Monday, January 31, 2011

Its only a matter of time

As previously mentioned, today I took the voyage north from Amsterdam aboard a train to Groningen. This trip went as smoothly as can be expected. Ha, not that it was bad but as soon as you are running around train platforms with heavy bags and tight timelines trips tend to get a little more stressful than necessary. Well this trip wasn't that stressful even. I guess I just hate lugging big heavy bags around because it is tiresome, inconvenient, and people look at you like you are crazy.

I decided to go to the hotel continental breakfast this morning in order to save myself trying to eat while worrying about my luggage. This was generally a good plan except that this continental breakfast wasn't free - I mean this isn't that uncommon - but I figured for the high price they were charging this meal was going to be awesome. It wasn't. That's ok. I filled up on bread and yogurt.

So anyways, I leave the hotel, catch a bus, walk my bags to Amsterdam Centraal, buy a ticket, find my line and wait - here I discovered the station had free wifi! I almost died with excitement that I could use my phone, I'm such a info junkie.

I boarded the first train which took about half an hour to a station south east of Amsterdam, at this point I had about 5 minutes to run to my other train which was sad because they didn't have an escalator or elevator and my bag was heavy. I didn't take my care re-packing it. I don't look forward to re-lugging my bags back on the train in 5 months but I'll worry about that at a later time. Caught the next train which was closer to two hours north east until I reached Groningen. I dozed a few times because I had trouble sleeping last night. I always get hungry right around bed time and it kept me up.

And so it goes, I catch a cab to the residence. I have to admit I was a little shocked by the state of this place. Not like it is awful but it definitely isn't really kept up. I guess that is to be somewhat expected because the people who care for it are only here for 5-10 months at a time. When I arrived a couple friendly people saw me in, it was nice because the student manager who was supposed to meet me was nowhere to be found. They called her and got everything figured out. I got into my room which is pretty bare and I got a tour. It doesn't seem too big but I think it is one of the biggest student houses for international students.

My room is right beside one of the shared kitchens (the one I will be using) so far it has proved to be fairly noisy but I understand that cooking is off limits after 11 so it shouldn't be an issue. I don't foresee myself hanging out in my room too much to study. I am sure there are nicer places in a campus building to do that. The bathroom is down the hall from me and the shared showers are down the other hall. So far I have heard nothing but good things and great reviews from the other tenants and everyone I've met has been super friendly. Right now things are kind of hectic because last semester's students are moving out and this semester's are moving in - except for a few full year-ers. In that sense I feel like it is a little chaotic here right now.

I found out that there is no wifi, and if you want to use the internet you have to be plugged in. This, and the need for a towel so I could shower in the morning, sent me on a short journey down the street. I stopped at KFC out of ease and I will stand by my earlier claims that fast food = bad food, I need to stop going to these places, eww. I went into a sort of future shop/best buy type store called Saturn to buy an ethernet cable, and just to be safe I purchased a 10m long one so my computer will reach everywhere in my room and more. Ha. Fortunately for me there was an IKEA right beside the electronic store so I found a new pillow (cause I'm picky), a cover for the comforter, an extra blanket, and some towels. This went quite well. It was even a fairly quick walk. I stopped at Shell to buy some dinner due to a lack of other options, peanut butter and jelly. The guys in shell looked at me like I was an alien when I didn't respond to them in Dutch - I think it is safe to say that Groningen is way less touristy than Amsterdam and they don't switch to English with near as much speed or ease. Although I still haven't met anyone who hasn't done it.

The cool thing about the residence is that everything is in English and everyone knows it. Kind of wild.

I spent my evening unpacking a little, setting up my bed, looking at classes, figuring out where to travel next, and looking at the welcome week stuff (it starts on Thursday the 3rd and runs until Wednesday the 9th) - looks like they have us pretty busy which will be nice. Most things look quite fun or educational and I am excited to have some sort of structured "this is what you are supposed to be doing right now" activities. I think it will help meeting people who might be in my classes/might live in the same building. Right now it is hard to tell who is coming and going. I also tried to download the latest episode of Glee tonight, but when it finished it wouldn't play. This made me sad.

Tomorrow I am going to investigate buying a bike (as it seems to be the most important thing I could do at this point), getting some groceries, and some general exploring so I know where I am going on Thursday.

Also, I am kind of weirded out about being back in classes, although I did class in Mexico and Moncton last summer it wasn't really the same. I haven't been in a proper university classroom for 9 months. eep!

Oh and I have to split a mini-fridge with 4 other people. This baffles me. I guess I won't be storing things and what I do store needs to be small. Ha, and if you've ever seen the fridge in the condo I live in at home you know this is a practical impossibility. Maybe I'll just eat at IKEA a bunch - it is super cheap.

And now for some visual aids

Here is a small collection of pictures from my weekend in Amsterdam.

Described as one of the most beautiful canals in Amsterdam.
Catching the sun going down.

Beer tasting.

I amsterdam.

In the House of Bols tour.

Bikes are everywhere!

It seems impossible to get enough pictures of the canals.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Its best not to rush things


Because I froze yesterday and because I had been out of the hotel for so long in the cold yesterday my motivation to get out of bed and go in to Amsterdam city centre was very low. Both times that I've been to Europe before I spent a lot of time just sitting around outside watching, observing, or walking around, generally touring around the cities. This is tough when it is really cold. For this reason, if you aren't heading somewhere or inside a museum or some other attraction you are looking to be heading somewhere. Ha, this is tough because everything costs money. Either you are paying to get into a museum or paying for a coffee so you can sit inside a cafe.

So today when I woke up, instead of getting out of bed right away, I just kind of lazed around then got up and sat around for a while. It was nice. It was nice to feel like I had time to just hang out. Now, I still get hungry and I didn't want to hang out in my hotel all day.

I think I finally got to the bus around 2pm. I went with no plan, whatever I did I knew I would be happy with. My first goal was to find a good, large meal to eat. It didn't take me long, I stepped inside one of the first restaurants I passed. It was nice because cafe culture is a big deal here, most eateries have patios out front so you can watch the constantly busy streets. If you are lucky you can find a cafe with a covered patio, think like a green house. It is nice to just sit and relax and enjoy a slow meal. I ordered a coffee, which as far as I can tell is a shot of espresso, so note to self just order a latte, ha. I also got a salad and spaghetti. I think I've decided that why I don't seem to like any of the things I've been eating is that the meat doesn't taste like I'm used to. I think the best way to explain it is that all the ground beef I've had has that kind of "wild" taste you get when you eat, say, bison. Anyways it was a good fill me up meal, not very Dutch I'm sure but I'm ok with that.

One lovely thing about the eating experience here is how you aren't bothered. It takes some getting used to but there is never any rush about the whole process. They aren't constantly asking you questions or rushing you out the door when you are done eating.

I set out from there with the intention to just kick around. I decided to take a tram to an area I hadn't explored too extensively and take some pictures. This was a good idea because it allowed me to warm up. That became my new plan, walk around until I was too cold then step into a shop, cafe, or hop on another tram. This worked well. This was also my plan because I forgot all my maps and tourist information so it was an easy way to occupy my time.

I did this until I decided it was time to head back. I stopped at a cafe for a snack before I came to the hotel. I figured it was time to have a pannekoeken or a Dutch pancake if you will. I started with tomato soup which was actually more of a vegetable soup then moved onto a latte with apple pancake. They are huge. Think a larger, slightly thicker crepe with fruit or breakfast things baked between layers of the dough. They are served with powdered sugar and a very thick almost sweet molasses-y syrup. It was quite delicious. The server sat down and talked to me for a while because he said I was too quiet then laughed because I clearly had no one to talk to. Ha. I have to say that Dutch people have all been very friendly and kind and don't mind speaking English one little bit. It is nice.

Then I came back to the hotel, warmed up, watched How to Train Your Dragon - so cute! - and repacked my bags because in the morning I check out of Amsterdam, take a train for just over 2 hours north to Groningen to commence my studies. Well school doesn't actually start until the 14th but the introduction week and information stuff starts on the 3rd I think.

I hope round two of travels go off without a hitch. I hate being the person with so much luggage in public places but it would appear there isn't much I can do about it. Dang.

I realize it is difficult to tell the size of this cup and spoon but I assure you it is very small. As a fun fact, every time you order a coffee/tea here it always comes with a small biscuit. What a treat.

A busker from London I passed in the street today. He was very good.

The aftermath from my apple pancake. Yum.

video
Looks like the quality of this vid might be awful, you can blame my iphone for that. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

When does Spring get here?

Usually I would say that traveling to Europe is easier than traveling home. I usually don't suffer too many extreme jet lag symptoms, but this time round I've been a mess. I think the other times I've had less time to do what I want and more of a strict schedule to abide by. This means that I had to be up and going without exception. Not this time. This time I am my own schedule and I am clearly not doing a very good job of de-jet-lagging myself. Basically this means I am tired during the day, I don't sleep well at night, and when I wake up I'm exhausted. I'm sure it won't last much longer.

This morning I made my way out of the hotel and down to the Anne Frank House. This is the actual location where Anne Frank was in hiding during WWII and where she wrote her diary. I felt slightly guilty going as I had not read her diary. I have a thing against war books, no matter I always find them so depressing. That said I think I want to try and pick up this book when I get home. The house is really interesting and it was very cool to see where she actually stayed, in such a small space with 8 other individuals. You can still see pictures she pasted onto the walls to decorate her room, they also have her actual diary and many other artifacts in and around the house. I love that the house is still there, exactly as it was. So often it is easy to separate war stories from reality because not only are they so awful it seems like such a long time ago in such a far away place. Being in the hiding space made it all so real. Great experience.

After the tour part of the house I had lunch in the cafe at the museum. They have lovely views of the canals. This isn't really hard, as long as there are windows facing the canals you have amazing views. The streets are always so busy with people biking around and boats on the canal.

I caught the tram towards the Van Gogh Museum in the hopes of taking in some world renowned art. Along the way I thought I was considerably closer to where I was going than I was so I ended up walking quite a while to get to where I was going. No complaints really. The weather, though cool was not unbearable. The area with the Van Gogh Museum is entitled the Museum Quarter as there are quite a few large museums in a small area. Also outside the museum are the I Amsterdam letters - you might be familiar with this, it is a popular photo op for tourists. It is at the end of a long field, unfortunately for me they have placed a skating rink right in front of the letters making it very difficult to get a proper picture of the letters in their entirety. Regardless I snapped a few pics and headed to the museum.

My favorite Van Gogh is by far Starry Night which I hoped to take a peak at. However, upon walking through the entire museum and then looking it up online I have discovered that it makes it permanent home in New York's Museum of Modern Art. In retrospect this isn't surprising as it is world famous and New York likely provides larger art audiences. The museum was quite good. They had a lovely and wide variety of his works as well as a number of works by other artists he drew influence from - such as Claude Monet! I love Monet's paintings. A few familiar paintings you might recognize that were present were Sunflowers by Van Gogh and Monet's Japanese Bridge. I likely should have taken more time to peruse but it was busy and I was tired.

Directly across the street is the House of Bols. Bols is a liquor company here in Amsterdam and they like their cocktails and their fancy bar-tending. It was a short self guided tour whereby you taste things and smell things and learn about other things related to the distilling process...? Clearly I didn't learn that much. Ha. But at the end they will make you whatever kind of cocktail you want then provide you with two shot glasses of liquor to sample. Generally it was a favourable experience but it could easily be skipped with little regret.

I had some time to kill between then and when I was going to be a part of a tour in the Red Light District so I decided to try and pick up a few things I need so I did a little more shopping before stopping into a cafe for a hot drink in an attempt to warm up. The wind was picking up and it was getting cold!

Just before 5pm I made my way to the RLD for my tour which was organized by the Prostitute Information Centre - run by a former prostitute. I thought the RLD would be much seedier, especially the way people wrote about it online but it is actually quite respectable.. or at least the area doesn't feel dangerous, not at all. In fact the houses in the RLD are the most expensive, some worth more than $1million or maybe €1million, I'm not really sure. There are many pubs, restaurants, and houses. In fact I believe that a large number of families live in the area. You see everyone walking around, families, young people, older people. It is definitely an area I would have explored more had it not been so bloody cold. As an aside, the tour guide gave the French people in my group a hard time for not learning English sooner - ha, she told them to get with the times. It was great.

At the end of the 1hour-ish tour I was freezing so I hoped that stopping for a quick bite would warm my popsicle toes. I stopped at a McDonalds - which is not somewhere I usually eat but when you are traveling it almost seems easy, and somewhat exciting to see what the local McDonald's trend is. Ha, seems odd but its true. I think I've eaten at McDonalds in most countries I've visited. Anyways the store was cold and the Big Mac was kind of gross and the Coke Light (which I don't think I will get used to) just doesn't taste the same as Diet Coke. Fail Coke, major Fail.

At this point I was still freezing and went to catch my bus back to the hotel. I was quite exhausted. Being cold and walking around all day tires a girl out.

I think I've decided why it seems so much colder. Although it is quite cold when I am at home if it is cold like this I don't generally spend my time walking around in that cold weather for hours at a time. Like many other European cities their shopping streets or places to walk around have open stores onto the streets, so they don't have doors - it is like a mall but onto the street. In this way you never really warm up, you just get cold and stay cold. I suggest that they invest in doors, couldn't hurt.

I made it to the hotel and hopped in the shower to have the hottest shower I could. It took me forever to warm up and I don't really think I ever got really warm.

It is supposed to be sunny tomorrow which should help because today had a kind of mist hanging out all day, kind of like a light fog that didn't want to lift.

Until tomorrow.

Today I learned:
  • It is the dream of most Amsterdamians (?) to own a home on the canal
  • Every property on the canal is a national monument and is protected - so Amsterdam will stay looking like Amsterdam for a very long time

Friday, January 28, 2011

And so it begins

*Deep Sigh*

I feel like I have more to tell you then you would ever want to read. I'll try to keep it simple but detailed as I know I have some hardcore fans, well not of the blog but of me and of knowing what I'm up to.

Wednesday the 26th at around 9pm (mst) I boarded a flight to London. Total flying time was just under 9 hours. I used to enjoy flying, I think I liked that it meant I was going somewhere, or doing something, or maybe I was just young and naïve (stupid). I do enjoy traveling very much and flights under 3 hours are reasonable but these awful long flights are just... awful. I digress.

On this long flight I was fortunate as the plane was not very full, I moved to a middle row of three open seats, this allowed me to stretch out (read: lay across the three seats to sleep). Sadly I am not very good at sleeping in uncomfortable positions so as good as it wasn't I probably didn't get more than 2 hours. I did finish my book "Never Let Me Go" which I followed up by watching the movie on the planes on demand movie system. They were similar and both were good but I feel like the movie altered a few of the characters to much more one dimensional ways that really sell the story short. It was a quick and intriguing read.

I arrived at London Heathrow and was made to wait about 4 hours to board my next flight to Amsterdam. This was generally fine except for the lack of wifi at Heathrow - shocking! And the fact that my stomach was having a fit. I boarded the next flight and slept for the majority of the short flight.

Anecdotally, when arriving in Amsterdam you are not required to fill out any paperwork, no immigration business, nothing. All you do is show them your passport, he asked what I was doing and then stamped my passport. They also had an express lane where people had some version of a travel card and did a retina scan. How fancy.

At this point in my journey I was rather exhausted at this point and my mental state was starting to slip into stressed mess.

I got directions to my hotel from the information desk, bought a train ticket, and made my way to the train. This was kind of a mess. I got off before I was supposed to, had to wait about half an hour in the cold for a second train, I was then supposed to catch a bus but at that point my toe had gone numb (this happens often) I was freezing and tired. I found a very nice cab driver who took me to my hotel.

Upon arriving at my very adorable "art hotel" I was given a room key. By the time I made it to my room I was ready to collapse. I had a very hot shower and got settled. I begrudgingly ordered room service - a giant not-so-great burger which I ordered WELL DONE (who orders a burger medium?!). It was weird because I was exhausted due to lack of sleep and not because of what hour of the day my body thought it was. In an attempt to switch time zones effectively I tried to stay up until a reasonably late bedtime so that I would sleep through the night. This was a rather large failure. I slept for about 4 hours and woke up sometime around 3 or 4. I think around 4 I got up as I wasn't tired at all. I did some research about what I could do the next day. Around 6am I figured I should try and go back to bed. This time I slept quite solidly. I had set an alarm for 9am but when it went off I shut it off and slept until at least 11:30 when housekeeping knocked on my door.

At this point I was a little sad I slept so long but also glad. I slowly made my way to the city centre - about 15minute bus ride. I kind of wish my hotel was a little closer but I got such a great deal on it that I don't even care.

The first this I noticed about Amsterdam is that it is confusing! Well all new cities take a while to grasp but often there are key features to pick out that can help orient you. Well here every canal looks the same, at least to me. I didn't have a problem telling which way I came from and which way I should be going but I found it very difficult to figure out what street was what and where I could go to see different things. Most places that I went today were by accident or sheer luck. That said I got a better handle on things as the day carried on.

My first goal was to find a shopping area of town. When I packed I left out a few key items that I intended to purchase here such as a hair dryer and straightener because these can be a hassle with the difference in voltage. It took me quite a while to find a store that actually carried these but I found 'em.

At 2:30 I boarded a canal cruise. It was a 1.5 hour ride through the canals on the "museum line." It stopped by a number of museums so it was kind of like a hop-on hop-off bus. I decided to just go for the ride as it was already afternoon and I was hungry. The canals are quite beautiful. Here is a fun fact: there are over 2000 people in Amsterdam living permanently in houseboats. I also found out that their central train station is the largest in the country and supported by some outrageous number of blocks of wood, that's right, it floats. Wild.

After the lovely cruise I made it my goal to find something warmer to wear as I clearly did not pack for the soul cracking wind that makes you want to find shelter and never leave it. Ha.

From here I decided the best thing I could do was grab a bite to eat at a convenience store and take in the Heineken Experience - the Heineken brewery tour. It was a great tour and very long which meant it was great bang for your buck. They teach you how to do a proper beer tasting and then give you two glasses of beer at the end. I am pretty sure this is actually the first time I had ever had Heineken. Because my food for the day consisted of a muffin, coffee, and a croissant sandwich I only had one glass of beer in addition to the "tasting" glass. I met some friendly Americans who have a friend playing professional basketball in Groningen - crazy right.

My last event of the day was dinner at the Hard Rock cafe. It was great because the lounge side, where I sat, is right on the canal level so you see boats going by as you eat. After dinner I took a tram and a bus and made my way back to the hotel. I'm quite tired. I hope I can sleep through the night.

Sorry this was so lengthy but it was two days worth :)

As a general observation I can say that I've yet to meet anyone who doesn't speak English and I am often treated like a lost puppy - gentle smiles and kind word to the young English girl here all alone. I'm okay with this. Everyone here is very friendly and I never get the feeling like I am a worse person for not speaking the local language which is often the impression locals seem to give off in other countries.

Right now my camera battery is dead and I'm charging it. I might upload some pictures later.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

21 hours and counting

Well not 21 hours exactly, but close.

Here it is, the time has come for me to live out a life goal. How sweet is that? I love when you can taste the success of a goal you set for yourself. Tomorrow I move to Europe. This is kind of a big deal. As much as I have been moved out of my Mother's house since 2005 I've only ever been about an hour away. The longest I've spent away from home consecutively is about 2 months last summer. I feel like that was a good test run.

Over the past few days I have gone through a world of emotions. I've been stressed about packing, worried about leaving, excited about what I'll see, nervous to leave my friends and family, thrilled to make the big treck, the list goes on. I finally feel like I am in a really good place, I feel prepared, I feel ready. I have my stuff set out to be packed tomorrow - I think I have successfully packed "smart" and I don't feel like I've overpacked. I will fight the urge to throw things in last minute.

Yes, I feel very ready and the nerves are gone. Which is great because up until this afternoon I think worrying about packing had me worrying in general.

I know I'm on the verge of something great! I can not wait :)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

To Re-cap

This weekend I got out my butterfly wings and strapped 'em on. My Social Butterfly wings.

My brother came down from Edmonton for a visit, I'd like to think he came to see me but mostly he came to see his girlfriend and go snowboarding. This, however, worked to my advantage as I tagged along to Sunshine Village for my first and only ski trip of this winter season. Well at least my first and only CANADIAN ski trip of this winter season. We got an early start on Saturday morning in an attempt to get to the hill as early as possible - get there before the crowds and we had reservations for dinner later that evening in Calgary.

The skiing was great, they had just got a decent dump of snow and the lines weren't event that long. The great thing about Sunshine is the awesome views from the top of the hill. It seems like you just climbed into the middle of the mountains. It is gorgeous. The problem with this is that it gets pretty windy up high, which when skiing isn't the worst thing ever but the chair lifts were freezing!! And Sunshine doesn't have the longest runs so you spend a lot of time on the lifts cursing the wind. All things considered I had a great day skiing and really got into the groove by the end of the day. I was really grateful I got to go skiing before I left because it is something I rarely get to do and I love the Rocky Mountains so getting to visit one of the prides of Alberta before I depart was lovely.

We departed the hill shortly after 2pm rushed back to the city, cleaned ourselves up and headed out for Korean BBQ. I'm not really sure how I feel about such a meal. I'm still up in their whether I liked it or not, but in an attempt to not be a negative nancy I'm going to say it was a fun experience.

Afterwards I had a little going away get together, which was lots of fun and I had a really wonderful turnout. I got to see quite a few people I hadn't seen in quite some time and although we couldn't all sit together it was awesome to have so many people I adore in one pub. Much love for these people. It was here that it all really started to sink in for me, saying "I'm leaving on Wednesday" my brain started to comprehend how soon that was. Also, actually saying goodbye to people I see on a regular basis was quite odd as well. Lovely, but surreal.

Sunday started early - well early for someone who was busy for 19.5 hours the day before and went to bed around 1:30am. My Dad was up for brunch, we went to Lazy Loaf & Kettle, and I've told you in previous posts, it is awesome. When we came home we were all pretty tired. We ended up watching "The Town" and "The Other Guys." Both movies were really good. The Other Guys was better than anticipated and although some of the jokes fell flat it was overall well worth my time.

We ended the day with my last soccer match of the season. I'll be sad to be leaving the team as I love playing with them every week. It is lots of fun.

Tomorrow I'm going to be a busy girl. I leave on Wednesday night and the more I look at what I've been putting off the more I start to stress. But I'll get it done, it always works in the end.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Week. End.

Tomorrow I am going skiing at Sunshine. I like skiing but it is way too expensive for me to do on any regularity, especially because I don't own any equipment. Not having equipment is a great way to spend a lot of money for one day of fun. That said I've decided that seeing as this is my only opportunity to ski the rockies this year I should take it.

After which I will be heading downtown to have some drinks and possibly some dancing as a "going away" party. But the thought of throwing a party for myself in which I invite everyone I know makes me cringe. I did it, but it made me cringe. I'm much more for small gatherings of great friends followed by other small gatherings of other great friends I know. That said I am REALLY looking forward to it, I hope many people show up because I want to see them all before I leave.

Then it is Sunday and my Dad is coming up for brunch or lunch or something of that nature and I have soccer at 7pm. It will be my last soccer game before I go. I am going to miss soccer a lot.

Then that is the end to the conventional weekend but for me I've been living on the weekend since last Monday. But I have a feeling this Monday and Tuesday will be slightly more hectic than last weeks Monday and Tuesday because I will need to finalize all purchasing, planning, and packing. Crazy! I'm 5 sleeps away :0

And with that, goodnight.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"The Social Network"

I like movies. Correction, I love movies. They have the power to transport you from where you are into another magical, depressing, happy world. If they are done right they will make you laugh, cry, feel, emote, and generally connect with the story or characters or the adventure.

When I heard about The Social Network I thought for sure it was going to be a dud. I wondered why they even would make a movie about facebook - well I basically assumed it was a cash grab. I really had no interest in it.

But then it came out and it had great - great - reviews on rottentomatoes, which I consider to be a very good indicator of good movies. Its reviews stayed up in the 90% area which is huge, and it had great numbers at the box office. Still, I wasn't convinced.

Now its been nominated for a number of awards and last Sunday at the Golden Globes it took numerous awards even best film - drama. This meant I had to watch it. It must be good, I just couldn't see how.

Well I rented it, and I liked it. So this is me admitting my error. It was a great tale of friendship, personal growth, hard decisions, and mistakes that everyone has to go through when growing up. I enjoyed how the story wasn't linear and it moved back and forth through time. The acting was great and I really felt for a number of different characters. I don't know how accurate of a portrayal it was of reality but I did enjoy how no one person was portrayed as the villain or the hero. In that sense it was very realistic and you get a great sense of remorse and pain from the different perspectives of the many characters.

Definitely worth a view.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

And now for something completely different

Packing is something that I find so trying. It is also something I don't generally put a lot of thought into. When packing for trips I generally leave it until the day before, say around 4:30 pm the evening before I leave. Considering how much I like to be organized I find the chaos of packing easier if I just put it off until absolutely necessary. That said I've decided to re-evaluate my strategy this one time. Every website that I've visited has said to take extra care, extra consideration, to carefully plan, and consider if I really need everything I am going to pack. As a chronic over-packer I understand what a huge challenge this is going to be.

And here I sit, procrastinating a little longer, telling you how I am going to plan my packing which in fact is allowing me to avoid planning my packing. Genius.

Hope my elimination skills are up to par.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

This I Will Miss...

When I was away last summer I was reminded how much I love Alberta. I love the our landscape. Rolling prairies, big skies, gorgeous Rocky Mountains. I love that you can see forever, it is like a breath of fresh air. I also love that if you just look to the West you will get amazing views of the mountains.



Yup, pretty awesome.

Monday, January 17, 2011

This is it.

People have been asking me lately if I'm "all ready to go," if I'm sufficiently "organized." My emphatic answer has always been "No, not at all." I'd follow that up by explaining that I've been planning and as of the 17th (today) I have no work - therefore allowing me a full week and a half of uninterrupted time to plan, purchase, and pack.

Well it is the 17th. Go time.

First on my list is to compile a new list. Yes I'm a lover of the to-do list, the packing list, or any other list that keeps my brain organized when my body is running in three different directions. So I think I'll start with that. Actually, I think I'll start with a coffee then I'll try to organize the next five months of my life abroad.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Adventure, New Look.

I was ready for something new. Something fresh. I don't know how much of this new look I'll keep or what I'll change but I'd like to make this blog look a little more personal and a little less like I copied a template exactly from blogger but that takes time and for now this is as good as it'll get. What do you think?

This I Will Miss...

Seeing as I will soon be departing for approximately five months to live in a foreign land I've decided to reflect on some things I know I will miss about home. However, due to a serious lack of motivation I've decided not to preplan this list so, in no particular order:

Tim Hortons!


Yes I'm an addict. By the end of my last coop term (in which I would drag my tired self to T.Ho's prior to every day of work) the staff got to know me, they even got to know my beverage and occasional snack of choice. I'll be the first to say that Tim Horton's coffee pales in comparison to Starbucks or your next espresso shot providing, barista toting establishment. I find it extremely potent to the point that it needs to be tamed with cream. I don't even drink that much coffee from Tims, my drink of choice: Extra Large Steeped Tea with Two Milks! Perfection. It makes my stomach smile and my heart sing just thinking about it. Pair that with a fruit explosion muffin and you have the best breakfast/midday snack/late night study fix around.

Because of my daily addiction, one that has lasted for the past few years, I am certain it is going to be a tough habit to kick. I can already tell you that upon returning it will be among my first requests for whomever picks me up from the airport when I return!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Seventeen

Seventeen. I've got seventeen days.

As the time dwindles down towards my trip it is slowly starting to sink in that in a very short amount of time I will be packing my bags and flying to the other side of the world by myself on another crazy adventure. I love crazy adventures and I seem to be very good at doing them alone. I guess I just figure, if you want to do it, don't wait for someone to do it with you. This is good but it makes the reality a little scarier.

I go between total excitement to pangs of fear. But if I didn't have some fears I'd be crazy.

So, within this short amount of time I have appointments, four days of work, shopping to do, people to see, etc. etc. I'm sure it'll go by very quickly and then I assure you these posts will be 100 time more interesting.

On an entirely different not, I finally saw Iron Man and it was awesome. Also, this winter blizzard although awful is somewhat fun because it makes staying at home on the couch all weekend making food and watching movies seem like the best possible idea and we all need that once and a while.

Hope your weekend was restful and not at all productive. I just hope that the roads get better because winter driving is hard on my lightweight car.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Impossible.

Ugh.

As most people who are close to me know, in the last few years my back has exploded and causes me an unnecessary amount of grief. I don't really know why and seemingly no one else does either. I've been to doctors, had blood tested, had chiropractic work done, acupuncture, IMS (Intramuscular Stimulation), laser treatment, had physiotherapy, used and ATM-2 treatment machine, massage therapy, and the list goes on.

It has got to the point where I can no longer do physical activity. Well I can do physical activity but basically the headache and pain that follows makes it simply not worth it. I've had to swear to myself to stop working out because as much as I want to do it I know it isn't worth it.

Although this has been very frustrating I have been able to deal with it because I still play soccer, do some other things occasionally. Unfortunately sports has been such a part of my youth and something I love to do. It is hard to no longer feel strong or feel like I could swim forever, or run a long ways if I wanted to. This really hit me today when I was working at the pool. I had to pull the 50m lane lines which are pretty heavy and I could tell my arms were way out of shape for it. It is sad because I loved pushing myself to lift more weights or bike further to know that I felt strong and now I have to keep telling myself not to do something I enjoy doing and I have no way to make it happen. Stupid. stupid.

On the bright side, doing nothing means I am way less hungry which means that I have much smaller grocery bills and I'm okay with that.

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year. New Adventures. New.

On New Year's Day I wrote a blog update, yesterday I tried to post it but it was deleted. For this reason I have little motivation to re-write and re-post that same blog so if this seems hasty I apologize.

I've never really been one for New Year's Resolutions, heck I've never really been one to find New Years all that inspiring but each to their own I suppose. I guess I feel like if you want to start change, why not change tomorrow, why does it have to be January 1. And I guess I'm also thrown off of it because it seems like people make really large goals and don't achieve them. I'm much more for setting goals as I go and achieving them as I go.

That said, this year I will set a few New Year's Resolutions.

1) Worry Less About Money
Oh, a toughy. As a student it is generally an accepted way of life, the poor life, the "can we go somewhere cheap tonight" way of life. That is all fine and good when all your friends are also poor, it makes it a little easier. The thing I find difficult is watching my debt increase and realizing that at this time in my life there is nothing I can really do about it. Sure I work, I work a lot, I rarely take many holidays, I work through my summers, etc. You get the picture. And still my bank account decreases. With me moving to Europe and likely being largely unemployed for half of this upcoming year I will be spending all the money I've saved for the last 4 months. I am going to be okay with this. Yes, I resolve to stress less about money.

2) Stay better connected with friends
This will be hard because I am physically going to be so far away, but when I return I hope to stop letting life, exhaustion, and general malaise get in the way of seeing friends. Making more of an effort for my friends is resolution #2.

So there you have it, short and simple. Hopefully I can make these stick!

Happy New Year Friends :)