoned structures and hikes through the Dunes. Last year, he estimates he traveled about 25,000 miles through five different countries. His most recent trip took him to South America, where he visited Medillin, Colombia, and Lima, Peru. There's no particular way he chooses where to go — usually what proves most cost-effective at the time.
However, Sergiyenko doesn't credit this as typical, young wanderlust.
"To an extent, I've always been traveling throughout most of my life and like most people I took plenty of pictures and videos of my trips," he said. "I am trying to make it a way of life. Something I can eventually call a career and make a living off of."
Each trip also comes with its proper preparation. Aside from itineraries, Sergiyenko is mindful of costs with flights and where to spend his nights. He makes notes in his videos during his purchases of the currency he used equated with the exchange rate in U.S. dollars.
"For instance, instead of going out to eat every day, you can shop at a grocery store and make homemade sandwiches and drinks for much, much cheaper than it would be to go out," he said. "In some countries I am fortunate enough to be able to go out and spend money on food while in others I have to watch my costs more closely."
Language barriers also can prove frustrating, but Sergiyenko feels aided by his fluency in Russian and German.
"I can speak at most maybe a few words or phrases in Spanish, so coming to Colombia and Peru has definitely given me an interesting experience to say the least," he said. "But with a little bit of Google translate, luck, help from my friend, Mark, and some ingenuity, we've been able to get along with the people in South America very well."
Sergiyenko sometimes brings friends with him. One was Krista Zagar, a Munster native now living in Elkhart. Zagar joined Sergiyenko on an expedition to Vancouver and Victoria, Canada. The two met while they were students at Munster High School.
I was honored (to join him in Canada)," Zagar said. "When he came up with the idea, I was completely on board. I’m constantly impressed with his progress, editing skills and how it gets better with each video. I think he’s very informative. He likes to spit bursts of information throughout his vlog, and that keeps it interesting and he’s not just lecturing the whole time."
Zagar also feels that taking advantage of travel opportunities while young is key.
"It’s important for us as young adults to travel as much as you can and learn as much as you can," Zagar said. "America’s great, but you really get a different taste of the world by traveling."
Sergiyenko said he wants to do this for as long as he can, and that should future domestic responsibilities arise, he'll try to incorporate his vlogging as best as possible.
"I have been able to look back on my older videos from a year ago and remember exactly what I was thinking in that moment, the minute details of what I ate or even what kinds of conversations I had with people in my video," he said. "It's fun to look back and reminisce about the good times and adventures. I would want my audience to not only learn more about different cultures and places, but also be able to experience a place they might never get the chance to visit. You don't always have to travel outside of your own country to visit a new place — sometimes they are just a few hours or so away and you might not even know about it."