Monday, December 30, 2013

13 in 2013...


1. Spent New Year's with a pretty bad concussion, barely able to pin my hair back because of the gash in my forehead/scalp.

2. Applied to the Royal Military College of Canada to finish my schooling in Engineering... Only to be told I could not be accepted this year because of my head injury.

3. Made plans to move to Kelowna & attend the University of British Columbia instead.

4. Adopted a Tamaskan, who we named Bourbon... & who played a huge part in my happiness this year. I will forever be grateful for him.

5. Spent a much-needed weekend getaway in Quebec at my Aunt's cottage in Mont Tremblant... For my 21st birthday.

6. Had a total of four jobs, only two of which I actually enjoyed, the last one thankfully being my current job!

7. Fell in & not so out of love, with a best friend.

8. Had an incredible Summer with both old & new friends... No, make that year.

9. Celebrated my favourite holiday by becoming a zombie nurse, two-face & Odlaw (Waldo's evil twin)... Taking Halloween entirely too seriously. If that's at all possible?!

10. Went through the ridiculous yet rewarding journey of moving to Dublin... & vowed to stop ignoring my passion of travelling & instead focus on my happiness.

11. Said see you soon (not goodbye) to amazing people & hello to new ones!

12. Had my first American Thanksgiving & pub crawl, among many other firsts.

13. Perfected the art of instant mash at xmas. This being quite serious for someone who lives off Kraft Dinner.

A somewhat serious, somewhat silly take on my 2013... & my resolutions?
  • Go dairy-free & exercise at least once a week... I have only one body & it's going to have to carry me through a hell of a lot in life, so I'm determined to start taking better care of it. Plus, let's get real, I figure once a week workouts are much more realistic than daily.
  • Visit 14 countries... & the friends in those countries. Also, stay in touch with friends back home!
  • Take time out of busy life for things that will help me grow... Yoga, painting, playing the saxophone, reading & writing to name a few. Focus on finding what will genuinely continue to make me happy in a career. Also, be okay if I don't decide on a career by the end of the year.

What are your favourite moments from 2013? Or even your New Year's resolutions? Ones you plan to keep (or not!) haha.

Wishing you all the best of luck in 2014!

Friday, December 27, 2013

'You're So Lucky!'... My Perspective

It's been about a month & a half since I boarded my plane to Dublin in the Toronto Pearson Airport. There are days where I wonder what life would be like if I stayed at home... If I had chose to finish my last year of school. If I was still working full-time to pay off my student debt. If I was spending my earnings on partying every weekend instead of paying off that debt. If I was still settling for guys who, deep down, I knew were not meant for me... & friends who led to more stress than well-being. I think of the what ifs, the could haves & maybe even the should haves & can genuinely say that while of course I miss maple syrup, hockey & snowboarding, this move to Ireland is possibly the best decision I've made in my entire life.

Maybe I'm being melodramatic with that statement, but in the month & a half I've been here I have been smiling for no reason, stopping dead in the street to admire my surroundings & have met others with the same passion for travel I have, who I am entirely grateful for. I worked ridiculously hard to make this dream happen, with more pitfalls than usual along the way. I honestly cannot say that luck played any part in this process. 

U ARE ALIVE*, Street Art, Portobello

The visa offices in Canada went on strike, delaying my visa. Due to this & my refusal to buy cancellation insurance (in fear that this meant there would be a possibility the trip wouldn't happen), I lost a flight. This meant delaying my move & working for another month in a job I honestly dreaded. This also meant finding another job in Ireland... I chose Dublin. Realistically I could have kept with my original plan & visa application for Belfast, but chose to start entirely over. Why? I can't say I'm sure. But I do not regret the decision whatsoever & instead am happier than ever that I put myself & my poor fam through the agony of overhauling my game plan. In the excitement, I also left my laptop with airport security. Needless to say, this is why luck did not play a part in my move abroad.

The seafront of my new home

To be completely honest, I'm not alone among many others who've stories I've read, in the fact that I tend to be peeved when the comment, 'You're so lucky!' is made. Going after your real passion, putting your all into making it come to life & giving up an easy, comfortable life & the potential for a well-paying career in order to do so, is not luck. I chose travel over what was expected of me & many other twenty somethings. I was expected to finish school, settle down with someone from high school, plan my career goals & begin investing into a home. What would've been missing in that life? Happiness.

I may not finish school until I'm 30... I may not find a guy who's willing to accept the fact that I don't want to settle down. Hell, I may never stop travelling. I may have broken my Mum's heart & I may miss my brother & Bourbon on a daily basis... Also, my friends. I may spend all of my money on experiences & not possessions. I may spend my Summers backpacking instead of renovating a new home. But, I will meet people with gorgeous souls. I will gain a pound in each country I visit discovering incredible food. I will be so exhausted from flying I will sleep on airport benches. I will learn how to say thank you in every language I'll need. I will take the bus home at 9am, not having slept, after a night out with new friends. Now that, is what I call lucky. Cheers!

& remember... 'If it is important to you, you'll find a way. If not, you'll find an excuse.'

Friday, December 13, 2013

Oh Canada!

So I've fallen off the face of the Earth lately in terms of blogging... Due to a valid reason though of course. I've been in Dublin now for a month this Wednesday & can easily say I'm enjoying every second of it. Before I get cheesy though with my love of Ireland, I'll just say that being an expat always makes me appreciate my home country, Canada! What I'm missing...

A Trenton Police badge in the oldest pub in Ireland... Trenton's close to where my Mum lives.

Kraft Peanut Butter & Dinner, need I say more?! Though I did find what looks like a sketchy box of Kraft Dinner at one of the grocery stores here, at 4 Euro a box I think I'll pass.

Maple Syrup... All the 'Canadian' ones here are made in Ireland haha, but s'pose I'll survive! My first Irish breakfast with the fam, they literally gaped, mouths wide open gaped, at the fact that I poured maple syrup over their hard work. I'm determined to get the kids hooked already... Hahaha.

As much as I miss Canadian food, you can never go wrong with a home cooked Irish dish from what I've learned. Bangers & mash is my current favourite.

All Day Breakfast Buffets! I've yet to find one, but if anyone at all knows of one in the Dublin area I will buy your breakfast. Seriously though. Also I haven't found anywhere who does decent pancakes yet, so it's a good thing I'm a pro at home made. When I think about it, the pubs may just make up for it though & that's a bold statement...

Canadian Whiskey & Beer. I've found a few labels at the Celtic Whiskey place on Dawson Street, which is actually incredible for their selection, but there are still a few I've yet to find... Kokanee anyone? Guinness will happily do for now.

Swear one pint always seems to turn into ten though, a vicious cycle ha!

Poutine! No-one knows what it is here?! Not even my American friends, so I'm determined to make it for them at xmas... One major food group for Canadians that can't be replaced.

Timmy's of course. Though I've heard some Spars have them, I'm still on the hunt. I was actually debating on whether I should make a day out of it or not, too far? Not for good coffee.

Driving... I do miss having my own vehicle dearly. Also, trucks. Real trucks. I miss them too. Luckily the public transpo is something Europeans do well.

Sephora. Boots will do, but it's no Sephora. Though my wallet's not complaining whatsoever & I definitely have a soft spot for British cosmetics.

Snow/Ice Hockey/Snowboarding is one aspect I miss about home that I probably always will. Being able to go night riding on a whim & drive 15 minutes to the hill is now considered a luxury. Thankfully I have trips already planned to Norway (booked!), Austria & Finland for the season or else I'd probably go mad. 

A photo of our backyard my Mum sent me.

The palm trees here are lovely though & oddly enough I'm in love with the gloomy/drizzly weather. Also, I've been walking about in a t-shirt these past few days! IN DECEMBER. This is unheard of back home. Come to think of it I've got a few funny stares here, but it's warm. Rugby will never replace ice hockey for me, but I can deal! Already love the atmosphere rugby creates here, literally everywhere. When New Zealand won against Ireland the other weekend there were literally men in tears at the pubs, was brilliant. No sarcasm either.

Am I the only one who thinks it's bizarre & incredible cool that Ireland has palm trees? How did I not notice these on my last trip?!

Lastly... Medical Care!!! 50 Euro for a visit to the doctor here?! Um, no thanks, think I'll suffer. I admit Canadians are spoiled when it comes to our health & I'll always be grateful knowing that my friends & fam back home are well taken care of. They're the biggest part of what I miss back home & to add more sap to the mix, I'm ridiculously lucky to even have people I can say I miss. Bisous.

Seemed fitting.

Can I just end this by saying that as much as I already do & will miss Canada, the accent & genuinely nice people here make it easy to call Ireland my new home. What do y'all miss?! When you're an expat, when you're long-term travelling or even on vacation? I think it'd be interesting to know everyone's home comforts depending on where they're from & where they are now. Also, I have to add that I found it incredibly hard not to fill this entire post with hilarious Canadians memes. Google them for your own enjoyment, please! But I will leave you with this...

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Glendalough - Wicklow Mountains National Park

So I've arrived & have been absolutely loving every second of life here so far, more on that later. To get back into posting I figured I'd just show you the Wicklow Mountains! South of Dublin, about an hour or so, lies these gorgeous hills. Well, being a Canadian we would call them hills at least. The working holiday program organized a trip for us Canadians, Americans & Germans & I have to say the hike has been my favourite part of the past two weeks. I'll let the photos speak for themselves though!

Yes, this crazy f!@#er is swimming.

We actually were drinking this water, incredibly good.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

My Irish Bucket List (Top 10)

I officially leave Sunday for Dublin & I figured it'd be fun to create a list of a few things I plan on doing during my time there. Now I've already been to Ireland before so a lot of the popular choices for an Irish bucket list won't be on here, as I've already done them. Of course, I'll probably be doing them all again, but these are the activities I really want to make happen! Onto my top 10...

1. Giant's Causeway
Surprisingly we never made it to the Giant's Causeway on our road trip, so I'm definitely excited to see this landmass, which was a result of a volcanic eruption some 60 million years ago, located in Northeast Ireland.

2. Belfast (Black Taxi Tour)
I think this can be considered a more thought provoking tour than most, which is exactly why I can't wait to take one. The tour is said to provide a better understand of politics & unrest in Belfast, a subject I'm greatly interested in! This tour needs to be on everyone's list if it isn't already.

3. Surfing in Northern Ireland
I've always wanted to learn how to surf, so why not do it in Ireland? Some of the places I'm interested in going to include: Portrush, Sligo & Waterford, where the family I'll be au pairing for has a Summer home.

4. Trinity College
I've been to Dublin & never to Trinity College... I know, ridiculous right? I'm particularly excited to see these beautiful grounds as I'm seriously considering finishing my schooling in Ireland & this may be a contender!

5. French classes (Alliance Fran├žaise Dublin)
I took lessons in Paris at Alliance Fran├žaise & really enjoyed the experience, so I'm for sure enrolling in Dublin! It'll be a great way to practice & not lose my French, as well as to meet new people... & also it'll be perfect because I have my evenings completely free.

6. Makeup classes (Portobello Institute)
Anyone who knows me knows I have a slight obsession with makeup & would love to improve my SFX skills... Currently my favourite look to re-create is a zombie, naturally. Portobello Institute has night classes at quite a reasonable price & a great reputation.

A recent Halloween creation...

7. The Burren
One of the largest karst landscapes in Europe is of course on the list, located in Northwest County Clare.

8. Old Midleton Distillery
What would my list be without an alcohol-based tour... Anything involving whiskey, count me in. While we were in Cork last time we didn't have time to complete this tour in Midleton, so can't wait this time 'round.

9. Rugby game
Any explanation needed? Beefy men playing rough on a field, count me in.

10. Galway Arts Festival
I've always loved the arts & make it my mission to involve it in all of my trips, wherever they might be. I play the saxophone & have a strong affliction for painting & pastel work, so I can't wait to hear & see the Irish music & arts scene. The Galway Arts Festival is one of the leading in the country, happening annually every early July.

 One of my own pastels, because I had to.

*BONUS 11. Meet Irish man, obtain citizenship
Is this really too much to ask
?! I can dream right.

What are some of your must-sees/dos in Ireland?! I'd love to hear so I can expand my list further! 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Happiest Party of the Year... In Paris

The Gay Pride Parade (Marche des Fiertes LGBT) in Paris takes place in late June & attracts nearly a million visitors a year. Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity of going while I was there & I can easily say I have never partied as hard in my life as I did on that day/night. The crowds start gathering in the morning & the parade walk itself lasts about 3-4 hours, starting at the Montparnesse-Bienvenue metro stop & eventually finishing at Place de la Bastille. Of course, we did the entire walk. We finished with drinks 'till sunrise in the Marais district & damn, can I just say that never in my life have I met as many down to earth, incredible people as I did during the entire experience. 

(Not mine)

Straights, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transexuals, you name it are there supporting the event & I have to say it's probably the best possible way to promote awareness to a cause, well, ever. Numerous clubs, hotels, pubs & restaurants hold events during Gay Pride, which typically lasts a couple weeks. If you are in the Paris area this upcoming June/early July I highly suggest taking a look at some of the promotions being held! Also, I have to say the walk itself is a great way of seeing Paris by foot, making it's way down Boulevard du Montparnasse, onto Boulevard St-Michel, Boulevard St-Germain & finally across the Seine at Pont de Sully. Some of my favourite photos from the day... (Unfortunately by night I was focusing more on the fun at hand than the photos!)

Can we just take a moment to enjoy the beauty of this photo?

Same-sex marriage became legal in France as of May 2013 & is the 13th country worldwide to make the move. I have to say I'm very proud to be Canadian, it being the 4th country to legalize same-sex marriage in 2005 & the first country outside of Europe to do so! Currently, same-sex marriage is legal in 15 countries, with a law just being passed in the United Kingdom, expecting to be in full force come 2014... & finally, because I couldn't not add this photo to this post!

Have any of you been to a Gay Pride festival?! Or have plans on going to one? Maybe I'll do a post on Toronto's as well... I'd love to hear about other cities & if they're as inspiring as Paris! Also the official site is Gay Pride, though just a heads up this site is in French, easily translatable with a toolbar of some sort I'm sure.