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A New Kind of Normal

By | 2011, Europe | No Comments

It’s funny how comfortable you can get with soggy tents, stinky buses, and ‘temperamental’ propane burners. After spending just about all day every day with the same people, sharing experiences together, it becomes your new reality, your new home. Even when you find slugs in your shoes, or the propane burner spontaneously shoots flames at you while your cooking (don’t worry, I think they fixed it), it just becomes a (kind of crappy) part of your normal every day life, and just becomes another experience in your new home. Strangely enough, leaving that and coming back home felt like just the opposite; I had gotten so used to living in a tight-knit ‘rustic’ tenting community, that coming back to a house with a roof and a bed an electric stove seems almost foreign. Although I am so grateful for all of these things, it does feel like I have left my home in some way. The Europe trip became my new normal, and now leaving that behind feels like I am leaving my home.

I’m gonna miss our life together. It is sort of a surreal experience, our whirlwind tour of Western Europe, and especially with how we do things, but in true SSU fashion it brought us all closer together, and I’m really going to miss it. So, thanks everyone for all the good times, for putting up with me in the bad ones, and for sharing your lives with me for the past 2 months! It will take some time to get used to things without you all; you made Europe my home!

Lots of love,

Life in War…

By | 2011, Europe | No Comments

The Flander’s Fields Museum and Tyne Cot Cemetery impacted me so much more than I thought that they would. I have always had a kind of compassion for people in the armed forces; my grandfather was in the Navy in WWII (joining at only 18), and he almost never spoke about his time there. Growing up with this silent subject in my home gave a sense of reverence for the power and weight war has on those in the battle front. So, coming to these memorial sites with this foundation set me up for an emotional experience that I was not expecting. The stories and the gravestones broke my heart.
It would be so incredibly hard to live through a reality that was so horrific and have people back home be unable to understand what it was like out there. No matter how hard you try, you can’t truly understand something that you haven’t experienced. No wonder people have so much trouble coming back home. It would leave you with such a sense of loneliness to be surrounded by people who didn’t know what hardships you had been through.
— ———————
While wandering through the cemetery, my eyes were continually welling up with tears as I read the ages of the soldiers who died fighting in the Great War. 19, 20, 19, 22, 21… they were children; young boys who were willing to lay down their lives for their nations. I can’t imagine the state of mind the young people would have had to come to in that place, especially when I think that I and many of my friends are that age ourselves and live in such a different reality.
I can’t put into words all the thoughts that are swimming around in my head.. There are so many situations I can’t understand because I’ve never been in that place of desperation where I’ve had to go beyond the limits of a comfortable life. Although I’ll never be able to completely understand things I’ve never gone through, I think the questions I have are continually opening my eyes to new concepts and perspectives.

Who knows where they”ll take me.

– Moriah

“A dream is a wish your heart makes…”

By | 2011, Europe | No Comments

When I was a little girl, I used to dream of what it would be like to be in Italy. I imagined the incredible artwork, the amazing food and scenery, and the quintessential Italian restaurant run by a wonderful old man where I would sit and watch the bustle of people go by. But, like so many other childhood dreams, this one was forgotten as I was swept up into school and every day life in my own country.
Being here in Rome, I am becoming re-acquainted with my dreams as they are continually coming true before my eyes. Nothing is exactly how I imagined it would be (few dreams ever are), but there’s something even better about being here; it’s real. I’ve sat at perfectly Italian restaurants with the wise and friendly old men running them, I’ve tasted the most amazing food of my life, and I’ve seen some of the artwork that epitomizes the European experience.
Maybe I’m romanticizing it all (definitely) but I think there’s something about being in Europe that makes that feel okay.
– Mo.

I am terrified of what is seemingly inevitable…

By | 2010, Asia | No Comments

I don’t want to do it.
I don’t want to forget.

From my experience, coming home from a trip overseas is so bittersweet. I am always happy to be back with the people I love, in a place I know, but I am always heartbroken to have to leave my beautiful new home behind. I loved Thailand, I could live in Thailand, and I learnt so much there! How could I ever forget all the new things I’ve experienced, the new things I’ve learned, and the new memories I’ve made.
Yet it always seems to happen. Slowly, the passion fades, the new ideals slowly get lost, and you end up in the same routine you had before you went on this life-changing adventure.
This time I want it to be different. I want my to keep my memories fresh in my mind. I want to stay passionate about the injustice I’ve seen. I want to remember the people that I’ve met and the friends that I’ve made. And I think this time it will be possible, because I am in a community (sorry, had to say it) of people who have experienced this alongside me, and we will be there to remind each other, reminisce with each other, and relate to each other.
Initially, I was NOT looking forward to travelling with such a large group of people, but now I am realizing what a treasure it has been. I now have over 30 people who I can share these memories with. That’s 30 people who won’t let me forget anything I’ve learned or experienced over the past two months, and I’m not about to let them forget either.

Love you guys. Thanks for the adventure,

A Brief Look Into The Tangled Mess In My Head

By | 2010, Asia | No Comments

What I’m listening to: Sufjan Stevens – Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing (Live)

Consumerism, materialism, money, experience, indulgence, moderation, contemplation, religion, faith, devotion, dedication, wisdom, knowledge, understanding, truth, respect, honour, humility, strength.

These things among many others have been on my mind quite heavily over the past few weeks. There’s so much going on here; you could drown in the thoughts that start swimming around in your head. You can see the consumerism and materialism in the marketplace, the discipline and devotion in the lives of the monks, and the opportunity for beauty and pain in our interactions with the people around us. There is so much happening everywhere I go, trying to take it all in feels like my mind is a tape playing so fast that it is all getting tangled together.

I think what I am learning most in Thailand is that there is so much to learn here. I am overwhelmed with thoughts and ideas and concepts. Being here for a longer period of time has provided more opportunities to step back and attempt to look at everything that’s going on, and it’s nearly impossible to keep up.

The challenge is trying to keep your head above the surface while still seeing what’s in the water.

Thailand is beautiful. The people are amazing. I am so glad to be here, but I’m also looking forward to the familiar faces of home. I will see you all soon!

With all my love,


I Love The Little Moments…

By | 2010, Asia | No Comments

The word ‘tourist’ has always had this certain repellent effect for me. I generally try to avoid anything touristy, because I would rather see a place in it’s natural state, in its actuality, in its day-to-day flow. As much as I like subtlety, travelling in an obnoxiously large group of 30 oblivious Canadians has been a little less than subtle, and the fact that we’re going to a lot of tourist-targeted things hasn’t really helped me to feel like we’re blending in. When I think of tourists, I immediately picture old people in Hawaiian shirts, fisherman’s hats and fanny packs, or pretentious young backpackers who look like they haven’t showered since they left their homeland. I’ve striven to have nothing to do with either of these types, but much to my chagrin I see again and again just how similar we are. I can not deny that I am a tourist; paying way too much for clothing and being fascinated by the museums and attractions that are targeted at people just like me. I was struggling with this idea of being a tourist for a few days, and even wrote most of my blog about it, and then Nygel, Genevieve, and Rosie did their devotions on the concept of pilgrimage being different than tourism, and I think it helped me to see our travels in a bit of a different light.

Part of why I’m enjoying Malaysia so much is that it has offered us so much more freedom and mobility than a typical tourist would have; we are able to walk around the streets and just see people doing their daily routine. There’s a certain feel of anonymity that I adore. I like to disappear (as much as a blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl white girl can) into the background of people’s lives, so being able to walk around in twos and threes has been a godsend. Exploring Little India and China-town has been overwhelming and exciting, and it’s been great to talk to the few people we’ve met about Malaysia and what’s going on here. Some of my favourite moments here have been going for meals in random hole-in-the-wall restaurants and markets, trying to figure out how to order, debating how to eat what you didn’t realize you ordered, and trying to decide whether things in your food are there by accident or on purpose. I especially love these times because they usually come with a ‘moment’; that moment of connection you can have with someone where you’re completely on the same page. It’s where you and the waiter, or the laundress, or the receptionist, share that look of understanding, and you know you’re both thinking the exact same thing. It’s usually over something funny, and I love so much how just a look and a smile can connect people to each other, language and customs aside. There’s no division between foreigner and local; you’re just human beings. I really hope you understand what I mean, because it’s the best feeling, and it’s really been making Malaysia fantastic for me.

This is kind of a choppy ending, but I’ve got some more Malaysia to see! Time is ticking out.

Love you all,


Wait, you do school in The Philippines?

By | 2010, Asia | No Comments

Yes folks it’s true. Not only are we travelling, but we’re learning a thing or two along the way. Oh man, do I love it here. I love The Philippines. I wish we could stay longer! I’ve started and restarted this blog entry so many times trying to figure out what exactly I want to write about, because there is so much to say! So much is happening, even in the little moments, that can capture your attention. There’s just something about travelling that awakens all your senses; it lets you see and feel so much more than you ever would at home.

At first I wanted to write about the poverty. You can see it on every corner. I could write volumes about how heartbreaking it is to see babies lying on cardboard mats on the side of the street, while just across the road thriving businesses are going about their day. It’s heart-wrenching, but I have been happy to see people like the Congressman we met in Manila, who have a heart for their poverty stricken country. All the people here are so beautiful; everyone we’ve met has been so good to us. They’ve shown us such amazing hospitality wherever we’ve been, and it has been such an honour to be a part of all that is going on. Agh! There is so much to say! But I’ll have to stick to one thing.

In spite of all the things we’ve been through so far, I’ve particularly enjoyed a couple of the lectures we’ve had from Professor Shermon Cruz, and that really surprised me! I never thought that academics would be a part of an SSU travel term that I would enjoy this much. I am not an “academic”, I’m more about people and making the most out of the everyday, so I can’t believe how incredibly interesting I found these lectures. His first lecture was titled Asian Political Thought, and anyone who knows me knows that it has been a challenge for me to be interested in politics, so I am even more surprised at how much I enjoyed it.

He spoke about 3 philosophers who “speak outside western narratives and the context of western history”, and thus give us a different vantage point into global political history. They not only look at it differently, but give their personal oppinion and commentary on political events. I was so intrigued, because in my limited interaction with philosophy, I have seen almost nothing outside of the western philosophers. It was really awesome to see a completely new side to philosophy, and through it have a fresh look at world history. If you want to check out these philosophers for yourself, their names are Ibn Khaldun, Ssu-Ma-Chien, and Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar, so Wikipedia away!

Professor Cruz’ second lecture was on current social challenges in the Philippines, and he focused on education in Ilocos Norte. Inaccurate survey data, poverty, child labour, and lack of local languages in schools are just some of the challenges children in Ilocos Norte are facing with regards to education. He gave a passionate case for how important education is, and how he believes that educating our children will help us achieve the Millenium Development Goals by 2015. I wish everyone could have sat in on this lecture! It was so incredibly interesting, and hearing it from someone who was so obviously passionate about education was really great.

I can’t believe how much I am enjoying academics. This is ridiculous. And we’ve only just started! Oh man.I have loved it so much so far, and I am looking forward to whatever tomorrow may hold!

My love to you all in the Western world, and my love to The Philippines!