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2014

Considering Habit and Solitaire

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I don’t know how much Europe really influenced my zeitgeist (/worldview/opinions/whatever). Europe was a circuit tour where I always felt like my face was up against a pane of (metaphorical) glass. And, honestly, there’s something isolating and experiential in existing in a neutral zone between cultures (yours and your ‘host’s’). It feels as though your walk changes, your eyes scan at a different pace, and one’s soul tenses. I find cities always feel something like this. Yet in a culturally familiar country one is concealed: abroad, this same sensation exposes a person. You feel as though a part of your being is revealed,…

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Wander-Like

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I have this stubborn drive to get myself lost while travelling. I’ve stuck to this habit since I was 17, and Europe gave me plenty of opportunity to exercise the wander impulse. Contrary to what most people imagine, getting lost in a metropolitan city (during the day) can be relaxing. My first day in Vienna was sparked by stepping off the bus and realizing that my map of the city had gone AWOL. Believing downtown to be somewhere northeast, and not especially concerned, I worked my way northward. Eventually I stumbled on to an urban walking trail (which are pleasantly common to Vienna) which led…

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Home, Sweet, Home

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Well, its over. I am “home,” in Canada, in Calgary- the land of oil, cowboy hats, oversized trucks, and a general feeling of commercialism. But, it is “home” for right now, right? I’ve got my job, my family, my friends, and my plans. Big plans. Plans to settle down after this great last hurrah across Europe- I mean camping in Europe for 2 months, that’s a right of passage, right? So I’ve crossed, here on the other side, it must mean I am ready to be an adult, right? So I go ahead with my plans, see the apartments, fill…

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Is Your Life Worth More Than Mine?

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How do we determine what necessary course of ‘justice’ should be taken against war crimes? What is adequate and fair compensation for the losses of people during and after crimes of war? Is it even possible to compensate for such loss? Looking at the Holocaust survivors or their children and the compensation received by the Holocaust Victim Compensation Fund (HVCF), a one-time payment of the equivalent of $1300 Canadian dollars, we see that people are still healing, still hurting. The loss that was experienced during the Holocaust not only by the Jews but also by Gypsies, members of the LGBT…

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A Change in Perspective

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I realize now that being in a different country was not the only dramatic change, after stepping off of the plane in Barcelona. In an instant, we began a whole new routine, in a new home, living a completely different way of life. It’s quite shocking to leave your normal routines of school or work behind in Canada, and dive into a new nomadic way of life in Europe. We visited 8 countries in 2 months, while living out of tents. Our bodies were constantly on the move, and our minds were constantly busy with new information, seeing new sights,…

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Adventurous Moments

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When traveling, timing can be everything.  Being in the right place at the right time could mean three free packets of Roman Ramen Noodles, walking into Notre Dame Cathedral just as a girl’s choir is about to start, or even waving to William, Kate, and baby George as they exit Buckingham Palace (okay, that last one never happened).  On the other hand, being in the right place at the wrong time could mean missing a protest in Vienna because of leaving the square two hours early, standing outside the closed Harlem Jazz Club in Barcelona on the only night out…

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Snapshots

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I took a few ‘word snapshots’ while on the road in Europe. I wanted to capture the kind of moments that could not be caught by a lens. You know, those moments that happen too fast and you don’t have time to whip out your camera, or when a person or scene is so beautiful but it would be really rude to snap a picture, or maybe it is the day you decide to not take your camera because you want to be present in the moment and not thinking about how this would make a good picture to show someone when…

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Slow Down

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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…

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The Challenge Continues

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In my first post about this trip I talked about how I was struggling to love the people I was traveling with. A month and a half later, I am not sure that I achieved any kind of loving “nirvana”. I shared in a small group time while we were finishing our program in Maidstone, England that this had been the biggest cloud over the trip for me. Fran, one of our New Zealanders, asked what I had learned about this throughout the trip and I think I responded with something along the line of, “what I have learned is…

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From Top to Bottom

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Along the trip there were not a lot of opportunities to spend time alone. When you’re camping with thirty other people there are not many places to hide. Because of this constant group immersion, a little ‘me time’ can go a long way. This is why I chose to fly solo during our day in Assisi, which also happened to be my birthday. We spent the first part of the day in San Damiano, which is the church that St. Francis repaired and lived in for some time, now serving as a monastery for Franciscan monks. After a liturgy and…

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