That’s it then, I finally waved goodbye to my Canadian home just a couple of days ago. The last few days were a hectic chaos of packing, unpacking, repacking, saying goodbye to European friends I’ll see in the not too distant future and Canadian, Brazilian and Australian friends who I’ll have to wait longer to be reunited with. With all the chaos it was easy to be distracted from the fact that I was about to leave Kingston and Queen’s for good!
But luckily I had one last visitor to help me reflect on my time in Canada. My Dad flew out to spend just one full day with me before embarking on his own North American adventure. It was really special to show him around Kingston, taking him for a real Canadian brunch and, a few hours later, a hearty Canadian burger. The sun shone for us and in the first 20 degree weather I’d experienced since September we walked by the lake and through historic downtown Kingston. He’s always been keen for this experience in Canada to have some positive impact upon my life and character, and so he asked me all about the ways I thought I’d changed and the memories I’d hold with me forever. I’m very grateful to him for encouraging me from the start to embrace the opportunity and to squeeze the experience for all it’s worth.
Having seen him a few days ago I feel I can freely say that I have accomplished the goal he silently set for me. I’ve spent no time reflecting on the distance from home or being bogged down by school work while I’ve been here. I’ve learnt to filter out the things that don’t contribute to my well being and to well and truly seize the day. I don’t see any conceivable way in which Canada could have influenced me any more than it already has. But these are all self-reflections and the real test will come in what my friends and family see in me when I return in June. For now, I’ve noticed in myself that I’ve become much more tolerant and honest – traits that I’m sure come from interacting with the friendliest nation of people on the whole earth. Ever since my first travel experience back in August with the drama that went on in JFK, I’ve learnt to trust my own ability to prevail in adverse or unfamiliar circumstances. Also that any fear I may have of unknown experiences, is actually identifiable as just comfort with the familiar. Essentially, I hope that the biggest trait I bring back to the UK will be a new found bravery.
Enough with the self-reflection, though. The last few days in Kingston were an adventure to say the least. A rapid torrent of trying to experience all that Kingston had left to offer and desperately trying to spend every waking moment with the close friends I’ve made here at Queen’s. Eventually a taxi arrived for Ida and I and we left our close friends Guillaume (French) and Joe (Canadian) drinking beer on our porch in the sunshine as we headed for the bus station. Excitement over the travel plans of the next few weeks and at returning home in just over a month doesn’t really leave any room for me to feel sadness at leaving Kingston. I’m sure, though, it’ll hit me in about 2 months and I’ll yearn to sit on that porch in the sunshine. It surely hasn’t dawned on me yet that the academic year is over, but I’m very lucky that lots of my closest exchange friends are in Europe. And now I’m looking forward to many reunions over the summer and following months.