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Reunited and it feels so good

Reunited and it feels so good <3

It’s funny. When you’re young, you don’t realize how quickly things in your life can change. Opinions, situations, events, even people are all subject to the ultimatum of change.

Coming home, I had thought I knew what to expect. After all my time away, I was definitely excited to be stationary again, see all of my friends and family who I had missed for six and a half months. I was interested in sharing my adventures and stories, and many people wanted to hear them. And so, after all my time away, I am safely at home.

I am so lucky to have experienced and seen so many amazing things. I lived in another country, on another continent. I travelled through 12 countries, multiple cities, and have seen many famous sites. I am even more grateful that I met and experienced all of these things with such amazing people.

I already wrote about everyone that I met in Ireland. I am thankful to now have these amazing people in my life, and hopefully we will stay in touch (sorry, it’s a fear of mine). But I know that I will see them again. And then there was my trip with my brother and Kirstin. Of course we had our ups and downs, but we had such a great time. We have so many hilarious stories and memories from the great places we traveled to and the wonderful people we met!

But to be honest, being home is quite different from what I expected.

Everyone has been very kind, asking me questions about my trips and experiences. It has been fun telling my stories and adventures. I think people don’t realize sometimes though, that it is hard to explain exactly how study abroad can change your life when you haven’t experienced it. Sometimes, it feels like people expect me to be the same person, other times they tell me how much they see that I’ve changed. It’s interesting to see different reactions.

And again, being honest, it is hard to come home to the exact same situation you left when you are no longer the same. How could I be the same person after these amazing experiences?

Since being home, I have tried to stay busy. Staying home gives you far too much time to think.

 

Limo selfie before the wedding!

Limo selfie before the wedding!

The happy couple in the limo, going to reception. Congratulations guys!

The happy couple in the limo, going to reception. Congratulations guys!

Selfie hiking in Cypress with this girl!

Selfie hiking in Cypress with this girl!

Yup, this is the view we got at St. Mark's Summit. So great, right!? Can you see the water?

Yup, this is the view we got at St. Mark’s Summit. So great, right!? Can you see the water?

Upon arriving home, my cousin was going to be married – and I was a bridesmaid in the wedding! It was a very nice wedding, and I had a lot of fun. Riding in a limo with my cousins and their friends, taking a million pictures in the ridiculous heat, dancing to great and terrible songs with friends and family, and just having a pretty fun night! It was nice to see two people I have known for so long, completely happy and ready to spend the rest of their lives together. Congrats Brent and Vee, I wish you tons of happiness in your new life and home!

Last week, I tried to spend some time in the beautiful outdoors of my home province! I met up with Brit for a day of hiking in Cypress Provincial Park. We had a great time hiking, catching up. Even though the view was completely covered by clouds and fog, it was a really fun hike! We got to catch a great view on the way down the mountain as well. We went into Vancouver to have dinner and walk along the inlet. It was such a great day!

 

It cleared a little on the way down and we got an amazing view of Howe Sound!

It cleared a little on the way down and we got an amazing view of Howe Sound!

We stopped for dinner and a 'pint' at the Craft Brew House in Vancity. So good!

We stopped for dinner and a ‘pint’ at the Craft Brew House in Vancity. So good!

The inlet of Vancity. So pretty at sunset!

The inlet of Vancity. So pretty at sunset!

With one day in between, I went hiking again! This time, I went hiking closer to my home, in Golden Ears Provincial Park. I went with my friend, Christy, who I have been friends with for basically my entire life. It was great to be able to spend so much time outdoors these past two weeks, as I had definitely missed my mountains in the time I was gone.

 

Hiking in Golden Ears. Beautiful sights.

Hiking in Golden Ears. Beautiful sights.

Selfie hiking in the pouring rain! Such a fun day with ma gurl!

Selfie hiking in the pouring rain! Such a fun day with ma gurl!

I believe this is Gold Creek, coming down from the mountains. Pretty views!

I believe this is Gold Creek, coming down from the mountains. Pretty views!

We had an amazing time catching up, and hiking through our beautiful rain forests and mountains. And the rain forest was in full swing that day, as it was absolutely pouring rain while we hiked. By the end of the day, we were completely soaked through! Of course, this meant a stop at probably one of our favourite food enterprises, the classic Canadian Tim Hortons! I was glad to go back to my Timmies hot chocolate – typically Canadian, right!?

Two other exciting things that have happened: I spent a day outdoor climbing with Christy in Squamish’s Smoke Bluffs, and I went to the Imagine Dragons concert. The climbing day was perfect, as my first outdoor day of the season. We got in some great climbs, new ones to both of us, and I scraped up my knuckles like a true climber. (The photos are Christy’s.) The concert was absolutely amazing! Definitely one of the top concerts that I have been to (which are few in numbers…). Christy, Zach and I had a great time, rocking out to the songs and yelling along at the top of our lungs. If you’re a fan of the band, definitely see them in concert!

 

Hiking to our climbing walls, we stopped for a photo with our fave - the Chief!

Hiking to our climbing walls, we stopped for a photo with our fave – the Chief!

Getting ready to rappell down a wall in Squamish's Smoke Bluffs.

Getting ready to rappell down a wall in Squamish’s Smoke Bluffs.

Rappelling in Squamish with the beautiful Chief in the background!

Rappelling in Squamish with the beautiful Chief in the background!

Last climb of the day on Easter Island! Loved this climb.

Last climb of the day on Easter Island! Loved this climb.

Work and plans have thankfully kept me busy, and the wonderful technology of today’s century has allowed me to keep in touch with my amazing friends who are now so far away. With one semester left to go in my degree, I know that I will stay quite busy for the upcoming months. After that, who knows! I am constantly asked what I plan to do with my degree and future, but I am still kind of unsure. I have a lot to think about and plan.

Over the next little while, I will stay put in my hometown, working and finishing my degree. Once I’m done, who knows where I’ll be! I definitely hope to have more amazing adventures and travels to be able to write about, hopefully sooner than later. For now, there’s no place like home!

 

Imagine Dragons in concert are absolutely amazing!

Imagine Dragons in concert are absolutely amazing!

The encore of the show, complete with confetti raining down. Amazing show!

The encore of the show, complete with confetti raining down. Amazing show!

“Actually, the best thing you could have given her was a lifetime of adventures…” – Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

From

JH

Waterford Wanderings & Excited Ramblings

So this post is a little late. A lot happened over the last week, so I will try to fill you in with a minimal amount of writing.

Last Saturday (February 28), a few friends and I decided that we would go to city center. Bruna, Carlos, Brittany and I set out to tour Waterford Crystal and Reginald’s Tower. Having been here for over 2 months, we decided it was time to do more of the tourist-y things in Waterford.

Waterford Crystal was really interesting! We learned about the processes used to make the crystal, we saw vases being made, and we viewed the amazing artistry of the sculptors. The pieces were beautiful. It was cool to see how it was all made, and why exactly it is so expensive (other than the fact that it’s crystal).

 
 
Entrance to Waterford Crystal.

Entrance to Waterford Crystal.

Carving the lines into the crystal with precision.

Carving the lines into the crystal with precision.

 

 
Amazing pieces by the sculptors of Waterford Crystal.

Amazing pieces by the sculptors of Waterford Crystal.

 
Wandering the streets and narrow-ways of Waterford city.

Wandering the streets and narrow-ways of Waterford city.

We wandered around city center and explored areas we didn’t know after we found out Reginald’s Tower was closed for the day. We stopped for hot chocolate before heading back. We decided to meet up later and have a potluck dinner and movie night. Some of the others were going to make food from their homes – we were really excited!

The dinner was fun – just a bunch of us hanging out, eating Spanish tortilla, pizza, salad, and a Polish dish (although he wasn’t sure if it was exactly Polish, it was really good). A bunch of our friends stopped by and ended up staying, so we all hung out instead of watching a movie. It was fun!

Early in the week, Brittany and I met up with our friends Carlos and Bert in the evenings to plan out our trip for the two-week Easter break. We had it all planned and booked in two night! It is going to be amazing. We will travel from Dublin to London, and on to Amsterdam, Brussels, Bruges, and finally Paris. We are all super excited! It was relatively easy to book, and we all get along great, so I am definitely looking forward to this trip.

On Wednesday, there was a party planned by the International student society for Brazilian Carnival. Brittany and I decided we would go after mulling it over a bit. It was going to be a costume party, and neither of us really enjoy completely dressing up. So we headed to city center and tried to find something simple, settling on an ‘80s punk vibe. We looked great! We went to the pre-party here and had a blast with our friends, before heading to The Reg bar in city center. Our night had some hiccups, but it was great to dance with our friends in a fun atmosphere!

 
Brit and I at The Reg in our 'costumes.'

Brit and I at The Reg in our ‘costumes.’

 

Not the best picture of all of us (and includes some random guy in a wig), but it's a great memory! (Photo cred: Bert)

Not the best picture of all of us (and includes some random guy in a wig), but it’s a great memory! (Photo cred: Bert)

 

Skip ahead to Friday – probably the day I am most excited to tell you about. If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you might already know some of the details.

So, for the trip that we booked, there was one hitch: the other three were planning to leave Paris the Tuesday of the second week to come back to Ireland. All of their parents are coming here to visit them. While I’m super happy for them, I didn’t exactly want to come back to Waterford and sit around for a few days. Instead, I began to look up places I could go for a few days! I wanted to go to Spain, but it was proving too expensive, and I didn’t have many choices of reachable and affordable places. Oddly enough, the best place seemed to be Nice in the French Riviera. Friday morning, I booked everything – I will be spending a few days in Nice, and doing day trips to other cities. I am super excited!

The afternoon only got better. While searching Facebook one day, I saw a random advertisement about a climbing area that had just opened in a rec center. Curious, I clicked it to find out that it is in Waterford!!! I was super excited and immediately contacted the gym to find out when I could go. Friday afternoon, I set out on a long walk (40 minutes of uphill to be exact), and reached my destination. It’s a small area of two rooms: one for rope and one for boulder. But there are a few autobelays and the staff are super friendly! I did an induction and can now climb whenever I want! I probably won’t go often, because it’s so far, but it’s great to know it’s there. I can work on keeping up my strength and the roughness of my calluses for when I go home.

 
The top rope climbing section is on the left - including three autobelays- with bouldering in the back @ Activate Waterford.

The top rope climbing section is on the left – including three autobelays- with bouldering in the back @ Activate Waterford.

 

 
The bouldering section of the climbing area! All new holds was heaven...but hell for my hands.

The bouldering section of the climbing area! All new holds was heaven…but hell for my hands.

Friday night Brittany and I met up with a few of the girls to go to a football match (every time I write ‘football,’ think soccer. I’m trying hard to adopt their words here). It was Waterford United FC vs. Athlone United. I was super excited to get to watch a football match that I didn’t have to pay a lot for. It definitely wasn’t as exciting as I’d hoped, but it was a fun outing and experience! I’m not even sure what the score was, although I believe it was a tie due to Waterford’s last minute goal.

This weekend has been pretty relaxed. Yesterday we went shopping and then had a cooking night with Kitty and Carlos. Brittany, Kitty, and I learned how to make a Spanish tortilla and fajitas. They were honestly delicious and I regret not taking a picture of any of it. And then we watched Shaun of the Dead, which I know some of my friends (and my brother) will be very happy about.

A walk in Kilbarry Park.

A walk in Kilbarry Park.

For this week – lots of school work and possibly some nights out.

It seems that my life has fallen into a routine here, and I love it. The routine is oddly never the same. Although it includes school, friends, nights out, and lazy days, there are always factors that are changing and keeping things interesting.

I’m still loving it here, and I’m glad that I’m not homesick (sorry mom and dad). Of course I miss people and things from home, but I am determined to enjoy every minute of my time here as it shortens. I can’t wait for the next adventures around the corner.

“Trust that an ending is followed by a beginning.” (Pinterest quote)

From

JH