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Banderas y mi origen verdad

By | 2011, Europe | No Comments

I’ve been back in North America for almost a month now. From busing across Europe, to the flight to Toronto, to my train ride home to Ottawa, and my flight back out to North Dakota, I’ve had quite the whirlwind adventure. Through the hustle and bustle of constantly moving from place to place, I have adopted a mentality I have never before found myself able to grasp.

I’m not a patriotic person. In fact, as a dual citizen, the concept of being patriotic becomes both more diluted and more complex. Which country do I identify more with? What is identity in culture? How can I be proud of coming from a first-world country? The latter question is the most troubling to me in the question of patriotism. However my mentality, as aforementioned, has come to a heightened state of existence.

Throughout our travels in Europe, I found myself captivated by flags. When we landed in Spain it was hard to believe we were in another country. Obviously it looks nothing like New Brunswick, but it doesn’t look entirely foreign either. It wasn’t until I saw the Spanish flag blowing in the wind that I fully realized we had made it. This theme was consistent for me on the trip. Each new place was made real to me by each new waving flag. Each culture, beautifully unique and captivating in its own way. Each place diverse and rich in history. Each place worthy of its identity as a nation. Though much was good, taking in so much culture slowly wore on me, and throughout the travels, I grew a little more weary day by day.

Something about traveling in Europe really brings out the beauty of calling Canada your home. Everyone there seems to have such a strong respect for Canada, such a strong sense of friendship. It wasn’t until Canada day in Paris that I found myself actually homesick for Canada. The real shock came to me in the homeland.

After returning to Canada and staying with Liam’s family in Kitchener a couple of nights, I began my trek home by train to Ottawa. I was in a sort of traveler’s shock. I was tired, but not worn out. Content, but ready to be home. Alongside my train, about two hours into the ride, a Canadian flag was waving in the wind atop a pole to the west. This moment was the most Canadian I’ve ever felt in my life. The peace dawned on me that no matter where I go, Canada is back home waiting for me. A strong, secure nation where I have family and friends. A stationary place to rest and regain myself before traveling again. For the first time in my life I think I truly understand the concept of national pride, though my version is without any sense of supremacy. I am simply thankful to have a home like Canada.

So here I find myself back to working in a western-themed town in North Dakota, located in my birth country. Back to being known as ‘the Canadian’, and for the first time with a sense of national pride without arrogance. Each morning at work, just after raising the American flag, I get to raise the Canadian one and remember what flags represent.

Traveler’s blessings,
– Madi Smith

owners of the temporary

By | 2011, Europe | No Comments

After two months of moving every four days, adjusting to familiar surroundings at home is both nice and different. The trip was eight weeks of constant motion and it was necessary to learn how to make the temporary ordinary.

One way I adjusted to travelling was to form personal rhythms. Some people allotted an activity they did each morning before breakfast while other people had a bus routine. Everyone’s routine was shaped by their personality and interests. I chose to write in my personal journal often to clarify my thoughts. We creatures of rhythm naturally etched ourselves into some sort of familiarity in order to remain grounded living in flux.

Europe was also a time to start new relationships while strengthening old ones. Foundations were established as relationships formed and we were able to learn something new about those around us. People came alive and into their own on the trip which was exciting to watch.

By learning to take ownership of the temporary elements of our life, meaning is created. As our group learned how to become rooted despite the travelling, we were able to flourish. We anchored ourselves and were free to branch out into new experiences. I for one reflect back on the grounded nature of the Europe trip and am thankful.

Chelsea

The World is My Home.

By | 2011, Europe | No Comments

I am back in Canada, back “home.”  But what is home?

I used to talk and dream about going to Europe, going to the Colosseum, the Louvre, the Alps; I wanted to see the fashion and eat the food, I wanted to experience Europe. But it was always this idea; Europe was this far away place that, despite how amazing it seemed, was far away and not very relevant to the world that I live in here in North America.

Then it was no longer a “one day I’ll do go there and do this,” because I went to Europe and I did all of the things that I dreamed about, and so much more. This in itself was amazing; so few people have done what I have done, and even fewer in the context that i have done it –traveling with my classmates and professors and learning about history in the very place where that history took place. This was a once in a lifetime experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life. But the one thing that this trip has done for me –and my previous trip to Asia did the same thing– is make these places real to me. Europe is no longer this far off place that I may or may not ever go to, it is very real, with real people and real thoughts and traditions and cultures. I can put images and faces and names to what before had only been vague concepts. I can now not only see myself going back, I can see myself living there. The world is so much bigger, yet at the same time so much smaller than it was before.

So I thank you, Europe and everyone who I met there and everyone who went there with me. It is because of you that my horizons are expanded while my world has been shrunk. People may say that the world is their oyster, but something much more important becomes truer for me the more I travel: for me, the world is my home.

Blessings,

Julia