Finding Good Friends

I have never considered myself to be the type of person that has a very large friend group. I generally get along with most people, but I have one or two very close friends. In the past few months, this has changed for me. I’m not sure if I have just never met people that I could be this close with, or if I’m just more committed to making friendships work (since they’re much harder as you grow up). Whatever the reason, I am grateful that it’s happened, because I could not imagine going through life without these people.

Whether it’s people I’ve known since kindergarten, for a couple of years, or just a few months, the people I am choosing to spend my time with, whether it’s through phone calls, text messages, hand written letters, or in person, are making me happy and challenging me to be a better friend and person.

I know I can text my friends at any point in the day and any one of them will listen to me complain about my usual problems, or celebrate with me when I have good news to share. I always feel bad for ranting about little problems or bragging about the good things that are happening in my life, but they challenge me to accept that it’s okay to be proud of yourself, or upset over things that probably don’t mean much in the long run.

I have friends that have similar interests to mine, or at least take interest in my passions because they know how important they are to me. It’s so refreshing to know that I can ramble on about my favourite TV shows or have a conversation about musical theatre without having to stop and answer questions. There is nothing like being surrounded by people who are as passionate as you, it’s an intoxicating feeling, and those conversations could go on for hours.

My friends support my dreams and hopes for the future. Throughout my life and to this day, people constantly tell me that my dream is unattainable, or that once I get my dream job I won’t really like it as much as I think. It’s so overwhelmingly wonderful to have friends who not only support my dreams, but push me to go for them, and would support me along every step of the way.

Thank you to all of the wonderful people in my life. I am constantly blown away by all of you, and I am smarter, more confident and happier for having you in my life. I only hope I can return the favour to each of you and be as good of a friend to you, as you are to me.

 

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Update!

Hey guys! I just wanted to let you know that I haven’t forgotten about the blog, I’ve just been traveling and its really hard to find time to sit and write a post. I have a bunch of posts planned out on my phone (mostly about my trip, my advice on traveling Europe and things I’ve learned along the way), so when I get back to Glasgow and finish exams they will be going up!
I can’t wait for you guys to read them, but until then check out my YouTube channel where I have vlogs about my trips so far!

Everything is soaking wet.

I was not going to write another blog post about a tour I did, but I had to write this. I went on the Student Tours Scotland Argyll Forest Tour today and I loved it. I honestly wasn’t expecting too much out of it, Gary said last week that it was a really good tour so I just went ahead and booked it. Again, I really wasn’t going to write about it – I don’t want this blog to just be recaps of tours I’ve been on, but after the day I had I couldn’t not write about it.

The first thing you should know is that I hate getting wet. I hate the rain, I hate water rides, I don’t even like hand cream because it makes my hands all moist and gross. If I’m going to have to be wet, it’s going to be on my own terms.

And that was not in the cards for me today.

We took a beautiful walk through some of the most gorgeous trails I have ever seen. I’ve been on many nature walks and trails and many forests in my day, but this was amazing.

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“Big Tree Walk” The walk is named after this tree because it was a Big Tree that fell in the forest. There is actually a really cool superstition behind this fallen tree.

We walked through a place called Puck’s Glen, and it was named after the character in A Midsummer’s Night Dream, by Shakespeare. If you don’t know it – I highly recommend you look it up, it’s one of my favourites. I grew up loving the story and even performed it a few times, so walking through this area with all it’s beautiful landscapes and waterfalls was really magical.

It was so hard for me to choose a picture to capture the beauty of the place. I could post all the pictures I took and it would not do it justice.

It was so hard for me to choose a picture to capture the beauty of the place. I could post all the pictures I took and it would not do it justice.

These walks very lovely, and even though it was raining, my new rain jacket was doing a pretty good job of keeping me dry. My shoes, however were soaking wet, but that was not enough to ruin this place for me.

And then came the waterfall.

At one point we had to walk through the waterfall in order to keep going on the path. Remember before, how I mentioned not liking getting wet? This was basically my worst nightmare. In all honesty, it was not that bad. I was having such a good time, and then friend that I went with was super into it and was practically dancing under the waterfall. I did not dance, but I went through and I didn’t hate it.

It may not seem like a big deal, but last year about this time I was shrieking on a roller coaster that had a little bit of mist. I’m not kidding.

We continued walking and ended up resting in a cafe until we went to our next destination. Towards.

This was a really cute little area with two castles – one very ruined, and one modern (ish) one.

The old ruins - we actually found a place where you could go under that big mound in the middle and into an old room of the castl

The old ruins – we actually found a place where you could go under that big mound in the middle and into an old room of the castle.

I totally ran into the security guard at this place and he didn't yell at me. Apparently he's not usually that friendly.

I totally ran into the security guard at this place and he didn’t yell at me. Apparently he’s not usually that friendly.

Both places were absolutely stunning. We went to the town of Dunoon which was really cute and by a loch. Because it was windy and raining all day the loch was really wavy, but it looked amazing.

We got on the ferry back and we left the bus to walk around. We were on the bus for a little bit on the ferry ride at the beginning of the day and let me tell you, being on a bus on a rocking ship is not pleasant. I very rarely get motion sickness, so I was okay but my brain could not wrap itself around the way the boat and the bus were moving. It was really frustrating.

Anyways! My flatmate on the trip with me went inside the passenger lounge, and I was going to join him, I just wanted to take a couple pictures from the boat first. I never made it into the lounge.

Remember how I said the water was getting pretty rough? It intensified 10 fold when we were on the ship. I was taking a photo, when a girl from the tour walked up to the very front of the ship – just as a giant wave came and crashed down on top of her. At this point we all ran up to the little upper floor they have for viewing. There were about 15 of us up there laughing because the waves had come that high. It got so much worse.

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While the waves were still calm I managed to get this picture

We were all crammed in the corner about 3 bus lengths away from the front of the ship and the waves were hitting us full force. We couldn’t get down because the stairs led us right into the waves, and the other way was blocked so we were all huddled together trying not to fall over or be drowned. It was so intense. But amazing. I’m a huge fan of crazy weather so I was absolutely loving this. I didn’t even care that I was being soaked.

And I don’t mean like we got splashed a little, I’m talking it felt like we were in a giant wave pool. There was so little time between waves all we could do was breathe and try not to drink any of the water. We also did a fair bit of looking around and laughing. It was crazy, but we couldn’t go anywhere! We got back to the bus as we docked and everyone was half shocked half amused with out state. Apparently the bus (which was further back than we were) had gotten hit with quite a few waves itself.

Me on the bus, after being soaked to the bone. It's hard to tell, but I literally looked like I just just stepped out of the shower

Me on the bus, after being soaked to the bone. It’s hard to tell, but I literally looked like I just just stepped out of the shower

We did and saw a lot of amazing things today, but that was 100% a highlight. It was so much fun and probably a little bit dangerous, which made it even better. The only bad part of today was breaking two of my nails. There are worst things that could happen. Even though I am exhausted, I had an amazing day and would do it all over again.

Arthur’s Seat

This is another post about Edinburgh guys. I hope you aren’t sick of Edinburgh, because I’m not and I plan to go back there on at least one more occasion.

So I went on an official tour of Edinburgh today. I went with Student Tours Scotland, and if any of you are in Scotland and can get to Glasgow where his tours leave from, go on these tours. They run on weekends, and go all through Scotland. The tour guide Gary, is absolutely amazing and his first priority is to make sure everyone has the best time possible. He also has really cool stories and recommendations for things to do no matter what stuff you’re into. Also he is ginger.

Some guy on a horse and our tour guide Gary

Some guy on a horse and our tour guide Gary

So I was really excited for this tour, because I’d already been to Edinburgh, but Gary gives great tours and brings you to places you wouldn’t necessarily find if you were a tourist. Plus Arthur’s Seat. I will talk waaaaay more about this later.

Gorgeous park in the city

Gorgeous park in the city

But this morning actually started out like shite. We were meeting on the bus for 8:45, so not very early but I set my alarm for 6:45 so I could be up and ready to go with plenty of time. I got up at 8:30. I don’t know what happened, but I was not pleased. I managed to get out the door in 6 minutes and still be on time.

We did a walk around Edinburgh in the morning which was fascinating before we broke for lunch. After lunch it was time for Arthur’s Seat.

Plus I got to go here. Every Harry Potter fan's dream.

Plus I got to go here. Every Harry Potter fan’s dream.

Arthur’s Seat is on top of a volcano (dormant, obviously) and is generally associated with King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Arthurian legend is actually really special to me, and is a big part of my life. I grew up loving it, and when I moved to university I met people who loved it (and BBC’s Merlin) just as much as I did. It brought us all really close together and is probably one of the main reasons we are all friends today. In second year, that group of people all moved into a house together and it’s actually been named Camelot. So I was extremely excited when I got to climb up to the point where many people believe this round table was actually held.

This is about halfway down, that little point at the top is Arthur's Seat

This is about halfway down, that little point at the top is Arthur’s Seat

The hike up was intense. It had been raining ten minutes earlier (thank God it didn’t rain while we were there) so it was so muddy. The path we took up was relatively steep and was more long patches of mud and rock stairs than a proper path. It was not easy and I actually don’t think I could have done it without walking the Escarpment stairs with my dad over Christmas. Huge shoutout to my dad who invited (read: guilt tripped) me into walking the stairs with him. The first few times I did the stairs I seriously thought I was going to throw up or pass out. Maybe both. But it definitely prepared me for this climb.

Gorgeous view about 3/4 of the way there

Gorgeous view about 3/4 of the way there

Unfortunately there are no actual ruins there (how amazing would that be), but it’s an incredible view of Edinburgh and the lochs surrounding it. Pictures don’t even begin to show how stunning and moving it actually was. I’m not one to be ‘moved’ by going to places and seeing things – usually I think it’s quite a weird thing for people to say, but I was slightly emotional being there. Totally worth the torture to get up there.

The very top! I had to wedge my feet between rocks so I wouldn't fall over when taking this picture

The very top! I had to wedge my feet between rocks so I wouldn’t fall over when taking this picture

It was crazy windy. Taking pictures was really hard because I could barely stand still or hold my phone. I managed to get some good pictures, but it involved a lot of securing myself to the ground and someone quickly grabbing a shot of me. And to top off me being blown around this giant volcano, my hair was a giant mess. I could barely see, and walking on a very rocky surface was a total challenge.

Even with the wind, we did catch fantastic weather and stayed away from the rain most of the time we were outside. It was a fantastic trip and I can’t wait to go to Edinburgh again.

Edinburgh Trip

A friend of mine asked me to write about a trip I recently took to St Andrews, but honestly I went to Edinburgh today and it was much more exciting. St. Andrews was incredibly lovely, but you can get almost all you need to know from the photos!

I was really excited for my trip today. I was getting on a bus in the morning and heading to Edinburgh to visit the castle there. I was even more excited because I was getting to meet a girl I have been talking to online for a while who was visiting the UK. She and her friends are doing a study abroad program in France and are spending some time up here and she asked if I would like to see Edinburgh Castle with them. I was beyond thrilled!

The day started off pretty well, I got up and was ready to go long before I had to leave. I wanted to stop at the bank before I got to Edinburgh, so I left about half an hour before I had to be at the bus stop. This was waaay to much time. The bank machine is on campus (across the road) and then the bus stop is across the road from campus. It took me about ten minutes from the time I left my flat to the time I got to the bus stop.

I wandered around for a while before figuring out what stance (basically which bus stop) I needed to be at. I saw a line forming so I figured I would wait with everyone else, my bus was supposed to be there in 15 minutes so it seemed reasonable.

The bus driver was really nice, but it turns out I was on the bus scheduled right before mine. They were going to the same place and the bus was far from full so the driver said I could just stay on this one.

The ride there was really relaxing until one of the air hoses blew. It was not a pleasant noise to hear early in the morning. We sat there for about 15 minutes before another bus came and got us.

Finding my way to the castle from the bus station wasn’t terribly hard, but I had google maps open the entire time. Edinburgh is a gorgeous city to walk in. Every building just looks like it belongs in a fairytale.

Climbing up this hill, was the easy.

Climbing up this hill, was the easy.

The castle itself is amazing. It’s built on a dormant volcano, so the earth science geek in me was freaking out a little. Unfortunately, very little of the original castle remains, but our guide said that civilizations can be placed there up to 3000 years ago. Holy cow.

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The only original part of the castle grounds is the chapel, which you can still get married in today. It was gorgeous but so small. Maybe 5-10 people if you all squeezed in. Talk about a small wedding!

The majority of the interiors have been turned into different exhibits and museums, which was good and bad. While I would have liked to see the exact places where famous historical figures lived and visited, I understand why that would be almost impossible. We did however get to visit the royal apartments where Mary Queen of Scots stayed where she visited the castle and gave birth to her only son. Anyone who has been following me on social media knows that I am obsessed with the Tudor period of history, so I was incredibly excited about this.

Mary Queen of Scots, crowned when she was only 6 days old.

Mary Queen of Scots, crowned when she was only 6 days old.

A bust of a much older Mary Queen of Scots

A bust of a much older Mary Queen of Scots

We walked around the grounds for a while, trying to see everything we could. It was incredibly windy, and being in open courtyards on the top of the mountain was brutal. But we did get to see some amazing buildings, the war memorial and even this dog cemetery.

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After we finished at the castle (we stayed for about 3 and a half hours) we headed down to a Scottish pub for some food! It was such a cute little place, and it had an amazing lunch special. The other girls wanted haggis because they had never had it, and I got bangers and mash. It was so good. Slightly spicy, but I have a low tolerance and the Scots seem to like their spice!

The classiest pub food I have ever seen.

The classiest pub food I have ever seen.

We stayed at the pub for longer than we expected to, so I had to head to the bus station right after, but the girls were incredibly nice and walked back with me. We took our time and looked at the cool shops along the way. Edinburgh at dusk is stunning.

I’ve heard a lot of bad things about Edinburgh, but I do live in Glasgow and the cities have a history of rivalry. I was quite pleased with my visit, but I can understand why not all people are so keen on it. It is a smaller city, and even people in Edinburgh told us that after a few days of being in the city it gets rather dull. I am excited to go back at the beginning of March and perhaps get to climb up and see Arthur’s Seat!

Making Friends

I used to be very shy. I would actually argue that I still am sometimes. Meeting new people turns me into this little ball of a high pitched voice, short responses and hiding as soon as I possibly can. Well being on exchange doesn’t exactly let me have the opportunity to do that. I have to put myself out there, and I have to talk to people – whether I like it or not.

Since coming here I have met a lot of people, and I genuinely like a lot of them and am becoming more comfortable around a small group of people. But until today I never felt like I was making real friendships. I have found that it is really easy for me to hide in my room and only interact with people when I need to. While I do love spending time in my room, it can get a little lonely at times. But today changed that for me.

To be honest, I was dreading today a little bit. I start class at 10:00 and I keep going until 17:00. I was not excited. My first class was taught by a guest who put us into groups where we had to work together. The task was fairly simple and one I have done before: name the tv or movie based on the theme song. I actually bonded with a lot of people over my lack of knowledge of popular UK television. Doctor Who wasn’t even on the list, I mean that’s not fair!

My second class was actually the first lecture we were having so I was a little nervous about having to meet a new group all over again. While I was walking there, I passed a teacher who leads one of my lectures and one of my seminars. She recognized me and stopped to say hi and ask how I was doing because she remembered that I was an exchange student. That was amazing. It turns out, she was teaching this class as well. She likes to start a new class by having everyone share a bit about themselves. I dreaded this the first time she had done it, but this time it was fun because she already knew me and she knew what kind of questions to ask so that it wasn’t awkward (mainly: weather here versus weather in Canada). A lot of the students in the class had just returned from exchange so we all shared stories for a bit. The best part was that people were actually interested in listening to me talk about my life. One girl stayed after class and asked if we could go for coffee sometime. She said she would love to hear more about Canada and she could even show me around Glasgow. That was amazing, and I am really looking forward to making plans with her.

I was excited for my last class, with the same teacher I mentioned above. I spent a lot of time before class talking with a few of the girls beside me, one of them even knew the town I grew up in! It’s a pretty small town so even up in Ottawa some people don’t know where it is. We’re working on an experiment in that class, and I really like the girls in my group. There is another group doing the same topic as us, so we spent most of the class together running the experiment ourselves and taking turns putting our hands in ice water. After we had finished, we had some time left so we all sat and talked about our travel experiences (one girl had just come from exchange in Holland and another had travelled to Thailand not long ago). It was nice to sit with a group of girls and just chat like I might do at home with my friends. It was also the first time I really noticed a difference in the way they speak. Not so much the accents, but the actual language being used to express different things. It was awesome but kind of hard to follow at times…

The cherry on top of the cake was running into people that I knew on the way home. One of the girls from my flat was going for a run and she said she had knocked on my door before she left and was upset that I wasn’t there. This is such a random thing, but it makes such a difference when you are new somewhere. I remember the first time at Carleton I ran into someone in the tunnels. It makes you feel like you are starting to get to know a place and the people in it.

So for the first time today, I felt like I was really fitting in here. It’s not like I have been miserable since coming here, I actually haven’t been hit with the homesickness yet. In fact the closest I’ve come to wanting to go home is when I talk to people from work – I kind of miss my job. But 23 days into this adventure and I feel like I am starting to make real friends as opposed to the people you hang out with out of convenience. And that feels pretty damn good.

My First Scottish Ceilidh!

I love to dance. That’s not something new, I’ve been dancing since I was in the fourth grade, but as I’ve gotten older I haven’t gotten the chance to do it much. I stopped dancing with a studio in my senior year of high school to be apart of my school’s production, and since then I have just been taking a few classes here and there. Being abroad, dancing was something I not expected to get to do.

Well then my university had a ceilidh. A ceilidh is basically a giant Scottish party. When I was dancing, I attended a few, but usually I was with a performing group so I didn’t get to quite experience it.

I went with a couple friends, and by the end of the night we were quite the large group, which I really enjoyed. I loved being able to spend a night with people, and know nothing about them but their name and their dancing ability.

Some of my flatmates and me, and a photo bomber!

Some of my flatmates and me, and a photo bomber!

I don’t want to come off as bragging or full of myself, but this is a personal blog so I guess talking about myself is not out of the ordinary. I did have some experience with the type of dance we were doing. I actually knew a few of them and I was able to help teach the people around me. Which felt good in itself, but eventually people started realizing that I knew the dances and was keeping time and helping those around me, and people started asking me to dance. Like people wanted to be my partner in the dances. What?! Not only is this type of thing totally unheard of in Canada, but I am usually not the best dancer in a room. I was having a great time and it was kind of fun to have different partners for each dance.

Getting ready for the Gay Gordon with my partner!

Getting ready for the Gay Gordon with my partner!

We had a great Scottish meal (complete with haggis). They did have hamburgers just in case all us exchange kids couldn’t handle the traditional cuisine. I did try everything, but the hamburger was much appreciated.

Canada should really start doing things like this. I’m sure some communities do have dances and get togethers like this, but I wish it would become more common. I met so many lovely people, we had a great time and I know that everyone was glad to be able to let go of stress and dance and eat good food and be surrounded by a great community.

Now, would I have had more fun if everyone knew how to count music, and knew the difference between a polka and a waltz? Maybe. But it was fun not having to worry about remembering all the steps, no one cared if someone was going in the wrong direction or used the wrong foot. It was fun to be silly and dance for a night. I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

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I didn’t even think to pose for this picture. I was having that much fun.

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