Sunday, 1 November 2015

October: Studying Abroad

I realise that this update is a little late... but it's been another whirlwind of a month. As time seems to be sweeping by, I feel as though I've truly begun to settle into some kind of routine here in Calgary, albeit an extremely busy one.


October began with me sitting with a group of my closest friends here, talking and laughing, lounging around and really getting to know each other. The theme of friendship has been strong this month, with the strengthening and the weeding out of those relationships made in the first week and the beginning of even more new friendships in classes. With the increase in workload, everyone's schedules get busier and you find yourself spending more time with certain people and less time with others, and I feel like this has been instrumental in making true friends.


Our first weekend had us driving further than anticipated to Dinosaur Provincial Park but I'm glad we did. The scene before us was unlike anything I'd ever seen before. A stark contrast to the mountains only a week earlier. The badlands went on forever it seemed. The car journey back was a load of fun, singing and playing silly games that left us in fits of laughter.


The next weekend was a girls trip up to Edmonton. I experienced firsthand the realisation why my friend from Calgary called it 'Deadmonton'. There wasn't much to see there. So instead we went to the mega shopping mall and did a bit of retail therapy. It felt good. But the thing that felt the best was realising that I had some really good friends here in Calgary and I had some fake friends too. But it made it easy to differentiate and for that, I was really grateful.


The next day was Thanksgiving. We went to Walmart first thing to grab supplies and I spent most of the day cooking for 6 of us. It felt so homey and cosy. I think it made me finally feel at home here. We sat around our too small table, chatting, laughing, eating, thankful and happy. It was a special moment, and a special weekend of friendship. It's nice to have an occasion to give thanks. And at that moment I was thankful for the people around me who had made me feel so welcome and at home here.


Two weeks later and a small group of us drove up to the Kananaskis/ Canmore area to take a hike up the aptly named 'Tent ridge'. After a calf burning trip up the mountain, we set our eyes upon the best view I've seen since I arrived in Canada. It was breathtaking, and that was nothing to do with the amount of exercise I'd just done. It was the most amazing spot to sit and have lunch. We all felt extremely accomplished.


I swear, you don't even have to be a good photographer in order to take great photos in Canada. Nature does all the hard work for you. From this view you can see Spray lakes below, where we then hiked down to after this shot was taken. It was a long hike, but completely worth it. My brain just about exploded with awe at the world we live in. It's amazing just how beautiful it can be.


Then all too soon it was Halloween and me and my friend Sarah went all out our costumes. It was super fun. We finally ended up going to a frat party and playing beer pong. I feel like I have now been initiated into the typical North American lifestyle. Slowly but surely, I am on my way to becoming a true Canadian... Haha, not quite. October ended on a drunken blast, with some happy drunk friends celebrating good ol' drunken halloween.


However, sometimes you can't have the highlights without the lowlights... This month has been a struggle in terms of homesickness. In those moments where you aren't doing the exciting things; when you're not hanging out with your friends or focusing on your deadlines. When you're sat by yourself and you feel the distance between yourself and home like a physical pain. The time difference makes it even worse. I'd be lying if I said I haven't been down. Most evenings were spent curled up in bed feeling really sad and emotional. This month has been full of extreme ups and downs and no in betweens, which has been somewhat draining but I've continued to have an incredible experience that I wouldn't trade for the world. My dad told me to remember that homesickness is just like any other sickness, it passes with time. And he's right. Although I miss my family, my friends and the UK, Canada is only temporary, so I may as well enjoy as much of it as possible in the now. I see some people here spending most of their time missing home and I feel sad for them. Because soon it will be over and I have a feeling that they'll regret wasting their exchange thinking that the grass is greener. It's okay to feel sad, but it's a shame to let that stop you from doing great things on your study abroad experience.

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