The Rockies!!

The rockies!!!!

Right well there are several options on how you could go about this but all I’ll say is make sure you do.

Cat (the girl I went with) and I decided to rent a car. Not the cheapest option but certainly the easiest for getting around and it allows you the freedom to stop wherever you want, see the things the greyhound can’t take you to and avoid the god forsaken tourist busses that are the only other option for opening up the wonders of the Rockies.

Getting out of Vancouver, on the ‘wrong’ side of the road, was terrifying!! Truly terrifying. However, over a week on and I am in love….with hybrid cars and automatic gear systems. Mmmmmm

Back to what we’ve done and seen. On the first day we headed up through the Okanagan past Kelowna and the Okanagan lake to a H.I hostel on the edge of Shuswap  Lake. It’s amazing… an abandoned train transformed into a hostel complete with pancake breakfast and free use of a canoe to explore the nearby beavers. The views on the way were amazing and the hostel transformed us back into kids. Ooh btw, I recommend taking the west route along the Okanagan Lake, it’s windy but the views are amazing.

From there we headed took a day heading up to Banff. First we stopped in at one of the many wineries on the way. Free tastings, yum yum. Next we stopped in at the Dutch Dairy for one of their well recommended ice-creams, they are huge!!! In an attempt to feel less like a dairy cow and more like humans again we went for a walk along the Blue lake in Revelstoke with fantastic scenery.

After traveling through the beautiful national parks of Glacier and Yoho we hit the Banff national park – amazing mountains throughout AND … our second bear encounter. Cute but obviously powerful. The last hour of driving was painful though, over an hour on a hideously large highway considering the surroundings. There was one selling point tho – the animal walkways over the highway – grass covered bridge like structured for the bears, moose and many other amazing critters who call Banff home.

In Banff we hiked up Sulphur Mountain – about a 2 hour grind but the view was well worth the snowy stomp. 360 degrees of mountain wonderland. What’s more, you can sneak onto the gondola for an easy ride down : )

Our next stop was a hostel at Lake Louise which was honestly amazing – one of the best I’ve ever been to. On the way over there we saw a moose in a river – a definite yaye we’re in Canada moment. From that hostel we went to see Lake Louise (amazing and well worth a hike round), Moraine  Lake (even more stunning but not as famous, we saw two skiers coming down the face – amazing!), and Johnston Canyon (really pretty, esp if you’re into waterfalls).

From here we drove up to Jasper – 3 hours of breathtaking scenery. The icefields were really impressive and a brief encounter with a baby black bear made my day – so cute!! The town of Jasper itself is definitely what I would call sleepy but the drive up here definitely made it worth a stop.

From there we made our way home past Mt Robson and stayed a night in Valemount before one more stop in Shuswap and a long drive back to Vancouver…..

phew!!!! quite the week. One of the things that stands out most is that Canada has a tremendously diverse landscape. Well that and the fact that it’s stunning, completely stunning.

i miss the rockies already!!

however i do not miss our serious lack of car tunage. Definately bring CD’s or buy an i trip!

bye  ; )

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Visit from the parentals

It had to be done….at some point i think every parent has been out here, a constant flow of exchange parents??????

So 14,000 words of rushed essay hell, frantic tidying and ‘grocery shopping’ later and the preparation was done, i was ready for relaxing week with mum. One problem however….she was stuck in Montreal. urgh!

Never fear though, a day late and she turns up. What’s more, it turns out that having visitors is definitely a good idea. I had a blast. Despite the fact that we had the worst week of weather i’ve had so far, it was still amazingly fun. We had wine, coffee and cake galore and between lectures managed to explore the city thoroughly. We went up to Squamish to see the Chief and toured the northshore to Horsehoe bay and beyond. We devoured food from the Naam and collected supplies from Granville Market – yum yum homemade salmon burgers. mmm…

Anyway, it’s just a wee note this time to say it’s lovely to have visitors, definitely a must do : )

So….. i forgot to post this. oops, better late than never

The End of the End

Well, that’s it. My year studying abroad is officially over.

Once the academic year had finished, I was able to do a little travelling and I also did a short internship at an independent fashion and arts magazine from the East Village of New York City. I worked with them for two weeks and it was such a fantastic opportunity and experience. Sadly, with the visa restrictions, you can’t accept payment for the work but for me, the experience I got was well worth it. One of the nicest thing about being in the city for so long, and having visited so many times throughout the year, was that I knew my way around the city, leaving the tour guide behind and knowing which train I needed to get and was able to help tourists. During the day, I worked for the magazine and attended gallery openings and exhibitions, and at night, I was able to really soak up the nightlife of the city. The clubs in New York are amazing and shut at 4am, the drinks are strong and a little expensive (A typical shot in a drink is at least a double and a typical cocktail is about $12). In spite of the rumours, the city does sleep, from about 4am to 6am, but that’s all! I felt really settled in the city, like a real New Yorker and my experience there only confirmed that I want to return as soon as possible.

Its hard to look back. I did so much while I was out there, met so many people and tried so many new things, did things that I never thought I would or could, that it’s hard to focus on specific events. Every day was memorable in some or other. If I can recommend only one thing to do on your year abroad, it is this: Keep a journal. I know that not everyone likes to write a journal and trust me, when you’re so busy all the time, its hard to keep up, but years later, it’ll be nice to look back and read. Even now, and its only been a month, I like to read the journal I kept, just to remind me of all that I achieved and experienced.

My sister warned me about SOS syndrome (I doubt that is the official term) which is apparently a depression that study abroad students get when they return home. Personally, I had a wonderful time throughout the year and honestly, I didn’t want to leave. Since I left in August, I hadn’t visited the UK at all. Now that I am home, though, its really nice seeing old family and friends. When people ask ‘How was New York?’, its a funny question – its not like it was a holiday for two weeks, but it was a whole year of living. All you can say is ‘Amazing’.

I guess everyone is saying the same thing: it was a great year, a lot of fun, nice seeing family and friends again…but its all you can say! New York was the place for me and I loved being there. You meet so many interesting people and make lifelong friends. The school was fantastic – personally I think in America, you have a lot more work to do but the level isn’t as hard. The opportunities to travel are great, the weather is hot in summer and cold in winter, there is so much to do and see…and yes, it is nice to come home and meet up with friends that you haven’t seen in a year and enjoy the comforts of home and Britain.

So, in conclusion, if you can, study abroad. I applied on a whim and it turned out to be the best year of my life. Hopefully, it will be the same for you…

x

Back Home

Ok, so I have been back home for a week now and it’s really bizarre. I’m struggling to come to terms that I’m going to have to spend another year at Glasgow after being away so long it almost feels like I’d left that place for good. To be honest since I’ve been back it has been quite fun catching up with family and friends again and as a lot of them have been away it has been really good hearing their stories too.

I’m quite glad to be back home this summer because the Australian winter was getting kind of annoying as there wasn’t much sun kicking aroud and it got dark at 5 o’clock but I really will miss the place. I wish I had done some more travelling when I was away but given that you are working so hard at uni there isn’t much time during term time and I came home at Christmas to secure an internship so I might have missed out there but now I have friends that I can go visit whenever I want and so I will definately make the return trip to Oz sometime in the next few years.

It has been pretty class being away but everything has to come to an end sometime and I’m glad to be back and I can experience mates’ 21sts and such like but I’ll always hold special memories of Brisbane.