Should I Stay or Should I Go

As I returned to Canada after 3 months abroad in a foreign country, I looked at my surroundings. The streets, buildings, even the people were all things I remembered and recognized. I knew that the community centre and the church are up the street, but I was much more inclined to explore them after having explored abroad. I wanted to look at every avenue in my neighbourhood, attend events in my city, and meet the people in my neighbourhood. It took me flying all the way to Africa to become inspired to explore a little more of Canada and feel this way.


“We journey across the world to step out of our own tiny corners and experience all that foreign cultures can teach us. But can an education about people, lifestyles and cultures be found, to the same real and rich extent, within our own borders?”


I’ve been living in Ottawa for 4 years now and I would say that I could show a newcomer around the city. But this summer was my first real interaction with the Westboro, Hintonburg, and Little Italy areas. I think because the beauty of my neighbourhood was right in front of me and so I became used to seeing it. Not to mention, my lifestyle while in Canada is pressed with more duties and deadlines than when abroad so I’m distracted from what I could be seeing.

I walked home from Rideau Centre to Vanier the other night unintentionally (long story). Initially, it was so frustrating to have wasted time walking so far because it was late at night and I had to get to bed. But I put on my travel lenses and realized that I never walked these parts of the city this way before. What I heard was music playing on a Sunday evening, I saw what my neighbourhood looks like by night and interacted with some neighbours. These are things about my neighbourhood I usually don’t see because I’m on the bus trying to save time. But it was worth it.

This article gives three good reasons why we should explore our own countries more. I think most importantly it states that we are able to appreciate our countries more when we travel within them. I know that the Rockies are in Alberta and there are beautiful lakes across the nation; people travel across the world to explore them. And I’m already in the country, so why wouldn’t I explore them too? I think once I have experienced more of what Canda has to offer, I will feel and even greater sense pride in the country.

Do you have a desire to travel internationally more than within Canada? Or have you done your fair share of travel in Canada?

How do you compare domestic and international travel?

Why is it that we don’t explore the things that are right in front of us?


3 thoughts on “Should I Stay or Should I Go

  1. I can very much relate to what you are writing. I think part of why I love living in Ottawa so much is because of all the travelling I’ve done. It makes me appreciate what is around me so much more! I am also at that point where I am thinking that exploring the world is awesome, but our own country has its own amazing sites! I recently discovered the Prairies, mostly Saskatchewan, and it was so much fun to see how diverse and beautiful our country is. I learned to line dance. I saw moose in the fields. I saw how flat part of Canada is. I think travelling helps you realize how it’s important to appreciate what we have because so many people don’t necessarily have those luxuries we take for granted. And a house is a house is a house anywhere in the world unless you choose to take a moment and really appreciate it for what it is. Thanks for the share, it was fun to read 🙂 On my bucket list is: to visit Newfoundland!!! Hopefully soon… ish.

  2. You have struck a cord that resonates with me.

    A few years I ago travelled to Cotonou, Benin, and lived in there for almost a month. I lived as one of the city dwellers, visited different neighbourhoods and worked in an office setting. Enjoyed the native food from road side stands to restaurants off the beaten path, that, in comparison to our food trucks and greasy spoons, are primitive.

    Benin, is a developing country, with a standard of living far below that of Canada. To live there and return to Canada is to realize how privileged we are to live in this great country and call our selves Canadians.

    Back in the 60’s my older brother travelled across Europe, he too had the same impression.

    My goal when I retire is to drive across Canada, from Newfoundland to Vancouver, taking the time to explore this great country. There is so much in this country to find and uncover.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. A good read.

  3. Hi Angela:

    Henry Miller once said ” one’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” I agree with that notion and it seems to me that it is exactly what happened to you when you decided to change up your routine commute unexpectedly. You discovered your hood’ had a night life and socialised with neighbs you rarely see. You claim that you’re desire to discover more of your own city came from travelling abroad. That rings true to me. I feel the same way whenever I get back from visiting my family in Algeria. I always appreciate my hometown so much more and seek to find it more about it; all its nooks and crannies, so to speak. I look for new restaurants that have opened up of artistic venues. My interest in the place I call ‘home’ is definitely re-invigorated. I admit I do have a desire to travel abroad more than domestically…but, I rarely turn the opportunity to see more of our beautiful nation or to take advantage of all the natural beauty it has to offer. I’ve been out West three times now and still would like to see Alberta and explore other parts of BC. I would like to see Cape-Bretton and even go back to Newfoundland. There are provinces I have never even seen like Saskatchewan that I would like to visit at some point. But, yes [I must admit] I do compare domestic travel to international travel and [9/10] foreign lands take the day. I’m fascinated by what I deem to be truly unknown and exotic or very ancient. Ancient places, languages and customs draw me in. Centuries old architecture, poetry, pottery, paintings all capture my imagination. I especially like going to places that are not fully modernized and have retained much of their unique flavour and culture. I have no desire to travel to places that maintain similar practices or lifestyles as the one I have in Ottawa. I go to foreign places to immerse myself in what I don’t know and have always wanted to know more about. To see the differences and [yes] similarities between societies, but above all, to learn about others and all the beauty and wisdom of the culture they have to offer. Thank you for this post, Angela. You just reminded me that Ottawa has a lot to offer and worth exploring!

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