All across the universe

Jane Switzer
Jane Switzer

It’s the end of my second year of university, and I’m having an existential crisis. Okay, so I’m not exactly Simone de Beauvoir.

All right, I’m nothing like Simone de Beauvoir. Still, something hasn’t been sitting right lately. I’m restless, withdrawn and can’t shake the feeling that I’m missing out on something.

I may still have two more sheltered years of university left before branching out into the real world, but I might as well be up a creek without an undergraduate degree, because I have no idea what I’m doing with my life. Dramatics aside, I’ve been consumed by an end-of-year anxiety that can only be described as one thing: wanderlust.

Perhaps you’re not familiar with the German loanword that roughly translates into the desire to travel. Let me explain.

I was raised in Scarborough, a suburb of Toronto where strip malls blossom abundantly and Mike Myers Way is somewhat revered as a landmark. Growing up in what I thought was the centre of the universe, my 10-year-old self never wanted to leave the GTA. “Why would I?” I would tell my parents, teachers, and friends smugly. “Toronto has everything.” Content to do nothing more than ride the subway, shop at the Eaton Centre, go to the ROM and enjoy the familiarity of my hometown, I figured I would never want to leave Toronto.

I was wrong.

My wanderlust affliction started last year when three of my friends spent the summer teaching English in Italy. Grounded with a nine-to-five bank job and living at home, an exciting day for me meant filing credit card fraud investigation forms (in alphabetical order, of course) and driving down the street to Tim Horton’s for lunch. I missed my friends terribly, and was envious of their European adventure. Suddenly, I wasn’t so keen on being confined to the limits of the GTA. And so began my existential crisis. What else was out there? More importantly, what had I been missing out on my whole life? I decided it was time to get out, but that was easier said than done.

Between my new obsession with scouring the Air Canada website for tickets to Turin, emotional e-mails to my Italy-bound friends promising I would come to visit, and teary fights with my parents that usually involved yelling the phrase “I’ve never been anywhere! I’m so domestic,” my desire to flee the confines of my suburban stomping-ground became stronger than ever. I never made it to Italy that summer, but remembering the restless days of that hot July has had me compulsively planning out for the last eight months all the places I want to visit.

So, where will I be this summer? Well, the plane ticket I booked yesterday to go to Europe should be a good start to indulging my wanderlust and shaking off my existential crisis. Between chasing cows in the English countryside and pounding the pavement in the familiarity of Kingston, for the first time in my life I feel like I’ll be expanding my horizons, exploring new cultures and various other travel clichés this editorial doesn’t have room for. Ciao, au revoir, sayonara, auf wiedersehen and cheerio. Maybe, if you’re lucky, I’ll send you a postcard.

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