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All Posts By

danbeaudoin

One Well Rounded Individual Please

By | 2011, Europe | No Comments

Since returning home I have tried to devote at least a little bit of time each day, or each week towards processing my trip.  There is so much that happened, so much that I did, and so much that I learned that it is no small task to look back on it all.  During one of these processing times I was reflecting on the wide range of interests that people who were on this trip had.  I was thinking back on how so many people were passionate about at least one thing that they had encountered on the trip.  These passions included things like, art, music, history, humanitarian issues, etc.  But what made it so special was that it was usually something more specific instead of a broad category.  What I realize, having now viewed things from a distance, is that I learned how to appreciate some of these things simply because others appreciated them.  Where I would usually be disinterested and bored, for example the opera, or Picasso’s work, I was able to at least appreciate the fact that someone else found it interesting.  Instead of being resistant to these things, I gradually learned to accept them and share in others excitement over them.  I can see my progression from the annoying guy who keeps criticizing something he doesn’t like to the one who asks questions and engages with the person who is excited about it.  Not only does this help with my interactions with other people, but it also helps me to learn about things that I normally would avoid.  I like to think it makes me a little bit more well rounded, if it is even possible to be more well rounded than I already am…

Daniel

Vimy

By | 2011, Europe | No Comments

The other day we went to Vimy Ridge on our way to our campsite in Belgium.  I had always heard about the monument and the battle that went on here, but I really didn’t quite know what to expect.  The area was beautiful and peaceful, but had a heaviness to it.  Walking around you could still see the evidence of the battles, the landscape riddled with small and large craters.  It was incredible to think that at one point there were trenches everywhere with young men huddled together waiting for the next offensive, or the next wave of enemy soldiers.  To think of the conditions they would have lived in, with mud and rats and body parts littered everywhere, it makes me wonder how people are able to live through it.  The sacrifice of all those soldiers is incredible and thought provoking and it is heartrending to hear of how many people were killed in the battle.  Like so many of the other war sites we have seen, being at Vimy and following the steps of those who have been there before me, has made it real to me and helped me to wrap my head around the reality of what took place.


Dan

The Euro Food Trip

By | 2011, Europe | No Comments

I have come to realize on this trip (more so than I had before)  just how important food is to me?.  When people asked me what I was looking forward to most about the trip, I would say the food.  I always thought that seemed like a trivial thing to be looking forward to but not anymore.  I just really like food, and I like eating local dishes.  Nothing wrong with that, right?  One of my favourite and most memorable experiences on this trip so far was in Florence at a small hole in the wall place.  We had just spent a few hours in the Uffizi and were hungry, so we went to a small restaurant that we had seen the other day.  It was run by an old Italian couple and their son, and the food was delicious.  We were only going to have a light lunch, but a light lunch turned into a 4 course meal.  I found out that Florentines are very well know for their steak (which I must say, was one of the best steaks I have ever had), and that they make mille-feulle almost as good as the French.  It was also just really nice to sit for 2 and a half hours relaxing and talking with friends.  The way Europeans eat is something I want to take back to Canada with me.  Meals should take some time to prepare, and take even longer to eat.  In North America we are so fast paced that we toss something in the microwave, sit down for 10 to 20 minutes, and then move on to the next thing.  Sitting and eating shouldn’t feel like a waste of time, but a perfect way to enjoy yourself and spend quality time with friends and/or family.  Food is a passion of mine, I realize this now.

Dan

Return

By | 2010, Asia | No Comments

Q: How was your trip?

A: It was great.

A generic answer to a generic question, but there is so much more to my trip than that.  Once people dig a little deeper and show some genuine interest in my past two months, I open up.  “It was great” then turns into “Well, this one time when I was in Thailand…”, and things start to get interesting.  People then start to find out about all the awesome experiences I had and all the great people I met.  As I get going more and more stories pop into my mind which lead to more stories and more stories and… well you get the picture.  A lot can happen in two months, and a lot did happen.  New friendships were formed, old ones made stronger, life lessons learned, and stories stories, stories.  Besides all of the “fun stuff”, there was also that little tiny part of the trip called education, which really wasn’t a little tiny part of the trip.  It was a HUGE part of the trip.  I am pleasantly surprised with how much I remember about the history, economics, politics, social structures, etc of the countries I visited.  I know for a fact that unless I had experienced what I learned it would mostly be lost by now.  We all know how it is.  You learn something in a lecture and then a few weeks later it is gone.  But with this trip it was like information was forced to stay with me before it had a chance to leave.  I would learn about Thai culture and then go live with a Thai family.  I would learn about the different hill tribes and their struggles and then go live with those very people for a few days.  This trip has shown me the value of experiential learning and that it is a more holistic approach to learning.  I learned so much academically, but I learned equally as much about myself and others.  So now all that is left to say is… Europe trip here I come.

Daniel

Monk Friend

By | 2010, Asia | No Comments

One Friday on our trip we were all brought to a temple to teach English to a group of Buddhist monks. The interaction was a little awkward at first while we tried to feel out their level of English and figure out what we should be teaching them.  After a while we got comfortable with one another and started to have some fun with it.  Once we were done,  it was time for the monks to go have lunch.  As we were walking back to our songthaew (these little red pickup trucks that we always drive around in) a monk (who was also a teacher) struck up a conversation with me.  By the time we had arrived back at the vehicles I had been invited by him to show me around the temple area, which was also an elementary/high school for monks.  Everyone else loaded into the trucks, but I stayed behind and visited with my new friend.  After a while we walked to his room where we had some lunch and watched a movie.  While I was sitting there, I was blown away by just how lucky I am.  There I was sitting in the room of a Buddhist monk at a temple eating instant noodles and watching some Jaws knock off.  I had never in a million years thought that I would find myself in a situation anywhere close to this.  A great part of this is just how comfortable I felt.  With some religions I find them very hard to grasp and even creepy or dark.  But with this Buddhist I felt almost at home.  We share so many morals in common,  yet we have very different reasons for having them.  I also have a great deal of respect for this guy.  He is trying to live at a high moral standard.  Isn’t this what all Christians are trying to do?  Or at least say they are trying to do?  Although I believe that he is missing some key elements such as God, Jesus, and the very important concept of grace, he is trying to do just that, which is a lot more than a lot of “Christians” can say.

Dan

Student Connection

By | 2010, Asia | No Comments

It seems that no matter where you go in the world, students everywhere share something very special in common.  We are all seeking to learn more about the world around us through our fields of study.  Some of us do better with sciences, and others with the arts, but either way we all share this common goal.  It was one particular situation in which I found myself that provided me with this revelation.  I had agreed to go shopping with two of the girls on our trip (big mistake), meaning I had agreed to stand around waiting for a few hours.  While waiting a friendly Iranian man named Rizal struck up a conversation with me.  The conversation started off very generically with the typical “Where are you from?” and “What brings you to Malaysia?”.  As soon as Rizal found out that I was here for education he brightened right up and the conversation took off.  He began to explain to me that he had just finished his Masters in Engineering and was about to go study at one of the top five engineering schools in the world in the UK.  I was also fortunate enough to get a run down of some of the major problems facing Iran.  Although this little conversation had very little to do with South East Asia, it had everything to do with what this travel experience is all about: learning.  These situations, although never the same and sometimes awkward, happen all the time if you are open to them.  I have learned to appreciate and look forward to them because they are great sources of learning.

Travel Spirituality

By | 2010, Asia | No Comments

I feel as though my spirituality is different here in Malaysia than it is back home.  I don’t think it has changed, I think it is just that my awareness of spiritual experiences while traveling and the way I interact with God on the road is different than when I am at home.  When you are at home you are comfortable.  You are safe.  For the most part people and situations are not challenging your faith or the way you do things.  But when you are on the road you are bombarded with new ways of thinking, different religions, and strange ways of doing every day things.  It is not that these experiences are always hard or uncomfortable, it is that they get you thinking.  Some of these situations for me have been witnessing various people of different religions express their faith.  While in Malaysia I have been fortunate enough to enter a mosque, a Hindu temple, and a temple to the Chinese god of war.  I have also had many lectures and tours with Muslims and Hindus.  Their points of view, although not always far from my own, each have something obviously different about them.  These people come from a different place: culturally, historically, religiously, and geographically.  Interacting with them is like a rock being pushed up onto a beach by the waves.  It slowly smooths you out and refines you.  Sometimes the waves are small and soft, sometimes they are large and hard, and sometimes you will experience a storm.

For me personally, seeing the devotion and sincerity of Muslims and Hindus in Malaysia has challenged me to be just as devoted to my God as they are to their gods.  It has reignited in me a desire to live a life that reflects Jesus, and what better time to do this than in a country where Christianity is a minority.  There are two situations in particular that really contributed to this feeling.  One of these was witnessing Muslims praying in a mosque, and the other was walking through a Hindu temple as a few Hindus knelt before images and statues of their various gods.

The Foreign Students

By | 2010, Asia | No Comments

I arrived at the local university for the first time with my homestay brother who was approached by a student.  The student, seemingly ignoring my presence, asked my homestay brother “why the influx of foreign students?”  It was with this comment that I fully realized just how far from home I really was.  I was now the one who stood out, the one who looked different, the one who spoke with a weird accent, the one who ate differently, and probably the one who smelled funny.  The weird thing is, I love it.  Despite sometimes feeling uncomfortable with new situations, people staring at me, and sweating liters of water, I am learning so much about myself and others.  These things are all part of the experience.  I am being exposed to a side of the world that I have only ever heard stories about, or seen on the news.  I came here not knowing what to expect and have found that my new environment is filled with ruins, urban poverty, hospitable hosts, hectic roadways, exotic food, and a culture unlike my own.  I have only been in the Philippines for 9 days and can already tell that being here is changing me.  I love it.

Dan