How I Finished 2015

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2015 was a darn amazing year. Yes, there were times it sucked, but I had great friends who let me cry all over them and talk to them when I needed, so that’s ok. I survived and blah blah blah. If you’ve been reading my blog, you basically know what I’ve been up to all year. I went back to Wales, played basketball and netball, finished my degree, started my first grown up job and then I went back to Wales because I missed everyone. Well, after Wales I went to Edinburgh and fell in love.

Edinburgh is easily my third favourite city in the world after Paris and New Orleans. Once again, I fell asleep in a new city and woke up having no idea where I was. It took me a few minutes of looking around my tiny bunk area before I clued in that I was in Edinburgh and I was getting a tattoo that day! After dragging myself out of bed, grabbing a quick bite to eat, I was off to meet my tattoo artist and get some new ink!

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Gemma at Edinburgh Ink was my artist that day and she did a phenomenal job! Thanks, Gemma!

After my tattoo I met up with a friend who is from Scotland and we did touristy stuff around the city for the rest of the day. If there is any city in the world that does Christmas right, it’s Edinburgh. There are Christmas markets spread around the main area of the city that you can visit, plus lots of lights, bag pipers playing Christmas songs, and there is even a CHRISTMAS TREE MAZE!

I loved the Christmas Tree Maze!

I loved the Christmas Tree Maze!

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Edinburgh knows how to do Christmas. I did a happy dance seeing this.

On our way to the maze, I couldn’t stop skipping and hopping because I was so excited. Apparently I am a five year old. The maze wasn’t as big as I had hoped, but it was still fun to go through it and find Santa’s Workshop. My friend and I toddled through the maze while I giggled and couldn’t stop smiling. Basically, everything we did after the Christmas Tree Maze was a bonus. And there were a lot of bonuses! We wound up exploring the Scottish National Gallery, one of the Christmas Markets (we were looking for gnomes), and then he made me try a deep fried Mars bar, which I thought was very American, but it turns out it’s a Scottish thing. It’s basically deep friend diabetes and it was like chewing on Heaven.

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I was supposed to go and see the castle, but wound up on Portobello Beach. I can now say that I’ve put my feet in both the east and west coast waters of the UK!

Edinburgh was amazing. My last day there I woke up with a really bad cold so I had an easy day exploring used book stores, and then I met a guy from north Wales in a pub and wound up having lunch with him. Once he found out that I had studied in Wales he said that he’d buy me a shot for every Welsh word I could say correctly and he wound up buying me exactly 5 shots. We spent the afternoon drinking and laughing until it was time for him to go meet his friends and I decided to explore the city some more.

A sleeper bus is basically full of human sized cubby holes for people to sleep in.

A sleeper bus is basically full of human sized cubby holes for people to sleep in.

Eventually 10:45PM rolled around and it was time for me to board my sleeper bus to go to London for my last night in the UK. When I woke up the next day, I was in London! Later on that day I met up with Raz and Alex! I got huge hugs from both of them. At that point my cold had gotten worse so my excitement was killed by my asthma. We spent the afternoon handing out with each other and catching up. I couldn’t believe how much I missed them even though we picked right back up where we left off.

After a great afternoon with those two, I flew home the next day.

When I got home I jumped back into my regular coaching routine with my sister. Even though I loved my time in the UK, I missed my little sister the most and I’ve spent a lot of my time at home making up for the time I missed with her. We’ve been coaching Jr. Girl’s sports at our local high school together and had a successful volleyball season, and are now on our way to coaching a successful basketball season.

Merry Christmas from the Bowser siblettes!

Merry Christmas from the Bowser siblettes!

Christmas came and went in the Bowser household and I was happy to be home with my family. I was also happy to not have to worry about school for the first time in years. It was also Goliath’s first Christmas with us and he loved opening presents with Thumper.

Then before I knew it…LISA WAS IN BC!

My gremlin was with me so that meant I was back to crouching and slouching for our selfies.

My gremlin was with me so that meant I was back to crouching and slouching for our selfies.

I went down to the coast to visit her and Haylee and I couldn’t believe that it had been 5 months since I’d last seen my shorter half. I arrived on the 4pm bus. As soon as I stepped off the bus I ran to the bathroom because I really had to pee. I also needed to change out of my woolen long sleeve shirt because it was like springtime. When I was done I walked back out into the main area of the bus station and I saw her. My gremlin.

Before I knew it, we were hugging for the first time in forever and I couldn’t have been happier to see. I’d forgotten how tiny she was and…my arms were getting tired. Why were my arms getting tired? Why did Lisa seem taller than she normally did? Normally when we hug she nearly gets smothered by my boobs, but this time her face was at my shoulder level. Was the weirdo wearing heels?

Nope to all of the above.

I didn’t realize it, but I had picked the little weirdo up and was holding her off the ground while we hugged.

Mel, Haylee, Lisa, and I went out for a much needed night of dancing and shenanigans.

Mel, Haylee, Lisa, and I went out for a much needed night of dancing and shenanigans.

After I put her back down, we went off to get food and spend the day hanging out until Haylee got off work. Even though I’d forgotten how small she was, I didn’t forget how easy it was to be around her. Or how much fun Lisa, Haylee and I could have together. Yes, I’ve visited Haylee a few times, but I had missed the three of us being the three of us. One of our friends in the UK said it best about us, “A night with the Turdettes is always a good night.”

Like I said, 2015 was amazing. It started with a bang and ended with a bang. Mostly because my family has the yearly tradition of shooting off our rifles every year at midnight. This was also my third year in a row where I finished my year off taking a poop and started my year off…still taking a poop. I have no idea what 2016 is going to bring about, but if it’s anywhere near as amazing as 2015, I’m in for a great year. But 2016 shouldn’t feel like it needs to compete. If I have a quiet year, I’ll be ok with that as well. 2016 should just be itself and I’ll appreciate it for exactly that.

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Gone Again

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I woke up snuggled up to a little old lady with curly white hair peaking out from under her hat. I wasn’t just leaning against her, I had shifted in my seat so that I was huddled against her with my face pressed against her shoulder. She was 5’3″ if she was lucky. My almost-giant self had cuddled myself around her. According to her I’d been huddled up to her like that for the last two hours. My bad.

Honestly, when I woke up, I had no idea where I was. I was on a train and…why was I on a train? Where was I going? My eyes hurt, I felt dehydrated, my throat was sore, and I was cold. Where the hell was I?

I sat up, stunned, and checked to make sure I hadn’t drooled on the little old lady and started the slow process of waking up and trying to remember why I was on a train.

He might have let me win that one pool game...

He might have let me win that one pool game…

Then I remembered! I was on a train to Manchester! I’d just spent the last week in Lampeter with all the friends that I hadn’t seen since June. Way too much happened in that week for me to write about. Needless to say, I had a great week with all the people that I’d missed and the new people that I met. I danced, I drank, I hung out, and I beat Pumba in two games of pool! The first game, I won on my own, but the second game I won because Pumba knocked the white in when he put the black in. I’m still happy that I actually played an almost decent game of pool.

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I can’t ever thank this one enough for my awesome week with her!

My last night in Lampeter was the Winter Ball. Instead of going to bed, I stayed up until I had to go catch my bus at 7am. From there I hopped on a train and promptly passed out in my seat. My week in Lampeter was nothing short of amazing and I can’t ever express how grateful I am for the people in my life who made my visit what it was. Especially Victoria who let me take over her room for the week. I got to see a lot of the guys that I’d missed during Old Boys, and I got to spend a lot of time with both Pumba and Josh over the week.

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We both went to the Winter Ball in our flannel tops…

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Molly! So stoked to have met this beautiful woman!

12321626_10100572631519803_4594441068180685522_nIt had been a busy week and I was exhausted. My next stop was a two hour stop in Manchester! I’d heard conflicting things about Manchester so I was excited to arrive and spent a little bit exploring the city while I waited to catch my next train. Except I wound up lost after walking around for 5 minutes and spent the next half hour trying to find my way back to the train station. Basically, I went down a street, got turned around, and suddenly had no idea where I was. With no wifi, I couldn’t figure out where I was and was thankful for all of the nice people who helped me find my way back to the station. In the station I found a Starbucks, ordered a hot chocolate, and sat down with all of my stuff. Within minutes a guy had sat down with me and said that I didn’t look like I was from around there. He was a local who worked in the station and we wound up talking until I had to leave to catch my train.

Hungover, but still ready to explore. Until I got lost.

Hungover, but still ready to explore. Until I got lost.

It wasn’t my train though. Two trains were leaving from my platform. The first train was going to Liverpool and I wound up on it. Thankfully a friendly gentleman asked where I was going. After I said I was on my way to Edinburgh, he was nice enough to tell me I was on a train to Liverpool. I couldn’t thank him enough as I grabbed my bags and scrambled off the train. I don’t know what I would have done if I had wound up in Liverpool!

Eventually I got on the right train and at 9pm that night, after 14 hours of travel, I was in Edinburgh! Despite sleeping on the trains, I was still tired. Or I was tired until I walked out of the train station and saw all of the Christmas lights, old buildings, and…everything! Excitement took over. My hostel was a five minute walk away and I quickly checked in, thinking I would shower and then go to sleep.

16yo me would think I'm awesome.

16yo me would think I’m awesome.

I didn’t. I was too excited. Edinburgh was one of the cities that 16-year-old me always wanted to see. Instead of showering, I gave myself the excuse that I wanted to buy a razor because I needed to shave and I went exploring. I spent the next half hour wandering up and down the streets near my hostel until I eventually found a little corner shop and bought a razor. I hadn’t shaved in nearly two weeks and all my parts were very Sasquatch-like, but…I wound up torn between exploring the city some more or going back to my hostel and shaving.

My new buddy, Tim, and I were ready for bed finally. Bed in EDINBURGH!

My new buddy, Tim, and I were ready for bed finally. Bed in EDINBURGH!

By midnight I found myself tucked into a bottom bunk in my hostel dorm. I was shaved, I was excited, and I was ready to…read the book that one of my favourite authors had just released. Nine chapters later I was passed out with an alarm set for 8am the next morning. I had a tattoo to get and I wasn’t going to miss that for anything!

Guess who’s back? Back again?

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By the time I arrived at the Carmarthen train station I was exhausted. After not sleeping on my plane, I wound up too excited to sleep on either of my trains. Every stop was one stop closer to when I’d get to see Josh, Victoria and Mike again. I knew I needed to sleep, but I just…couldn’t do it. I would force myself to close my eyes and tell myself to sleep, but then I would just sit there and smile with my eyes closed. It was probably more than a little creepy so I just gave up on that and sat there counting the stops until Carmarthen. I’d tell anyone who asked that I was going to Lampeter to see friends. OK, ok, I told anyone who dared to sit near me that I was going back to Lampeter to see friends and that I was beyond excited to see them even though I’d only been gone five months.

I’d already told Josh that unless Victoria ran at me, I was running right at him because he’s my favourite and I missed him the most.

But then I got off the train and all I could feel was exhaustion. I barely had the energy to lift my bags. I suddenly felt a little chilled, very hungry, and overall I was ready to collapse. I’d been awake for the last 24 hours and 20 of those hours had been spent travelling on planes and trains. At that point I felt ready to go comatose for at least a week. Then I saw Josh drive by in Mike’s car and suddenly I was excited all over again. My trip had felt very surreal until I saw Josh again. Then my trip was very real. I’d just seen Josh. Josh and Victoria and Mike were here to get me. I WAS IN WALES AGAIN!

Victoria and I. Missed this girl.

Victoria and I. Missed this girl.

Within seconds I’d picked my bags up and I basically skipped over to the parking lot to meet Josh, Victoria, and Mike. Just as I got into the car park, they were all getting out of the car. I wasn’t sure what to do until I saw Victoria getting ready to run so I dropped my bags and ran to her.

And ran into her like a fucking freight train.

As soon as my body slammed into hers, she made this weird noise and I knew I’d maybe winded her just a bit. Except I didn’t let go. Vick and I had been counting down the days to this moment for weeks and I was beyond ecstatic to see her. I did eventually have to let go though. She couldn’t breathe. My bad.

Easily one of our better pics together. We know how to selfie.

Easily one of our better pics together. We know how to selfie.

Then I hugged Josh who was chuckling over the sound that Victoria had made. Ahhh! I’d missed him!

My drop-off crew.

My drop-off crew.

Side Fact: Mike also dropped me off at the Carmarthen train station with Josh when I first left Wales. He and Josh basically picked me up exactly where the three of us left off. Except instead of Haylee, who dropped me off, Victoria came to pick me up.

After we were hugged out for the moment, we tossed my stuff into the trunk of Mike’s car, piled in and started the last leg of my journey to Lampeter. In the car Victoria and I poked and teased Josh. Then before I knew it, we were back in Lampeter and Josh and I were dropping our stuff off at Victoria’s, grabbing our gear and heading down to the sports hall for basketball training.

Hugging him after 5 months was awesome!

Hugging him after 5 months was awesome!

The first person I saw when I walked into the sports hall was Pumba! Never mind that I was kind of smelly and felt gross from travel, I still ran at him and hugged him. I couldn’t believe that I was actually back in Lampeter with some of my favourite people. Then Engine walked into the hall and it was Engine! It was awesome to see him before training started. After Engine left Josh quickly organized a 5-on-5 basketball game and we were off and running.

I was back and I couldn’t have been happier and I’d only been back barely an hour.

That time I tried to sleep on a plane and got flying lessons instead

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One of my finer quirks is my ability to sleep in almost any moving vehicle in almost any obscene position. I’ve woken up with sore necks, legs twisted and oddly stretched, and drool going places drool doesn’t normally go. Like down my cleavage because I’ve tucked my chin into my boobs while I was passed out. Anyway, the point is that on trains and automobiles, I can sleep like the dead. In fact, the best sleep that I sometimes get is in a car zooming along a highway.

Planes on the other hand? Not so much.

In fact, for whatever reason, I can’t sleep on planes no matter how hard I try. Sometimes I manage to snag a few minutes here and there, but it’s never a lot because…I have no idea. I just can’t sleep on planes. Maybe it’s the weird plane air? Maybe it’s being shoulder to shoulder with a stranger? I don’t know. It’s something though.

It’s not ideal. Especially on a 9 hour overnight flight from Vancouver to London. I mean, that’s a great time to sleep. It’s night, it’s 9 hours with nothing else to do besides watch plane movies, and everyone else is asleep. Plus this plane ride was really empty and I managed to find an empty middle row of four seats to stretch out on. My 5’9″ length fit perfectly along those seats. I’d gathered more pillows and blankets than I knew what to do with. I was drunk on vodka and Coke. Sleeping conditions were prime. There was no reason for me to pass right out.

So I did. I stretched out on my seats, snug under my blankets with my head nested in a wad of those odd mini pillows you get on planes, and I zonked right out. One minute my eyes were open, the next they were closed and I could feel myself quickly drifting off. Somewhere, I was gleefully clapping for joy because I was actually going to get some rest. I was going t-

GET TOSSED IN THE AIR BY TURBULENCE!

The plane shook, it rattled, and then it shook harder and that’s when my entire body popped up off my seats and I became airborne. I felt momentarily weightless as I got lifted in the air high enough that I saw over the top of the seats in front of me. Then I wasn’t so weightless as I slammed back down to the floor. My body just missed my seats and I became wedged between my seats and the row of seats in front of me. All over the plane several other people had gotten the same flying lessons as me, except I was the only one to wind up awkwardly slammed between seats.

As I lay there, I debating just staying on the floor. It was somewhat comfortable so there was that. Plus, with the way my body was squeezed in between the seats, there was no way for me to get another set of flying lessons so I just…stayed there. Until a flight attendant came to check on me and asked if I needed help. I didn’t and she made me get back up into my seats.

I wasn’t able to sleep after that so I spent the rest of my flight drinking, and watching Dirty Dancing, Minions, and Ice Age: The Meltdown. I didn’t get any sleep, but as my plane got closer and closer to London, I couldn’t bring myself to care. I was almost back in the UK, and almost back with the weird little family I’d left behind back in June. They wouldn’t mind if I turned up drunk and sleep deprived.

Home again, home again, jiggity jig.

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Before I made my way back to London, I had one last stop to make in Bristol. Chris and I had decided to meet up one last time before I flew back to Canada. You can probably read that last sentence as: I decided that I wanted to see Chris one last time before flying back to Canada so I made him come pick me up at the Bristol train station so we could hang out for a bit. So rather than taking a train right to London, I decided to drag all of my stuff to Bristol and then to London so I could see one of my best friends one last time because I really have no idea when I’ll get to see him next.

That sounds a little bit dramatic, but at the time I was genuinely upset that I didn’t know when I would see him again.

baconYou see, Chris easily and quickly became one of my best friends. He’s a demanding turdball that would turn up at my door at 1am to demand that I serve him milk and then keep me awake until I was cranky and threatening him with bodily harm because he was bored. But he was also someone that would turn up at my door at 3am because my mom had just called to say my dog had just passed away. We met one drunken night in our student’s union and our weird friendship grew from there. I wish there was a quick and easy way for me to sum up my friendship with Chris, but there really isn’t.

Well…

I doubt I could have started a serious fire with this...

I doubt I could have started a serious fire with this…

He basically thinks I’m crazy sprinkles dipped in three flavours of insanity. I probably did nothing to disprove this theory. I mean, I did decide to stick candles in a pizza on my birthday because I wanted to blow the candles out. It probably wasn’t the best idea since I was kind of tipsy and have never had the best of luck with fire to begin with. Or at least Chris didn’t think it was a good idea when he looked at me like I was dancing naked around him while waving pissed off cobras in his face while asking him to do my homework. He tends to overreact like that. Really, it was just me, him, a pizza that had some candles in it, and the slightest potential that I would somehow set my dorm on fire.

...the duck face confuses me.

…the duck face confuses me.Br

Anyway, I saw Chris in Bristol. We wound up dragging my 33kg hockey bag, carry-on suitcase, and backpack across the city because we wanted Five Guys Burgers. Thankfully we took a bus back to the train station because after eating the heaven that is a Five Guys burger, I didn’t want to drag all of my stuff anywhere else.

My time in Bristol was too short. From what I saw, it was a nice city that deserves exploring. Plus I wanted to spend a little more time with Chris because at that point I hadn’t seen him in a couple of weeks. Sadly, I had to catch a train and I may or may not have cried a little bit when it came time to say “see you later” to one of the people who made my time in the UK amazing.

After Bristol I was back on a train to London. Upon arriving in London I braved the Underground on my own for the first time ever. The trains and platforms were clogged with people as I navigated myself and my bags from one place to another. I met a few nice people who helped me drag my bags on and off the trains and eventually I found myself taking a bus to my hotel.

Originally I had planned to drop my stuff off in my room and head back out into London one last time, but at that point I was emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted. So I did what any sane person would do.

I got drunk and texted my friends all night.

For the first time ever I finished a pint of beer by myself. I also finished a pint of cider. As well as several more pints of cider. I’ve decided that I’m probably more a cider person than a beer person at this point in my life. Basically I sat down at my hotel bar to mope by myself and read my book and wound up having a few drinks with a guy at the bar who wouldn’t leave me alone to pout.

The next day I learned a life lesson: Never fly hungover.

My flight home was uneventful. I watched a few movies and tried to keep myself awake so that I would sleep properly when I got home. I can now say that on all of my flights to and from London I watched Little Women each and every time. It’s easily one of my all time favourite movies and books. On my flight home I managed to time the movie to end just as we were landing in Vancouver.

As soon as I was able to, I was off the plane and running across the airport while texting and Snap Chatting my friends back in the UK that I had landed safely. I bumped people as I ran, I politely shouted “EXCUSE ME” while I pushed my way through the slow moving crowds, and full out sprinted at every chance I had. All of the time I’d spend training with Haylee paid off that day as I tirelessly ran across the airport. My momma was waiting for me and it had been 140 days since I’d last seen her and I didn’t want to wait a second longer than necessary to see her.

I made it through baggage claim and customs in record time and ran out to the waiting crowds looking for my mom. She was there waiting with everyone else and the only thing I could do was drop my bags and put her in a headlock while I cried happy tears. My momma is a tiny lady so when I hug her she kind of gets…crushed. She never seems to care though. Who wouldn’t love a solid headlock/hug from an awesome daughter like me?

Anyway, I cried. My mom cried. The lady watching us while she waited for her son cried.

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Finally back with my momma!

Then some security guard told me that my bag was in the way and I had to move it so mom and I grabbed my stuff and headed out to the car to start making our way home. Or sort of make our way home. As we were sitting in the car and I was settling in, my mom showed me a picture of a little St. Bernard puppy and asked if I wanted him.

We didn’t get a puppy that day (But we got Five Guys, so that was almost as good). Instead my parents went and picked him up the next day. So yeah, the day after I landed back in Canada my family got a puppy. His name is Goliath.

I'm home!
I’M HOME! 

Making my way back home!

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I clearly am a fucking horrible blogger. I’ve been home over a month and still haven’t written about my final days in Wales. I’m going to try and rectify that now…

The day after we dropped Lisa off at the airport, Haylee and I had a busy day. We got to meet the field school that was in Wales from our old school, Douglas College! Some of them were sick when they arrived because they’d been drinking the night before. If there is one lesson that I can pass onto future international students, it is this: NEVER drink the night before a trip to anywhere. Welsh roads are tricksy and curvaceous assholes and if you happen to have a weak stomach or are not used to drinking with people who probably sipped ale from a sippy cup as a wee lamb then you are FUCKED. I never got sick on a bus, but there were times on long international student trips where I felt like I was about to be come a mighty chunder dragon and it wasn’t a fun feeling.

After the everyone was done being sick, Haylee and I went with them on a tour of our campus (it didn’t take so long – Lampeter campus is SMALL), and then we all loaded onto a bus to go to Strata Florida Abbey where some first and second year archeology students were learning the tricks of their trade in the field. They were actually literally in a field too. My flatmate, Heather, and Haylee’s flatmate, Sophie, were both there digging. They were dirty and sun-kissed and I loved seeing them actually being able to put what they had learned into practice.

That night was my last night with Pumba. We all stayed up late and then Pumba was back in my room early the next morning to wait for his dad to come pick him up. I met and became close with Pumba late in the school year, so I didn’t get to spend as much time with him as I liked. I can say with a certainty though that he is a proper sweetheart and I miss him. He quickly became the baby brother that I never knew I wanted (Josh is the little brother I always asked my mom for) and my life definitely has more hugs and smiles in it thanks to him.

The goober being a goober. And me being cute. As we do.

The goober being a goober. And me being cute. As we do.

Once Pumba had driven off with his dad, reality intruded and I suddenly realized that I was leaving. On Friday. It was Thursday. I was leaving Friday. My room was still a  bloody mess.

Except…I still had my last basketball practice of the year to go to! It was a very chill practice because most everyone had gone home, but it was a good practice all the same. There isn’t a lot to say about my year with the Lampeter Lions except that it was a great one.

I couldn't have asked for a better team. Well I could, but they would need rocket shoes. I still think this mean was the bees knees <3

I couldn’t have asked for a better team. Well I could, but they would need rocket shoes. I still think this mean was the bees knees ❤

Then I had to get back to cleaning my room. Eff.

Where the hell did all this stuff come from?! Was I giving birth to it in my sleep?!

Did I have a version of King Midas’ touch where everything I touch turns to mine and hidden somewhere in my room?

I’d spent the entire week leading up to that packing, unpacking, and repacking all of my stuff while I debated what would stay and what would get to go home with me. It was annoying because I had to get rid of a lot of things that I loved, but just didn’t really need. I debated learning how to live a minimalist life and cutting out all of the pointless random stuff that I had, but one look at my lawn gnomes told me I could never do that.

Throughout the night a few people stopped by my room while I was cleaning to see me off in their own way. I got to see and hug my teammate, Mark, one last time. It was great spending the year playing basketball with him even though I hated that he never let me have any easy shots over him. Pete and Hamza stopped by as well! I even got to hug Pete which was slightly awkward because I’d never hugged Pete before, but it was nice because he’s a #niceguy and he’s someone that I miss now that I’m home.

Pete, Pumba, Scouse, Josh and Billy. This pic sums this lot up nicely.

Pete, Pumba, Scouse, Josh and Billy. This pic sums this lot up nicely.

Eventually Friday morning rolled around and I found myself dragging my bags out the door and handing over the keys to what had been my home away from home. My safe space.  My room was perfectly clean for the first time since I’d moved into it and I was sad to leave my little hobo hole. So many memories happened in that room. Like the first day that I first arrived in Lampeter and met Haylee. I’d just curled up in bed to have myself a proper cry when she and Robin turned up in my flat, shouting my name. They took me grocery shopping.  Or the night that Haylee broke my wardrobe door because she hid in there to scare me during one of our movie nights with Josh.

I couldn’t believe I was leaving. Then I was loading my stuff into the back of Mike’s car to start my adventure home. Mike is one of the guys who played on the football team and he was always nice enough to drive Lisa, Haylee and I to all the away games that we wanted to go to. He was also awesome enough to drive me, Haylee and Josh to Carmarthen so I could catch my morning train to Bristol. Thank you, Mike!

One last look at these lovelies before the train door closed.

One last look at these lovelies before the train door closed.

Haylee, Josh and Mike stood with me until my train pulled in. Then it finally hit me. I WAS IN WALES! THIS WAS REAL! I HAD COME TO WALES! I’d spent the entire year feeling like my entire study abroad experience couldn’t be real. It couldn’t actually be happening. I must have been dreaming. Then I hugged Haylee and…I was amazed that this whole entire thing was real and it had happened. Not only that it had happened, but it had happened with Haylee. I couldn’t believe the two of us had been in the same program at the same school and had the same love for basketball, but had never met until we’d both flown across the world to go to school.

My Littlest and I during one of our many "homework" sessions.

My Littlest and I during one of our many “homework” sessions.

After surviving the 12-hour basketball match together!

After surviving the 12-hour basketball match together!

A walk to the lake together!

A walk to the lake together!

Except now I can believe it. There is no way in hell that I imagined travelling across the world where Haylee stole my blankets while we were staying in Rotterdam. I’m positive that I don’t have that good of an imagination. Haylee and I spent most of the school year together. We stalked a guy who had a basketball together. We introduced poutine to our friends together. We traveled together We spent hours agonizing over our dissertations together. We pinned Josh down to tickle him until he hissed at us together. There was a lot we did together and I’ll never forget it. Unless I suffer some sort of blow to the head that causes me to forget that year. Then that kind of sucks and I hope that doesn’t happen, but if it does, at least Haylee will remember our shenanigans and she can fill me in on the time that Raz left us alone in his dorm room and we planned shenanigans together.

Fun Skype session with Raz!

Fun Skype session with Raz!

IMG_5927As the train pulled away I started to cry. I couldn’t help myself. Lampeter has made me into a bit of a crier. Or a lot of a crier. It depends on who you ask. The tears started to fall and I stole one last look at Josh. The little brother that I’d always asked my mom for. As it turns out he was hiding on the other side of the world. I guess that means he wins at hide-and-seek for now. I’m going to miss Josh. And Geoff. That’s the name I gave Josh’s beard. And this is why I’m going to miss him. He was always happy to go along with any shenanigans that the Turdettes threw at him. Like me naming his beard. Or the night Haylee, Lisa and I decided to dress up in his clothes and have a “Turd” fetish. Or coming along to London with his. He made our adventures complete. Even when those adventures happened to be just the four of us hanging out in my room and watching movies until we were all ready to pass out.

Naptime!

Naptime!

"Sneak hug!" Someday I shall get one more hug from Ky!

“Sneak hug!” Someday I shall get one more hug from Ky!

Movie night with Josh is best night.

Movie night with Josh is best night.

Once the train pulled out of the station I went and sat down at a table on the train and some creepy guy offered to hug me and let me sleep on him. So with this creeper temporarily by my side, I started to make my way home.

Canadians in London

Standard

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.