Life in the Library and at the Pitches

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Work and energy drinks. This was my life.

Work and energy drinks. This was my life.

My Easter Break came to an end and that meant that I only had just over a month before I would be completed all the requirements for my degree. In that time I had to give a presentation at a conference, hand in my creative project, and write one last final. Basically Haylee, Lisa and I wound up living in the library while we finished all of our school work. We would wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast and would all work our way to the library where we would set up on two couches and start working.

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We took lots of breaks to do other things…

And procrastinating.

11038573_10100463538508073_8157038400476138684_nAnd napping.

11162078_10206107627516896_1617627415295345750_nAnd eating.

Yeah, we spent a lot of time in the library.

We're into trick shots like this.

We’re into trick shots like this.

Then at night we would pack up all of our stuff, have dinner, and then head to our Student’s Union where we would spend the night hanging out and blowing off steam. We’ve been learning how to play darts and pool. Haylee and Lisa have gotten good at both, I haven’t. I still love to play. I never thought I’d be the sort of person to happily dance around a pool table while attempting to put balls in the pockets. Though if I ever make good shots, it’s usually a huge amount of luck mixed in with a very small amount of skill.

IMG_3524Our first week back at classes, we had our final netball game of the year. It was a re-match and we were playing for second and third place. Unfortunately we lost. By a lot. It wasn’t the way that I wanted to end my netball season, but sometimes things like this happens. Even though my netball experience wasn’t what I had hoped it would be this year, I am still thankful that I got to play a sport that I love in another country. I met some amazing girls in my teammates and it was great to get to know them. Especially Mary who is not only an amazing athlete, but also an all around beautiful person. I wish her and I had more time together on the court and with each other.

11256839_10100467833635603_5561872998439980478_n11193267_10100467834458953_179464863363897401_n11202957_10100467833475923_5892176274208431421_nIn between hanging out, and spending time in the library, I’ve spent a lot of time watching football! At the start of year when Haylee and I started going to games we only really knew Josh who we were there to support. Now we know all of the guys on the team by name and they are definitely a great bunch of guys.

Some of the football guys.

Some of the football guys.

I still don’t really understand much about the sport besides the whole “ball goes in the net”. Mostly I enjoy spending time with Lisa and Haylee (I call them my gremlins now!) at the pitches where we can cheer Josh, Pumba and the rest of the team on.

11143105_10100465805934133_549212805486959823_n11150813_10100460724507353_8193947017969242342_n11174769_10100460722221933_871460580744825448_n11205113_10100468580893093_3238899318575233737_nExcept, sometimes the fun has to get put aside for real work. Which is the reason why I came here. To graduate. My first big assignment that I had due was a presentation that I had to give at a conference that I helped to organize for one of my courses. It was nerve-wracking! The night before I had to deliver the presentation I sat in my room with Lisa, Haylee and Josh and I did a practice presentation on them. I could feel myself shaking the entire time! This presentation would be the first that that I ever shared a completed written work that I had done. I was completely freaked out! Thankfully, the next day went smoothly and I didn’t do anything to embarrass myself and I didn’t die of fright. I counted that as a win. Then my grade came back for my work and I got a 68. Back home a 68 would be a not so good mark, but my little chart that I’ve looked up says that a 68 here is the equivalent of the A- range back home. I was excited and proud of this grade.

11140401_10100470068546823_7028276428800966_nAfter that I settled in to finish my creative project. Most days I felt like I was going to go crazy, but Lisa, Josh, Haylee, and Pumba were there to help keep me sane. Haylee and I were both in the same course so we slowly chipped away at our work. It was hard, but I am incredibly proud of the work that the two of us did. I’m also incredibly thankful to Lisa, Josh and Pumba who were there with us when we needed them to give us support in the form of hugs and chocolate when we needed it. And carrots. I picked up a liking for carrots, but didn’t want to buy a full bag because I didn’t think I could eat a full bag of carrots before they rotted so I would just buy one carrot. Or ask someone to pick me up one carrot if they were in the grocery store. It was a nice break when Josh would walk into the library and say “here you go, Bugs” and toss me my carrot.

One day we got to take a break from our work when a surprise for Lisa came in the mail. Haylee and I had found a perfect gift for her and we’d been waiting for weeks for it to arrive. Lisa had found out we’d gotten her something and spent the entire time trying to trick us into telling her what it was. We’d given her hints so when Haylee walked into the library with the envelope that held her gift, Lisa knew what she was getting.

IMG_4241We’d adopted a three-toed sloth in her name.

A number of times Lisa had mentioned wanting a sloth, so when Haylee and I saw we could adopt one in her name, we knew that it would be the perfect gift for her and it was. We all cried happy tears. We’re kind of criers now.

 

I seriously felt like I was going insane while working on my creative project. I spent so much time editing it, cutting it up, and re-writing parts that I started to hate my work. At the end of the day I was always stressed out and felt like I was falling apart at the seams. That’s when my best friend, Chris, would step in and keep me sane. I can’t count the number of nights we stayed up talking until the wee hours of the morning. Then the night he finished his dissertation was a nice break for us. That night we sat the the bar drinking, joking, and laughing. That night I was delighted when I asked the bartender for a pitcher of Rapunzel and I got this fruity, pink concoction that I fell in love with. I hated myself the next day, but being able to take the night off and hang out with Chris gave me the break I needed to keep going.

And keep going I did until I handed in my creative project. It was due on May 15 at 11:55pm so Haylee and I spent the day in the library doing final touches and around 6pm we were finished. FINISHED. All of the time that we had poured into these projects had finally come to an end and everyone was still there with us at the finish line. Chris was waiting with chocolate, Lisa was waiting with chocolate, and I had celebratory vodka waiting for me. It felt good to be finished.

Or almost finished. That following Monday we had to write a final paper before we were done.

11238731_10100468581037803_7297582971938770110_n Instead Haylee and I went to a football game to cheer the boys on because we’re awesome students.

11165232_10100468584565733_2937954299736945753_nThen on Monday we walked into the sports hall where we had spent all year playing basketball and netball and we wrote the last final we were required to for our degrees. We. Were. Done. Just like that, the reason for me being in Wales was finished. I had completed all of the requirements needed to graduate and…I can’t say much more can I?

Done. So very very done.

Done. So very very done.

After 10 years I’m finally finished my BA. Now I’m just waiting for all of my final grades to come in and all that will be left is graduation. It feels amazing.

 

Lisa came home and Josh got old(er)

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We got home late at night on April 6. I’m pretty sure it was actually April 7. Seeing Chris was exactly what I needed after the long journey home. Unfortunately we couldn’t hang out because he had other things to do. Which was just fine because I had the NCAA basketball final to watch! It was Wisconsin vs. Duke. As much as I love Duke, I really wanted Wisconsin to win. I was determined to stay awake and watch the game. Except I passed out during half-time and woke up to see that Duke had won. Go Duke!

Even though our adventures abroad were over and we were back in Lampeter, Haylee and I still had two weeks of Easter Break left. Yeah, that’s right, my school got a three week vacation for Easter. +1 point to my school for having a spring break on steroids. Josh’s birthday was coming up and Haylee and I had a netball game to get ready for. We also had (and still have) our dissertations to write. Even though we were on break we still had a lot to do.

Our first few days were spent relaxing and recovering from our trip. Josh came back from his visit home and we spent our days doing work, shooting around in the gym and going to netball practice. It was nice to be able to chill out and just spend time with them.

The next week we had a netball game. Our captain was away, but she had already picked the team that would be playing. There were seven of us so that meant there was enough for a team, but no substitutes. Then one night at practice one of our teammates, Beth, said that we would have a substitute for the game, but she said it was a surprise. I personally thought she wasn’t telling us who it was because she thought we wouldn’t like that person. Then later the night while Haylee and I were telling Josh about us having a surprise substitute for the game, I had a thought.

Was Lisa coming home early?

Lisa is an American international student. We sort of met her the day that I came back to Wales. That day we saw her carrying her Olaf pillow pet and Haylee and I both hoped she was coming to our campus. And she did! At first we slowly got to know her. She plays soccer for her university back home, but we convinced her to start playing basketball with us. One night after practice we invited her and some other internationals over for a movie night. That night I learned that she has a similar sense of humour to mine and we spent the entire movie joking back and forth. Never mind that the movie was If I Stay and was supposed to be a tear-jerker. I decided I wanted to keep her that night.

From that night she quickly became my shorter half, so it sucked when she left for Easter break and we all went our separate ways. Naturally, I was really hopeful that she would come home early.

The next day at practice, Haylee and I were practicing shooting when I saw a familiar shape walk into the gym. I didn’t have my glasses on so I didn’t see them clearly at first. Then I realized the person that I saw walk into the gym was Lisa!

I screamed. “OH MY GOD!” And then I was running to her. I was so happy that I peed a little and then I cried a little.

IMG_2534I was fucking stoked to have her back with us, to say the least. That night we made breakfast for dinner, watched movies and snuggled. I cannot describe how awesome it was to have Lisa back.

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Notice my leg on top of Lisa? It’s so she couldn’t leave again.

The next day was our netball game and Lisa had a surprise planned for us. She made us Easter dinner! Yes, it was late, but it was still awesome. Haylee and I helped so the three of us spent the day in my kitchen making a whole chicken, stuffing, and bunch of other yummy stuff. I cried (I’m a bit of a crier now) when Lisa told me that she had contacted my younger sister, Tiffany, to find out what I liked to eat for Easter. Lisa also contacted Haylee’s sister to find out the same from her. As a result I got mashed potatoes with carrots and Haylee got mashed parsnips. As the day went on Lisa continued to surprise Haylee and I with our favourite foods, junk food, and bunny ears!

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The table almost wasn’t big enough for all our food!

I didn’t realize until she gave us our bunny ears that I was a little sad at not getting any for Easter. Normally every year my mom buys my sister and me a pair of bunny ears to wear. We wear them gleefully for the holiday and then they get added to the growing pile of bunny that we have. Getting my annual bunny ears from Lisa was a special treat that made my day.

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Four people + 1 single dorm bed = we get close

Lisa, I know you’re reading this: Thank you again for that day. It meant the world to me!

Later that night we had our netball game and we easily won. It was a good game with Haylee and I playing as goal shoot and goal attack. Even though we’ve only known each other a very short amount of time, she and I make a great team together. Lisa played part of the game as goal keeper. Even though she is short, she is really quick and she made quite a few amazing stops and had a couple of steals.

So happy Pumba (Harry) came home early!

So happy Pumba (Harry) came home early!

While we were away at our game, Pumba came back! Like Lisa, he had planned to come back Lampeter at the end of Easter Break, but wound up coming back early.

That night Haylee, Lisa and I attempted to make a cake for Josh’s birthday. Except it didn’t turn out overly well. It was still cake, but it was kind of ugly as far as cakes go. We were confused because we either made the cake mix or we baked the icing mix. In any event we wound up buying a good cake to go with our attempted cake. To me it kind of looked like a baked turd. Which was fitting since one of Josh’s nicknames is Turd. While we were baking Josh walked into the kitchen and we had to quickly hide our surprise from him. We had to shoo him into my room so Lisa and Haylee could finish baking.

Our first gift to Josh was a man bouquet of tequila and beer.

Our first gift to Josh was a man bouquet of tequila and beer.

April 16 was Josh’s birthday! This semester I’ve gotten the chance to get to know him better and he’s become like a brother to me. Josh is from here in the UK! A few people have mentioned that it’s odd that I mostly spend time with other international students, but I also spend a lot of time with Josh too! He’s been here for all of my ups, downs, and turn arounds. He’s been one of those people that has made my stay here in Wales a happy one, even when I’m missing home and just want my mom. Plus, he’s always ready to go along with any shenanigans that Lisa, Haylee and I throw his way and sometimes even manages to be a voice of reason in our silly antics. Not only that, but without Josh, the Turdettes wouldn’t be the Turdettes and we wouldn’t have met and gotten to know the guys on his football team. Thanks to Josh, I’ve met a great group of guys who also go along with the shenanigans that Lisa, Haylee and I come up with.  Needless to say, Haylee, Lisa and I were all excited to be with him to celebrate his birthday. So right at midnight we gave him the first part of his gift and wished him a happy birthday. Then we settled back into my bed together to keep watching Orange is the New Black.

"Oh my days" is one of my new favourite sayings.

“Oh my days” is one of my new favourite sayings.

For his actual birthday we all down to the bar on our campus. That night we got to show Josh’s birthday present. Matching t-shirts for Turd and the Turdettes! He got a kick out of Lisa, Haylee and I when we walked into the bar and took our sweatshirts off and he saw we were wearing shirts that matched the one we had gotten him for his birthday.

There's always that one sibling that ruins a good picture

There’s always that one sibling that ruins a good picture

Happy birthday to our brother that we never knew we wanted until we met him!

Happy birthday to our brother that we never knew we wanted until we met him!

While we were on a bus to Paris I had Josh make me a Spotify playlist of music that he likes so we had an idea of what to play on the juke box for him. We spent way more money than we should have on the juke box, we danced, and we had a blast celebrating. It was great to see Josh dancing to his favourite music and having fun. At the end of the night we all stumbled back to my flat for pizza and to hang out while we waited to get sleepy enough for bed.

The week I got home from my European adventures was a busy week and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I didn’t realized how much I had missed Josh, Lisa and Pumba. It was nice to be back in our home away from home and settle back into school life.

Now I’m back at school, classes are over and my dissertation is due in four days. AHHHHH!!!!!!!

Canadians in London

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11147893_10100452868685483_6135005830321690247_nIt was a cold and rainy day in Rotterdam when Haylee and I climbed aboard another bus. This one would take us to London for the final leg of our trip. It was another long bus ride that I slept through, but I perked right up once we arrived in London. From my previous two experiences there, I knew that I loved London and I figured I could never grow tired of it. Haylee had been mapping out our first night in London for a few days and I knew that we would be walking passed Buckingham Palace, and Piccadilly Circus on our way to our hostel.

18827_10100451813205673_1361074453645653499_nI can honestly say that I wasn’t overly excited about seeing Buckingham until I was actually standing outside of the building staring at it. In my mind, I’d always pictured a boring, stock photo-esque building that could easily be replicated. What I actually saw was breathtaking. As we stood outside the Palace, my entire experience began to sink in. I. WAS. IN. LONDON. Not only was I in London, I was looking at Buckingham Palace, a place that I had only seen in pictures and movies. I’d been to Paris and climbed the Eiffel Tower, seen the canals in Amsterdam and been asked to a party while getting pizza in Rotterdam. Was I dreaming? Did I dream it all? WAS THIS REAL?! I mean, I was standing outside of Buckingham and it was so much more than I ever could have imagined.

As Haylee and I took turns taking pictures of each other, my life here in Wales became very real for a very brief period of time. I can’t believe that I’ve spent the last seven months studying abroad. I’ve met some amazing people, seen some breathtaking things, and challenged myself in so many ways that I have a hard time thinking that this all real. Most of the time I don’t even feel like I’m in another country completing my degree. A lot of the time I feel like I’m back in Canada where I can hop a bus and go home if I really want to.

Then Josh talks and his accent reminds me and Toto that I’m not in Canada anymore.

Speaking of Josh, my adventures in Europe were carefully documented because of him. Haylee and I had given him our itinerary so he’d know where we’d be and we checked in with him constantly. The general idea was that if he knew where we were he’d have an idea where we should be in case we decided to make a real life Taken 4. This was all based on the hope that if we did get stolen that Josh would develop some very specific skills that would help him rescue my littlest sister and I from whatever we’d gotten ourselves into.

Thankfully Josh didn’t have to learn any of those skills. Instead Haylee and I walked to Piccadilly Circus after we finished looking at Buckingham Palace. Piccadilly was so busy! I was a bit overwhelmed and amazed at all the people around us. Normally I hate crowds and get grumpy when I feel caged in by human bodies and their stink, but I’ve never minded the crush that comes with being in London. Probably because I play this weird game with Haylee where I try to keep up with her as her tiny frame slithers in and out of the crowd. Normally she wins and beats me to where we are going, but sometimes I declare a secret tie because I manage to keep up to her.

11130254_10100451813475133_2219430778451475684_nAfter exploring Piccadilly, and taking a picture of Haylee with a British fire fighter, we made our way to our hostel. We were staying in a room with 9 other people and one of those people was a very creepy Spanish guy. Not wanting to be around him, Haylee and I went and got dinner and hung out in our hostel’s lobby until we were ready for bed. Thankfully, the creepy guy checked out the next day and we were able to feel more comfortable about spending another night in our hostel.

The next day we woke up and headed off to Hyde Park. I’ve ready so many books where the characters go to this park that I was excited about walking through it. We were also going to go to a bookstore that a friend had recommended to me. Except when we got there, it was closed because it was Easter. That’s when the holiday kind of sunk in for the both of us.

Realizing it was Easter made us both homesick for our own reasons. For me Easter is all about basketball, hiding Easter eggs at my Great-Grandma’s house, and spending time with my family. Except this year I spent my Easter in the Netherlands and London. It was also a bittersweet reminder of my Great-Grandma, who is no longer with us and how much I miss her. I also missed my younger sister because Easter weekend is normally a weekend that I get to spend with her. This is the longest and furthest we’ve ever been separated and I felt the distance and time between us that day.

So Haylee and I found a café and had a good little cry together. I was thankful that I had her with me that day. If there was anyone that could pull me out of pity party I wanted to have, it was Haylee. We also had Lisa there for us who was in France, but still made the time to be there for us when we needed her. Once again these two were my anchors as I struggled with my feelings of grief, excitement, and being homesick.

10984024_10100452852812293_4591428496265318787_nHyde Park was massive and very serene. It was also busy! The two of us walked from one end to the other. We saw lots of beautiful gardens, fountains, and Kensington Palace. Kensignton wasn’t as big as Buckingham, but it was still huge by my standards. From there we walked to the Diana Memorial. I was expecting a statue so when I saw something that looked like a water slide I was a little confused. Then I realized that I was looking at a memorial! It still looked like a water slide, but I liked the uniqueness of the memorial. It was really pretty.

17307_10100452852133653_5509156900727180000_nWe’d had a long day walking around, so Haylee and I decided to have an early night and we made our way back to our hostel. When we walked into our room we found that instead of the creepy Spanish guy, we had three new roommates and they were Canadian! They were travelling with a friend who was studying in London after spending time in France after working as nannies. One of the girls declared it was just like having a slumber party as we spent the night giggling and sharing our travel stories.

We all missed peanut butter.

11062721_10100452851509903_9141338323414648297_nThe next day found Haylee and I up early so we could check out. I couldn’t believe that it was our last day in London and the last day of our week of adventures abroad. As much as I loved travelling, I couldn’t wait to be back in my own dorm bed. One vital lesson I learned is that hostel beds are not meant for most people over 5’5″. As I packed up my bag, I thought about how I couldn’t wait to go home. Then I realized that I was referencing Lampeter as my home.

It was a weird feeling.

11128655_10100452868835183_7943630888993047083_nI soon got over that weird feeling because Haylee and I went to a Canadian pub called the Maple Leaf for celebratory poutine and drinks! The poutine was good and the waitress was from Toronto. She said she could tell we were Canadian because of how excited we looked when we walked in. I declared the Maple Leaf the Canadian embassy and probably my favourite place in London.

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I think this is the actual Canadian Embassy.

I think this is the actual Canadian Embassy.

On our way back to our bus we walked through Trafalgar Square then passed Buckingham Palace again.

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Charles Gnomewin made an appearance for a brief photo shoot.

20990_10100452872647543_1571724865779527695_nEventually we were back on a bus to Lampeter. I was dirty from not showering (hostel showers are gross) since we left Rotterdam, exhausted because sleeping in small beds is hard, and absolutely on cloud 9 because of all the places that I had been and seen. I couldn’t have been happier with the adventures that I’d had over the last week.

Then my friend Chris met Haylee and I when we got off the bus and walked us home and I almost cried seeing him because I missed him and I was slightly delirious from sleep deprivation.

Also: We all should know that I’m a nervous pooper. While spending a week having to pooping in places that I never would have pooped before was therapeutic in the fact that I am a slightly less nervous pooper, it was still freaking glorious to be able to take a dump in my own toilet.