The power of place


in Canada, Daily updates, Oxford, Toronto, Travel

Capilano Canyon, near the Cable Pool

The contrast between the two weeks in Vancouver and my two days back here has amply demonstrated the simple fact that, fine a place as it is to take a degree in, I couldn’t actually live happily over an indefinite period in England.

Indeed, I would have a great deal of trouble anywhere that does not approximate the most essential features of Vancouver-ness: natural beauty (ideally, mountains), certain styles of food (ideally including inexpensive sushi), the acceptability of a Gore-Tex shell as a constant item of clothing, multiculturalism, reasonably good prices and customer service, good public transport, and myriad other factors that are less distinctly noticed than felt and appreciated at an intuitive level. In the end, it comes down to feeling properly yourself in a place or not. I have that feeling in Vancouver, I quickly had it in Montreal, parts of Toronto (Kensington Market) can evoke it, and I felt it in much of Dublin.

Being in a place that challenges you is certainly an essential part of education, but when the time comes to choose a place for the long haul (provided you have that luxury), the way to do it must be through proximity to friends, family, and those other things that define a place as one’s own.

All that said, it’s time to get back to cracking rocks for the thesis, and sorting things out for the upcoming optional paper (not a paper at all, but a series of seminars, for my fellow bewildered North Americans).

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ben September 26, 2006 at 4:03 pm

Many of us probably won’t get much choice, between partners, jobs and who knows what else…

Milan September 26, 2006 at 4:09 pm


That isn’t the kind of choice I meant. While lots of those choices may be conditioned, none of them are forced. For most people in the world, basically any significant move is forced.

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