Facing the reality of goodbyes

Trip Start Jan 09, 2004
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24
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Trip End Jul 14, 2004


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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Thursday, April 15, 2004

Today is one of those simple, amazing days that remind me why I am here. It's spring. I got out of the shower, put on jeans and a singlet, and thought "Should I wear thongs today?" then corrected myself - I mean flip-flops, this side of the equator. I flung open the back door, and I was back in a winter wonderland! A month without a skerrick of snow, the same temperatures as Adelaide, then out of the blue, the terrain is transformed! While the Canadians grumbled about how the inclement weather will ruin Bermuda Shorts Day on Friday (which indeed it will), I was ecstatic.

Canada is not the same for me in spring time. When the snow melted, I felt unsettled. This is Australia weather - if this is Australia weather, what am I doing here? Sure, it made for some great outdoor parties and a change of wardrobe, but it's the snow here I love. Kicking up fresh powder makes the morning walk to the bus stop worthwhile.

I started today with French. Apart from the absurd Quebecois accent, Canada is the ideal environment for learning French. It's comfortable. If I don't understand a label - thon en morceaux, for example I can turn it over and find the English translation - chunks of tuna. Semi-immersion - gently easing into a language, without the headaches that came with constant usage when I lived in Italy. Daily classes and genuine French friends also help.

Then I had East Asian Studies, probably the dullest subject I'm pursuing. However today we had a guest speaker, which epitomised what I love about Canada. Canada is by far the most diverse country I have encountered. Yes, they're self-confessedly North American - and they're equally as aware of the shortcomings of this burden/blessing. Unlike Americans, Canadians are exposed to the world, and are willing to embrace it. Multiculturalism isn't merely an ideology - it's a reality. Our guest speaker was a Caucasian Canadian who has been working in South Korea for 5 years, and had the opportunity to venture into the so-called axis of evil that is North Korea. He snuck a video camera into the country and made his own documentary. It was such an amazing insight into a country that I have no intention of visiting - and it's the type of insight I don't think you'd get in a university outside of Canada. This guy had been working for Lonely Planet in South Korea, and was another example of the kind of path I aim to follow. I walked out of the class into the Science Theatres building, my head full of Asia. Then I noticed the snow-covered trees outside, and realised how lucky I was to be here.

Calgary is ending. Tonight I went to the Den with the international crew, as per tradition. Undeniably, my friends in Canada can be divided rather equally into three groups - Australian, Canadian, and Western European. Culture is evidently a factor, as much as I condone multiculturalism! We are coming to terms with reality - that is, the last of us are departing in three weeks. I'm not under the illusion that most of the people I've met will be friends for life - as much as globalization brings us closer, it also makes relationships unsustainable. Few of the amazing people I have met here are going to feature in my life in the future. Magdalena gave out invitations to our 'farewell friends' dinner tomorrow night, each with an individual quote on the back, randomly drawn. Mine says, "There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning." There is some truth in this. We are parting, but for the next adventure. I'm lucky enough to be able to mute my goodbyes with the intention of visiting many people in Europe - in Scotland, France, Germany and the Netherlands in the coming months. Nonetheless, we have had a great adventure together. Until now, Year 12 was the best time of my life. Canada beats it hands down.

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