A Big Ol’Thank You Note

I have been home for a few days now after my time abroad and as I settle back into my daily routine, I feel a strong desire to say thank you once more. My time in Malaysia, the Philippines, and Japan was made possible by all the wonderful individuals I encountered. I was so fortunate to see old friends and family, as well as make new friendships along the way.

That being said: this trip was truly life changing. It was inspiring, challenging at times, educational – in terms of self discovery and culture; a true gift of the senses – and all around wonderful. Thank you does not carry enough weight in terms of just how grateful I am to have been blessed with such an experience.


Dear Alex,

Thank you for being such a fantastic human being. You truly are a light. I am so thankful for your friendship.

Your eagerness to engage others, being involved in both the community at home – Toronto – and many international ones is such an inspiration. You bring people together.

If not for you, we probably would not have made our wonderful food stall friends in the Philippines. Which would have made all the difference while we were in Batangas.

See you soon, my cohort.



Dear Akmal,

Thank you for allowing Alex’s friend from Canada to stay with you! Your apartment was incredibly comfortable and your hospitality was wonderful.

I am glad we both enjoy food and beverage to the same degree, because it was wonderful sampling a little of what Makati had to offer – pineapple jam! Insert the heart eyed emoji here.

You really need to stop by Toronto some day! Then I can reciprocate with wonderful food and drink!

Thank you again,



Dear Llanes Family and Friends,

Thank you for all your hospitality! From our first night in Batangas until our last you kept us fed and showed us a truly local side to the Philippines. Alex and I are both sorry we could not complete your balute challenge…aha.

From the restaurant to the beach, to the coconut you gave me while I lay in bed with a fever; I cannot be more grateful to you.

If you are ever in Toronto, please message either Alex or myself. We would be honoured to take you around the city. Wishing you all the best,



Dear Koichi,

Thank you for being such a wonderful human being. You took time out of your day to make my stay at your Airbnb an experience I will never forget.

Your Airbnb by the way, is spectacular! For anyone in Tokyo I recommend you checking it out! He rents out his photography studio which specializes in floral art. So you’re sleeping in a garden!

I had a lot of fun hiking a mountain with you and eating delicious お菓子 (sweets). Your recommendations where always a hit!




Dear Nagashima Family,

You saw me as an awkward teenager, seven years ago. Eating way too many sweets and speaking broken Japanese. Neither of which has changed very much.

You taught me a great deal of things: how to be mindful, about Japanese culture, and also how to think of others before yourself. Things I understood to a certain compacity, but definitely were defined even more deeply into my constitution. A lot of which I still hold onto today – although the practice of, I am still trying to exercise.

I was incredibly thankful to see you all again. The amount of time that had gone by was irrelevant. We may have all changed in our own ways, but as Mao put it best: our hearts still understood.

I truly hope you visit Toronto so I can give to you even a smidgen of what you have gifted me. I am so thankful for all the fantastic adventures, experiences, and delicious food I’ve encountered in our time together.

お母さんの料理を上手だ。いつも食べたい! 今までも、本当にありがとうございました!

With love,




Dear Fukuda Family and Friends,

You definitely created some lasting memories for me during this trip! I am so thankful to you; Genki, your mother, Risa, Shoya – everyone really – for taking time out of their busy schedules to meet with me! I had a fantastic time.

I am very thankful for our earnest conversations, interesting experiences – I mean, how many people make soba? – and for all the amazing adventures we had. Sorry about being so sleepy by the end of it!

You are always welcome in Toronto, so do not be a stranger!

Sending lots of hugs,



Aya and Rie,

It is crazy how much time has gone by, right? We were in high school and now we are living very different lives. One of us is married! I’m still so happy for you Rie!

But meeting up and eating at the Izakaya reminded me of the things that remained the same. We are still those girls that gather and gossip about this and that. Maybe time will never change that?

Thank you for being there when I was a lost 16 year old and even now, looking out for me.

With love,



Dear Taro,

Thank you for the delicious food – the beef was sublime – and stimulating conversation. You really made me consider “why” in regards to myself and about where I want to be.

Thank you for taking me in, and bringing me to a few local hangouts. They were all awesome! The café/bar with lounge like seating has definitely left an impact. Now I just want to create a space similar to that.

You were a fabulous host!
I couldn’t have asked for a better way to officiate my CouchSurfing.

Best of luck with all your future projects! Hope to see you in the future!


PS, this is the closest photo I have of you: your shirt in the background of a picture of meat.


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