Every year, roughly 80,000 travelers from at least ninety countries pass through the doors of HI New York City, the largest hostel in the Americas. Each week, Narratively’s Daniel Krieger will spend a few hours in the landmarked building on New York’s Upper West Side, listening to their stories for our Hostel People series.

Who: Miloš Tirnanić, 23, Vršac, Serbia

Why did you come to NYC? New York is the capital of the world. It’s the place everyone wants to be at some point in their lives. I’m from a small town in Serbia, one hundred percent the opposite of New York. But I like how New Yorkers talk loud enough in public that you can hear their conversations. It looks like people here are free to live their lives by their own rules. That’s how I like to live.

HI New York City
HI New York City

Once when I was a kid there was a toy store that had this big dinosaur that I really wanted. But my parents couldn’t afford it. During the war in Serbia, nobody had money. I decided then that I would make so much money that I could buy one million of those toys for my kids. And that’s why I got this tattoo of a dinosaur on my arm last year. It represents revolt, hunger for achievement and freedom.

How did you achieve the freedom to live by your own rules? When I was eleven years old, I started learning graphic design. And when I was fourteen, I had my first project, from a client in the U.S. Then three years ago, I went on vacation to Switzerland and did some graphic design and website work while I was there, and I thought, “Why don’t I do this regularly?” Traveling and working. I realized I could.

I can’t think of a better lifestyle. I have the freedom to go anywhere anytime I want. I work at least five hours a day when I’m traveling. I love my work, so it’s not hard for me to do that. If I get bored, I can go somewhere tomorrow. So far, I’ve done this in Europe, Africa and Asia, and now it’s my first time in the U.S.

A few months ago, I went to China. One day I woke up and worked for a few hours in the morning and then decided to go see the Great Wall. I walked on it for a while and then went back to my hotel and did some more work. That was a typical day for me. I don’t usually plan in advance. Once, in Serbia, I had a dream about being in Amsterdam, and the next day I called my friend and said, “Hey, let’s go to Amsterdam for a week.” That’s how it works. I just think, “Oh, I want to go there.” And I go.

* * *

Come back to Narratively next Wednesday for more Hostel People.

This interview has been edited and condensed. HI NYC management has granted permission for this project, but plays no role in shaping the stories and has no affiliation with Narratively.

Daniel Krieger

Daniel Krieger, a contributing editor at Narratively, is a freelance journalist in New York. He contributes to The New York Times and his work has also appeared in Fast Company, Wired, Slate, Salon, and New York magazine.