Congratulations to Alicia! Winner of Flight Network’s $1000 Scholarship 2015

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Congratulations to Alicia, on being selected as the winner of this years Flight Network Scholarship! Each year Flight Network holds a $1000 scholarship for the best travel story and image from a North American university or college student. We are currently accepting submissions for 2016 so make sure to visit our Scholarship Page for more info.

Read Alicia’s winning entry below!

Te Mata Peak, Hawke's Bay, NZ

Whether its adventure, escape or curiosity, travelling is the way to experience all that our planet has to offer. I have always had a wanderlust and a dream to see the world. I made it a reality this past year, travelling all over the south pacific and Canada. Buzzing through 10 different countries in just under 12 months.

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It all began 7 years ago when I had the amazing opportunity to visit a friend who was teaching English as a second language in Seoul, South Korea. I got that first rush of flying to a foreign country and immersing myself in everything it had to teach me. I was hooked. And so my next big trip was already in the works.

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I spent the next several years working hard and saving whatever I could to make my dream a reality. Fast forward to the fall of 2014 and I was looking forward to a year long journey through Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, South East Asia and across Canada. Beginning in Fiji was a much needed vacation from the long hours at work that it took to save for my dream trip. The laid back island atmosphere, the beautiful white sand beaches, and the amazingly kind and friendly people were just what I needed to kick off this thing right!

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Onto the winding coastlines of beautiful New Zealand, where adventure was waiting behind every bend. From tramping through mountains, taking a walk on an active volcano, to the many conversations with Kiwi’, New Zealand is where I called home for 6 months. Sleeping in your campervan is the best way to see every nook and cranny of this tiny country. Letting spontaneity take the lead, I wandered through the very northern-most point of Cape Reinga to the breathtaking coasts of the South Island. I loved every minute of it.

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Then it was time for Oz. Landing in the hustle and bustle of Melbourne I quickly felt at home. I thrive in large cities and Melbourne was a welcome change. I only had a month to soak up as much of Australia as was possible. This meant cramming in sky diving in Cairns, snorkeling the great barrier reef, chasing reef sharks, touring Fraser island, sailing through the Whitsunday Islands, holding a koala, petting innumerable kangaroos, taking in a symphony orchestra at the Sydney Opera House and visiting my mate in the capital of Canberra. It went by in a flash but I made some of the best memories in that country.

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My first stop in SEA was Singapore. The amazing metropolis is filled with modern design, high end boutiques, and an air of class. It’s easy to forget where you are when entering an indoor rain forest, complete with its own ozone, clouds and 100+ foot waterfall. But that’s Singapore for you, over the top. Next was beautiful Malaysia. The sprawling tea fields of the Cameron Highlands is a sight you will never forget. The quirky street art of Penang added flair to the culturally diverse city. Then I breezed through southern Thailand, taking in a wild full moon party on an island off the eastern coast called Koh Phangan. Onto humble and beautiful Cambodia. This is where you learn of all the hardships Cambodians have endured for some thirty years and realize how amazing these people really are. Through it all, they are always smiling and warm. The history of the temples in Angkor is extensive and remarkable. Nothing has compared to seeing the sun rise over an ancient Cambodian temple and the feeling of being so minute in the grand scheme of things. Heading north into Laos, I experienced more warmth and kindness. The night markets were huge and filled with local artistry and gastro delights. Vietnam was next, and it was a food heaven. With small street vendors and restaurants at every turn, there was never a shortage of food! Circling back to Bangkok, I caught my final flight to New Brunswick, Canada…. home.

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Coming back to family, familiarity and routine, I was so ready to be home. After 4 short weeks, I was headed back across this beautiful country to my adopted home of Edmonton, Alberta. I’ve come to the realization that for as much as I learned about diverse cultures, traditions and language, I learned more about myself than I ever did in the 28 years leading up to now. It takes being submersed in things that are uncomfortable and exciting, scary and fun to really find out what you’re made of. The opportunity to travel should never be passed up. Do it, and do it now!

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