Without Maps

I’m still in lalaland as my brain lingers on thoughts of travel. This happens to me every time I go somewhere...even if it is just to the other side of the country. I’m always pumped with this sense of adventure that I cling to for as long as allow me to indulge myself.

One of my favourite parts of traveling is exploring places by myself. It’s such a liberating feeling to know that you can just pick up and go whenever and wherever and not need anyone to do it with. It’s terribly empowering. Not just that but I have a certain way of traveling that I know doesn’t jive well with a lot of people. I don’t like having concrete plans or rigid schedules, rather just a general idea of what I want to see and do. You discover so much more when you’re open to let the day take you where it wants to. You discover gems that aren’t on the maps and you meet people you may never otherwise meet. There’s that thrilling feeling of uncertainty that just keeps you on your toes all day.

I got to do that while in Vancouver with random excursions all throughout my time there. I traveled up to Capilano on a whim and got to see the natural beauty of Northern Vancouver. While there I made a new friend from New Zealand, Matt, who randomly became my traveling partner and handy photographer for the next two days. I also randomly decided to check out the Chinatown in the city...a place I usually don’t enjoy visiting. But there I found the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden, a sweet little garden authentically designed in the Chinese tradition. It was odd to see this little piece of China in the middle of Vancouver...but ‘tis the celebrated diversity of this good ol’ nation of mine that makes it just an everyday spot.

Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden

The next day I ventured off to Victoria, BC (photos here)...totally was not in my itinerary, but as usual, excited by the thought of adventure. Didn’t really know how to get there...had such a complicated array of transportation -- a bus, a train, a ferry, a shuttle -- making for a trip that took nearly five hours (one way!). But the scenery en route was so gorgeous. Had a horizon full of islands throughout the ferry ride, a welcome view at any time! Plus, I happily got to visit the capital of British Columbia, a small city with a certain old school charm to it.

Hatley Castle in Victoria

I love that uncertainty of travel. Not knowing where exactly you’re going and having no maps laid out in front of you...just relying on a combination of the guidance of others and your own inner compass. A little slice of “carpe diem”.

"Magellan This City" or rather, this campus!

For awhile now, I (as a rep for blogUT), along with some friends, have been working behind the scenes with My City Lives to film a video series exploring the University of Toronto, St. George Campus. For those of you who don't already know (and take note, cuz you'll be hearing this name more often!), My City Lives is an online platform that gives us, the citizens, the opportunity to capture and share our daily experiences around the city on video. If you check out their website, you'll see that the web stories are presented on an interactive map that shows exactly where each video was filmed so you can learn more about our city based on the narratives of others. It's a simple yet incredibly powerful idea...

Now the idea to shoot on campus arose out of the need to create and build an accessible resource for first-year students who often find themselves lost during those first few weeks of university, both physically and socially. It's a terrifying and potentially alienating experience to find yourself out of your comfort zone in a totally different environment with people you don't know. It's overwhelming. I know because I've been there myself.

Those physical, antiquated maps with grids and street names that the university provides its froshies are no longer enough. They don't even begin to scratch the surface of what the campus is all about. As my friends at MCL say, "Ordinary maps are lifeless...we present a view of a city by the people who make it breathe". So here's to hoping these videos breathe life into this lovely, historically rich and vibrant campus!

**Thanks again to Adil, Coleman, and Saleema who made this all happen. Below are some sample videos but you can view the entire series here.