Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Part Two: A Londoner in London

By the time we arrived in London, we were hitting the one-week vacation hump. We were tired. Sasha had successfully managed to cram amazing activities into every single day we were in Switzerland, making the most of our week there.

But with only three full days to spend in London, we didn't want to overextend ourselves by visiting every single tourist site. "I don't feel the same pressure to see everything in London," I told Jay and Court, "because somehow, I have this feeling that I'll be back again."

Part One: Sasha in Switzerland

It's been over a week since we returned home from our European mini-adventure. Since then, I've been grappling with what to write about. Usually, the themes evolve and expose themselves naturally. But there was nothing unique about this particular trip. Switzerland and London? Both are well-situated directly on the beaten path. It's been done before.

Yet after looking through our photos and thinking about the 10 days we spent in Europe, I'm beginning to realize that sometimes it's less about where you are than who you're with.

So, let's start at the start. There were two specific reasons for this particular trip:

1) To visit Sasha in Geneva. 

For those who don't know Sasha, she's a former roommate and one of my closest friends. In 2009, she decided to move to Rwanda for a couple of months to work with a non-profit organization. Two years later, she is finally returning to Canada with her boyfriend Nicholas (who she met in Rwanda, naturally) in tow. 

First though, she went back to her parent's house in Geneva. Sasha's dad, John, works at the WTO in Geneva, while her mom Joanne works at the WHO. John also just happens to be one of the ambassadors to Canada in Switzerland. They live in a beautiful home on the edge of Lake Geneva, complete with a wine cellar, a room used exclusively for eating cheese and a framed picture of Stephen Harper in the entry.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

How to get paid to travel: advice from a non-expert

Over the last week, I've been getting paid to travel again. I'll admit that the Oshawa-Kingston-Ottawa-Montréal route is a little less exotic than an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean, but there's a reason Canada tops the list of "Countries I've Been To." Travelling throughout my home country and home province (as much as it pains my Albertan heart to type those words) is a privilege--especially when I'm getting paid to do it.

Yesterday we wrapped up the final Go Global Expo in Montréal (success!) and as I type this, I'm sitting on VIA Rail (sooooo much better than the Greyhound), watching the last gasps of summer green rush past and reflecting on all of the conversations I've had with students, professionals and travel enthusiasts in the last six weeks.

In particular, yesterday's "Careers for Globetrotters Networking Cafe" at the Montréal expo (where I was invited to participate as a speaker) is at the front of my mind. Putting aside my extreme embarrassment at my inability to speak French, it was a really good opportunity to reflect on the last year of my life as a freelance writer, destination staffer, non-profit grant writer and traveller.

I'll admit that I felt a little out of place and doubted my own expertise, but the questions posed were familiar ones. I've been asked them in every city and every campus from York University to UOIT.

So for those who weren't able to make it to the Go Global Expos, here are answers to some of the most common questions I've received:
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