The power of words and a reflection of the year passed

Calgary Travel Blog

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I will start my travel blog on a rather optimistic note, perhaps reflecting my current state of mind. Recently, a few kind words changed my life:

Ryan,
 
I looked over your completed file yesterday and I will be requesting that you be admitted to graduate school in Neuroscience under my supervision.  These things take time but you should receive an offer in the next couple of weeks.

I received these words via email from my prospective graduate studies supervisor at the University of Calgary on May 21st. By May 22nd, I had given notice to the company I worked for and purchased a round trip ticket to Japan. For the first time since graduating last year my life had direction.

You see, upon finishing an undergraduate degree in Life Sciences I created three goals to accomplish in my first year out of school:

1) See the world. This was in part accomplished last summer when myself and three other lads backpacked around Europe. Now: Asia.

2) Pay off debt and save money. Upon returning from Europe I found a job in Calgary as a "service technician", cleaning and maintaining draught lines for local bars and restaurants. My first taste of working life was not unlike my first taste of beer: fun for a while, but in the end what had I gained? Falling into a life of steady wage and financial security is a hard pit to climb out of, but this side-tracked year of blue-collar work helped me realize the value of education. That said, my job allowed me to connect with the people that make up a city, in a way that most jobs don't offer. Never before have I felt more civic responsibility to the town that I grew up in. The waitress wiping tables on Steven Avenue is complaining about the same LRT Park and Ride fee as the businessman trying to enjoy his morning coffee in Kensington. The bartender in Inglewood is stranded in the same snowstorm as her son's babysitter who mops floors downtown for her other job. We are all connected and it's up to us to help eachother out. That is what makes Calgary a great city to live in. If nothing else, this job gave me empathy and a unique view of Calgary and its citizens.

3) Gain volunteer experience and better culture myself. This final goal is really two goals, but together i hope they add value to my character. At first I volunteered at several festivals and environmental initiatives. These were both fun but were short term. Eventually I learned of the Multicultural Leadership Program. Through this, I built several relationships that I know will last beyond the duration of the program. Though I have not found a cause to devote my life to, I became acquainted with those who have. In terms of "culturing myself" I took advantage of the free time my job offered to take French, read English, and play soccer. My French still has a long way to go, mais c'est la vie!

So there you have it: my year in a nutshell. Of course, the year went on for the other people in my life as well. My parents rented a room to Leah, an Australian exchange student who was a welcome addition to our family. Many of my friends completed school, travelled the world, and found their place in industry. Kudos to them. My girlfriend, Brooke, moved to Calgary from Toronto to attend grad school. My good friend Kyle, who travelled with me last summer, is unable to travel this time around due to shoulder surgery, but don't worry ladies: he'll be alright! A few words changed Andrea's life when Jeremy asked her hand in marriage, just as her one word reply changed his. Alas, this brings me back to my travel itinerary.

On July 15th, I will fly from Tokyo to Toronto where I will visit Brooke and friends from Uni, before driving to Niagra Falls for Jeremy and Andrea's wedding. Then, I'll see more of my Greater Toronto Area posse, including my Aunt Julie and Uncle Wayne in Hamilton, before jetting to Ottawa on July 23rd. Ottawa is my birthtown and home to numerous friends and family (many of which still do not know of my plans). Finally on July 28th I will return to Calgary, where I'll have a month to prepare for grad school and enjoy what's left of our short, but beautiful summer.

Until then, enjoy this journal and check back regularily to track my adventures. They say that the flap of a butterfly's wings in Canada can cause a typhoon in Japan, so be good to eachother, keep the kind words flowing, and if you see a butterfly DONT LET IT FLAP!

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photo by: Vikram