Jumping into a trip like this is an adventure, being able to take a community mobile for two months is a feat. When I started this trip I had many thoughts of how a trip like this one would go and what I would see. My expectations have been met fully, I feel very privileged to be on a trip like this being able to see so many wonderful places, taste amazing food and meet interesting people from many places has been very cool.
Living life and having adventures is so important, Donald Miller talks about this idea in his newest book. The experiences you have enable you to have an adventure live your story and be able to learn from these experiences. I have been thinking about the idea of living my story trying to take on everyday and experience new things. This trip has been that adventure I was very excited leading up to it, now I am living it and experiencing it and I am thankful for this privilege.
Walking through the WWI site Vimmy Ridge is a great example of experience as a student of history I have read a great deal about this event. Being able to actually go there and experience the places, see the monument and talk to the people was so important. It helped me to make strong connections about the significance of Canadians and the first World War. Looking toward the end of this two month adventure I look forward to experiencing the city of London and continuing the adventure.
Being able to travel once again I find myself feeling very privileged to be able to go to so many wonderful places, and experience so much. I am really looking forward to spending time in the different cities, visiting art galleries and spending time learning about European culture. I have wanted to travel to Europe for some time. These cities are so important, the history is so rich and there is so much tradition and culture. Spending time with so many of my friends for the second time will be a real privilege as well. I am so thankful that I will be able to spend my summer traveling through Europe seeing amazing sites. Places that holds such importance within culture and are so rich with history is amazing. Spending an afternoon in a wonderful city like London or Paris will be fantastic, It is slowly starting to become a reality that in less than twenty four hours from now I will be on a plane bound for Spain.
Returning home to Canada has been very bitter sweet, I found my self standing in the airport in Toronto and having everything feel foreign to me, seeing so many people of the same race as myself. After coming home from Southeast Asia I found it very strange to be back and slipping into a routine. No longer needing to negotiate prices when I am at the store, being surprised at just how expensive things are. Life in Canada seems very easy compared to being abroad. I no longer need to worry about the quality of the water that I am drinking or drinking massive amounts of it. I am still finding my self wanting to remove my shoes when I enter a house am amazed me at the amount of clothing that I am able to chose from each morning; I am no longer confined to just whatever is in my backpack. Being able to comprehend that I have just come home from the longest trip that I have ever been on has been interesting, it is still hitting me that I have just spent eight weeks on the road flying across the world to experience Southeast Asia. Swimming in the South China Sea, climbing the second largest mountain in SEA, or riding bicycles through thousand year old temple ruins has been quite a reality check. I feel very privileged to have been able to go to Southeast Asia and travel with awesome people and just experience new and wild things. This was a trip that would not have been on the top of my list had I had a choice in the location, but the more that I was there, the more that I was thankful that I was there living in the moment and experiencing such wonderful things.
Being home and seeing my family and friends once again has been so wonderful, but at the same time I have found it hard to relate to someone that has not experienced a trip like this. Trying to integrate back into what is considered normal life by North American Standards has been challenging. You are able to experience so much on a trip like this, then you return and life is the same as when you left. It is strange to return and know that you will be staying in the same place for more then a week and you will have hot water for a shower and that it will be clean. You are not faced with the task of always guarding your backpack, passport and camera or at least the fear of misplacing it is much less.
Finishing up school and getting ready to shift gears into summer has been an exciting time. The tedious taks of searching for a summer job, trying your best to convince someone two thousand kilometres away that you are worthy of a position, and yet really wanting not to work for the summer but go on new adventures presents a challange. But then reality once again hits you and you realize that being in school is almost like a vacation in that I was able to travel this semester and spend time on the beach and see and do so many awesome things that working for a few months does not seem as bad. Knowing that I will be able to travel again soon enough, I look forward to that, once again living out of a backpack, sleeping on airport floors, long bus rides and not really caring where you are sleeping as long as it is warm. This is my personal expericne with travel and being in the best undergraduate program in Canada! (That is in my personal opinion, of course).
Homeward bound is a good way to describe how I feel at this very moment. Don’t get me wrong, I have really enjoyed this trip. It has stretched me and presented many challenges so in a way that has been really rewarding. But there comes a point when you are just ready to sleep in your own bed,even though it’s not really your own bed, it is SSU’s.
Being on this trip has really taught me to appreciate the small things, and a further appreciation for those who have to travel for a living. Before coming on this trip I had a very romantic idea about travel. Now that I have experienced it the rose coloured glasses have been removed and I am able to see the world for what it really is. Travel is not always easy and cultures are different than the one that is my own. Being able to grasp such ideas has been a challenge that I have had to overcome. Coming home to Canada is going to be awesome, having things that are comfortable will be wonderful, I am sure that it will be the little things that will make all of the difference.
Being able to experience a trip such as this is a privilege that most do not have so I feel blessed to have been able to experience so many different cultures, Thailand has been my personal favourite out of all the places that we have been. I think that I have enjoyed it the most because it is a place that I dreamed about visiting for such a long time. It is a culture that I have sought to understand for some time, a place that it deeply rooted in tradition and honour, a place that has held on to its heritage, yet the technological advancements are still present.
Looking toward the end of a trip like this has also been wierd. It seems like just yesterday I was packing my bags in great anticipation for what these eight weeks would hold. Now that they are almost through I again set my sights on the journey home adjusting back to life at SSU. With that thought I will conclude by saying that I am very thankful for St. Stephen’s University and the leadership that has been on this trip. And I am really looking forward to landing in Toronto and seeing the familour sights of the airport and city skyline, Homeward bound is a very very appealing thought.
The two countries that we have been to thus far have been two completely different worlds. Experiencing the Philippines and then Malaysia has introduced a new perspective on life. When in the Philippines, our host family wanted us to gain a real sense of Filipino culture and way of life, resulting in time spent with them and seeing the world through their eyes as well as stepping out of my comfort zone and Western perspective, being introduced to true Filipino culture. One of the experiences that I will take with me from the Philippines is the kindness of the people and the value that they place on family and community.
Moving on, Malaysia was completely different yet one thing remained – the sense of community that was felt with the two village home stays that we had. Spending my twenty first birthday on Mount Trusmadi was one experience that I will not forget. The thought of being able to do this on my birthday was very special even though the overall climb was a challenge. It was well worth the blood, sweat and multiple thorns. The contrast between the past two days has been very extreme – two days spent on the mountain and then spending today on a tropical island snorkeling in the South China sea was amazing. I was so privileged to experience such things as live coral reef, magnificent tropical fish and sea creatures. It was wonderful to just relax and enjoy the beautiful ocean. I am sad to be leaving Malaysia. I have really enjoyed the time that I have spent here and I feel that it has not been long enough. It seems that you just arrive in one place, meet new people and then you are saying farewell, packing your things once again to move on. But I am looking forward to Thailand, a different experience altogether and one that may present new challenges. I will attempt to embrace them and experience everything that I can. Being a backpacker is an idea that I have become used to and I find that I have developed an interest in other travelers and their journeys now that I have traveled outside my culture.
The idea of going half way around the world, the experience of meeting new people and living out of a duffel bag is a reality that I will soon be embracing. Going to Southeast Asia is going to be an experience of a lifetime. This will be the first time that I will have ever been out of North America. I am told that going to places such as the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand is an experience that will cause one to grow. I enjoy the idea of a challenge and that is what this trip will be, but overcoming adversity causes one to grow and become a better person in the process. Therefore, I am looking forward to this grand adventure that I will be going on in less then a week. It will be mango season when we arrive there and I am looking forward to eating lots of fresh fruit as well as being able to go to a market, interacting with different people and experiencing it all is going to be awesome. It has been a very intense month that has passed by extremely quickly. Classes are all over now and the packing process has begun, which means that I have to make sure that I have everything ready to go. Getting out of that Canadian perspective and being open to foreign cultures is something that I am really looking forward to. It is going to be awesome.