Home sweet home

As of today, I have been back in Canada for a whole month. A lot has changed, but somethings feel like I never left. My family is still the same loving group of people I left over four months ago, and they continue to amaze me – not only with their feats and accomplishments, but also by their love and support. They’ve been excited about my adventures abroad since the moment I heard I got accepted to study in Lyon, and they continue to encourage me to do what I love and what makes me happy. 

School feels the same as ever, trekking across campus three days a week to attend my English and History classes; most of which I am really enjoying, with only two I have yet to find the passion for. The University friends I left behind in August all carried on with their Carleton days while I was away, but have thankfully welcomed me back into their lives as if I had been there the whole time.

When I’m immersed in my school life, it sometimes feels like I never left Carleton’s underground world for the little tabacco factory of a school in Lyon, France. I guess some things never change, no matter how long you are gone or how much an experience changes you. I still get to spend my Fridays running errands and lazing around the house with my mom. She’s still there to nag me and hug me whenever necessary. My sister and I still drive each other crazy but would be lost without each other. Chris and Jon are still the nerdy, protective older brothers I’ve relied on my entire life. Dad is still working his ass off trying to bring some law & order to this crazy world we live in, all the while finding time to worry about and love his four children.

And my friends, well, I would be a mess if not for them. Whether in Texas getting her drawl back, or in Vancouver enjoying her yoga and ocean-side views, or back in Lyon struggling to keep up with the circus that is France, or even right here in Ottawa (and surrounding cities) where I left them, waiting to welcome me back with open arms, ears and hearts. My friends bring me back down to earth when life gets overwhelming, or just remind me to laugh things off and enjoy life because we’re young and we still have so many more adventures to embark on together.

Not that I don’t ordinarily enjoy life to the fullest, but sometimes it’s hard to have to face the reality of life after living in an ignorantly blissful world while on exchange. So many questions run through my head everyday: what do I want to do with my life; am I making the right choices to make me happy in the future; should I be volunteering more; should I give yoga a second chance; what should I eat today, etc. Sure, some of them are easier to answer then others, but when they all start cramming their way into my head, they start to take their toll and life gets overwhelming all over again. I know that my time on exchange has changed me as a person, and even though I’m yet to fully understand how I’ve changed, I know that it has affected my life here in Ottawa. My mom has always said that everything happens for a reason, so whether or not I’ve decided if my changes are for the best, I know life will sort itself out and I’ll be back in the world finding new adventures for myself in no time. As for now, I’ve got fantastic friends (old and new) and family to help me get readjusted to my life here in Ottawa. And look at that, I’ve made it a month and I’m still pretty much in one piece – just a few battle wounds to prove I can make it through the rough patches. I’m excited for life, whatever it holds; hopefully I have more travelling in store for me, which means more stories for me to share with the world. But for today I have Uni readings to conquer and a sister to bother. 

Love to you all, xox, B. 

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Last day in Lyon

It’s finally here. I can’t believe it. But it’s true. I have been in Lyon for 114 days, and yet it feels like I was just taking that first unnerving step away from everything I knew to start on this crazy adventure. I wouldn’t trade my time here in Europe for anything in the world. But that being said, I am very much looking forward to be surrounded by my friends and family in just over 24 hours.

As I’ve mentioned before, this Christmas season is nothing like any I’ve ever experienced before because I’m not surrounded by the people and things I’ve become accustomed to at this time of year. That being said, I am experiencing an entirely new feeling of excitement and anticipation for this year’s Christmas. I have an entirely new appreciation for being home for Christmas, something that I have clearly taken for granted in the past years. It will be so nice to be surrounded by my loved ones, and even if the siblings and I get in an inevitable fight or two, at least we’ll have each other to bicker with, all in the same house and the same city for a few short days of the year. 

I’m sitting in my very empty apartment waiting for my landlord to come and inspect it to make sure I can get my deposit back, and then I’m on my way to the airport hotel to get a few hours sleep before my 7 AM flight tomorrow. It’s been a busy last day here in Lyon, arriving from London at around noon, and then repacking my suitcases, while doing some last minute deep-cleaning of my place and then running to my French bank to withdraw money and officially close my account. 

London, by the way, was the perfect trip to end my semester abroad. Two days was not nearly enough time there, but I am satisfied with what I was able to see and do in that short time. I arrived Sunday morning with Ievy, Naomi and Olivia, and we started our day with a traditional English afternoon tea at a “Secret Tea Room” above a pub. We ate mini sandwiches with the crusts cut off, and scones with clotted cream and jam, and drank delicious pots of loose leaf tea, served in elegant and dainty tea cups. Then we met up with Preeti and shopped a bit before getting caught in the rain. We ate dinner at a pub, and I had some very tasty fish and chips, which I washed down with my first ever Guinness  which I was pleased to say I actually enjoyed. We had a early night, so that we could have full day of touring on Monday.

Monday morning started with a trip to the TKTS booth to get discounted theatre tickets before meeting up with Preeti for a big and hearty English breakfast. Ievy, Olivia and I got tickets to see Shrek the Musical for 30£, which was highly entertaining and a great way to end our short trip to London. After our big breakfast, we wandered through Trafalgar square, down to Big Ben and the Parliament buildings, then through St. James’s Park Lake to Buckingham Palace, then back down to Westminster Abbey. We debate about whether or not to take the double-decker bus tour, but decided we could make a tour of our own, so we hopped on the tube to get to Tower Bridge. We walked along it and stopped at a bar beneath it for Pims and Colas (I chose the Cola, I needed some caffeine to keep me going for the rest of the day). The next stop on our walk was the Globe Theatre, which I was very excited to see in person, being an English student and all. I would’ve loved to see a show there, but I guess that will have to happen the next time I’m in London. We took the new pedestrian bridge (which is destroyed by Dementors in a Harry Potter scene) back across the Thames and then hopped on another tube to see Harrods and grab dinner before our show. Harrods was everything I thought it would be and more. Emphasis on the more – as in more expensive than I ever would’ve liked to imagine. I wisely decided to not buy anything at Harrods, but it was nice to dream. After Shrek, Olivia and I went back to the hostel to try and get some sleep before our 4 AM wake-up call. And now here I am, writing my last post in Lyon before starting my long journey home tomorrow. 

It’s been an amazing experience. I can’t wait to continue to travel the world and see what else it has to offer me. Thanks for following along on the adventure with me, it’s been great! 

Cheers,

xox, B.