Sunday, 12 August 2012

Writing and Wandering with a Greenheart

Sunday 12th August, 2012; 20:43
Location: My 'desk' again. Toronto, Ontario Canada
Why: In case you were wondering whether I got it.

If you mused through yesterday's long-ish 'wordy' post, thank you for reading. You may be wondering if I got it?


Guess who's going to France on a paid scholarship?!

I've treated myself to some light reading for my upcoming adventure:

That's it today, short n sweet.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Fou Fou Pour France

Saturday 11th August 2012; 21:29
Location: My 'desk', Toronto, Ontario Canada
Why: Because I can't stop thinking about traveling.

It's supposed to be summertime here in Toronto. So why then is it 19degrees and piss pouring rain? This weather blows. If I close my eyes I can still imagine the heat in Asia. Boy what I would give for some S.E. Asia humidity right now....and what I'd do for some traveling...

Okay, gotta snap out of it and remind myself that good things are a comin'

This is going to be a 'wordy' post but I promise it'll be worth reading!

Three months ago while I was living in Malaysia, I was researching on traveling to France to study French. I happened upon a Language Exchange Homestay program with the Center for Cultural Interchange, a non-profit organization based in Chicago, Illinois. Through their Greenheart Travel division, I applied for a language exchange homestay in France. The application process was a slight endeavour in itself and did not guarantee me a placement. I even had to write a letter in French to my host family about myself. Since I didn't want to use Google Translate or had a dictionary, this literally took me hours to write! Okay, maybe I cheated a wee bit.... But basically, I had to recall my French from Grade 4 to Grade 9 - thank goodness I paid attention in class.

Thankfully, I had my dear friend from Montreal (bonjour Dylan!) proof read my letter before I sent it off. A couple of weeks later, I got accepted and placed in Lyon France. Happy days!

This boosted my confidence so I decided to apply for Greenheart Travel's Travel Correspondent Scholarship. I thought the initial application process was a process....this one was a stresser. It included a written essay on why I want to travel to France or why I love traveling, a photo essay consisting of 5-7 photos with little or no word descriptions, and a 2 minute video.

For some of you who creep my Facebook page (bless you!, creep away), you'll remember I posted an album called "13 Months, 7 Countries...So Far". Well that was my photo essay! And thanks for all the feedback.

As for my essay, well, this was actually the easiest part. The hard part was writing it in a way that would stand out from the rest of the competition. Since it was just one scholarship for the four countries (Belgium, France, Italy, Spain), I didn't think I stood a chance but I plunged forward anyway.

Here is an excerpt from that essay:

Smitten and Bitten by the Travel Bug
By Dave-Lynn (Davie) Poc

"My first taste of a country beyond Canada was introduced to me in the fifth grade when we did a study on Japan. Until this point, my world didn’t go beyond 63 Cloverdale Drive, in suburbia Ontario.  My teacher, Mrs. Stiles had put up a world map at the front of the classroom and indicated where Japan was – a tiny oblong shape on the other side of the world. I was mystified.

And smitten.

The concept of a place so far away from mine became the stuff of my daydreams. And as the Japan study continued over the next few weeks, I became more and more curious of the world beyond my own. I loved how these cultures were so different, the language so foreign. Even seemingly mundane things such as foot ware were fascinating.

I believe this was the birth of the travel bug for me and knew some day, I would just…go. I was 10 years old.

Since that year in fifth grade, I have always wanted to travel and experience living abroad. Geography was one of my favourite subjects and I used to spend countless hours pouring over all kinds of maps. I even scored a perfect test in the seventh grade where we had to locate all the capital cities in North America on a map. I have always had a mad love affair with maps and Google Maps is never far from my reach.

Often, daydreaming about traveling to a far away land consumed my weekends. I wanted to ride the train across Europe, climb the Great Wall of China, bomb around on a motorbike in Asia, and taste the risotto in Italy. I envisioned myself traversing the streets of Paris and breaking out into perfectly accented French to the delight of a Parisian. Or exclaiming in exaggerated Italian whilst using wild hand gestures which made me grin at the very thought of it.

Fast forward to adulthood. During and after university, I had sampled a small part of the world by traveling to Japan, China, and several countries in Europe, including France. I even bartended in London to finance The Travel Dream. Sadly, my hefty student loan kept looming over me and I found myself back in Canada to work for ‘The Man’. Twelve years flew by with little extended excursions as I climbed the career rungs of the corporate fashion industry. When the monotony of being chained behind a desk for years and the itch to stuff my rucksack became too much to ignore, I decided to make a move.

I spent one year scrupulously saving by cutting back on almost all my luxuries whilst researching places to visit. My trip was mapped out to 15 countries, 12 months in 3 different areas of the world. The first was Southeast Asia. Second was India. And third was going to be South America. To my non surprise, 13 months later and I have yet to leave Southeast Asia. I’d become a lazy gecko! But seriously, I quickly realized blasting through a country just to say I’d been there was not for me. I wanted to get under the skin of Thailand, taste the history of Vietnam and get lost in the jungles of Laos. I wanted to be humbled by these countries so vastly different from my privileged Canada. I have been humbled to the core of my being; from meeting survivors of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia to volunteering my time with the disabled in Indonesia.

Along the way, I enrolled in a TEFL/TESOL training course (I’ve hummed and hawed about this for years) and discovered that I really enjoy teaching.  Endless hours preparing lesson plans with my classmates, whilst chugging back bottles of Beer Chang, made for memories to last a lifetime. Fortunately, I don’t drink (beer) and didn’t fall victim to the ‘Chang Over’, phew! After this amazing experience in Chiang Mai, the desire to live and now, teach abroad has cemented into my consciousness."

Hmmm, just reading this again gives me goosebumps...

For my video, I kept it raw without any special effects or editing. I did this for one reason only - my Acer netbook had no video editing capabilities.

I submitted my application and waited patiently for 1st July to come...

Did I get the scholarship you ask? Wait for it........