Click the link above to check out my pictures from Swaziland so far!
- It’s cold! The locals are bundled in jackets, hats and gloves. At first, I thought they might be exaggerating but one foggy sun-less morning convinced me otherwise. It’s not Canada-cold but it does get down to chilly single-digit weather overnight. Like you can see your breath in our room, need to wear two pairs of pants, kind of cold. And if you dare tell a Swazi it’s not that cold, they’ll think you’re crazy.
- Everyone speaks English! I was really scared that the language barrier would be impossible. And truthfully, I have yet to pick up more than one or two Siswati phrases but luckily almost every person knows a fair amount of English. This has made navigating bus routes and purchasing internet sticks a heck of a lot easier.
- You better be hungry because there is A LOT of food! Every meal that Ale and I sit down to is always a heaping portion of carbs (potatoes, rice, noodles or some combination of the 3), a bit of meat and a generous serving of beans. Even with the smaller helpings we get at home, we have a very hard time finishing our plates, often casting pained expressions at one another as we work to polish off the last few bites.
- You’ll learn to live without some modern conveniences. For example, over the next 12 weeks we probably won’t be seeing laundry machines, a hot shower or a home computer/internet connection. But we’ll make do!
- Everyone has a cell phone and they are always on it. It seems like the most popular profession is working for MTN (the cell phone provider) and adding money to people’s phones. MTN employees wear bright yellow vests and can be found anywhere, such as street corners, bus stations and outside the mall. When we meet with staff at work, they always come to the meetings with their cell phones in hand. And at home, our whole family splits their vision with the TV screen and their phone screen.
- Getting a kombi to work is a serious competitive challenge. Ale and I mainly stand back and watch as our fellow transit travellers attempt to out-run, push aside and squeeze through one another to get on the kombi or into the hitch-hiking-friendly vehicle. It’s hilarious to watch grown adults all clamour for the handle of a van before it even comes to a complete stop or see old ladies high-tail it down the road to be the first to reach a car. Unfortunately, sometimes their competitiveness involves blocking little kids from getting into the kombis to get to school.
- They really do talk with clicks! As per the famous Russell Peters joke, the Siswati language really does involve a lot of clicks and other cool tricks my English-only tongue cannot pick up. It’s very impressive to hear the way Swazis naturally let the clicks roll out of their mouths. Unfortunately, because we can’t quite capture the sound, Ale and I are still unable to pronounce the name of the village where we are staying.
- For such a tiny country, Swaziland has an immensely varied terrain. I didn’t expect to see mountains from my front porch or rolling fields of grass on the way to work. Swaziland is home to everything from highways and busy city centres to farm fields, palm trees and lush green hills. Basically, the view is always pretty stunning.
- The kids want to be your best friend! On our short walks to catch the morning kombi, Ale and I have managed to make a bunch of new friends. Kids on their way to school always greet us and we end up chatting with them. Even the very little ones will wave at us and shout, “how are you?” as we pass. And at work, they’re even more precious; running up to give us hugs or hold our hands.
- The people are friendly. While this might not be so surprising, it certainly is welcoming and one of the reasons I’m loving Swaziland. Strangers greet us as we pass them along the street, Mama’s friends are excited to meet us and the staff at work always ask how we are doing. While sometimes certain people can get a little too friendly (i.e. proposing at the bus station or following us home in their car), we’ve had way more positive experiences than negative ones. From the police officer who helped us find a kombi to our brothers who came to walk us back home in the dark, the people of Swaziland really are living up to Jabu’s description: Swaziland is a small country but it has a big heart.
**more pictures and updates to come!
I’m in Africa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I landed in Johannesburg, South Africa one week ago and was met with a six hour layover (after an 11 hour red-eye) and over-pushy airline staff. It wasn’t the best introduction to Africa.
I flew over to Matsapha, Swaziland with a fellow UBC student, Courtney, on the smallest plane I have ever seen. I think there were about 20 people on our plane; my one seat was a window and an aisle! After a short hour in the air, we landed in Swaziland and met our guide, Jabu. Together we waited for the private kombi (a Jon & Kate +8 type van that seats 14 comfortably but is often pushed near 20) to take us to the Swazi Oak Lodge where we found Marie and Alejandra, two other UBC students, fast asleep.
The next day, Jabu took us out on a tour of Mbabane. We visited the mall and learned how far our Canadian dollar could go: breakfast for 4 with leftovers for $7 and a phone, SIM card and 30 rand worth of airtime for about $45. We also learned how popular foreign people are in Swaziland, being met with many proposals, whistles and love professions as we trekked through the kombi station.
After that, we walked downhill to the post office. I’ve promised quite a few people postcards and I’m sure the postal service from Swazi to Canada is far from speedy, so I wanted to make sure I knew where I had to go. On the way down, we noticed the beautiful mountain background and snapped a few photos, as we had been doing all morning.
The next thing we knew, we were being brought into a government building and asked to show the security officers our photos. As we browsed through our memory cards, the officers found a photo of the picturesque view that happened to have the side of their building in it; a building that clearly says “no photos” on its fence….which was impossible to read from where we took the photo. Even after explaining this to the officers, we were introduced to an embassy official who took down our information, explained that we could be arrested and possibly working against the Swazi government before inviting us to a party and sending us on our way.
We laughed off our near-arrest while walking through the craft market and sitting down to lunch (I never did make it to that post office). Later in the evening, a kombi picked us up for a sunset safari at a nearby national park.
As we drove up to the reception desk of the park, our kombi happened upon a family of zebras and we all immediately began pulling open windows, leaning over each other and snapping away. The rest of the evening treated us to views of gorgeous mountains and grasslands, relatives of the deer and gazelle, Pumbas (warthogs for the non-Lion King folk), a sunbathing crocodile, more zebras and hippos hiding in the shadows. Our jeep headed up the mountain just in time for us to catch the perfect African sunset while toasting the beers our friendly guides brought along in a cooler.
After dinner in the park, we convinced Jabu and our kombi driver to drop us off at Bushfire, an annual 3-day music festival of southern African artists. Though we didn’t know any of the bands, we enjoyed listening to the music, perusing the fair-trade market and admiring the cool architecture of House on Fire.
On Saturday we headed out to our host families. Marie and Courtney went to Siteki while Ale and I met Mama and her family in a suburb of Mbabane. We were introduced to Mama, her boyfriend, two of her five children, their helper and a few other friends. It was nice to finally be able to unpack and join Swazi family life. But Ale and I spent the majority of our first weekend with the family sleeping!
On Monday we started our work at SOS Children’s Villages. We’re working at the main Swazi village just outside of Mbabane. Transport to work has proved difficult so far (we waited over an hour for our first kombi), but we’re hoping to figure out a faster solution (aka weighing the pros and cons of hitch-hiking). On our first day at work we were introduced to another Jabu, a female this time, who is the village’s social worker. We had an orientation with UBC education students working with SOS, the national director and the programme director. Right away we were thrown into our work, meeting with staff to come up with goals for our time at SOS and meeting some of the children for individual sessions. So far, it’s been very overwhelming to come into a position where so much help is needed and to be feeling pretty inadequate with the skills I can offer. They definitely expect a lot from us. While it is really exciting to be able to contribute so much and to be doing such relevant work, it’s daunting to be thrown into the role of “psychologist”. Hopefully we’ll get more comfortable with our positions, figure out our game plan and leave some benefit for the village that goes beyond our short 3-month stay.
So it’s been a whirlwind first week here in Swaziland! I can’t believe I have another 12 or so still to go. But by the end of this I plan to master Swazi public transportation, fit in another safari or two, appreciate the fine art of taking a bath with just a bucket of heated water, make a lasting difference at work, feel like part of my Swazi family and experience countless memorable moments to take home with me.
I can’t believe my 5 days in London are almost up and I’ll be boarding a 12 hour flight to Jo’burg tomorrow night!
On Sunday I went to church service at Westminster Abbey! It was just as grand and beautiful as last time. The church service was fairly traditional with a lot of standing and prayer reciting. But it was also really nice
After that I walked along the Thames past the parliament buildings, Big Ben, the London Eye, etc. I was headed to the Lyceum Theatre to see the Lion King and as is habit now, got spectacularly lost. I finally found it and bought the last single seat they had. It was a little more than I was hoping to spend but I was in the front row! So close I could see beads of sweat and could’ve (but didn’t!) touch the actors as they went through the aisles. I’ve seen The Lion King in Toronto a couple of times when I was much younger but it was really nice to be able to experience it again. I could really appreciate how breathtaking the costumes and set are.
Monday was absolutely beautiful here in London! I got a bit of a late start to my day and headed out to Kensington Palace around 12. Kensington Palace is the rumoured location for Will and Kate once the baby arrives and renovations are complete. I felt it was my duty to scope out their new digs. The Palace is beautiful, as expected, and home to some gorgeous gardens/fountains. It’s also surrounded by Kensington Park which I got to spend the afternoon walking around.
In the evening I headed to the National Portrait Gallery. I wanted to see if Kate’s portrait was as disappointing in person. She definitely still looks aged, but I could at least appreciate the beauty of the painting, despite it adding 10 years to poor Kate. I was impressed that the Gallery also had portraits of modern famous Brits like Ed Sheeran, Amy Winehouse, Judi Dench and Maggie Smith!
I headed back to the Prince of Wales Theatre for the 5:00pm lottery for The Book of Mormon. Everyone gets to put their name in and at 5:30 they do a lottery for 21 tickets, great seats, for only 20 pounds each! I was expecting maybe 50 or so people but by the time 5:30 rolled around the streets were packed! There was easily 150-200 people there. Sadly, the odds were not in my favour and I didn’t win the lottery. It was still pretty fun taking part in it though and I was second in line for return tickets!
I met some cool people waiting for returns. A girl from Toronto who is now working in Edinburgh and 2 guys who were major Broadway groupies. They were talking about people in the cast like they were all friends and had both seen the show at least once before. The return line moved very slowly and by 7:15 (15 mins to show time), it wasn’t looking very good. Finally, at 7:25pm, a man came out and said he had a single return ticket! I teared up a little and followed him inside, waved good luck to my friends in line and rushed to my seat.
HOLY CRAP THE BOOK OF MORMON IS SO AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It was absolutely incredible! I’ve been listening to the soundtrack for a few months but the live performance blew me away. It was way racier than I thought, way funnier and way more impressive! I couldn’t believe how fast it went by. I’m seriously debating trying to see the matinee tomorrow before my flight…
Today London decided to revert to its dreary rainy weather. Unfortunately, I decided to head out sans umbrella and in fuzzy Toms. The worst feeling in the world is having to put on cold, wet, fuzzy Toms.
I planned to watch the Changing of the Guard Ceremony at Buckingham Palace this morning (me and every other tourist in London), but when I got there I read a sign saying the ceremony had been cancelled. Next, I tubed over to St. Paul’s to check out the famous Cathedral. It was way bigger than I expected, so worth the viewing.
Then I walked along the longest, windiest, coldest bridge over the Thames to reach Tate Modern. This modern art museum is famous for its collection but most importantly to me it was indoors and free! I attempted to spend most of the afternoon at Tate Modern but unfortunately I don’t get most modern art. One piece was literally a mirror. I think the artist went to Ikea, bought a $12 mirror and sold it to the Gallery for a few thousand. I did get to see Monet’s Water Lilies which was impressive.
Weather still miserable, I walked and then took transit to Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. Unfortunately, every other water-logged tourist had the same idea! When I arrived the wait was 3 hours long! I shook my head and jumped back on the tube.
I walked around trying to think of another less-crowded place to go but I was getting more soaked and more unhappy. Eventually, I found myself outside a theatre and decided The Hangover III would buy me a couple rainless hours. It was enjoyable but not a must-see.
Finally, it was time for my musical of the day! I had gotten a ticket to Once from a discount retailer: centre floor seat for only 25 pounds (regular 65)! Once won all of the Tonys this year so I had to see what all the fuss was about.
And I’d say it’s worth the fuss! It has a community-theatre feel to it. The stage actually has an operational bar and before the show/during intermission you can go up on stage and enjoy a drink! About 15 mins before the show started, the cast came out and started playing some songs. Everyone in the cast plays an instrument so there’s not an accompanying band for the show; some serious talent! The music was beautiful and the story was very romantic but I think I felt a little let down. It’s just a bit slower paced than most musicals so I probably would’ve liked it better had I seen it before Book of Mormon.
And then tomorrow I leave! I can’t believe I’m going to Africa tomorrow! Based on my explosion of a suitcase here in my London room, it doesn’t feel real yet.
I made it! After 9 hours on a plane, 2 in Customs and 2 on transit I FINALLY made it to my place in London!
The journey wasn’t pretty. The plane was okay but getting through Customs took forever and taking a 50-lb suitcase and super heavy backpack on the tube was no fun. I’m seriously debating taking a cab to the airport on the way back. I can’t imagine doing that again!
And of course I got lost on my way to the BnB where I am staying. I pulled my heavy suitcase through a number of London streets trying to get directions but in the end, had to call my contact. Turns out I had just exited the station on the wrong side.
But I did run into a lovely man once I was on the proper side of the station. He pointed me in the right direction and we chatted a bit about Canada (he has a cousin in Montreal). It was like something out of a movie: this lovely English gentleman, who also had to stop and say hi to everyone he knew on the street, helping the poor Canadian girl find her way.
So after leaving my apartment in Vancouver at 6:00pm on Friday, I finally made it to my new room by 5:00pm on Saturday (granted, there’s a time difference). With barely a wink of sleep, no shower and a few missed meals, I headed back out into central London.
I was hoping to see a musical. When I was in London last year, I was fortunate enough to see quite a few plays & musicals (1 per day actually…) at the student rush ticket rate (never more than 25 pounds). Unfortunately, my musical choice for today didn’t work out as well. I went over to the Prince of Wales Theatre to try and score a ticket to the extremely popular Book of Mormon (i.e. sold out)!
I ended up queuing for over an hour in the return ticket line. As people returned or cancelled tickets, a little lady would come out of the theatre and take someone from our line in to purchase the tickets. It didn’t look too good at the start but then the line started moving pretty quick. We cheered when the people ahead of us got in and craned our necks eagerly to see if the lady was coming. Just as I got to the front of the line, the lady came out…..to announce that the show had started and it was too late to try and get a ticket! She gave me some advice for the lottery process, so maybe I’ll try my luck another day. But it wasn’t a complete waste because….
I SAW HELENA BONHAM-CARTER (and possibly) TIM BURTON!!!!!!
I’m not 100% sure it was Tim Burton, because his image never sticks in my mind but it was definitely Helena. And I think it`s fair to assume that if a guy who might look like Tim Burton is with Helena BC, he probably is Tim Burton.
They were headed in to watch The Book of Mormon and were literally a few feet in front of me. I only saw them for a couple of seconds before they went inside but it was still so cool! It would have been cooler to say I saw The Book of Mormon with them but I’ll settle for seeing them at The Book of Mormon!
I drowned my musical-less sorrows in Ben & Jerry’s and went to watch the new Star Trek movie. It was no Mormon melody but it was pretty good. I’m sure I’ll fit in at least 1 musical in my next few days here. For now, I’m just concerned with getting some sleep!
I’m midway through an epic 5 week experience where I spend each weekend in a different city. I didn’t plan it this way but it somehow worked out that from May 4 – June 1 I will spend my Saturdays in 4 different countries and 5 different cities.
On May 3, I went down to Tukwila, Seattle with Free The Children for our second (and my last) Youth Summit. We got to stay at the beautiful Sheraton hotel in downtown Seattle, dine at our go-to restaurant, The Cheesecake Factory, and put on an amazing Youth Summit for some inspirational young leaders. It was the perfect ending to my co-op term! It still feels pretty weird not to be making youth calls or trekking down to the office for 8:30am. I miss my co-workers way too much but I hope to be back on FTC payroll in the future!
This past weekend, I was lucky enough to be able to fly home for 4 wonderful days. I got to catch up with lots of friends and family, watch movies, eat too much good food, celebrate Mother’s Day and remind myself what spring in Toronto really feels like (hint: cold!). I didn’t think I’d be home again until October and I had missed being able to go home in February so this visit was definitely needed. They sent me back to my much warmer Vancouver with lots of love and support for my big summer adventure!
This weekend I’m back in VanCity! This is my last week in my own apartment, taking classes at UBC and not working or travelling. It’s been really nice having my own space. The simple pleasures of a double bed, my own bathroom and en suite washer/dryer are not to be underestimated. While I have managed to burn almost every meal I’ve cooked, it was nice to get a feel of independence. I’m looking forward to living in this beautiful city again in the future.
Next weekend I will be across the pond in LONDON! I’m taking a bit of an extended layover in the British capital for 4 days of royalty, musicals, churches, museums and parks. I fit in a lot of London last year but I’m excited to check out some of the places I missed. I’m currently in the midst of planning my itinerary and booking accommodation – I’m open to any suggestions!
And then, by the first weekend in June, I will be in Swaziland! Unfortunately, I don’t know too much about this part of my journey. I fly into Johannesburg, South Africa on the 29th and into Manzini, Swaziland on the 30th. I’ll have a few days of orientation and then be introduced to my host family and community organization where I will be working. I’m excited to travel to Africa for the first time and be able to contribute to a project on the ground for 3 months. It’s a little difficult to prepare when I don’t know exactly what’s coming but I trust that the experience will work out. At least I hope so!
Stay tuned for my next post, most likely coming from an airport terminal (probably not) near you!
Exactly 76 days without a post! Fear not, blog-icide was not committed and a fresh post is here to revive A Teaspoon of Adventure!
As my last post (waaaaay back in January) detailed, my life has been a little hectic! It feels like I’m still getting used to working a full time job on top of advising, my online course, prep for my summer course/trip and regular life stuff like seeing friends, doing laundry and attempting this grown up thing called taxes….
I recently got back from Seattle We Day! My entire job up until this point has been in preparation for We Day and it was so insane to see it all come together. I never truly realized how much work goes in to pulling off an event of that size! I was blown away. I also got to experience the infectious energy of 15000 youth ready to change the world. By far my favourite moment was seeing the students run off their buses in matching t-shirts, holding handmade signs, waiting to get into the arena. That moment was closely followed by Macklemore performing and then attempting to crowdsurf on 3rd graders.
Now that We Day is over and I had a four-day long weekend to recuperate, I can look ahead at what’s to come. April is going to be a very busy month! Work is still going full steam ahead with our upcoming youth summits. April will be my last month at my Free The Children internship It will also be my last month living in residence. I can’t believe that in 25 days I will have all of this stuff around me packed into boxes and have access to a full sized fridge and oven in my new place! I’ll also be finishing up course work and my advising duties throughout the month as well.
May brings the exciting challenge of living in a non-parental, non-university residence apartment for the first time. I’m super excited to have a kitchen and one room mate instead of 30 but I will definitely miss the ease of the dining hall and the friends two doors down. But I won’t have too much time to miss it as I will be preparing for SWAZILAND! I still don’t have all of the details, but I’m hopeful it will all work out. And then I can start thinking about 6 weeks in Vancouver, a week in Toronto, 6 weeks in Australia, 2 months in Toronto and 5 months in Amsterdam!
So that’s my next two months! I’m excited to be getting a taste of a settled adult life as well as travelling to Africa for the first time. It still feels really far away but I’m sure I’ll be on a plane before I know it.
*Cue Dolly Parton and the soundtrack to this year’s musical!
As well as being the residence musical this year, 9 to 5 has also become my daily life! Except it’s actually 8:30 – 5 and with transit time it’s closer to 7:30 – 6….so 9 to 5 ish.
On January 2nd I started a co-op position with Free The Children at their Western Canada office as one of three Youth Programming Interns. I work with the Washington team and our main job is to get schools signed up for Seattle We Day on March 27! If you don’t know what We Day is, check out this awesome video. Seriously, every time I re-watch that video I start off beaming like crazy and always end in tears. It’s incredible how a 4 minute video has the power to remind me that my 6:30am wake ups and 40+ calls per day (most of which end in voice mails) are so worth it.
Besides getting to work for an organization I so strongly support, I also get to work with the most amazing people. All of the staff at FTC are inspired, supportive and hilarious. They create such a welcoming environment and I can’t wait to rejoin them after I graduate as a more permanent staff member. From taking the interns to Costco for lunch to late night emails, playing Hot Seat during staff meetings and shouting out co-workers who are kicking butt, I can’t imagine a better group to represent FTC.
After work I trek back to UBC to continue my work as a Residence Advisor. I still have all my meetings and other commitments, which is a bit hard when I’m off campus for almost 11 hours a day, but I’m managing. Musical is also picking up this term and it’s getting exciting. The cast is looking great – literally – my team is in charge of Costumes/Aesthetics so the cast will look phenomenal by March 7!
Outside of my jobs I’m taking one class online: Global Citizenship (SOCI430B). So far it has been pretty laid back and obviously tied into the theme of my job at FTC which is a nice overlap. I’m also doing pre-departure sessions for my International Service Learning trip to Swaziland this summer. The sessions started slow last Friday but hopefully they pick up and become more interesting/relevant. I’m excited to be going to Swaziland with the ISL program but I feel like there is a lot of stuff still up in the air. Like how much funding I will receive and where the heck I’m going to live in May!
My plan for the rest of my UBC years has changed…again! Currently (and hopefully permanently) the plan is to finish this term with co-op, RA and my one course. Then I will find a place to live in Vancouver for the month of May before taking off to Africa for 3 months. I’ll come back to Vancouver in September to do some re-entry tasks and presentations from my trip. The last presentation is in October, and during this time I will be living in Vancouver and taking UBC courses online. Once I’m done with my ISL commitments I will be flying home to Toronto for a few days and then on my free flight to Sydney! (Did I mention I won a free round-trip flight to Sydney, Aust from Air Canada? Well, that happened.) I’ll return to Toronto in early December to write my final exams for my online courses, spend Christmas with the fam and (fingers crossed) get my G! In 2014 I will be back on the other side of the world on exchange in Europe. I’m almost certain my top 3 choices for exchange are going to be London, Edinburgh and Amsterdam….so somewhere on that continent for sure! I’ll study and travel in Europe until May-ish and then return to Canadaland! After that I will have one semester of courses left to take and optional co-op terms to complete. Ideally, I’d work as an RC for a year so I could get my co-op designation, take my final courses, make a little money and be able to spend my last UBC year in the RezLife family once again. If not – I’m sure I will figure out something else! So after all that, the plan is to graduate near/around April 2015!
So that’s where my life is sitting at the moment. My days are super packed with work #1, work #2, class, ISL, social life and attempting to keep my room liveable and my sleep pattern sane (failing miserably as denoted by my complete lack of clean dishes and pile of washed clothing that has yet to be put away). As busy as I am, I’m also loving all of the things I’m involved with and the exciting adventures coming up. I want to make sure when I graduate from UBC I can look back at all the amazing opportunities I took advantage of, even if it means a few early mornings and unwashed dishes!
PS: Resolutions Update! In case you’re curious how I’m doing with my 8 resolutions….the answer is not well! 1) I started brainstorming novel ideas in a book but nothing more fruitful than that. 2) I’ve made one cup of tea so far. A slow start you might say. 3) I bought brown bread and made a few sandwiches. 4) I jumped back on the flossing train, thanks to daily texts from Simon (I assume the stretching will follow). 5) I started carrying a folder of unanswered letters with me to and from work but I’m not finding the time to respond to them. My only free time seems to be on the bus, not terribly conducive to writing. 6) I’m thinking starting with a February budget sounds like a better plan! January budgets are just too predictable. 7) The bible has been moved off my shelf and closer to my bed for the daily before-sleep readings that haven’t actually started. 8) I have managed to wear an accessory everyday, so the easiest resolution was kept!
I’ve never been big on New Year’s Resolutions.
Every year people promise they’ll lose weight, eat better, spend less and save more. The arbitrary date of January 1st is supposed to magically make these lofty and broad resolutions more accomplishable. Unfortunately, most resolutions seem to be abandoned by Feb 1st, if not sooner.
So instead of making grandiose promises, I’m going to commit to a few little things. Small changes that will help make my daily life better and lead to larger ideals of financial, physical, spiritual and mental health. Along with these goals, I’m actively planning to make 2013 an awesome year: a co-op job at Free The Children, volunteering in Swaziland for 3 months (and getting course credits!) and possibly living on my own in Vancouver before setting off to Australia for exchange!
Resolution #1: Write a novel
I’ve been writing for years and my first genre of choice was fiction stories. I’ve written countless story beginnings, only to fall out of love with my plot or main character and abandon the piece. In 2013, I am committing to finishing a full-length fiction story. It might not be good, and there’s a super slim chance it will ever see the light of day, but it will be finished!
Resolution #2: Actually get in to tea
Back in September I made a list of goals for myself for the school year. While I’ve worked towards some of them (research school options and attend church weekly – check!), some have been pretty much forgotten (flossing? Overrated!). But one of my goals was to get in to tea! I want to replace my stash of hocho/coffee and start drinking tea instead. I started by buying a few cheap grocery store brands but it was a struggle to force myself to make a cup, let alone enjoy one. So this year, I’m starting my tea journey anew by making tea drinking fun! I’ve visited David’s Tea and I think I’m ready to recommit.
Resolution #3: Pick brown/wheat bread
As a rule, whenever I’ve been given the option between white and wheat, I always go white. I prefer the flavour but have come to accept that the added calories aren’t really worth it. The sandwich will taste just as good on whole wheat toast. I know it’s not a huge step, but it’s a little something I can commit to for 2013.
Resolution #4: Floss and stretch daily
As I mentioned above, both of these things were on my September goals list but kind of fell by the wayside. In 2013, I’m bringing them back! I just have to get into a routine of flossing and doing a few quick stretches every day.
Resolution #5: Write more letters
I love snail mail! And in 2012 I wrote and received a fair amount of snail mail from friends and family back home and overseas. It’s really fun to get mail and take a few moments to connect with people offline. In 2013 I want to send even more letters to my friends and family. I’m hoping for a full mailbox, so please reply to my letters!
Resolution #6: Budget
I’ve never been terrible with money. I’ve actually always set a little aside for savings and I’m pretty responsible about not spending it too recklessly. But I can honestly say I don’t know enough about how much I’m earning, saving and spending. My dad recently walked me through a simple budgeting technique which I’m going to employ in the new year.
Resolution #7: Finish the Bible
Two years ago I started reading the Bible, after a failed attempt years before that. I managed to finish all of the New Testament except for Revelations. In 2013, I’m going to start from the beginning and read the Old Testament and then Revelations. I’ll officially have read the entire Bible but in the future I plan to read it again in the proper order.
Resolution #8: Accessorize more!
This is my fluff resolution, but still one I intend to keep! I want to accessorize more in 2013. I have a ton of jewellery that I don’t remember I own until I’m moving and have to pack it all up. This year I’m going to start wearing some of it! Every day I want to wear at least one piece of jewellery.
And that’s the plan for 2013! 8 little habit changes I’m going to add to my daily routine plus my big plans for the year. I’m looking forward to so much in 2013 and I’m really excited for what’s coming this year. I’m also thinking ahead to 2014, 2015 and beyond. It scares me a little that I still have some big decisions to make and that in 2-ish years I’m going to be graduating and out in the real world. But I’m also super excited for the opportunity to travel, live on my own, come home, discover new passions, learn more, work hard, meet new people, make mistakes and find my place in the world. I think 2013 is definitely setting me on the right path to discover where that will be.
As I finished my final final (at 8:30am, mind you), I was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief: first term is over! Christmas is 10 days away! I’ll be home in 3 days! And the world might end in 6…
Looking back, this year has been kind of crazy and filled with many firsts for me.
In January I was returning for my second semester of second year and of advising. I was comfortable with my job and with school…probably a little too comfortable, in hindsight. I wasn’t motivated and I really wasn’t happy with what I was doing. It was around then that I started to unearth my passion for travel. I started this blog, stayed up late searching for flight deals instead of studying for midterms and began dreaming my great escape. I had applied to be an English tutor in Italy for the summer, which unfortunately didn’t pan out (they did offer me a position in late August), but it turns out it was for the best.
In February I got my first taste of solo travel when I spent a day alone in San Francisco! It was pretty uneventful but I impressed myself by getting from the airport to the hotel, dining solo and finding the sea lions on Fisherman’s Wharf. Looking back at it now, I can’t believe I went from 24hrs alone in the States to 3 weeks alone in Europe in only 4 months! My mom showed up the next afternoon and we spent the next few days together. It was a great escape from school/advising and I kind of fell in love with SF. The city is gorgeous and I can’t wait to visit “Frannie” again.
March was Musical Madness Month! The residence musical I was helping to run had our 3-night run and it went so well! I was really proud of my cast, crew and colleagues – though I’m pretty sure I didn’t touch any school work for most of March.
School winded down in April and after finals ended and I moved out of Shuswap, it was time to face reality: I was homeless and jobless! It wasn’t as dire as all that, but I had been hoping for a tutoring job in Italy or cushy office job in Vancouver. Instead, as April ended I boarded a flight home to Toronto with no real job plans.
In May I was able to catch up with my friends and family at home. I spent a lot of time applying to jobs online and managed to get quite a few writing gigs. Unfortunately, most of the gigs were unpaid, but the experience was great! It was exciting to be doing something I actually loved. Still, my days felt a little empty.
By some miracle, I found the world’s greatest flight deal and in June I packed my bags, booked hostels and trains, said my goodbyes and jumped on a flight to Europe! I blogged daily while I worked my way through a whirlwind tour of London, Paris, Nice, Barcelona, Madrid and Lisbon. It was an insane 3 weeks and I still can’t believe how quickly it came together and how much I managed to squeeze in. I still shake my head sometimes when I see photos I took of the Eiffel Tower or remember that I stood outside Buckingham Palace waving at The Queen and her family. It was my first solo adventure and one I’m never going to forget. I can’t wait to go back!
In July I began working as an Editorial Intern at The Kit Magazine. It was a great job and I really got to immerse myself in the magazine culture. Not only did I get to handle swanky clothing samples and luxe beauty products, speak with top brands and retailers, but I got to write and see my work in print and online! And in July I joined a new decade: my 20s!
August started off with an amazing family trip to Atlantis in The Bahamas. It was nice to spend time with my sister who had been in Quebec for the month of July and just relax the 5 of us. After that I had a few more weeks in Toronto before I headed back to the west coast for Advisor Orientation in Kelowna.
September was pretty much just a blur. I was settling back into advising with a new team, new floor, new house and new residence area. Classes started up again and I was actually excited about my courses. Ambitiously I joined the Pre-Law Society and Psychology Students Association to see if my future lay in either of those directions. FYI: Psychology has been taken off the table. Law is still in the cards along with Journalism.
In October my mom came out to visit me and we had ourselves a Thanksgiving Staycation. It was so nice to see my mom and relax away from school/work. The rest of the month consisted of midterms, papers and handing out candy to adorable children at the Acadia Park residence on Halloween. Oh, and I casually won $100 from a random draw costume contest.
In November I found out that I had been accepted to an International Service Learning program and would be spending Summer 2013 in Mbabane, Swaziland! I’m so excited about this because I’ll get to go to an un-visited continent, embrace a brand new culture and have the opportunity to work at an HIV/AIDS advocacy organization. In November I also went to Disney On Ice (pure magic), the Twilight premiere and our Winter Formal in residence.
15 days into December and I’ve already accomplished quite a bit! I wrote my 5 finals, celebrated birthdays with good friends, visited The Vancouver Christmas Market and got a co-op job for next term! I’m so excited that in January I will be working for one of my favourite organizations, Free The Children! I’m joining the team as a youth programming intern and will be helping make the first US We Day come to life. The whole thing came about rather quickly but I’m so stoked! It’ll also be a really cool change to be on a co-op job term instead of just school.
Looking ahead: The next few days will be full of Christmas shopping, packing and taking care of all the home stuff I’ve ignored during finals (dishes, laundry, etc.). And then on the 18th I fly back to Toronto for 12 days! I’m really excited to see my friends and family. I’m also hoping the cold holds off and it only snows once or twice. I’ll be filling out my application for exchange as well over the break. My plan is to go to The University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia in January 2014. It’s a pretty cool feeling to look ahead and know that 2013 will be filled with a lot of happy moments: I’ll still be RA-ing with my amazing team and house. I’ll be working for Free The Children. I’m seeing Lady Gaga on the 12th! I’m going to Africa in June! And I’ll probably be living on my own in Vancouver at some point. My expectations at the start of 2012 were vastly different from how the year turned out. There were some low points but there were way more highlights and reasons to feel so incredibly lucky. I’ve ended the year on quite the high note and I’ve got a great feeling about 2013.