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O Canada

Samantha Coughlin | Friday, September 20, 2013

I’d like to say I’m well travelled; I’ve traversed the United States, gained tens of pounds in Western Europe, burned to a crisp in every island nation I’ve stepped foot in, and have battled the high seas from the comfort of my cruise ship mattress. Yet, one land has loomed in the distance, waiting apprehensively for the day that I would cross its border.
The Canadian tourism department boasts to having been “ranked No.1 as the country with the best overall reputation in the world” for three consecutive years. When I first read that – weeks before I thoughtfully prepared for my trip – I thought about my own understanding of Canada: maple syrup, hockey, moose, sorry pronounced as “soar-y,” Justin Bieber, and Degrassi. By any interpretation of the aforementioned words, my opinion was glowing. So when the opportunity arose to explore our northern neighbor’s land, I had no choice but to agree. And what better way to explore Canada than attend a Ukrainian festival in Toronto!* Suffice it to say, the stars were really aligning in my favor.
The week before my trip was undoubtedly the most productive time of my life. I live in a state of chaos, a perfectionist trapped in a procrastinator’s body. Naturally, I had a project or essay due in every class the week of my return, but somehow I managed to complete everything by Thursday afternoon. I packed Wednesday night according to AccuWeather’s forecast, printed out directions, refilled my gas tank, even bought snacks and made a road trip playlist. Last week I transformed into a Type-A personality, and I couldn’t have been more proud of my focus and determination.
I planned to leave straight after my studio class Thursday evening. I was on the road 15 minutes after class got out, when alas, I realized I had forgotten something; I rushed back to campus and conned my way onto campus to get my computer charger and umbrella. Phew! All set, I rushed back to my car and restarted my trek to Toronto. With the sun at my back, I excitedly began my voyage in high spirits. I spent a jolly two hours on the road before somehow arriving at the realization that I had failed to pack the one essential item I would need during the weekend: my passport.
I can’t describe the emotional disintegration that ensued, nor would the series of expletives that marked my journey back to Notre Dame be appropriate for print. I spent the ride home in complete silence; not even the thought of finally finishing my 36-hour Crime and Punishment book on tape could console me. The sad realization was that my “wonder week” was simply a façade, easily defaced by my more characteristic foolishness and disorganization.
I eventually made it to Toronto, leaving at 5:00 a.m. the next morning. I never used my computer charger or umbrella, but I’ll give myself a pat on the back for remembering to go back and get them. Canada was cool; my adulatory opinion on the nation remains untainted. I’m simply a well-travelled idiot.
* I am not Ukrainian.

Contact Samantha Coughlin at scoughl2@nd.edu
The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.