All Posts By

Ariel Castle

Slow Down

By | 2014, Europe | No Comments

Sometimes you don’t know what to say or how to process all of the things you are feeling and thinking. I will be honest and say that beginning to process this trip has proven to be a challenge on par with experiencing the trip itself. I do not believe I have felt more alone in my entire life than I have these past few weeks. When I was traveling throughout Europe with thirty people I was irritated with the lack of privacy and space; now that I am home I am surprised by how much I miss all of the beautiful people that I had the pleasure of spending the last two months with. I have been in a rut, one that has encompassed the normal day functions of life and has made it seem impossible to complete my homework as the last thing I desire is to dig deeper into my post-trip feelings. Now I must do so.

I spent the first few days at home in a whirl of feelings that I wanted to ignore: what’s my purpose? Is it to binge watch gossip girl? Probably not.. ha. Now that this initial moping has passed I am ready to continue my life and work towards the things that drive me. At first I thought this meant jumping on the next international flight I could find a seat on and continuing my adventures without taking the time to slow down and face the mundane. I realize now that this is not the answer. For me at the moment I think being home is about moving forward and allowing myself to enjoy the mundane. Today I met a guy on an adventure himself, he is biking across the coast and we began to talk about how people can live in a town their whole life and never appreciate the beauty of it; I do not want to be one of those people. If I wasn’t forced to slow down from time to time I don’t know if I ever would. This reminds me to be thankful for my homework and a small coastal town that has supported me in my travels and welcomes me home with open arms after every return.

A Window and a Passing Moment

By | 2014, Europe | No Comments

A few months before I left my home in St. Stephen, New Brunswick I learned a new word: ‘sonder’ “the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.” As I am approaching the end of my journey across Europe this word has come alive to me, and has become my travel companion as I continue into the future. I have now been to seven of the nine countries I will be visiting in Europe and in each one I have been striving to take a glimpse into the window of the life of others. I have had moments of true connection both with the peers on my trip and complete strangers, to me these moments have been more enriching than any trip to a museum, or lecture I have attended. There is so much I could say about this time of growth and transition in my life, but the words do not want to flow. Two months in Europe with thirty other people on a bus is an exhausting experience, I am tired of tents, bugs, living out of my backpack, and never getting a good night’s rest but none of this can compare to how utterly grateful I am. I have been given an experience to learn and am walking away with wider eyes (both for the extreme beauty and terrible hatred in this world), as well as ears that want to listen, and a mouth that is beginning to appreciate the beauty of sometimes remaining shut. My trip to Europe has changed me but not in the ways I expected it to, my change has come in the subtle and humble idea of “sonder“ and a bigger heart for the lives of those I may never meet who simply wish to be seen.

As easy as A,B,C

By | 2012, Asia | No Comments

The more we travel the more I learn how unique each place is. In Southeast Asia, each country is comparable to a new world. Currently, we are in  Thailand.

The difference between the Philippines and Thailand is almost shocking. There are huge differences in people, architecture, religion, the amount of English, and more.
What I have found to be the most challenging in Thailand has been communication. Although there have been a lot of moments that creativity through communication has been shown, there is one in particular I want to share.
The Homestay family I’m staying with includes a six year old boy with the nickname Dia. Dia does not speak very much English and is just starting to learn.  I speak less Thai. And although we cannot understand each other he is determined to talk to me.
Most nights as Dia does his homework he comes and finds me, grabs my hand and leads me to the living room. We have begun sharing language together. One of us will draw a picture and the other will say either the Thai or English word. Other times I’ll read him a story in English and he will try to read it back in Thai.
These simple moments of sharing through our language barrier has been one of my favourites on the entire trip. I have learned through Dia’s determination to communicate, that communication is possible when you are willing to take the time. So, thank you Dia and thank you all for reading.

Bittersweet Goodbye

By | 2012, Asia | No Comments

“Malaysia: Truly Asia” is something us Asia students have been hearing a lot of lately. This government endorsed catch phrase refers to the diversity of Malaysia.

 Yes, Malaysia is extremely rich with diversity ranging from ethnicity, religion to food, and more. And although individual ethnic groups have their own strong identities, a sense of united national identity is simultaneously being formed in Malaysia.
I was talking to a local Malaysian girl I met and she told me that she calls herself simply Malaysian (not Chinese Malaysian, or Indian Malaysian, ect.). She said many Malaysians are doing the same in an effort to build unity.
Looking back on these few days, that passed too quickly, I feel blessed to have met all of the local people I have. Hearing and learning about Malaysia from Malaysians has made the experience much deeper for me.
There have been many small moments that have meant the world to me. These moments made me feel connected with people at home –  all the way across the world –  giving me a sense of home here in Malaysia.
Honestly, I have not experienced much culture shock. I thought I would, but being here feels so right to me.
I would gladly stay for much longer, possibly even live here. Each day I have fallen more deeply in love with all that is Malaysia.
Although I am extremely excited to be heading to the Philippines tomorrow,  my heart aches a bit to say goodbye. For me I think it is more of a, “see you later” than a goodbye. So, until next time Malaysia.