Sunday, February 1, 2009

About Me

I am a high school teacher who loves to travel. From the earliest days in high school I wanted to be a photo journalist, but a lack of acceptance into the Ryerson program led me to Trent, and then Queen’s University where I honed my other passion – teaching.

In two thousand and six I was bitten by the travel bug, and have tried to incorporate anecdotal tales into my work ever since. With an understanding that world travel can greatly enhance any teacher’s lessons, I have traveled as much as I could.

But it was not enough. I decided that I would take the 2009 / 2010 school year off and travel the world.

Now then, before reading further, you may find it useful to read the introduction. The first few steps towards what is now transpiring can be discovered here. And for those wanting to know a little bit more about the trav.el bug [trav-uhl buhg], you may just find the definitions to be somewhat alluring. You can also find an interview I gave at The Flying Pinto.

the blog
Starting this blog has allowed me to join a community of fellow travelers, communicate my tales to the people back home, and let me get closer to my dream of being a photojournalist than ever before.

If you want to meet up in your travels or share stories from the road – as well as the comfort of home – feel free to e.mail me. I’ll be around.

stepping into the past
It was March of 2006, and I was sitting in my Education in Practice class at Queen’s university. Keeping my head low, to avoid the squabble of other students, I diligently worked on one sodoku after the next, in an attempt to simply pass the time. Beside me a girl was looking through a travel book on Thailand. At that moment, my life was changed.

first great adventure
As I headed towards my Princess Towers apartment, I passed an Indigo Books. There, I headed straight for the travel section – a section I had previously avoided – and picked out a Rough Guide for Canada. Flipping through black and white page after black and white page, I was hooked. No longer would I rearrange the numbers one through nine. Now, I was planning. Planning what? I wasn’t yet sure. But I was planning something, even if it was just a weekend trip around Ontario.

As days past, my plans grew until they covered all of Ontario, and then spilled over into Manitoba. As the weeks progressed, I found myself ready to set out all the way to Vancouver Island. A few weeks later, I was informed that I was being called to Newfoundland for a wedding during August of 2006. While everyone else was flying, this provided me the opportunity to drive East, through Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and then finally Newfoundland, the rock, itself.

That summer I found myself bitten by the travel bug. From that point on, no one could help me.

But life, as it is want to do, got in the way.

I found myself returning from my summer long Trans-Canada road trip to a lack of finances, and the need of employment. I spent the next few weeks sending out applications, resumes, and letters of recommendation to all the local school boards. Eventually I received a hit, and settled down.

I taught Drama and English for a year, becoming even more endeared with the profession than I had before. There are few things as fantastic as honestly seeing a difference in a student’s growth. Watching a paradigm shift in motion is an unbelievable experience, and to be at the helm of that experience was fantastic.

My thoughts of future travel were put on hold, and my focus was on changing the world through education. As I affected my students, they affected me: I was inspired to write again, I renewed my long-forgotten passions, and one of my students even went so far as to teach me how to play guitar.

Through the year, though, I would pepper class discussions with travel. I could relate moments in Canadian literature to personal experiences, and tell anecdotes such as “The Van in the Mountains” to relate to feelings of fear, and impending doom.

As I talked of travel, the students grew more and more interested. I realized that there was a link here. By discovering the world, I could improve myself as a teacher.

My grandmother was turning eighty years old. A cruise was suggested. My extended family took to the high seas and I found myself in the Caribbean for the first time. Yes, it was a cruise. Yes it was all inclusive. But, it was travel.

Arriving in port, I made some bad choices and wandered far from the tourist points. As the friendly police became fewer and further between, and the voices were heard further in the distance, until disappearing completely, I noticed a change. The walls were no longer freshly painted, instead they were riddled with bullet holes; the liquor stores were no longer brightly lit, they were instead barred and locked.

It was here that I first experienced a different side to the world.

Later that summer I took myself to Cuba to experience another country that I had always wondered about. It was there that I learned how our expectations cloud our ability to enjoy life. There, I met people who stayed on the beach and lived with over a dozen people in their small houses; but, they were happy. They had no assumption of buying the latest video game system. They had no expectations of receiving a car for their sixteenth birthday. Because of this, they were happy.

With this newfound understanding, summer ended. I went back to work.

pressing forward
Back at work, I taught a Multiple Exceptionalities, special needs, classroom. Coupled with my understanding of relative-expectations this was one of the most rewarding years I had ever experienced. Struggling for months to teach a student how computer mice work led to an exceptional moment when cause and effect were finally related.

With these new experiences, and pressing beyond of comfort zones, I decided that I too should take a leap and finally actualize a lifelong passion.

I booked a trip to Tokyo.

Tokyo was my first backpacking experience, staying in hostels, and traveling by the proverbial seat of my pants. I saw the other side of the world, and realized that there really was so much more out there. So much more to experience.

During the following summer I would take some more trips, and gain numerous experiences. I was increasing my helpings, and stretching my travel stomach, with each passing moment.

As fall came again, and I found myself once more returned to the world of English teaching, I rediscovered my love of the craft. I was able to teach engaging lessons about Japanese life, with first hand tales. As well, I taught a cross-curricular lesson about planning trips, and sorting out Visas. And while I loved it, I knew there was something more I had to do.

If my brief trips to Europe and Asia had this much of an influence on me and my students, I could hardly imagine what the result might be if I were to take a year off and travel the World.

back to the present
And that’s where we are. I’m set to leave September first, two-thousand-and-nine. I am set to touch down on at least six of the seven continents, and set foot in at least thirty countries.

From here on out, nothing in my life is certain – except that I will travel once more.


  1. I just got goose bumps! Oh, what adventures you're about to embark upon. What stories you'll have. What moments unexpected. What memories! A year! Hurray for you that you have aspired to this, accomplished this. Amazing! I look forward to hearing your preparations -- they will be many.

  2. Hey there.

    I enjoyed reading through your blog tonight, which I stumbled upon from a posting of yours at the Departures page on Facebook.

    I'm surprised to see a few commonalities between you and I. We both went to Queen's for teacher's college. You went there a year after I did. I do remember those practice classes; I wish I were braver to read a travel guide during those times.

    I too also enjoy seeing growth in my students especially when I start to see changes in their paradigms.

    I also teach to a class of students with exceptionalities. All of them are deaf. Some have additional exceptionalities, such as Ushers Syndrome, Conduct Disorder, etc.

    Your description of Kingston made me smile. I loved escaping my life of assignments, midterms, exams, and more from being a student at Queen's by going to Indigo's and reading various magazines and books. Often times, they were related to travelling.

    I'm intrigued by how you're finding that whenever you weave your experience of travelling with your teaching, your students seem to connect to you or at least to pay more attention. I've found the same too.

    Keep up with your writing and your adventures of achieving what you want.

  3. I found your blog online and think it is great you are chronicling adventures in travel and in post-college professional life. I work for a website that just launched a few months ago: that collects student reviews of study abroad programs so future students can make the most informed decision when it comes to selecting the right study abroad program for them.

    Let me know if you would like to submit some of your content to our website, we are looking for blog posts, articles, pictures, etc. I understand you freelance, and unfortunately we are not paying for content, yet. However, we do have a section called Interview with the Professionals that I would like to feature you and your blog in.

    Let me know if you might be interested.

    Thanks, Whitney

  4. I am so excited for you! You are doing something that I have always dreamed of, but not having the guts to do. Now that I have a daughter, it seems like this dream is getting farther out of reach than ever. But do please tell us about your adventure and I'd really like to learn more about your plans / itinerary, and how you planned for your budget. It would be most appreciated if you could spare me some time by dropping me an email.

    Jen Laceda

  5. MacDonalds Chinatown Singapore update
    Hey PB just so you know I went to this outlet store and found they sell "prosperity burgers" beef content. So apt for this area. In NZ there is a special burger you will have to try.


  6. very, very, exciting. congrats! oh the sites you'll see and the stories and memories you'll have. i look forward to reading along...

  7. Wow, How exciting! Good Luck with your adventures. I've been a Flight Attendant for 16 years and I was fortunate enough to start my career at a young age. I've traveled and seen many places that I wouldn't have had the time or resources to do if it weren't for my job! I now have a 2 year old daughter who has already traveled a bit, she's flown a dozen times already and has her passport. Travel makes the world "smaller" and that is a good thing: )

    Thanks for being such a passionate teacher, I appreciate the work you do!!!

  8. If you wrote a book, I would read it. Your life sounds really interesting. I was directed here by Camelsandchocolate. I'm glad she linked to you! I'm linking your blog on mine. :)

  9. Hi Mike,

    Wow! Terrific content here and a beautiful site design. Thanks very much for bringing your site to my attention and best of luck on your upcoming travels.

    It's always good to see another Canuck on the road. Way to go! :-)


  10. I've only just begun to read your blog, but your trip looks very interesting! I'll be sure to follow along!


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