As we turn the corner from February to March, I’m two-thirds of the way through my semester, and just four short weeks away from the open road. Since my last update, I’ve been to London (details to come in my next post) and to a Cardiff Devils hockey game, and tomorrow, I’ll celebrate Saint David’s Day (a Welsh national holiday) by visiting St Fagans National History Museum. In the past week, I’ve also been a television and radio reporter, a radio presenter, and a television studio floor manager for my program’s Exposure News. Next week, I’ll try my hand as a television producer and news anchor.
A couple observations over the past week or two:
1. On travel, happiness, and shared experiences…
I watched 127 Hours and Into The Wild not too long ago — both films about young men who set out alone in search of adventure and freedom. I found it easy to draw parallels between their experiences and my own, especially in the case of Into The Wild‘s Chris McCandless (**spoiler alert: if you plan to see the movie, avoid the rest of this section**). Chris had just graduated university and was drawn to the open road. He was also determined to do it by himself.
I can identify with a great deal of that. Part of what excited me about this journey was the sense of total independence and freedom it promised. I wanted to rely on nobody but myself. More than that, I wanted to prove that I was capable of doing it all myself. I imagine most younger siblings feel this way.
In Chris’s final moments, he comes to a conclusion: “Happiness is only real when shared.” It’s a sentiment that has been repeated to me in subtler ways before, in conversations with others about my plans for travelling alone, only this time, the message was spelled out clearly. I can’t say that I’m fully convinced (after all, to believe that would in turn invalidate many of the experiences I’ve had on the road thus far), but nonetheless, it’s stuck with me since.
My plans haven’t changed much. I’ll be travelling regardless of whether others join along for the trip or I meet up with friends along the way. If nothing else, though, it has made me more mindful of enjoying the company of others.
2. On gratitude…
I’ve found in my travels that happiness has been very closely linked with gratitude.
Every day, I wake up and go to sleep thankful. I’m so grateful to not only have the opportunity to travel and study abroad, but the means to do so as well. Not everyone is as fortunate — indeed, most aren’t, and I can’t lose sight of that. I’m grateful for new friends from all corners of the world — I’m the only native English speaker amongst many of my new friends, and that’s pretty cool. I’m grateful for exciting opportunities to learn in the field, and to have the freedom to pursue the things I find interesting — I’ve been eager for more television experience ever since last summer, and now I have the chance to shoot a ten-minute sports documentary.
Perhaps more than anything, I’m grateful for the chance to step back from my everyday routine and get another perspective on life. Each day brings a new lesson and chance for growth.
“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” – Eckhart Tolle
My three favourite photographs of the past couple weeks (and the stories behind them):
1. Westerkerk, Amsterdam.
If Amsterdam could be summed up in one picture, this would be it. First off, the canals: the one pictured is Prinsengracht, probably the most famous of the city’s canals. Next, the bikes: you can’t cross any street in Amsterdam without looking around at all times, because cyclists are everywhere. Westerkerk’s spire is rising in the background. The picture doesn’t show this, but it’s right by the Anne Frank House.
2. Vondelpark, Amsterdam.
I love how reflective the water is. The other memorable bit about the park is this treehouse/playground than spans over one of the park’s walking paths. It’s clearly meant for kids, because the rope bridges were built no taller than four feet, but hey, there’s no age limit on treehouses.
3. Kenaupark, Haarlem.
As a Canadian, it’s nice to experience a part of the world where flowers can grow in February. The weather was beautiful: sunshine, 9-10°C, and a world away from the -35°C with wind chill back home. I could get used to that.
Until next time!