You face a bit of a conundrum when you commit to an extended period of time away from your home. As an "informed citizen", do you keep up with goings on at home, or do you take a break and enjoy the responsibility free feeling of being a foreign alien in another country?
The last time I was living in Europe I didn't have much of a choice. Internet access was infrequent in the small oceanside village where I lived, and The Munster Express doesn't exactly have a Canadian office. It was a pleasant experience. Being forcefully removed from the gong show that is Canadian politics was good for me after my undergrad in Ottawa. Actually, having only a general sense of what was going on back across the Atlantic put me on the same level as most Canadians. I think it put alot of things in a more real perspective. It was nice to be able to read a newspaper and laugh about Irish political scandals (invariably involving alcohol) instead of kvetching about fake crises in Canada.
This time I have an actual choice to make. I'll have internet access and I'll be in a major world city, with access to all the media I could possibly want. So I have a decision to make over the next few days, between pints of real ale and the resultant hangovers. To be honest, the choice has already been made. I don't want to be reading Jane Taber and checking Paul Wells tweets from London. To that end, I, like anyone with half a brain, will be spending every spare second out and about in the City of Cities and every spare minute doing beer runs to Brussels and breakfast trips to Amsterdam. So really it's just a matter of discipline.
All that said, a few months from now, sitting in my local with a pint of Fuller's, I think I can realistically look forward to seeing an article in The Times with the line, "Canadian Conservative Party wins another minority government, sparks dissent within caucus." If I had a particularly cheery disposition, I might have written "loses", but it's always better to lower your expectations. Frankly, I think watching Harper fend off Flaherty, Clement, and Bernier, as they try to stab him in the throat would be pretty enjoyable.
So I'm off! Wish me luck.
6 days ago