Posts Tagged With: adventure

On Sunday, I Lived

On Sunday, I tried snowboarding for the first time ever.

I’ve been skiing many times in the past, but for some reason, was always afraid to make the switch over to snowboarding. Leading up to my school field trip each year, I’d wonder the same thing: should I try something different this year? But when the trip day finally rolled around, I’d find myself thinking that I better stick to what I know. It’s safer that way. Trying to learn how to snowboard on a school trip didn’t seem like a good idea. What if I got hurt?

Now, a few years down the road, I’m learning more about what it means to “play it safe.” Here’s what I’ve come up with so far. To me, playing it safe means routine. It means being comfortable. It means familiarity. It means safety.

And these are bad things? you ask.

Of course not! Routine can be nice. Being comfortable usually feels good. When you’re familiar with your surroundings, you feel confident that you can successfully navigate your way through your daily life with (hopefully) few problems. You likely also feel safe, because you know how things work (or how they’re supposed to work), and you can adapt accordingly. But routine and familiarity also leave little room for growth, as they rarely challenge you.

Depending on how you look at it, these things can either be your best friend, or your worst enemy.

As I experience and learn more, I’m starting to view them more as enemies. The reason for this is simple: they stop me from growing. They hold me back from all the rich and unique experiences that are out there waiting for me.

Gaining new experiences isn’t always easy. Sometimes, it takes a lot of effort, time, and energy. My journey to the ski resort, for example, was an adventure of its own, and not an easy one! I had to wake up at 1:30 in the morning, take a taxi to a bus, take that bus to another bus, and then ride overnight in order to get to the resort bright and early. We arrived around 7:30 a.m., and set out for a full day on the slopes, shivering and running on very little sleep!

It was certainly a challenging day. In fact, it was exhausting. By the time I boarded the bus back to Busan, it felt like every muscle in my body was lashing out at me in attack. It was a struggle to find a way to sit comfortably for the 4.5-hour ride home.

But when I thought about sitting on that mountain with my feet in my bindings, looking at the astounding view around me, I had no regrets. I knew I had made the right choice. I had tried something new; I had lived, and it was incredible!

Life is full of adventure, for those who are open to the possibility. All we have to do is keep our eyes open, and take a chance when it arises. If you’re willing to try new things, then there are endless opportunities to do so. There are always new activities, foods, and drinks to try, new sights to see, new places, cities, and countries to visit, and new people to meet.

Next time you have the option to play it safe or go on an adventure, why not live a little?

All set to learn in my Canadian colours!

All set to learn in my Canadian colours!

Categories: South Korea, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Plunge

I’m now only about a month and a half into my 25th year of life on this incredible planet, but already, a lot has happened in that time.

Even before my birthday, in the months leading up to this milestone in my life, some important events were taking place. I should note, though, that most of these “important events” happened in my apartment in Korea, with myself as the only guest. Seems far from Earth-shattering, doesn’t it? However, this series of little steps really did shatter my understanding of the world at that time.

So, what exactly did I do, you ask?

First, I read some books that literally changed my life and helped me climb out of the unhappy hole I’d been stuck in for the last several months (more to come on this in another post).

After I’d cleared my head of most of the junk swimming around up there, I found I had freed up a lot more time that I could use to focus on myself. I thought more seriously about what I might actually want to do with my life. The two things I came up with (besides sleeping way too much, of course!) were travel and writing. Deep down, I knew both of these passions had already existed in me for quite some time – I just hadn’t really believed I could do something with them.

I began reading blogs and articles I found online about these two passions, and the more I read, the more interested I became in actually doing something about them. That’s when I first discovered Jeff Goins‘ blog, and my mind seemed to switch gears; from then on it was full speed ahead!

I started thinking about my own blog again – that poor, lonely one I had abandoned over a year ago and had never touched since I’d been back in Korea. Maybe it was time to give it a go again! I also joined social media networks that I had been avoiding for as long as possible, thinking (more like pretending) they weren’t really all that important anyway. A writer just writes, right?


Each time I visited the page of an online travel magazine where freelancers can submit their work, I was faced with the glaringly empty boxes of all the social media networks I was not part of. The list went on and on: Instagram, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn… And worst of all, these boxes were mandatory! I had my work cut out for me. Joining and figuring out how to work all these new platforms was going to take some time.

The next thing I did was probably the biggest step yet, and that was joining the My 500 Words writing challenge. Now one week into this challenge, I can already see how it’s beginning to transform my views on being a writer. I still have three weeks to go, and I’m excited to see what I’ll be able to accomplish by the time I reach the finish line.

It’s amazing what happens when you start your year off right – taking the plunge into quarter-century life surrounded by family, in your cozy little Korean apartment, with a can of Cass beer in hand!


Categories: My 500 Words, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sleep vs. Adventure

Day five of my writing adventure has begun. Still not as early in the day as I would have liked, but I’ll continue to work on that. Getting up early has always been a struggle for me. I’m one of those people who likes sleeping a little too much – definitely way more than is normal, and probably more than is even healthy! Most people who know me well know that if given the chance, I could easily and happily sleep most of the day away, every single day (especially during the winter!) Sometimes, I like to joke that I’m a professional sleeper. That’s how bad it really is!

However, this passion for sleep that I’ve been blessed (cursed?) with tends to interfere with my other interests at times, particularly those of travel and writing. I’m sure you can see how my wanderlust might bump heads with my lust to hibernate from time to time!

As much as I enjoy sleep, I can usually be coaxed out from beneath my warm, cozy blankets by the promise of an adventure (or coffee, of course). The promise of my computer screen waiting for me to finish writing my 500 words for the day has not yet become quite as enticing – but here’s to hoping it will by the end of this challenge!

My first four days of this commitment have already been eye-opening for me. Each day, I’ve produced something that I’m happy with; maybe even proud of! Each day, I sat down, I started writing, and I didn’t get up until I had written at least 500 words on the screen in front of me.

Some days, I sat down with an idea or topic in mind. Other days, I just started writing, and amazingly, a topic seemed to come to me as the words started to fill up the page. Sometimes, 300 words in, I discovered I actually did have something in mind to write about that day, I just wasn’t aware of it at the time I began typing!

I’m realizing more and more that it doesn’t matter so much what I write about, as long as I write. It’s amazing how easy it is to develop a new habit. All you really have to do is decide to do it. Make a commitment, and then stick to it, no matter what. I’m only five days into this month-long commitment, but I’m pretty confident that I’ll have no trouble completing it successfully because of one simple reason; I finally made the decision to start.

During the last few years, I’ve spent too much time putting writing off for another day, thinking it was too hard or that I had nothing worthwhile to write about. I kept telling myself that I’d start tomorrow, and then when tomorrow rolled around, I’d put it off yet again. At the same time, I was telling myself that I should really try to develop a daily writing habit if I ever wanted to be serious about writing. I would often read articles about how easy writing becomes when you make the commitment to do it every day and think “How nice! Maybe that will happen to me someday.”

In reality, all I really needed to do was start.

Now that I’ve tackled that monster, I want to work towards creating another habit: getting up early!

For a professional sleeper, I think this habit will prove to be a little more difficult to develop. Any ideas?

Categories: My 500 Words, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Views from Above

I’ve now called Busan home for almost two years.

During that time, there have, of course, been many ups and downs. But this is old news. When someone moves to a foreign country to begin a new adventure, they’d best not be expecting the sun to shine every day. (That’s a recipe for a nasty case of disappointment I’m afraid!)

Some things, though, will always catch you off guard. You can never prepare for them, no matter how hard you may have tried to imagine them before leaving home. And you can never control your reaction to them in the moment.

For me, one of these things is the mountains.

As someone who comes from a place with absolutely no mountains in sight until you’ve driven across at least three other provinces, this isn’t surprising to me. I’ve grown to love many things about my temporary home, but the abundance of mountains and the fact that they are so easily accessible is pretty high up on my list. Did I mention that there’s a mountain with a pretty great network of trails directly behind my apartment?

First, let’s get something straight, because at this point, you may be picturing me as the avid-hiker type, up at the crack of dawn to tackle the trails (unless you know me well, of course!). Unfortunately, this is not so, though sometimes I wish it were. In all honesty, you will probably never find me decked out in the full Korean hiking gear from head to toe, complete with poles and a visor. Oh, and don’t forget the kimbap and possibly/probably soju to share with your friends!

I’m certainly not serious enough about it to join the ranks of the Korean masses ready to take on anything that stands before them, but I do enjoy hiking from time to time. I’ve been fortunate enough to stumble upon some pretty amazing sights on my hikes in this beautiful corner of Korea.

I discovered one of those sights a couple of weekends ago.

A friend and I set out to do a little hike up the mountain behind my apartment, mostly to get some exercise and to check out some of the different trails. (Being the non-avid hiker that I am, I had barely set foot on my backyard mountain before this!) We started up the winding road, enjoying the unbelievably warm weather for mid-November. It was a gorgeous day, the sun beating down on us as we made our way higher and higher.

Then we came across a little park off to the side of the road. From what we could see, this “park” consisted of a couple of obscure statues and some rocks. Far from enticing, but we decided to check it out anyway.

And that’s when the best discovery of all was made!

Looking up over the tiny park, we noticed a big wooden patio with some tables and chairs lined up. Assuming it must be a shop or restaurant of some sort, we explored. What we saw next made me wish I had found this place nine months ago, when I first moved to the neighbourhood.

Standing on the patio, we looked out at the blend of light blue sky, baby blue water, deep green mountains, and the tall white buildings scattered everywhere in between them. A few fluffy clouds were drifting slowly overhead. I now knew why that tiny park had called to me. In that moment, I didn’t want to be anywhere else. Everything about this scene was enchanting.

That stunned feeling I get when I stumble across views like this never ceases to amaze me. I never know when or where it will happen, but it’s always a possibility. That’s one of my favourite things about Busan, and it’s one of the things I know I’ll miss the most!

A panorama of the view

Categories: My 500 Words, South Korea | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

YCI Celebrates International Volunteer Day!

Dec. 5th is International Volunteer Day!

To celebrate, YCI invited their volunteers to respond to the question: What inspires you to volunteer?

I did my best to keep my answer short, but it was difficult to sum up such an amazing opportunity in just a few sentences. Scroll down and you’ll find my picture and blurb!

My experience volunteering in Guyana in 2012 is something I’ll never forget. It opened many doors for me, and unlocked in me a passion for travel and learning about the world. I came to see how possible it is to make real connections with people who seemed, at first, to be completely different from me. The people I met and friendships I made while living in my village were one of the best parts of my volunteer experience. This adventure is where I first got “itchy feet,” and I’m so thankful I did!

If you’re thinking about volunteering somewhere, whether it be locally or abroad, GO FOR IT!!! I’m fairly certain that a unique experience like this will never end up on your list of regrets. (Hopefully you don’t have one of those, anyway!)

Happy Volunteer Day!

Youth Challenge International

Today is International Volunteer Day! This is a chance to recognize and celebrate volunteerism, honoring those who give their time to make a difference.

In celebration of International Volunteer Day, YCI wants to honour our amazing volunteers! Read on to learn what inspires them to volunteer abroad.

Aleatha Bedard-Poole Ghana 2014 “I volunteer to invest in others and empower individuals to do the same!”Aleatha Bedard-Poole Ghana 2014
“I volunteer to invest in others and empower individuals to do the same!”

Ali-Chuma Tabaro Koforidua Ghana, 2011 “What inspired me to volunteer beyond my desire to make a difference for others less fortunate is the opportunity to do so with the guidance and support I receive volunteering with YCI.”Ali-Chuma Tabaro Koforidua Ghana, 2011
“What inspired me to volunteer beyond my desire to make a difference for others less fortunate is the opportunity to do so with the guidance and support I receive volunteering with YCI.”

 Allison Burney Guyana, 2012 “I see volunteering as an opportunity to learn about the world by experiencing aspects of another country, including the culture, food, language, and lifestyle. I want to meet the people there, exchange ideas, and learn from each other.”Allison Burney Guyana, 2012
“I see volunteering as an opportunity to learn about the world by experiencing aspects of another country, including the culture, food, language, and lifestyle. I want to meet the people there, exchange ideas, and learn from each other.”

Stephen Cornish, Executive Director, Doctors without Borders Canada CRIV and CRV 1993/94 “Volunteering allowed me to gain experience, grow as a person and to begin what has become a life-long vocation in overseas assistance. I continue to serve as a board member for YCI thus giving back in a very small way; for what I received as a young YCI group leader many years ago.”Stephen Cornish, Executive Director, Doctors without Borders…

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Categories: Guyana | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Travel Map

I’ve got a start, but there’s still so much more of the world to see!!!


                       ALLISON’S TRAVEL MAP


Allison has been to: Antigua and Barbuda, Canada, Guyana, Hong Kong, Japan, Macao, South Korea, Thailand, United States

I made this map using Matador Network‘s #Travelstoke World Map template. It’s a super easy and fun way to keep track of your travels.

If you’d like to make your own map, click here and you’ll be map-building in no time!

Happy travels!

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“Are you Asian?”

After arriving in Busan last Wednesday evening on basically no sleep, I somehow still managed to be up bright and early on Thursday morning to get ready for my first day of training at my new job! I rode to school with Jane, and spent the day observing Renee’s (the teacher I replaced) classes and meeting my new students and co-workers.

Off to school on my first day of work!!

I quickly discovered just how lively the school is! Though the kids may be small, they have quite the lungs on them! Needless to say, I don’t think there will ever be a dull moment at JM (or at least never a moment of silence!)

Building my school is in

I spent Thursday and Friday learning all about what I’ve gotten myself into for the next year! I’m happy to report that I think I made a pretty good decision, and I think I’ll be quite happy here! JM is a fairly small English school, with only about 70 current students. I have 3 Korean co-workers and one other foreign co-worker from the States who are all very nice and extremely helpful! If they aren’t helping me with lesson plans or giving me activities to do with my classes, they’re showing me around the neighbourhood or suggesting interesting tourist places for me to check out around Busan. Often, they even bring treats to school to share with me!! I don’t think I could ask for a better group of co-workers, especially when starting a brand new job in a foreign country!

My very own desk!

I start work at 10 every morning, and work until 6 p.m. on Mon, Wed, Fri, and only 4 p.m. on Tue and Thurs! I read at least one book to the kids every morning, and teach mostly phonics, math, and different components of English like sentence and paragraph writing, comprehension and vocabulary. Most of my classes use workbooks that have all the lessons in them for each subject, so I don’t actually have much planning to do! However, I have a bit more freedom with subjects like Art and Music, so I can come up with my own lesson plans or activities for those classes if I choose to, which is kind of nice!

After my first week of teaching, I am slowly settling into my role, and starting to figure out my schedule a bit more.

I get lunches like this everyday at school! Yum!

I’m starting to know which classroom I should be in, and which books the students use for each class. I think I even know almost all of my students’ names, which is a pretty big achievement for me! (I’m normally horrendous with names!) Regardless of how comfortable I may get and how routine my schedule may get, I have a feeling that every day of teaching here is going to be a brand new adventure! What more could I hope for?

In other news, I also moved into my new apartment on Sunday! I’m all unpacked now and settled into my very first home of my own! I guess moving all the way to Korea to live alone for the first time ever may have been a bit extreme, but I do love my place! It’s a small bachelor apartment, and is right around the corner from work, so I just have a quick walk to the school in the morning – very convenient! I’ve also put up about a million pictures on my walls, so I can feel close to home even while on the other side of the world!

My apartment building

And finally, here are some funny moments from my first week of teaching for your enjoyment:

During one of my orientation days last week, a few minutes after meeting me for the first time, one of my students asked me, “Are you Asian??” To which Renee replied, “Are you sure you can see clearly with your glasses? I think you need new ones!!!” The student, however, was apparently dead serious and wasn’t meaning for it to be a joke. Hahaha. This MUST mean I fit in here after all…..right?? 😉

While I was reading a story to one of the Kindergarten classes, one of the little girls who is probably about 3 in Canadian age (Korean children are always a year older because when you’re born here, you’re automatically one year old) walked over to me and started petting my face and feeling my skin for a few minutes as I continued to read. When I couldn’t ignore it anymore because it was making me laugh, I stopped and looked down at her. When she realized I had stopped reading, she gave me a big grin and giggled, as if she had been caught doing something she knows is strange. I couldn’t help but giggle too! It was probably the strangest, yet most adorable moment of the entire week!

Anytime I ask my students to teach me how to say a word or phrase in Korean, it almost always ends with me getting laughed at to varying degrees! They seem to think it’s the funniest thing ever to hear me try to speak Korean! I don’t blame them, though, because no matter how many times I try, I can’t seem to get it right. Unfortunately, this learning Korean thing isn’t quite as easy as I’d hoped! I do my best to make them laugh and want them to have fun at school, so if my worse-than-terrible Korean skills can do the trick, I’m willing to sacrifice myself for their enjoyment – at least for now! If my Korean ever improves, though, I’ll have to resort to finding some other form of comedy to make them happy. Phewf – good thing I’m covered for now! 😉

My apartment!

Street my school is on

Categories: South Korea, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Making the most of little moments

Mar. 9, 2012:

This Tuesday marked one month until my flight back home, which means we are now over 2/3 through our time here! How it flew by! I still can’t believe it. Just as St. Cuthbert’s is finally starting to feel like home, I will be packing up to leave before I know it!

Workshop time at the secondary school!

Our group has been busy the last week or so preparing some workshops to host during our final month here. The secondary school students start their end-of-term exams next week, so we decided to run a workshop on study skills and test-taking in order to help them prepare. On Tuesday we held two workshops; one in the morning for the Grade 7s, and one in the afternoon for the Grade 9s. It was a lot of fun! We split the classes up into groups and had them work together to brainstorm some studying tips and to think about how to study effectively for their upcoming exams. Then we had a very interesting (and eye-opening!) discussion with them about why it’s important to study and to work hard in school. I got the impression that some of these students haven’t really thought that far ahead and maybe haven’t yet realized that there’s often a connection between doing well in school and having more options available to them upon graduating high school. Rather than being the rule, I think studying here (at least in our village) is still the exception, so it may have been a fairly foreign concept to some of them. However, I think both workshops went well overall, and that at least a few of the students may have taken something helpful away from it, so I was happy with that! We are also planning to hold dental hygiene workshops next week for some of the primary school classes, so I am looking forward to that!

Dental Hygiene fun with the Grade 3s

Our time with the Grade 3s is also quickly winding down! We’ve discovered that we probably only have about three more teaching days with them, because their exams start the second last week of March. Though they can definitely be a handful, I’ve developed a bit of a soft spot for them, so I think I’ll probably be sad to go! They still draw us pictures and write us adorable notes almost everyday, so that keeps me smiling and significantly lessens the frustration I sometimes feel.

I will do my best to make the most of my last three weeks here and enjoy every minute of this adventure!

More to come soon!

Categories: Guyana, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I’m off to Guyana!!

Jan. 8, 2012:

At the airport ready to go

Just sending you a quick note to say GOODBYE for now!!! I will be boarding the plane for Guyana less than 12 hours from now!!! My adventure is about to begin and I am very excited to get started!

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been frantically trying to accomplish my long list of pre-departure tasks! I’ve been running what seems like a million errands, buying last-minute supplies and gear, packing (and re-packing often!), saying goodbye to family and friends, reading up on Guyana and on all the information YCI provided me with, and generally just trying to prepare myself for this leap that I’m about to take! Since preparing to leave the country for three months is not a familiar feeling for me (yet, anyway!), it’s made the entire process all the more challenging. It’s definitely been an interesting time for me, complete with a full range of emotions running wild!

I’ve also found out some more details about the community I’ll be living and working in during my time there. The village is called St. Cuthbert’s Mission, and is about a two-hour drive south of Georgetown, the capital. The average temperature is around 30°C, so I am definitely looking forward to being warm (but hopefully not sunburned to a crisp!) Apparently the village is very remote – the nearest town is about an hour’s drive away! There are about 1,500 people living in the village. I had originally been told that the volunteers would be sleeping in hammocks, but we have been upgraded to single bunk beds with treated mosquito nets! Awesome! Mom sent me with so many school supplies that I needed a second suitcase!!! But I know they will be put to good use!

I would love to hear from any of you if you have the chance to update me over the next few months. The best way to reach me is likely by email. I’m not sure yet how often I’ll have access to the internet, but I will do my best to respond to any emails I receive and to send you some updates as well with what I’m doing down there!

Take care!

Love Allison

Categories: Guyana, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Dec. 14, 2011:

I have some very exciting news to share with you all about my fundraising progress! I am absolutely THRILLED to say I HAVE OFFICALLY MET MY FUNDRAISING GOAL OF $3,900 AS OF SUNDAY NIGHT!!!!!!! In fact, I have actually surpassed the requirement by almost $200, so I’ve raised about $4,100 to date!!!!!

I cannot begin to describe how this accomplishment feels or what it means to me! Of course, I couldn’t have done it without all of the support and encouragement I’ve received over the past couple of months! I want to extend a HUGE thank you to everyone who has supported me in some way on my journey so far. I appreciate your generosity and the interest you’ve shown more than I can say.

I also wanted to take a few minutes to give you all some more details about the pub night that I held here in Ottawa on Dec. 3 with another volunteer who will be on project with me this winter. For those of you who haven’t already heard, I am happy to say that it was a success!!! Kendra and I were able to raise close to $1,700 that night in total, meaning about $850 each!!!!! The money raised that night brought me within a few hundred dollars of reaching my goal, which was very exciting!!! We had at least 50 people come out to support us (probably closer to 60 or 70 coming and going throughout the night!) The live music was fantastic and all of the musicians who volunteered their time and talent were amazing! Overall, I think the night went really well, and everyone seemed to have a lot of fun! We kept busy selling 50/50 and raffle tickets and were able to give away some really great prizes in the end! Kendra and I had set of goal of raising about $700 each that night, and again, we were lucky enough to raise that and more!!! I couldn’t have been happier with how the night turned out, so thank you so much to everyone who helped make it a success!!!

I can’t wait for my adventure to begin and to finally be able to put your contributions to good use! The countdown is on!!! I will be arriving in Guyana 26 days from now!!!!! I’m sure it will be an experience that is both enriching and life-changing, and one that I will never forget!

Love Allison

Categories: Guyana, Travel | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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Allison Burney

"To live will be an awfully big adventure." - Peter Pan

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