Less than one week til we leave for New Orleans and I can’t quite figure out if it feels more real or more dreamlike at this point. May seem strange, but truth often is. On one hand, seeing my bag half-packed on my floor and reading the itinerary emails Tanya and Pascal sent out surely adds to the realness. My mind is running through lists and making imaginary check marks in my brain as I finish the housekeeping tasks that I must complete before locking up my apartment and saying so long to Toronto for a brief – yet inviolable – period of time. However on the other hand, each day that goes by seems a little more unreal than the last. I’m so used to my daily routine in Toronto, having lived on my own in the same apartment for over three years, that any trip becomes quite a production in my mind. I’m a bit of a homebody, so breaking out of my usual habits and going somewhere new is a pretty exciting thought. Funny, because there was a time in my life when almost every day involved going somewhere new… and yet simultaneously staying home. What a privilege to be able to travel for pleasure and know that your home will still be there when you return. Although I believe this is a privilege all should have the right to enjoy, it is clear this is not a reality. It is a rare and wonderful thing to be able to say one’s home is “safe and sound” and I’m humbled by the thought of being able to help others make this dream a reality.

Although this trip is really nothing like living and travelling on a sailboat, I find myself naturally drawing comparisons: the living quarters will be small and communal, we’ll be on the move a lot, we may encounter things that seem unfamiliar, we may miss home, we’ll definitely be excited to learn about our surroundings, and we’ll certainly be eager to contribute in relevant and positive ways that benefit those who have been gracious enough to host our stay.  Most importantly, regardless of how much we read and research about our destination and no matter how much we try to wonder, imagine, and anticipate in order to prepare ourselves, the only way to really experience anything is to go and do and be and see and listen.

And so, my dear Internet, that is what I plan to do. Although I immersed myself in learning as much about New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina as possible when I first started this course – and continue to pay attention when I stumble upon new information – I do not want any pre-trip impressions to detract from my ability to experience this new place to the fullest. I look forward to forming my own thoughts and opinions based on all that I go and do and be and see and listen to from April 28th til May 13th, 2012.