On the first day of university, I met one of my best friends, Paige. We lived on the same floor in our student residence at Wilfrid Laurier University and instantly clicked. Despite living in different cities and going down different paths over the years, Paige and I always maintained one of our core beliefs: You’re never too busy to make time for a friend.
Paige recently moved to Finland to pursue her second Masters degree and encouraged me to come visit. I decided to use Media Profile’s Work Away benefit this year to travel farther than I ever have to vacation, work and spend time with friends.
I started my trip with Katie, another good friend who I first met virtually during COVID-19’s lockdowns when we attended Centennial College to get our PR certificates. Once we finally met in person, we realized that despite being different people in many ways, we get along great and share a love for travelling. After much research, we decided to go to England and Portugal together before I went off to Finland, and I never looked back.
Although there’s so much I love about Canada, there’s tremendous value in completely immersing yourself in other countries and their cultures. We all get stressed, and whether it’s from work, school or your personal life, having a reset where you get the chance to try a different routine can benefit your mental health. I had the opportunity to do just that with the help of Media Profile’s Work Away benefit, and I’d like to share what I learned from my journey in hopes of helping others deal with their stress by trying new things and, ultimately, developing a different outlook on life.
Learning about topics unrelated to my field in England
Although it’s important to stay up-to-date in your field, it’s also beneficial to learn about things outside of your world. While in London, I gained so much knowledge from sightseeing alone. I toured Buckingham Palace and The Tower of London, and got to watch Macbeth at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and Mamma Mia! The Party at the O2. I’ve always enjoyed learning about history and the arts but educating myself in environments where I could enjoy that process without the pressure of having to take notes and remember every key detail was refreshing. And if you can’t travel to learn something new, I highly recommend reading a book on something you’re passionate about and see if it helps your stress levels.
Enjoying the simple things in Portugal
Visiting Portugal helped me to tune out what’s not serving me and, rather, engulf myself in the simple pleasures of life. It’s easy to get caught up in the superficial things that don’t really matter, but getting out in the sun, being active and enjoying high-quality food were all things I realized made me feel so much better than a new outfit ever could. When you’re feeling stressed, I highly recommend going back to the basics! Even if you don’t live by the ocean or a cool landmark, just getting out for a walk or finding a fun activity where you can clear your mind can help.
Finding beauty in the quiet moments in Finland
I’ve always been a big city girl—I love the fast pace, the busy crowds and consistently having something new and trendy to try. That said, it’s important to slow down every now and then so you don’t burn out. Being in Finland taught me how to appreciate the beauty and magic around me, especially when it wasn’t the type of entertainment I was used to. Finland is known for having a quieter culture where people keep to themselves more. At first, I thought I’d find this to be difficult since I’m more of a talkative person, but instead, this forced me to reflect on why I need all the noise to begin with. I settled into my temporary new home and embraced the slower pace and the silence. I did activities that brought me closer to nature and allowed me to feel like a kid again. Some highlights included seeing reindeer, crossing the Arctic Circle, chasing the northern lights and relaxing in a plethora of saunas.
MP’s Work Away Benefit is a huge privilege that I have been lucky enough to take advantage of. The perspective you gain from travelling is unlike any other experience, and I’m incredibly grateful for the amount of travel I’ve gotten to do this past year. I hope what I’ve learned from my journeys will be able to help others this Stress Awareness Day and beyond. Here’s to the next adventure!