A San Diego college student with dreams of one day working for the International Olympic Committee decided now is his time: on a whim, he quit his job and traveled to Brazil to experience the 2016 Rio Games.
His friends call him crazy. His family begged him not to go. But San Diego State University junior Drew Danzeisen, 22, booked his tickets anyway, putting his resourcefulness to the test by trekking to Rio de Janeiro.
“I’ve seen everything down here, in just a week,” he told NBC 7’s Steven Luke in Rio.
Danzeisen said he worked overtime to get himself to Brazil.
“Worked six or seven nights a week, put my time in and did some double shifts and, at the end, I quit my job a few weeks ago to come down here,” he explained.
Unable to convince any of his friends to venture along, Danzeisen said he started cold-calling strangers to plan his trip and find a place to stay.
“I was actually doing research before I got out here on LinkedIn and email, and trying to find every connection I could find going down here by myself,” he said.
His legwork paid off.
Soon, the student connected with an Olympics volunteer who offered him a cheap, available room in Rio. Further networking got Danzeisen into press conference. He even lucked into a free ticket into the Rio 2016 Opening Ceremony on Aug. 5.
The college student also scored free travel gear, a money belt, a 360-degree camera and a backpack with a solar panel to charge his phone - telling the makers he'd promote them during his adventure.
But traveling alone on a college student budget means skipping meals and using public transportation. Danzeisen said the trip from the airport to his room – about 20 miles – took him four hours.
“I’ve been home at 3:30 in the morning the past few nights just cause of transportation,” he told NBC 7.
Danzeisen said he doesn’t know Portuguese, so he’s had to wing it with the language barrier.
“Walking around the streets, it has been kind of sketchy, not knowing Portuguese but I’ve gotten some key words to get around,” he added.
After this trip of a lifetime to the Rio Games – and with his passion to work for the International Olympic Committee burning as bright as the Olympic torch – there’s one Portuguese phrase that sums up Danzeisen’s adventure: “Sonho Realizado,” which, in Brazil, means dream come true.