College Student Spends Financial Aid on Trip to Thailand with his Girlfriend
They say travel is the best form of education.
When Brian Lerry received his $2,500 financial aid check in the mail, he decided to surprise his girlfriend with a trip to Thailand.
"Financial aid has always helped out with school and rent," Lerry explained to InsideEdition.com.
But this year, the California State University: Long Beach student said he received more than he expected.
He decided to surprise his girlfriend Natalie Kremer, who has never been out of the country, on a month-long trip: "We sort of view traveling as an educational experience no book or travel can ever teach you."
"We always saw these pictures and wanted to be there so bad, and we asked ourselves, 'Why not?'" Lerry told IE.com. "There's always going to be something in your way, stopping you from doing what you can do."
To make sure she had her passport ready in time, he suggested prior to the surprise that they both apply for passports: "I made a date out of it. I told her that it's a good idea we have a passport -- everyone has those."
He then bought the tickets in advance, and then surprised her ten days before they would leave for the trip.
"Wait," Kremer can be heard asking in the video, "why are you wearing a GoPro?"
When she realized what was going on, she can be seen dropping the tickets, and burying her face in her hands.
"It worked out better without the scheduling and the planning," Lerry told IE.com. "Once we were there, we did it day-by-day. We didn't have any hotels and hostels booked."
To take advantage of his film skills, Lerry even reached out to resorts, and offered to film advertisements in exchange for a stay at the resort.
Lerry said some of the highlights of their January trip included walking with elephants, and relaxing on a floating lake bungalow.
When Lerry and his girlfriend of one year returned from their trip, they uploaded their memories onto a joint Facebook page, OurVisualEscape.
"A lot of friends are super supportive, and they're amazed," Lerry said. "It's really cool that some complete strangers are totally inspired by us."
But, the video, titled "How I Spent My Financial Aid Like A Boss" is also being met with some backlash.
One person commented: "So you take your girl on a free vacation with taxpayer money...thousands of people actually need financial aid for school."
"You took money and wasted it on your selfish desires when it could have gone to a deserving student," another wrote.
In response, Lerry laughed it all off and said to IE.com: "Everyone is entitled to their [opinion]."
In a Facebook post responding to the angry comments, they write: "We are just two normal people who don't come from much but are both extremely passionate about seeing the world."