Tuesday, January 4


Well, every year it seems that New Year's is a time when everyone looks back and meditates over the last twelve months. Seeing as how I'm always one to jump on a trend [cough, cough], here goes...

In hindsight, it's been a pretty trippy year. Sorry for the hip hop lingo, but I honestly can't think of a word to better describe it. Mind you, it's not just the traveling that I've done for the past couple of months. Not wanting to go into too much detail about things that have happened since July [just check past entries of blog] I'll sum it all up as a good way to unwind after finishing school, and as a good way of putting some of the past to rest. It's not good to forget the past, but being stuck in it isn't any better. Maybe I'll explain what I mean by that farther down the road.

The first part of the year was different from my experiences with school in the past. Being almost finished, I was able to choose courses that were interesting, and yet not too difficult. After four and a half years of a steadily increasing work load, I finished my last higher-level courses the previous fall, leaving me with more freedom and less stress. For instance, I was able to feed my cravings for politics by taking courses in international development, something much more applied than the other theoretical courses that were required by my program [economics and math].

The weirdest part of the year [and possibly my life] just happened to coincide with graduation. Since before I can remember, I was raised by my grandmother, and she was by far the most important person in my life. Still, she had been fading for some time, after having a heart attack last year. After I finished my classes in May, I went back to Nova Scotia to see her. The family knew that she didn't have much time left. After seeing her, it was obvious that she was in a tremendous amount of pain. The strange thing was that in the end, I was the last one to see her. She passed away a day after I got back to Halifax. For me, the most shocking thing was I was in seeing her, as I always expected to hear of her passing over the phone. As well, we were all very thankful that she had as much time as she did, as after her heart attack on Easter of 2003, she was given no more than three days to live, with no possibly of more than a month. Thirteen months later, she finally slipped away.

After the funeral, and before I was scheduled to come back to Montreal, I managed to squeeze in a quick tour of the Gaspesie, a peninsula in Quebec that runs north of New Brunswick. It's interesting because for the majority of Quebeckers that don't speak English, it's the only real tourist destination. Hence, the only place where I've backpacked through where I encountered very little English. Although the landscape was very beautiful, in the end it was the language quirk that made the trip stand out. I think my French improved at least two or three levels over the course of the week.

Although I'd finished all of the requirements for my degree, a teacher of mine from the past semester had told me about a summer course that sounded very interesting. So upon my arrival back in Montreal, I hit the books one last time, if you can even call it that. This course was just for pleasure, and in the end delivered in full. Called Comparative Religions, it was a graduate class that was more of a seminar than anything else. With ten students and five professors [each a specialist in one of the world's main religions], this was the sort of course that I'd always hoped to take since arriving at university. Unfortunately it didn't come until the very end, but at the same time, it was nice to be able to end on such a high note. To see especially the scholars of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam getting along to the point where they all became fast friends was incredibly encouraging. To get a full grasp of what this was like, consider that each professor was extremely religious (rabbi, minister, etc), and that the classes lasted 12 hours a day for two weeks straight. And then pick up a newspaper...

I started keeping this blog shortly after I finished the class, so I'll skip ahead to a quick word on recent happenings. Christmas was the first without my grandmother, and also the first that I've spent in Montreal. Yet, in the end, it was better than I'd ever expected. For the night of the 24th, I stayed with my friend Norm, and we did a make-shift orphans X-Mas [sorry, I couldn't resist :)]. The following evening, we were joined by two other friends for a Christmas of pool and foozeball. The rest of the week was fairly quiet. For New Year's, Norm and I wandered around the main entertainment district of Montreal, before settling on a cafe to do some people watching. Of the people that we saw come through, quite a few were comical, others not so much so, and still others were downright scary. Some looked like they were completely dead. What a way to start the new year...

To end this, I'm going to put my finger on something that I've been asked more times than I can count. Which, out of places that I've seen over the last year, was my favorite? Well, I've been thinking about this for a good five minutes now (!), and, in part just to be different, I'm going to have to go with Saskatchewan. In particular, Saskatoon. Perhaps because it was so underrated, but mostly because the people there were just so darned nice. For more on that, I think the blog entry that centered around Saskatoon was called Flatlands, as well as possibly the one that came after it.

-end, part 1-


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So you said you wanted to have more comments. Well, here's one, although I'll make it short. Can you tell more about the religion classes? For one thing, how did they last 12 hours each?!


5:40 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the class was really amazing. the morning was spent listening to lectures, but were so informal that it didn't feel like work. the teachers were all very good, the subject interesting, and all of the students were there for the sake of knowledge alone. the afternoons were then spent on field trips (monistary [spelling on that], hindu temple, sikh temple, sabath dinner, etc). it was a very unique experience. in non-applied arts, it's a very different vibe. people arn't there for the sake of careers, they're there for the sake of knowledge.


8:58 p.m.  

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