Canadian Cruising

Saint Augustine once said “The world is a book and those who don’t travel read only a page.” This in mind, I recently embarked on a journey to a very cold Canada to see some friends from Keele University who are studying abroad there for their first semester of second year, and also to do some site seeing. Canada was one of my top 3 goals of must do’s in my study abroad application.

If Today Was Your Last Day

My journey begun in the very early morning hours of the morning on Thursday 30th October with a long drive to Jackson Airport in Mississippi with my lovely driver Annalea. That’s something that has shocked me about the States that I noticed on my road trip with Ash- not only is every state like a different country, each state is so big- even the small ones! I noticed this on the road when we were travelling from city to city. Anyhow, I was extremely sleep deprived because I have a habit of texting people at stupid o’clock (I’m a student give me some slack). I’ve always been slightly nervous about quite literally “riding solo” because it’s not something I have ever had to think about before. My sisters and I would just follow our parents aimlessly from gate to gate and eat to our hearts content as Mother Berrie always worries we will starve. Hahaha. But this is where humanity gives me faith in people again. I’ve no problem asking for help/advice if I need it so I did just that and many people helped me on my way- one being a pilot who took me “under his wing”- sorry not sorry for the pun! Maybe it’s the accent. Maybe it was the matching suitcase and shoes. Maybe it’s just human nature but people really went out of their way to help me in my queries. It was nice, refreshing and appreciated.

Gotta Get Me Some/Far Away.

Before I launch into my observations of my long weekend in the land of hockey, something mind blowing happened as I was using the Canadian public transport from Toronto. “Mind blowing” is probably a rather hyperbolic statement- a trait I’ve observed and unfortunately adapted to my lexis at times, now that I live in the States.

I met a girl. Stop it’s not what you think! I saw her at the airport and we had a brief chat and then again on the subway so we couldn’t ignore each other. Without sounding arrogant, I immediately understood/empathised with people who previously took/swooned over my accent. I detected Aus in her and I couldn’t help myself. Her name was Lauren, she was from Sydney and was taking time out to live in Manhattan, before going back to Sydney to study law. Her accent was intoxicating, I could not get enough. She had this sense of independence that I couldn’t help but be in awe of. It made me wonder if people just listen to my voice sometimes and not the words I say. So why was this “mind blowing” to me? Because it made me think of all the strangers I’ve met/spoke to whilst going places. Like, what are they doing now? How did the story play out once you set foot on your homeland soil of Iowa/Melbourne/New Zealand/Texas? It’s like reading the first page of an amazing novel but never getting round to reading said novel. A snapshot of a life I’ll never learn about- because I didn’t ask to add them on Facebook!! That’s the world we live in, be honest with yourself. *N-Dubz- I Need You.* Yet I want them to remain this unspoiled canvas. Curiosity killed the cat, after all.

I’m like a bird, I’ll only fly away.

It will come as no surprise for me to tell “y’all” that Canada was absolutely bloody freezing! I’m no stranger to cold weather, I’m from the UK for one and secondly I lived in Australia in their “winter” so I was prepared with my hot water bottle! The weather had changed literally over night and I was fortunate not to see any snow. Rain was also a common occurrence that weekend, perhaps I took a slice of England across the border with me… The campus of Brock University, the composition and the visual appearance reminded me of my first year at Keele. A huge comfort to me. Home away from home. It was evident that a lot of money had been pumped into University life and it was nice to have a student union to go to! I also found that in Canada they are eligible to go to University at a younger age (17 I think) which contrasted hugely to life in the Deep South as everyone is older than me by a good few years. Unsurprisingly these young ‘uns were bit reckless with the drinking. #FirstYearFlashbacks

Moreover, it felt something else to be English in Canada. In previous trips people are polite and will pretend to know about the UK when all they really know is that London is the capital. Some people have been ignorant to ask if we speak English in the UK. Come on now love, don’t be dim!! In Canada people were more invasive about it, like you REALLY did stick out, not in an offensive way but it was not what I was used to, that’s for sure. Admittedly I don’t know an awful lot about Canada. The USA definitely stole the media spotlight of the continent and I’m glad I booked that plane ticket and burst the Southern bubble I’ve become accustomed to recently. I felt like I had been placed back in the real world again. To be fair I don’t tend to leave campus (I REALLY miss not having a car) most days so it wasn’t hard to experience this. Canadians differ from Americans more than us outsiders care to realize. It was an eye opener. An adventure. An enjoyable experience. Spending time with my English friends was a slice of home I didn’t realise I needed. To talk about little things and places and be understood was something I took for granted in the UK. To hear the differing British dialects of my friends was like music to my ears.

Parting shot. Deuce/Advantage.

Leonardo Da Vinci once stated “For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.” My travel experiences stay with me like my tattoos. They are there even when I can’t literally see them, making me gloriously different to every other Tom, Dick and Harry I come into contact with in this life. Don’t let opportunity pass you by. Don’t get to your later years being all Katy Perry singing about “The One That Got Away” in reference to all your lost hopes and dreams. #YOLO

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