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Posts Tagged ‘thoughts’

Sometimes I feel like my trip to Poland didn’t exist here. As in, time stopped in Terrace, in BC, in Canada where my friends and family are and kind of went on just for me when I moved to Poland. It was just such a separate event, this big new chapter in my life that didn’t really relate to much of anything else beforehand. And since I’ve been back, for the most part, it felt like life picked up from where it left off when I moved. But that’s not true. A whole fucking year went by, and sometimes I forget how much time that is and how much distance that did put between a lot of my friendships and how things have changed.

I don’t want the past year to be the only chapter of my life spent abroad in Poland. I don’t want that to be my only time living in Europe. The only thing is, I feel like when I leave again, my life will stop here. And I’ve grown really, really attached to the life I have here since I’ve returned. I don’t want it to change without me again.

Actually my situation at home is really frustrating and stressful right now, but that’s not what I mean when I say I’m attached. It’s not the physical daily-routine life at home I love. It’s just being in the place you grew up, around people that have known you or your sisters or your parents since you were five, the backcountry and mountains, and just TERRACE. It’s home. And I feel like I don’t want to leave / that after my Europe trip (coming up in four months!) I do want to come back.

It’s so back and forth. Three years ago, two years ago, a year ago, I wanted to get as far away as possible from Terrace, from BC, from Canada, pursue my ambitions, travel as much as possible, explore Europe, all that. And up until a few months ago I STILL wanted that. And part of me still does. But what’s new, is my attachment to Terrace, and wanting to come back? I never wanted to come back.[1]

One of my friends recently told me not to. He said for years I’ve talked about the European life, and living in Scotland, or Italy or who the hell knows where and that I wasn’t meant for this small town. And that used to ring so true. But now I don’t know.

It’s fucking frustrating how indecisive I am about my future.

~

To be honest, I wanted to give the world an update on the amazing summer I had after I returned, and how I spent a weekend on Haida Gwaii for a music festival which turned out to be one of the best (sort of last-minute) weekends of my life, about my two jobs, and working routine, and a general update on my life and even the weather and how fast summer turned into autumn but how I’m actually enjoying the crispy air and trees changing colours and just things going on but—I just feel too exhausted to do that now. All that’s on my mind is what I wrote up there.

So maybe next time.

Joanna

P.S. I’ve decided, that even though a year goes by immeasurably fast, a year is still a long fucking time. So much happens in just one year. Six months is half of that. Six months will be the length of my trip. How different will six months be?


[1] In the back of my mind I’m telling myself I might devise a plan to let go of all attachment / all things holding me here before the time I have to leave. (Four months.) Everyone knows I don’t like having things holding me back.

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One of the reasons I love being in Krakow is because of the ethnicities you meet. Don’t get me wrong, Poland is about a 97% all Polish people. But Krakow is one of the tourist capitals of… Poland? Europe? Let’s say about 90% of people you meet in the Stare Miasto (Old Town) are foreigners, tourists, travelers, etcetera. It’s great.

I come from a country known for its multiculturalism, and that’s true. Canada is incredibly diverse; so diverse, it lacks its own “Canadian” traditions, culture, songs—things that most other countries have. When I’m in Canada, I see a range of racial ethnicities: dark, black, brown, pale, white ~ Russian, East-Indian, Native, Chinese, Filipino—on a daily basis. But a lot of these people with this range of backgrounds have lost what traditions were upheld by their parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents. People say they’re, for example, Irish. Or Dutch. Or Filipino[1]. But for the most part, that’s just telling people why they have pale skin, or freckles, or blond hair, or beautiful brown skin. (I’m not aiming to be stereotypical here.) For the most part, if there’s any tradition upheld, it’s a bit of the food. A few words of the language. Maybe your uncle knows a song. It’s great, being in Canada, and getting to see a racial mix upon faces but for me, what’s lacking, is the culture. A lot of it gets lost through the generations.
On the other hand, we’ve all met people who live in Canada and despite being a second or third generation away from the “homeland”, English may not be their first language, they know their dances, their songs, their holidays. (As always, I’m speaking from my own observations, nothing that is fact.) When we have community potlucks, they own the floor, they are proud of where they were born, or where grew up, or which nationality they were raised with. People like that do exist.

I saw a really cool post the other day, about what it means to be Canadian.

A Canadian can be English, or French, or Italian, Irish, German, Spanish, Polish,  Russian, or Greek. A Canadian can be Mexican, African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Australian, Iranian, Arabian, Pakistani or Afghan.  A Canadian may also be a Cree, Metis, Mohawk, Blackfoot, Sioux, or one of the many other tribes known as Native Canadians. 

A Canadian’s religious beliefs range from Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Islamism, Hinduism, or none. The key difference is that in Canada they are free to worship as each of them chooses.  Whether they have a religion or no religion.

A Canadian lives in one of the most prosperous lands in the history of the world. The root of that prosperity can be found in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which recognize the right of each person to the pursuit of freedom and happiness.

A Canadian is generous and Canadians have helped out just about every other nation in the world in their time of need, never asking a thing in return. 

Canadians welcome the best of everything, the best products, the best books, the best music, the best food, the best services and the best minds. But they also welcome the least – the oppressed, the outcast and the rejected. These are the people who built Canada . 

Canadians are not a particular people from a particular place. They are the embodiment of the human spirit of freedom. Everyone who holds to that spirit, everywhere, can be a Canadian.

I really like the last line. Most things you come across on the internet about Canada, will tell you that the meaning of a being a Canadian is: loving your hockey, drinking your Timmies, slapping that maple syrup onto your pancakes, and saying “Eh.” Though that does quite well describes Canada in a nutshell, I really like how someone took a moment to seriously answer the question. We are not one race, we are not one culture, we are not of the same background, but we are “the embodiment of the human spirit of freedom”. Epic.

So when I say I like Krakow because of the ethnicity you meet; I mean that a little differently than when I say I love Canada because of the range of ethnicity. In Krakow, you mostly meet other travelers. And mostly from other countries in Europe. Some from Asia, a few North-Americans, but mostly Europe. But what I love is how alive these people are. You can truly see that they’re British or Italian or Russian.

The other night, upon finishing our exams, my roommate and I went out for the night. From 8pm to 6am, we went from a cafe to a house party to a bar to roaming the rynek to going back to the first bar to a restaurant to home. In between that time, in one night, I met people from Spain, Italy, Britain, Mexico, China, Russia, Norway, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Lithuania, America, and Canada. I actually spent about 75% of the night with 3 Spanish girls and 1 Spanish guy! I learned some dance moves to traditional Spanish songs, took a shot of rum with a Lithuanian, rejected a dance to a Norwegian, disagreed on terms of nationality with a British guy, and was hugged and kissed by a bunch of Belgians[2].

Granted, part of that was because I spent the beginning part of my night at a Couchsurfer’s meet-up, but honestly, more than half of those ethnicities I listed were people I met in the rynek.

So Cheers to Krakow! This is what has made living here a fun time. I’m meeting people from everywhere, having memorable nights with strangers that feel like friends by the time the night is over, embracing the ethnicity, and feel like I am enjoying life.

Today marks the halfway point. Exactly five months ago, I left Canada—and finally Krakow is starting to feel like home. However, in another five months, I will be on a plane back to Canada, my homeland. I have no idea how I’ll feel then.

Joanna


[1] Okay, for the reference, all Filipino people I’ve met DO uphold their traditions. Go Fili! <– I do not know if that’s a thing… probably not.

[2] No joke on that one! They adored me like I was Mary.

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A few weeks ago I did something really stupid/terrible/wrong/against instinct, however you want to say it. I didn’t tell anyone because I was really ashamed. It made me feel awful. Not just feel awful but like the awful was me, too.

Mistakes are a human quality. I remember when I used to say I didn’t regret my mistakes because they made me into the person I am today. But the thing is, I just make the same mistake over and over again. And I do regret it.

Anyway, a few weeks past and I moved on fast from this biggest-to-date mistake, really fast. Like I easily adjusted. But I feel better now. Not just feel better but like the better is in me, too. Because I feel a change in my mind, psychologically, like I’ve never been more sure of what I want, never been more sure of myself. I think I tweeted and/or tumbled this, but I’m saying it again: Sometimes you find out what it is you want by doing the exact opposite.

I saw a quote the other day I really liked. “I never change, I simply become more myself.” I do think people are constantly trying to better themselves, maybe not literally every second of the day, but on a whole, we are always striving to be that better person, that person we want to be. Ourselves. But now I realize that person we were five years ago, that person a few weeks ago, is always us, just on the journey. It is a constant. So is change.

We shouldn’t be ashamed of our past because at one point in time, that was us, that was a state of mind, unclear thoughts, delusion, confusion, but whatever it was, it made sense at the time. I came across another quote today (good ol’ Tumblr!) that I also think has some truth in it: “Often it’s the deepest pain which empowers you to grow into your highest self.”

My mind feels so opened right now. I’ve been having creative ideas nonstop the past couple weeks. They are literally keeping me from sleeping, coming to me in my most tired moments. But I have learned over the years that you do not ignore that urge to write. You turn on your bedside lamp and scribble down everything on your notepad, then try to decode the scrawling in the morning. The other week, I wrote my first short story in over a year. And I know that sounds like a small accomplishment, but I feel really good about it. I really miss writing. As soon as exams are over, I have two more ideas I would like to get down.

I’m going to make mistakes again. I can hope it’s nothing more than a tragic spelling mistake[1], but life isn’t that easy. I know there will be more. But I am positive it is not going to be a repeat.

 

Joanna


[1] A particularly “tragic” spelling mistake, would be something like definately *cringe* or mischievious *double cringe*

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I meant to do a New Years post, somewhere around the time of New Years, and although we’re still in January, it’s not very close to January 1st. I really don’t know where the days went; the whole 18 days of this month have flown by incredibly fast for me.

But it is still a new year. And that excites me. I like New Year’s because it always signifies a new beginning. Which I like. I like new things, I like change, I like new people, etcetera. And though a New Year doesn’t always signify a new start physically because we are often in the same place, working the same job, going to the same school, it is still a chance to change.

I often see New Year’s as people wanting to change for the better. I think mankind, as an individual, is always trying to better himself, to get closer to that person he wants to be. New Year’s gives people that opportunity with resolutions! It’s time to start exercising, time to start painting daily, time to start writing, being kinder to others, stop drinking, whatever that goal is. We all know many of these goals run their pace before the end of the year, but the important thing is that the idea was placed there, that there was an effort, and that it gives us something to look back on.

That being said, I don’t quite have a normal resolution this year. Two years ago, I resolved to write once a week, and I did that until April[1]. Last year I had a few points:

  • Don’t lose my understanding of the Polish language before going to Poland
  • Yoga!/Becoming flexible & fit again.
  • Figure out my life in terms of narrowing down more what dreams I want to pursue, what courses I want to take in university in September, etcetera.

Last year, I thought I wanted to go to Poland for part or most of the summer. What ended up happening, was I didn’t practice Polish once. And I decided to move there in September for ten months instead, in order to regain my second language.
Yoga! That happened! I did reach the level of fitness and flexibility I wanted to be at.
Figuring out my life… well I narrowed it down by crossing out the ideas I had for courses I wanted to take in university… I am more unsure than I was before. But now I’m okay with it. I don’t feel that pressure that everyone does to decide who they want to be for the rest of their lives. I’m nineteen. I have time. I have a lot of time, and if I don’t figure it out for another five years, I’m okay with that. I’ve met some people here that are 29, and still have no idea, but they’ve really been living their lives to the fullest in the meantime.

This year, I don’t have ‘goals’, as in more than one. I don’t have a single goal I would like to do once a week. I have a one-day-long goal, and I hope I’ll achieve sometime in the next 365 minus 18 days I have left. Unfortunately, I am not going to share it with the world until it happens, because I sometimes get this superstitious-sort-of-feeling that if I tell people things, they don’t come true. Like wishes! So we’ll see how this works out. The moment it happens, though, you will hear about it.

On to other New Year’s related thing. Every year (for the past five years) I’ve written a letter to myself on New Year’s. And I don’t get to read it till the next New Year. It always gives me something to look forward to because it’s a really great way for me to see how much I’ve changed. My letters surprise me every year, to be honest. My views, so far, have changed year to year, thoughts, feelings, friendships, dreams, accomplishments ß that’s the gist of what is in the letters. It’s like a glimpse into the old you, back when you couldn’t really see the way you were. I encourage everyone to do it. Write out what you think of yourself, write our what your ambitions are, you views on issues that are important to you, personal anecdotes, friendships that matter, advice to yourself in the future, where you see yourself next year, anything you want. It is so fulfilling writing a letter to yourself.

I took it a step up this year. This year, I wrote an additional letter to myself, for 2018, five years down the road! It’s hard to imagine a day when we will write 2018 on our essays and write-ups, but it’ll come and go like all years do. I decided to do this because, when I think about it, I can’t picture a single thing about my life in five years. I will be twenty-four. Where I will be, who I will be, what I will be doing, how much I will have changed, what will I have accomplished by then, what will my ambitions be—it’s all a complete mystery to me! So I handwrote a four page letter to myself. I am going to be incredibly excited to read it when the time comes.

Also somewhat related with new beginnings—I switched rooms! I did this for a few reasons, but it wasn’t the easiest choice. I really like my ex-roommates, but I think we’re on good enough terms that we will be seeing each other semi-regularly whether or not I live next to them. I had six room to chose from, and in those six rooms I met quite a variety of people. The first five rooms I went to though, were very discouraging. I always thought of myself as someone that gets along with pretty much everyone. I like everyone. I can strike up conversation with everyone. I’m good with new people! But I met some striking and contradicting personalities, that surprisingly made me cross off room after room off the list. Thankfully, the last room passed the test. Super nice roommates, amiable girl-roommate, seemed promising. I moved in two days ago, and so far am liking it. I am getting more sleep, and feel more comfortable here on a whole. It feels a little weird not having known these three people for four months, like they all have four months time together on me, but I think as we get to know each other more the difference will fade away.

Anyways, cheers to new beginnings, new friends, new dreams, and to this odd-numbered[2] year! I hope it is just as fulfilling as 2012 was for me and that it does not go by as fast, though I seriously doubt it will.

Joanna


[1] Self high-five.

[2] I have a thing for odd numbers. Or rather a dislike for even numbers. It’s weird.

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After coming across numerous travel blogs today, I just feel really inspired. I feel like my life is at its starting point, like there’s so much for me to see and do, that I will come across things I can’t even think of today. “Where will I be,” “What will I be doing”, “Where will my adventures lead me?” are some of the questions that just keep popping back into my life these days.

It may sound terribly optimistic and cliché, and part of the hopes and dreams of many, but I really do want to make a change. I want to impact the world somehow, I want to make a difference, help people, wherever that may be. I want to climb mountains and feel the success as the top. I never want to back away from a challenge, and I always want to be sure of myself.

But one does meet doubts along the way. It’s pushing through these that make it worthwhile. It’s knowing what you want and going after it. It’s being passionate and honest with yourself. That’s what life is to me. And being alive is being present in these thoughts.

Every day I become surer of myself, my passions, and pursuits. My mind seems to narrow in on what I want but my vision of what is out there merely grows. And then the questions circle back, “Where do I want to go?”

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I came across this video a few days ago, and put it aside for later blogging (it’s been a busy few days!).  But as it’s making its rounds across the rest of the internet, I decided I better write up my thoughts quickly. So here I am.

I was really content to have seen this video. It really touches on a few thoughts I’ve been having over the past year. The past year, I graduated from high school. In the last year of school, there is an immeasurable amount of pressure pushing down on you to decide. Decide what you want to do for the rest of your life. Make a plan. Have a plan. Many of my teachers said that successful people are the ones that make a plan and stick with it. And sure, that can definitely be true. That’s what we’re really raised to do our whole life, right? That’s why our parents sent us to school. That’s why we’ll send our kids to school.

I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I still don’t. And I’m okay with that. I don’t want to pick something. I feel like that’s giving up part of my life. “We go to school, to go to school.” It’s something I’ve said quite a few times. We go to school, so we can acquire an education, in order to attend post-secondary (or at least we’re encouraged to), so we can get a higher-paying job, and have an educated life. But what does that come with? That comes with being tied down. With commitments. Submitting yourself to one way of life. Too late to do those things you’ve always wanted to do. Giving up your dreams.

Call me an optimist, but I really do think anything is possible. And I really do think anyone can achieve their dreams, given enough motivation and work put towards it.

I’ve always wanted to travel. Always. So have a lot of my friends. They’re going to post-secondary right now. They say they’ll travel after they’re done. But I say, When? When will you find the time and money for that? You will need to pay back student loans. How? By getting that job you’ve been working towards. And soon you become rooted in this way of life.

I’m not saying I don’t believe in sending kids to high school. I’m not saying I’ll never go to university. I’m saying, right now, I don’t want that. It is not what I desire. I want to live. I want to travel, and experience culture, and see the world that I live in. I want to meet people and see how they live. I don’t want to spend my whole life in one society.

My mom is really pushing me to go to university when I’m back in Canada. She is really pushing me to apply for this full time secretarial (or something or other) summer job I do not want. She’s been telling me for years, when I graduate, that I will work there and then go to university. Her friend’s daughters worked there and paid off their entire student fees. But that’s not what I want. I’ve had friends that worked there, too. They gave up their entire summer to terrible work and terrible working conditions. They hated it. They never got to see anyone. Sure, they made all the money they needed. To go to the universities into areas of work they weren’t even sure of[1].

I understand my mother wants me to have more money than she did, to not have to be struggling financially my entire life. But I think that is sacrificing my happiness. And I think happiness is the most important thing in the world. I will do what makes me happy. Money has never been a factor for me. I will go to university if I ever find something I want to do that requires it. But I will not go there for her, and waste the little money I have, taking courses that don’t interest me.

Next year, I am travelling continental Europe with my best friend. It’s been a plan for years. My mother thinks it’s a bad idea; that it’s a terrible idea to not go to university right after high school (“and get a good education, to get a good job, to get more money,” etc….

Here’s a quote from the video:

“…if you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living – that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing! Which is stupid! Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way.”

So here’s my current life plan.

1. Complete my Polish Immersion classes, and graduate from the program with the Certificate.

2. Come back to Canada. Get a couple part-time jobs (until #3).

3. Come February 2014, Paige and I will go off to Greece and start our Europe trip.

4. July 2014, I will come back to Canada.

5. Find happiness everywhere.

Lately (lately being the past month), I’ve really been having serious thoughts about my future. Because I just can’t see it. I don’t know where I’ll be. What I’ll be doing. Maybe it will be something near Terrace, or in BC. Or maybe I’ll be giving tours in Polish across the world. Or maybe teaching English somewhere. Or wing-suit flying professionally. Or a missionary. Or maybe living the life of a travel writer. Who knows. I just know I’ll never make a decision that won’t make me happy, that won’t work towards one of my goals. I’ve always been someone that works towards my goals, whether it was my dream of skydiving[2] or travelling Europe[3]. Maybe when I’m back from Europe in 2014, I’ll know a little bit better what I want to do. For now, I’m content with dreaming of my travel plans, and thinking of writing ideas.

Another thought I’ve been having the past couple weeks is, What do I really want? I know I want to travel. I want to see the world. I want to be a writer. But I also came to the conclusion that I don’t want to be wasting my time. I’m in Poland right now. In a beautiful city. I want to be exploring it. I want to be taking advantage of what this city has to offer. And first I need to find that. The first couple weeks that I was here, I was living it up in my new internet connection. Basically, wasting a lot of time. I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to be exploring my surroundings constantly. I don’t want to be wasting time because there is always something to see, and always something to do.

In conclusion. I think we should do what we truly want to be doing. What makes us happy. Don’t wait. And never forget.

Joanna


[1] Some of them anyways. Some people know what they want to do, and how they want to get there. And when you’re that person, that’s awesome.

[2] That was summer ’11 by the way.

[3] Euro-trip 2013!

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I decided I like parks. I don’t mean playgrounds, I mean the greenery in the middle of a city. Walking through a park, especially on a day as still as today, is enchanting, a remnant of what time was like before, where we lived, before the time of the city. It’s like being in another place entirely. If only the tranquillity was not disturbed by the sounds of speeding cars and the groan from the tracks as trams trembled into mobility. Either way, a park is a little bit of frozen time surrounded by a place where everything is moving to the speed of time. Giant trees, stretch their bare limbs across the sky, natural architecture. Leaves are sprawled across the grass in piles caught in cobble stone indents or pushed up against park benches and tree trunks as sun rays stream between the uplifting fog.  But not a single leaf falls because the air is so still. Captivating.

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