Tag Archives: McDonald’s

News from away! (with the Batmanns and their iPad)


We received our iPad just before going to Argentina, and it has been our faithful travel companion ever since. It was on this little screen that we saw our niece for the first time (after hiking six hours down a mountain to find wifi on a semi-weekly basis… Two weeks overdue, seriously, kiddo?!);

that Josh applied for Education from an Argentine campground (and was accepted!);

that a Mennonite frantically tried to learn Cree as his train chugged towards the Northern school at which he was expected to teach it;

and of course, it was on this little screen that this very blog was born.

Now, halfway across the world in a different direction, our little iPad has remained faithful in keeping us connected with our lives back home and in being the bearer of some very exciting news. In May, in a campground outside of Rome, it was on this iPad that I opened the email that would change the direction of my life yet again:

Going into Medicine has been a dream of mine for many years. I am beyond thrilled to not only have the chance to study Medicine, but also to study it in the Bilingual Stream, which will allow me to continue pursuing my passion for the French language and the French community that has become an incredible part of my life!

I received the email around midnight, so all the buses going into town had stopped running. Therefore, we celebrated my future career in Medicine by running across the highway and going to McDonald’s for celebratory McNuggets. I figured I didn’t need to worry about being a good role model for healthy eating practices until I was actually IN med school 😉

After receiving my acceptance in May, I had a few blissful weeks free of any obligations. Finally, however, the magnitude of paperwork caught up to me. In early July, I spent an entire day in my cousin’s office in a tiny hamlet of Switzerland downloading, printing, filling out, scanning, and finally coaxing an ancient fax machine to send all the forms required for my admission. I am frankly astounded that the forms actually sent properly… I don’t know if the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Manitoba have ever received an enrollment package from Ober-Says, Switzerland!


During this trip, Josh’s path has also meandered along some new adventures! In May, Mr. B officially graduated with his B.Ed. Although we were in Köln, Germany at the time of his convocation, his wonderful Ed friends made sure to include him in their celebrations:


In June, we were living in a London flat with Josh’s family during their annual trek to England. One Sunday evening, Josh received an email describing a possible job opportunity for the fall. He excitedly emailed back, but the next day, we went to Glastonbury for the night, so we were without Internet for one day. ONE DAY… which was apparently enough time for the principal of the school to request an interview with Josh! Arriving home that night to a pile of emails, we panicked that he had missed his chance. However, thanks to a convenient time difference and some speedy Skype-calls, Josh got ahold of the school, who reassured him that it wasn’t too late, his interview could be moved to the next day.

Fantastic… Except that the next day, we had tickets to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at London’s West End. So, we brought the iPad and during the show, Josh snuck out of the theatre and ended up doing his interview in the theatre bar over Skype. Only at one point did his potential employer ask Josh if there was a marching band in the background. Unconventional, perhaps – but, that very evening, there was a job offer in his inbox, so unconventional seemed to have worked!!
Josh Skype

A huge thank-you to Laura for faithfully checking our mail back at home, M.O.M. for being willing to sign and drop off all Sara’s crazy forms, Andreas and Simone for letting Sara commandeer their office all day and then (trying to) explain to their workplace why two Canadians had to use the fax machine for an hour, Gwen and Leanne U. for being the most persistent emailers, the Dixons for the 3G, the bartender at Royal Drury Lane Theatre for not batting an eyelash during Josh’s interview, Margaret Park School for being so flexible (note from Josh: I’m so excited to join you this fall!)… And to all of our amazing friends and family, back in Winnipeg or here in Europe, who cheer us on in our crazy, unconventional, ridiculous adventures. We love you guys and love sharing our life with you!

Js Glastonbury

The Wall


As pictured in the previous post, we left Nuremburg laden with heaps of homemade vittles that made us the envy of the bus. That bus took us onward, both geographically and historically, to Berlin. Having seen the rise and fall of Nazism in Nuremburg, we would now see the regime that came to dominate the region next. The Berlin Wall was a very different kind of history, as its fall occurred within our own lifetime. And unlike every other piece of history we’ve seen so far, it is most famous not because of any emperor or army, but because of the ordinary, jeans-and-tshirt folks that brought it down.

The west side, with its twenty-some years of accumulated graffiti. Needless to say, the spraypaint industry is still booming.


The east side, which was perfectly clean until 1989 as it was guarded by guns, dogs, and barbed wire. Since then, internationally renowned street artists have redeemed this stretch of wall, known as the East Side Gallery.


A stretch of wall at the Memorial. The vast empty space between the fence and the wall made it easy for the guards in the tower to shoot escapees. As a result, both Easterners and Westerners dug tunnels under the wall, helping hundreds of East Berliners to escape the Soviet regime.


Just one of the stories of ridiculous courage told at the Berlin Wall Memorial.


The Brandenburg Gate. Anti- and pro-Soviet rallies would occur simultaneously for decades, separated by only this and a few feet of brick.


On our last evening here, we visited Checkpoint Charlie, the former crossing point between the Soviet and American sectors of Cold War Berlin. As a jaded Bush-era youth, it was a real paradigm shift to see America as a true hero, yet here that is undoubtedly the case. Thousands of men, women, and children risked their lives to escape into the American sector where they would be guaranteed a flight to the West. The West Berlin Fire Brigade, funded largely by the U.S., was on hand 24/7 with nets to catch refugees jumping from border apartment windows to freedom. Standing at Checkpoint Charlie, I would not have been offended if someone had mistaken me for an American.

As we left this place, we wondered what had happened during our short lifetimes to change America’s image so drastically. Perhaps part of it is the difference between invitation and invasion: in Germany, the U.S. stayed within its agreed-upon boundaries, offering liberty to all who entered. Today that liberty is a matter of foreign policy, enforced by bombs and economic austerity measures. As much as I love the idea of a borderless world, it was respect for international boundaries that made America a hero in this case, rather than a destructive force. Every new conflict is an opportunity for the West (not just America) to return to this earlier version of heroism, allowing people to choose for themselves whether they want what is being offered.

The gateway to the Free World (with the Golden Arches of capitalism welcoming you into their open arms!)