I looked up. I was having my coffee in Second Cup this morning. I saw a girl pick up someone’s bus pass, so I followed her train of thought. No picture, no one clearly looking for something, I guess I’ll give it to the cashier. And so she did. I wonder how often I’ll need people like that when I move to the Netherlands this winter. Except they won’t find a bus pass, they’ll find me, clearly out of place, trying to navigate myself. I would catch their glance and use it as an invite. “Hi, do you know which way is Sheveningen?”
If anything is required of a traveller, it’s a healthy sense of humility and a valid passport. 61 days to flight departure.
Two weeks ago, I didn’t expect to be travelling to the Netherlands. Two years ago, I didn’t expect to start my professional career at 19. Two decades ago, I was only 5 months alive. I say this, because it seems that, not long ago, my elder sister was teaching me how to draw inside the lines.
Know what’s weird? Day by day, nothing seems to change. But pretty soon, everything’s different. – Bill Watterson
And yet some things never change. Calvin is still Calvin, Hobbes is still Hobbes, and Bill Watterson’s charmingly blunt humour still makes me laugh every time.
I have transitioned from nervous to anxious. 63 days to flight departure.
There is a lot to do until then. I struggle to focus when another, very exciting part of my life slowly approaches. I want to welcome it with open arms, but can’t right now. I’m already hugging my research papers.
I thought they might be thinking, “if I stand here kind of close and look sort of awkward, someone will ask if I have questions!” So I answered their questions, reassuring parents that CO-OP doesn’t mean they’ll never see their kids, and giving prospective students a feel for what the CO-OP experience is like and how they can make it work for them!
Unfortunately, I forgot how much talking dries out your throat! Next time, I’m making sure to bring a bottle of water!
Screenshot of my travel budget, projected figures based on Consumer Price Indices and internet resources.
68 days to flight departure.
The first thing I did was research everything. And by everything, I mean everything I could think of. I scoured google for information about visas, the cost of living, residence permits, flight packages, culture, etiquette, travel insurance, travellers cheques, exchange rates, university grants, and CO-OP program requirements for working abroad. I bookmarked every page I thought might be useful to go back to and emailed all of the people I thought might have expertise that could be useful. I felt like I had no idea what I was doing, while simultaneously feeling like I was better prepared. I even registered myself as a Canadian abroad with the government.
I also met with several different people. I met with a TravelCUTS agent, a financial advisor from my bank’s branch, the uOttawa International Office, a student mentor, the Human Resources personnel from the company, and with several CO-OP staff.
Starting a Travel Budget was the most fun thing to do yet. It’s even got every monetary input converted to different currencies with the most up-to-date exchange rate!
Based on international flight quotes, transit costs, and the Consumer Price Index of the Hague, Netherlands, the amount above in Canadian dollars summarizes much of my estimated prospective living and travel costs from January to May 2012.
Information and preparedness is my cure for travel anxiety.
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When it comes to booking flights, advice from non-frequent travellers is altogether unhelpful. The cheapest day to book a flight is not always Wednesday and Westjet only flies in the Western Hemisphere.
Research skills and diligence have found me a flight package under $2000 for going to the Netherlands and back (thanks itravel2000). This only means that I’ll be spending New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day in the air. On the upside, maybe I’ll get to watch fireworks from the sky.