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.

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.

Driving Miss Lisa Marie – Also, pooping together

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My last week in Wales found Haylee, Lisa, and I getting ready to go our separate ways. Lisa was returning home to the states, I was heading back to BC, and Haylee was going off on more adventures around the UK. I can’t believe that my time with these girls in the UK came to such a quick end. Even though it feels like we squished several lifetimes into our short time together, it still feels like yesterday that I was yelling Haylee’s name in the airport when she came to help pick me and the other international students up.

The weekend after we got our tattoo’s I found myself in my dorm room as I began to pack up all of my stuff and started to realize that there was no way I was going to be able to take everything home. I spent most of my time in the UK being very careful not to accumulate too much stuff and I apparently failed at that task. I don’t know where it all came from, but I somehow had nearly twice as much stuff as when I arrived. Apparently I’m a very stealthy hoarder.

Turd, The Turdettes, Pumba and Scouse!

Turd, The Turdettes, Pumba and Scouse!

That weekend was also my last weekend with my weird little family.

On Monday, Pumba and I went into Carmarthen to pick up a rental car so Haylee, Josh, Pumba and I could take Lisa to the airport. Unfortunately we were not able to get an automatic like we had planned and we wound up renting a standard shift car. Or a manual, as they’re called in the UK. I prefer just calling it a stick shift car. Double unfortunately, I can drive a stick, but I’m not the best at it. Just think about it a minute…

I was on the opposite side of the car.

I was on the opposite side of the road.

I was shifting with my opposite hand.

And my mom has been known to yell at me “AT LEAST TRY AND LOOK LIKE YOU’RE PAYING ATTENTION!” while I’m driving.

My brief stint driving in the UK did not go well and I’m really proud of Pumba for not yelling at me or shitting himself.

So instead of driving Lisa to the airport in a car with the five of us squished in there, Pete drove us all in a minibus! This was very circular because the first time that Pete drove us anywhere was in a minibus to our first basketball game of the year. I was thankful that Pete was driving us to London. He’s more familiar with the roads and road rules of the UK. He’s also probably an all-around better driver than me.

Not that I’m a bad driver! I just don’t drive a lot so I’m not as easy behind the wheel as someone who drives all the time.

The boys hanging out in the airport.

The boys hanging out in the airport.

That night we packed up the minibus with all of Lisa’s stuff. Then we all climbed into the bus too. In order to get Lisa to the airport on time we had to drive through the night. We didn’t arrive at the airport until 5am. I was able to nap off on on through the night and felt bad because I think I drooled on Pumba because I was using him as a very nice smelling pillow. Then we all sat around and rested until we had to put Lisa through at security so she could board her plane.

Josh decided to take inappropriate selfies while Lisa and Haylee got ready to say "see you later".

Josh decided to take inappropriate selfies while Lisa and Haylee got ready to say “see you later”.

As she walked through security I felt heartbroken because she was leaving. I’d grown so used to having her in my life and around me all the time that I genuinely had no clue what the hell I was going to do without her. Despite the fact that I was sad to see her leave, I was also incredibly thankful that I met this amazing, silly, slightly insane, loyal and loving gremlin. Lisa and I went on an incredible journey together. We came to Wales as two nervous poopers who had never met before and who couldn’t shit in public if our lives counted on it. Then, with A LOT of Haylee’s help, we gradually got more comfortable pooping with other people in the next room. From there we actually started to become more comfortable pooping in public. Lisa and I had tons of fun together from our first movie night together, to trying to slide down a muddy hill on our tummies, to her coming home early during Easter break as a surprise, to our weird little cuddle sessions where I let her be the big spoon. However, nothing sums up our friendship better than the fact that we can now take a shit in public if we really need to. We learned that together. Lisa and I are Turdettes for a reason.

In the ever wise words of Butters, “Well yeah, and I’m sad, but at the same time I’m really happy that something could make me feel that sad. It’s like, it makes me feel alive, you know? It makes me feel human. And the only way I could feel this sad now is if I felt somethin’ really good before. So I have to take the bad with the good, so I guess what I’m feelin’ is like a, beautiful sadness. I guess that sounds stupid.”

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Weirdo crawling through windows again…

Oh, and by Haylee’s help, I mean her encouragement. We didn’t do anything weird. She was just really understanding about the two of us being nervous poopers and did her best to be a good friend and support us…Ok, there is absolutely no way that I can make this sound less weird. Haylee was encouraging and respectful of our boundaries, but she made both Lisa and I feel comfortable enough to poop when we needed to. I genuinely wish I could write this without it sounding weird, but whatever. I can poop in public now, so I’m happy. Thank you, Haylee-Ann and Lisa Marie.

After Lisa walked through security we all loaded back on the minibus and started the long drive home. It was a long assed day and I am incredibly thankful to Pete for getting us home safely. Now I am literally counting the days until I can see Lisa again.

School’s out forever?

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That’s it. The main reason for me being in Wales is over. Done. Finished. A couple weeks ago I wrote the last final that I’ll ever write for my BA career and just like that I was finished. It’s taken me 10 years to be able to say it and I can’t believe that it’s over. Sure, I took a two year break to work and to figure out what I wanted in life so I was technically only in school for 8 years, but still, I can’t believe that I’ve finally done it. I’ve finally completed all of the requirements necessary for my Bachelor of Arts Degree. It feels good to be finished, but writing that last final was very bittersweet for me.

Writing that last final meant that my time here in Wales is almost over. In fact, it’s going to be over sooner than I expected because not only am I finished my BA requirements, but yesterday I was also offered a great job working for my community as a Youth Summer Program Coordinator. This is a similar position to the one that I had last summer and I can’t wait to build on the work that I did then! As excited as I am for this opportunity, it means that I have to be home for June 15 to start work.

As much as I hate to leave this beautiful country, I can’t wait to be home. I land in Vancouver on June 13 at 11:35am. I’m both excited and sad.

IMG_5434 IMG_5432With classes ending, final finals being written, my friends and I have been making the most of our time together. And we’ve been dressing up a lot too!

First there were the Student Led Teaching Awards (SLTA’s). That night all of the international students were invited to attend. Not only that, but the basketball and netball teams were nominated for Club of the Year. That night Haylee, Lisa, Josh and I put on our dressy clothes and converged on the awards. We were seated together with three members of the football team as they were nominated for club of the year as well. That night I realized how long my hair has gotten since I cut my dreadlocks off over two years ago and shaved the sides of my head for funsies. Now it’s long and a pain to style. However, once I walked into the banquet hall, my hair taming shenanigans were totally worth it because we all cleaned up really nicely.

That night the basketball team won Club of the Year! I was excited to see that on the plaque our team was listed as “MIXED BASKETBALL”. Watching Josh walk up to accept the award on behalf of the team was a nice surprise and a great way to end a great year with my amazing team. I seriously could not have asked for better teammates this year. They’ve become great friends that I will miss and a few have become brothers and sisters that I can’t imagine my life without.

11350445_10100476216057163_3543688443080368075_nThe weekend after the awards came THE LONGEST DAY EVER. The day was filled with a football/rugby match between the my school’s football and rugby teams. They played one half of football and then one half of rugby. This year the football team won! Haylee, Lisa and I were there to cheer the boys on while we played frisbee in the sun. Yes, that’s right! The sun was out! It was a gorgeous day. I may have gotten a bit of a tan. Or at least my feet did because now I have tanlines from my flip flops!

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Lisa scored a goal and was finished playing!

Lisa scored a goal and was finished playing!

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Celebrating a goal!

Celebrating a goal!

10408538_10100479426797813_7750976396852120442_n11140019_10100479428165073_9182350129168672627_nI didn’t sleep well the night before so after watching the football/rugby match I went back to my room to nap while Haylee and Lisa enjoyed the rest of the days activities.They let me nap for a couple of hours before waking me up to eat dinner and get ready for the last event of the day. The Summer Ball. Once again we all dressed up to go out. I even wore a dress. Except I forgot to take pictures of myself in the dress so y’all will have to trust me when I say that I looked nice! I spent the night dancing, visiting the friends I’d made throughout the year, and dancing some more. I had a blast and was sad when the night finally came to an end.

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The boys looked amazing that night!

Some great looking guy invaded my messy room!

Some great looking guy invaded my messy room!

The sadness didn’t last long because that following Monday Raz came for a visit! The night he arrived  my gremlins and I went to pick him up from the bus only to find out that the bus had arrived early and we’d just missed seeing him. Not knowing that the bus had arrived early we wound up spending 30 minutes needlessly waiting for him. Naturally our instinct was to have a mini-photo shoot and play in the empty street of Lampeter. Have I mentioned that these girls are exactly my brand of crazy?

IMG_5124IMG_5136IMG_5139We wound up meeting Raz in the Student’s Union and got the spend the rest of the night visiting him.

Missed (and miss) this guy!

Missed (and miss) this guy!

The next day was another reason for us to dress up! Because we’d gone to support so many games throughout the year we were invited to the football team’s end of the year banquet! Once again I found myself taming my wild child hair and spending the evening with my friends while we ate good food, had some good laughs and I got to see my different members of the football team get recognized for their accomplishments and shenanigans throughout the year. Then we all went down to the SU to continue celebrating.

Pumba was Fresher of the Year!

Pumba was Fresher of the Year!

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Family photo!

Family photo!

The day after the awards was our friend Ben’s birthday so we made him and a few of his friends poutine (cheesy chips with gravy) and they loved it! I’ve come to love cooking for my friends here in Wales. Haylee, Lisa and I have taught them the wonders of things like poutine, pizza bagels, North American pancakes, and Aunt Jemima syrup. Normally I hate cooking, but here I’ve come to love it!

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We got carried away making chili one day…

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Happy birthday, Ben!

Happy birthday, Ben!

In among all of the shenanigans that have had me dressing up, making my hair behave, and cooking pizza bagels at 2am, life has been business as usual. Except there have been a few “lasts” mixed in as well. Like the last international coffee! That day most of the international students on my campus gathered to say our farewells and enjoy our last coffee together. We wound up going around the group saying 3 things that we were looking forward to about home and 3 things that we were going to miss about Lampeter life. Lisa, Haylee and I also handed our flags around for everyone to sign! As hard as it was to say goodbye, I’m also very happy to have met everyone and know that I have friends scattered around the globe!

Then my grades on my final assignments started to flow in. I got a 68 (A- range) on my Conference Presentation. I got a 58 (B range) on the final that I wrote (it was an in-class essay). Then my dissertation marks came in…On my reflective piece for the course I received a 76 (A range). Then on my actually dissertation that I did as creative project I received an 80! An 80! Back home that’s equivalent to an A/A+ range and here that means my work is publishable. I don’t know if it will be published, but for my lecturer to give me that grace…I…I am fucking over the fucking stars with this grade. I couldn’t be happier with it. After two semesters working on this thing and putting so much of myself into my work, I am so very very happy with this outcome.

Another exciting event was getting to watch Lisa play in another football match. Last time she was the goal keeper. This time she was playing in the midfield (I think? I’m not good with football positions!). It was great to watch her get ready to play the sport she loves! The game wasn’t the greatest, but I still felt like a proud momma as I watched my shorter half take the pitch and play.

IMG_5070 IMG_5066 (1)Last week my basketball team hosted a taster session for anyone to come and try basketball if they wanted. There was a great turn out of not just my teammates, but also of new players! I love watching new people play the sport that I love and have fun doing it. As much as I love other sports, I will always love basketball the best and the most and seeing other people having fun while playing makes me irrecoverably happy.

To round off my latest shenanigans, my gremlins and I went to Cardiff yesterday to get tattoo’s! We took a 7:10am bus to Cardiff so that we could be at Frontier Tattoo Parlour when it opened. They accepted walk-ins so as soon as the doors were opened we went in and got our spots reserved for the day. I got to go first. The artist inking me was a guest artist named Luke who owns Hard Luck Tattoo in London. The tattoo I wanted as very basic and I couldn’t believe the outcome. He took the general idea that I had sloppily drawn out on a scrap piece of paper and turned it into what I think is a very simple, but beautiful, piece of art that I’m happy to have permanently scarred onto my body.

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My tattoo is the shape of a key. The words “byw, caru, chwerthin,” mean “live, love, laugh” in Welsh. I have to say a special thank you to Billy who helped Haylee, Lisa and I all make sure that our Welsh was correct that that we weren’t tattooing soup recipes on our bodies. The numbers you see are the coordinates to Lampeter. Then the key…Back at Easter, Lisa gave Haylee and I keys. She said they were the keys to her heart. So now I have the outline to the key tattooed on me forever. Ya know…so I can never lose it.

Now i have less than a week left here in Wales before I return home and I have no idea what this week holds for me. I know that on Tuesday I get to drive in the UK for the first, and probably only, time so that Josh, Harry, and Haylee and I can drive Lisa to the airport. I also know that on Friday I get to see my best friend, Chris, one last time before flying home on Saturday.

I’m excited for my last week of adventure with my family here in Wales.

 

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!!!!!!!