Monday, 25 January 2016

2015/2016

It's almost the end of January now, and I know everyone's over the New Year already but, as I didn't get a moment's peace and quiet over the New Year period, I thought I'd spend a little time now to reflect on 2015. And what a year it was.

Exmouth, Devon
2015 was everything I'd hoped and so much more. In my post at the beginning of the year, I outlined my resolutions and what I wanted to achieve during the year. My New Year's Resolutions for 2015 will remain the same for 2016, I'm still working on them and I want to continue to work on them:

NYR#1
Make more of an effort to stay in contact with family members and to show them how much I love and appreciate them.

NYR#2
Try not to get drawn into other people's drama. Remain a neutral Switzerland at all times.

NYR#3
Be more giving, caring and cheerful to people. Think more deeply and carefully about how I can show the people I love that I do love them. Go out of my way to brighten people's days, both strangers and friends.

NYR#4
Maintain a good amount of exercise and continue to eat a relatively healthy diet - including the odd piece of cake once in awhile!
Exmouth, Devon
As for what I wanted to achieve in 2015, I think I did pretty well. I managed to get back on track academically at University and did really well overall. I visited a lot of beautiful places in the UK, including Arnside & Silverdale, The Lake District, Dartmoor, Exmouth, Elgin, Blackpool, Halesworth, Southwold and lots of other places... In 2016 I'd like to keep up the tradition. When I return to the UK I want to explore more of my homeland, and visit places both 'old' and new.
Arnside, Lancashire
2015 was also the year I feel like fitness has been pretty constant. It feels like it was the year I really began to push myself not only in cardio training but in strength training too. I progressed a lot in Netball and I made a lot of great friends through sports and exercise. I achieved my goal of running 5km and it finally seems like exercise has become an intrinsic part of my day to day life. This year I'd like to be able to run 10km without stopping and I'd also like to start classes in self-defence of some kind.
Dartmoor, Devon
Unfortunately, there were a few things that I didn't do as much as I would have liked. I didn't read (for pleasure) as much as I wanted to and I didn't blog as much as I was hoping. But instead, I got to do a bunch of things I wasn't planning on initially. I got to return to the wonderful place of Turtle Island Preserve in North Carolina, USA where, again, I got to meet amazing people and reconnect with those that I was lucky enough to meet last year. As well as this, I got to be a camp counselor for the first time in my life and it was definitely a learning experience, full of big ups and a few downs.

Dartmoor, Devon
I went to the Netherlands and Belgium and had a whirlwind experience of both. And all too soon it seemed, I was off to Canada to spend the rest of my year. You can read about that in my Study Abroad posts, but overall, the whole experience has been incredible, life-changing and way way way better than I ever imagined. Yes, it was hard. It was hard to adjust to life in Calgary, without my friends or my family or any kind of proximity to either but it made the experience a lot more intense somehow. Living in Calgary has taught me a lot about who I am, how I define myself and how much I'm affected by other people. It's made me clearer on what I want in life, where I want to be and what I want to achieve. I've met some people who I consider some of the best friends I've ever had. So, yes, I reckon I 'embraced the big adventure'.

Place de la Bourse, Brussels, Belgium
As for 2016, I would like to give myself a little break from the craziness of my first Semester for a couple of Months until my close friend Zara comes out at the end of February and then I can Kickstart my 20th year in style! My brother is coming out at the end of April and we would like to see the family in Ontario and visit New York for the first time and hopefully somewhere in California... Time will tell! Summer started, I hope to spend time seeing family and then I'm off to the Orkney Islands to work on a farm for 6 weeks which I am beyond excited about. August and September remain undecided so far and then I'm back to Lancaster to start my FINAL year at university. Wowee, 2016, it's going to be another crazy year I think!

Athabasca Glacier, AB, Canada
On that note, Happy Belated New Year. I hope you all achieve your own personal goals and have a great year!

xx
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Thursday, 21 January 2016

December: Studying Abroad

I apologise that it's taken me such a long time to finish writing this short post. But alas, here is my December update. This month has been the month of goodbyes. Life can be a funny thing sometimes. It brings you amazing people and experiences that change your life in some way, only to take them away again. It feels like this exchange was gone in a blink of an eye. December was a blur of assignments, coursework, exams mixed with a flurry of last experiences with everyone. We went out for dinner or drinks most nights. Meanwhile trying half heartedly to get good grades.

Highlights of the Month were a jumble of the most normal things and the most Canadian things. The staying up with the Calgary family playing cards til past midnight. The Calgary Flames vs Boston Bruins game. Skiing for the first time in my life. The pre-drinks that turned into the just drinks. Ice Skating on Lake Louise. Dinner at the Calgary Tower at Sunset. Movie nights and gym sessions. Early mornings and late nights. And then it was time to fly back to the relatively warm and wet climate of the UK, where I had the most amazing Christmas with my family and time catching up with friends.

The past 4 months of exchange have been life changing and utterly phenomenal. There have been some incredible ups and quite a few downs. I know that I've made some lifelong friends and definitely some lifelong memories. To anyone who is even remotely considering doing an exchange, I urge you to 100%.

It's slightly sad to be writing this in January, knowing that my real exchange experience is pretty much over. Although I'm back in Calgary, life seems much more muted and chilled out. It makes a nice change from rollercoaster ride of the Fall Semester. Calgary life is essentially just normal life now, which is why I won't be posting anymore monthly updates as they may get slightly boring. I reckon I'll write something at the end of my official exchange. So, until then...

xx





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