The Journey


So I’ve been listening to this song by Alberta country music star Paul Brandt (yah yah I know, you can take the girl out of Alberta but you can’t take the Alberta out of this girl! ) The song is called “The Journey” and it’s been my theme song since I discovered in on December 27th. 
Different lines of this song resonated with me at different times during the last month when I was packing, saying goodbyes, organizing my whole life into a hockey bag…and of course questioning the very journey I was about to go on.
For the last week though, the line that stuck with me the most was “Nothing worth it’s ever gonna be easy, I know it’s gonna be better when we finally get there.”

True story, Paul! We’re here!

But it was truly a journey...

A few days before we were to be getting on the plane, I said to my mom “You know, I think this must feel like how anticipating a big surgery or having a baby must feel like. You know the day is coming, and you’ve done all this prep, but you haven’t really considered that the day is ACTUALLY going to come… and it’s the day after tomorrow.” I was a bit of a rollercoaster for a couple days here - sometimes excited, sometimes sad to be leaving but mostly the emotion and feeling that had manifested so deeply in me (because of all my friends and family) was support. So as I got out of the cab, and we loaded our huge hockey bags onto a trolly, I wasn’t kicking and screaming at all. I felt like I was transitioning really quite gracefully and ready for the travel journey ahead. Perhaps the angst and anxiety I’ve felt for many months about this impending move would actually be better once we got there. I channeled my inner Paul Brandt and wheeled on.

The airport experience was hilarious. I opted to wear my 2014 team Canada soft-shell jacket that I got at The Bay… completely forgetting that the Olympics were slated to begin in Korea in a mere 24 hours.  At first I was clueless, wondering how it could be possible that complete strangers seemed to know I was making this huge move across the world today, and how it was a pretty big deal for me… it was reassuring and I thought to myself “wow Mad, even these total strangers support you! Canadians are so kind! Sigh...” and after awkwardly thanking a few random people for their kind comments, it wasn’t until a man who literally came right up to me wanting to shake my hand that it hit me.


“What sport do you compete in?!” He said with sparkly excitement in his eyes. 


"Oh gawd. Why did I wear this jacket. How embarrassing….Do I make something up?! Do I tell him the truth?” I think to myself.


I told him the truth and we laughed while he congratulated me on my overt patriotism instead aka the jacket. But it did get me thinking…what sport would be the most believable for the rest of this journey? Could this cute miscommunication be useful? I filed it away for future use and then tried to remember the difference between a triple axel and a salchow…okay maybe I won’t tell people I’m a figure skater.


We flew Air France from Vancouver to Paris. The French capital had unfortunately had a paralyzing snowstorm on our way in, which caused our layover to grow in length from 2 hours to 11. Groovy. We thought this travel gift might be a fun day in Paris... but that didn’t really accumulate to much because here we were in our capri pants and sneakers on our way to the desert with no winter clothes to speak of. We opted to fight our jet lag with a nap. Onward.
Our next flight was an Etihad flight - surely they might upgrade me because I’m an Olympian? Not a chance.


The flight was packed to the brim with people from all cultures, that is definitely something I enjoy about flying airlines in other parts of the world. It's so fascinating to see all of us humans traveling together, mostly getting along and bringing the world closer one person at a time. As we flew I learned a little bit about 2018 in the Country I’ll soon be residing in. The “Year of Zayed” I read and watched on my seat back television. 
This year the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Founding Father of the UAE, would have been 100. Link

Holy smokes. A lot to learn. But looks like a celebration that will be awesome to experience! I'm pretty keen to learn about this foreign place that is so different than Canada.

When we landed in Abu Dhabi, it was a little reminiscent of Vancouver. How could that be possible? It was FOGGY. 


“You have got to be kidding me” I half whispered to myself while peering over the shoulder of the guy sleeping next to me out the airplane window (yippee for 7.5 hours in the middle seat)….

I didn’t exactly let it bother me, but it wasn’t really the desert welcome I had anticipated. At this point 30 odd hours of travel was clouding things though. A few more steps and we’ll be done with the journey.




-Off the plane
-onto the shuttle
-through the airport
-bathroom stop
-lineups at passport control

AND then

“Enjoy your time in Abu Dhabi”



I’ve heard this phrase a number of times before, it seems to be something a lot of locals say to tourists and its really quite nice. But this time it was different. We’ve come here on a rare opportunity to live with family, experience local culture and contribute to a thriving economy with our skills and talents. I intend very much to enjoy my time in Abu Dhabi.

I’ll keep you posted

Madeline EllComment