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Katelyn Avery

The Best of Europe?

By 2010, Europe No Comments

That’s the one question that people keep asking me: what was the best part of the trip? What was your favourite city?

Then I look like an idiot because I have no answer. How do you condense eight weeks into three or four sentences? Simple. You don’t. We learned so much I’m pretty sure it’s still oozing out my ears. The academic side of things was broadening, while the intrapersonal aspect deepened my perspective, pushing my limits and asking me to move past my comfort zone. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not so great with that whole expand-your-horizons gig. I also know that I have to continually try to change that in order to keep growing as a person. SSU in general is pretty good about pushing the comfort zone, but Europe intensified that so that when I came home the atmosphere was almost cramped: Wyoming is not exactly ethnically diverse (You’re either Dutch or not-Dutch).

Additionally, I almost forgot that the Europe trip doesn’t end when you come home. You’re processing the trip through an academic filter as you write paper after paper about this great big messy experience. Honestly, it’s a good thing that I have skoodles of work to do. It solidifies this whole process in my head and as I write these essays, I have to think critically about the things I’ve seen, which isn’t exactly easy to do in Florence when you have a nice lemon and chocolate gelato calling your name.

Still, I do all this thinking, sorting through this whole trip. You’d think I’d have a favourite part of the trip. Yeah, I thought so too. All I can say is that Florence was fabulous, Rome was awesome (but hoooot), Venice was interesting, Paris was PARIS, London…I could go on and on forever. It’s a real problem when someone wants a ten-second answer.

So. What’s your favourite part of Europe? 😀

A Recently Repeating History

By 2010, Europe No Comments

There is a week or so left in the trip. We’ve been in Barcelona, Rome, Zurich, and Paris. We’ve seen everything from art, to architecture,  to cathedrals, and made relevant connections between all of them. Still, this part of history that we’re seeing now is both old and new,  and strangely so. A week or so is a short amount of time but when I’m in a WWI museum, the time seems like an eternity. It grows longer when we visit the battlefields, when trees almost a hundred years old fail to hide the ugly, grass-graced craters. This is a part of our heritage that I haven’t recently thought of as rssecent. You never get the full picture from your high school history teacher, all you see are just snapshots.

But there is a strange, wholly Canadian pride that you feel while standing on Vimy Ridge (even if we admit that the French and Brits softened the place up a bit first). Canadians planned it, Canadians executed it, Canadians took it and paid the price without flinching. And I happen to be Canadian.

At the same time, this ridge, these museums and the monuments are hammering home the reality and the rawness of this war. It really wasn’t that long ago that humans declared the Great War to be the final war and that it could not happen again.

The reality is that the war did happen, and I guess I’m left wondering if something so unthinkable will come knocking on my door or the door of my children when the scars fade enough to resemble an untouchable memory of the past, like Rome or Greece.

So that leaves me – what can I do to keep it from ever happening again? It doesn’t have to be big. I just have to do whatever I’m capable of with all my heart so that someone like H.G. Wells doesn’t have to say “Every intelligent person in the world knew that disaster was impending and knew no way to avoid it.”

Katie Avery

Europe is a whirlwind kaleidoscope

By 2010, Europe No Comments

I guess the predominant thought on my mind recently is that I’m currently a skipping stone across the enormous ocean that is Europe. I’ve realized that in every city we’ve visited, there is enough history, culture and just stuff to do that we could probably spend the entire trip in that one location. In Barcelona there’s the Sagrada Familia, the Barcelona cathedral and a whole Catalan culture to be explored and learned. In Carcassonne, there’s the fortified city (I wanted a horse and a suit of armour to fill out the experience). Florence: the Santa Maria del Fiore, the leather market and hey, it’s Italy! Rome…ha. It’s Rome.

Therefore, this entire trip so far has consisted of me agonizing over which places to visit. I’ve had to pick and choose in order to adequately (not properly) experience a location and get even a basic understanding of something I have never experienced before. This is not the Asia trip at all, which was like being dumped into the deep end of a really unusual pool (with a life jacket, but it was still challenging). This is Europe, and I’m just skimming along, making notes in my journal about where I want to go again, when I’m all grown up and not paying off student loans.

By the way…as cool as Rome is, I don’t know if I want to go back. There is waaay too much traffic, too many vendors and too many kitschy tour guides demanding my attention. Wait, I fib. I do want to go back…way back, like 2000 years. In that sense, I’m a little sorry we’re not going to Pompeii. I’d forgotten that Rome was a modern day city with real people still living in it. And there are a lot of people in Rome, although St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican (totally crowded), the Forum, Pantheon and the Coliseum were all awesome experiences.

Europe is a whirlwind kaleidoscope with me hanging onto the edge, taking a zillion pictures and marvelling that all these people can live in such close proximity and not drive each other all insane. Divine intervention, I think that’s what it is.

Oh, and no matter which way you slice it, the traffic circles were scary. We’re not even in France yet!

Katie A.

The Road goes ever on and on…(cue Tolkien)

By 2010, Europe No Comments

Travel again. Europe this time, not Asia, and I have to admit I’m excited. I get to travel with some of the greatest people ever, ramble all over Europe, try new things, take oodles of pictures and be a care-free student.

At the same time, I know it’s not always going to be fun and tourism. Dachau, for example, is a sobering thought. Still, I wouldn’t avoid the concentration camp: it is a part of our history and I don’t want to close my eyes at all. Maybe I can want to see it all because I haven’t experienced anything to put it in perspective. I want to fully understand everything I can, even the parts that I may not find interesting at present.

So,  I feel like I’m in a state of expectation, waiting for it all to start, for it all to begin again. I’m caught in stasis, poking God and niggling at His big clock like a child. I really hope He finds it cute, because otherwise I’ve made a real nuisance of myself over the past few days 😉

Peanuts and steak?

By Uncategorized

I have now travelled the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and parts of Hong Kong. Do I feel like a traveller? Not really. It’s like the experiences are still too close for me to examine them clearly. I don’t really feel any different. I’m still paranoid about being out in the city at night and I’m not a huge fan of ethnic food. I mean, come on, Canadians do not mix peanuts and steak. But at the same time, I get the feeling that I have changed. I’m more confident about acting on my own. I’m not afraid to talk to someone who does not speak English (although confusion and hilarity may ensue). And I know the SSU people on the trip far better than I did before, which is a huge bonus.

Thailand is great. I am looking forward to the trip down to Bangkok and the Khon Dance should be great. But my heart says that all this time in great countries down here only reinforces my love for Canada and the people in it. To be completely honest, I want to come home to snow drifts and my quiet room in the Cave so that I can think really hard about all the new and exciting things that have buzzed past my eyes in Asia.

Hopefully then I’ll be able to organize the whole experience into coherent thought. I’d really like to know why they put peanuts in Pad Thai. It’s just too much crunch!

The Nuances of Philippine Food

By Uncategorized

I am a picky eater. I have distinct likes and dislikes. However, I went into this trip with the idea that I would try something of everything wthout turning my nose up and attempting to avoid wrinkling my nose. Therefore, to this point, I have tried mussels (yum), cooked carrots (which are usually my nemesis, but I wanted to be polite ), seaweed (crunchy green pipe cleaner. It was okay. Really salty), mangoes (so yummy) and a strange dessert which reminded me of the grade school horror shows we used to put on with dyed spaghetti and peeled grapes. In short, I am not starving here and the fish is delicious (and huge. You can eat as much as you like).

At the same time, I am experiencing a growing admiration for a people I did not know until a short time ago. They are unfailingly hospitable and friendly, even those I do not know. They wave to the tall white girl on the street and the kids want to run up and say hello. My host mother gave us the best of what she had and took us to visit her friends and family, incorporating us into her family as “ates” or sisters (although the youngest didn’t buy it. We were obviously aliens). I had a good conversation with the matriarch of the family, a wise great grandmother who was proud of the fact that she was an American citizen without ever having set foot in the US. Angela and I had a blast with the boys playing in the river. Talking to these modest people is a blessing, as I find a deep love for God in many of them, and those who do not actively pursue God have respect for people of faith. I like that attitude. I like it a lot. I wish we could see that same respect more often in our considerably faster-paced and cynical Canadian society.

Musings from a tangle of yarn – Katie Avery

By Uncategorized

Yeah, I know the title’s ridiculously fitting, especially when it comes from the girl who wanders all over SSU with knitting needles and yarn, but it’s true. I’m surrounded by this enormous tangle of yarn and am thoroughly frustrated by the knot that’s hiding in there somewhere. And that was supposed to be a break from the essay…either way, I felt like posting on a blog for the very first time ever (don’t I feel special!).

Anyway. Southeast Asia and what I think, huh? Well, it’s going to be a stretching experience. I don’t like stretching, really. It’s uncomfortable and generally involves talking to people when I don’t want to. At the same time, I’m not actually afraid or debilitatingly nervous. I would be lying if I said that I’m totally and completely comfortable leaving behind my culture, books and other creature comforts. But hey, that’s what the trip’s for, right? To stretch, to twist around our Canadian perspective until we’ve learned what it means to experience (in other words, we’re sick and tired of things that are new and strange). We sit in classes all day, write essays until our fingers fall off and learn that if you roll up your sleeves, you’re supposedly picking a fight. It all amounts to seven weeks of swimming (or doggie-paddling) in a culture that is totally foreign.

But in reality, this whole endeavour is to learn about a unique people that God has created and placed on this planet as our brothers and sisters. And since they’re our brothers and sisters, we should want to share with each other. It’s one of the things that I’ve picked up from SSU, where you share yarn, hot chocolate, advice, laughter, food and arguments (heck, Katie Ironside just interrupted me to borrow knitting needles). I guess you could say that’s the reason why I want to go to Asia. I want to learn how to stretch enough to appreciate and share someone else’s love for God, to know their culture and passion.

And who knows? Maybe I’ll learn a new passion. Maybe I’ll get to teach someone over there to knit! 😉

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