Anticipating Greatness

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September, the season of endings and of beginnings. An exciting time, a nerve-wracking time, a new adventure time. It’s back to school, it’s the last of warm days and it’s beautiful and sad all wrapped up in one. It’s bike rides and trips to the Farmer’s Market and hugging friends you haven’t seen in a while, it’s saying goodbye to summer and it’s printing syllabi and updating your calendar. It’s when we look out over the school year to come, a fresh slate of tests not yet written and challenges not yet faced. What are you expecting this year? Are you apprehensive of what’s to come? I know I was.

This morning I woke up to an email from Blackboard, my university’s “virtual campus”; it was a notification that one of my economics professors had posted the syllabus for the course. As ridiculous as it might sound, my heart literally started racing and I was so nervous to open the file. Economics was my worst class last year and I am so anxious about going back to it this year, especially with two courses in the same semester, one of them in French.

This is just one example of the apprehension I’ve been feeling about second year. For me, summer has been over for almost 3 weeks, as soon as I left camp and came back to Ottawa for Community Advisor training. This year, I’ll be living in residence, watching over first year students and hopefully helping them to have a safe, fun and successful first year. That is an added responsibility that I need to account and make time for! I’m super excited about it but still! Tomorrow is the first day back at classes and I am definitely feeling nervous about all the work that is about to rain down on me and consume my life; but it will only consume me if I let it.

On Sunday I was in church and the woman leading worship said something that really stuck with me. It was about the difference between apprehension and anticipation. I looked up the definition of the two (as I often do) in order to make sure I clearly knew the difference.

Apprehension – anxiety or fear that something unpleasant will happen

Anticipation – the act of expecting or looking ahead to something with pleasure. 

It was one of those moments that I was caught off guard by the realization that this was God speaking clearly and directly to ME. I hadn’t even noticed the negative attitude I had been having towards the coming year. I was hiding my anxiety with “cautiousness” and “being realistic”. Neither of those are bad things but I was using them as reasons to not allow myself to be excited about year coming up. I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty optimistic, glass half full type of person, so it’s not normal for me to be like that. In fact, one of my favourite verses in high school was 2nd Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-decipline.” I loved it so much that I had it written out and taped on my wall but I think that I’ve still somehow forgotten!

I’m not meant to fear the future. I’m not meant to live expecting things to go badly. God has created this incredible world and put us in it, to live and learn and explore. So this morning I opened the email, read over the syllabus, and will go to the class tomorrow anticipating that it will go well, that I’ll learn something interesting. Fear is normal; letting it consume your life is not. This fall, I’m trying to re-learn how to surrender my apprehension to God and let him replace it with anticipation. The future is full of possibilities. Yes, some of those possibilities include hardship or difficulty or heartbreak. But they are just that, possibilities. This fall, I’m choosing to look forward with anticipation, expecting not just goodness, but greatness. 

Today, I went adventuring with a friend. We rode bikes along the canal, lined with trees while the sun shined brightly. We sat and had coffee, we walked through our favourite park and we sat at a lookout over the city. It was fun and warm and carefree. It was a great day. There are many more great days to come: deep chats in my new dorm room, friendships with my residents, (even if sometimes I have to break up their beer pong games), adventures through the beautiful city I get to call home, learning about the world and the people God created and hopefully lots and lots of laughter. Yes, school is going to be a lot of work, and yes, I’m going to have to learn to manage my time and schedule to balance school, work, life and self-care. But that’s okay. Because those are all exciting things that God has blessed me with. 

Anticipation – to expect or look ahead with great pleasure. 

Life is exciting if you let it be. So to all my friends going to back to school tomorrow, or sometime this week. Let’s be anticipatory. Let’s expect GREAT things from this school year. Let’s have good attitudes and a willingness to learn. We are blessed for the opportunity to live and learn in Canada. Let’s act like it. Let’s act like we have sprits of power, love and self-dicipline.

That’s all I got for now. I’m surprised how nervous (damn, there’s that word again eh?) I am about hitting “publish” on this post. Vulnerability here folks. All the more reason to do it I guess. Hopefully someone out there in the big world of cyberspace gets something out of my silly realizations. God is always teaching me, even if I’m sometimes an inattentive student. So, good luck with September my friends. Let’s make it a great one

-Until next time, Sam ❤

P.s. Here are some pictures of my last couple weeks settling into my new job/home. They do make me more excited for all that is to come!!

 

Can I ask you a question?

Have you ever been in love?

For the past year or so, I’ve been (somewhat awkwardly) asking this question to friends, family and strangers alike, in an attempt to gain perspective on something that has been fascinating and baffling humans for as long as we’ve existed. It’s a topic that has been pondered in mythology, become a cliché in movies and been dreamed of by many.

My follow up question is always some variation of “Did it change you, teach you something or give you a new perspective?” Although these may seem like super inappropriate questions to ask perfect strangers, I don’t think we should ever avoid talking about life and our experiences with it, the good, the bad, the confusing, and the awkward. In fact, this little survey of mine has led to some of the most honest and interesting conversations I’ve ever had. Some people panic when I ask the question, some people are very open and happy to talk about it, some people kind of look at me weird but still answer, others get philosophical on me. Still other times, people totally shut me down and that’s cool too if they don’t want to get personal.

So what’s my point? I guess I ask because I feel like love is something that can never be clearly defined. It’s perceived by each of us differently. Personally, I know for a fact that I have experienced love but have never been “in” love. If I don’t have any “in” love experience to draw on and it doesn’t have a definition, my only way to learn more is by asking people. On the flip side, it’s not so much learning about love that is the purpose behind the question. What I’m really hoping for when I ask is to get a perspective on that person. Because love tends to be so personal, I feel like an individual’s thoughts about it can tell me so much about them. Sorry for being nosey friends, I just wanna get to know ya!

For real though, I wish more people went straight for the real questions. This habit arose out of pure desperation not to have the “What’s your name, major, home town, residence and favourite colour?” one more freaking time. Like, yes, cool, I’m glad that you’re from Toronto like every other person I’ve talked to today. Please, tell me something you’re passionate about or a person in your life that you really admire. Maybe it’s not “have you ever been in love” but I challenge you to ask a question this week that forces you to learn something real about a friend or a stranger. One of my other friends this week said that she likes to ask strangers on the bus what their favourite quote is and why. Sure you may never see that person again but hey, you made an effort to connect with another human!

THAT IS ALWAYS WORTH YOUR TIME.

Anyways, I’m not sure if this interests any of you, or if you just think I’m invasive and annoying but I’ve been learning a lot from asking the deep questions. Either way, I’m probably going to continue to talk about love with all. If you ever see me, let sit down and chat over coffee!

Love you all for taking time out of your day to listening to my ramblings. The adventure always continues.

Until next time, Sam

P.s. I’m living the island life at my camp for the summer so my blog appearances may be fairly sporadic for the next couple months. I’ll do my best though!

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Adventures in tripping – a little flippin’ never hurt!

If you fall into a river in the middle of May… get back up and do it again??

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Kitchi Tripping Crew ft Marty

That’s right, I was still smiling after 2 dunks in the aptly named Black River on a cloudy May 10th. Following my Switerland post titled “Today, I Fell Down A Mountain“, are we really surprised here? I was not, although I did feel bad for taking my bow paddler Lauren down with me…sorry gf! Honestly though, no one in my life is surprised at this point when absolutely ridiculous things happen to me. And if I’m honest, I kind of love it. I’m really grateful that God gives me so many funny little quirky stories to tell. It keeps me always on my toes, that’s for sure!!

Here’s the thing: those couple slips aside, I had an amazing experience at tripper training. I got a whack load of certifications, made new friends, and spent time with already good friends against the beautiful backdrop of Georgian Bay. I found it challenging to an extent; canoeing isn’t exactly my strongest camp skill. (I was always a sailor when I was a camper.) In fact, until this month, I’d never taken canoeing in any formal setting. Add that to the fact that most of the other participants on the trip had wayyyy more experience in tripping, you could say I was a bit intimidated. Here’s some things I learned from my week in the wilderness, as I worked towards becoming “Tripper Sam”!

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Outdoor Pursuits

Everyone starts somewhere. It was my first time taking any kind of formal canoeing and yet I was putting so much pressure on myself to be perfect, to  be as good as everyone around me. But I was just starting out! All the others had already spent the time perfecting their strokes; they had put the work in. I had to focus on the fact that I was learning every hour I spent in that canoe, rather than on trying to measure up.

On the flip side, don’t make excuses, make opportunities to get better. Although I didn’t have a lot of experience, I wasn’t going to let that stop me or intimidate me; I tried to not make excuses. Instead, I took every opportunity to get better. I sterned (steered) the boat every chance I got. I tried solo carrying canoes on almost every portage. I volunteered to do tasks around camp that I wasn’t really sure I could do, like helping to set up tarps. I learn best by doing, so it was a great opportunity for me! Also, I asked approximately a million questions. About everything. At all hours of the day. Hey, I was trying to glean all I could- from the incredibly knowledgable instructors we had and my peers!

On that note; everyone has something to offer. This is such an important part of a safe and fun trip but it’s also just important in life. In this case, I was pretty good at tying knots. Guess all that sailing paid off! It may seem like a little thing, but I was able to contribute to the group by helping to teach different knots. I also really enjoy cooking on trip so I helped out by being sous-chef for the leaders of the meal. Someone has to cut those peppers! Meanwhile, someone else had to go over navigation and compass use with me. And Lauren had to be patient with me on the river in the rapids. We all learned from each other in some way or another over the week and it was really cool to see everyone step up and take charge in their own way.

Confidence goes a long way! Don’t be afraid to embarrass yourself by trying something new. Laughing off mistakes is the best way to handle them…trust me, I would know by now. Sometimes, you just gotta fake it ’till you make it. A big part of our trip leading certification was being confident. As a leader, sometimes you have to make decisions and just be confident in your own skills. Trust yourself, trust your team, and be willing to make mistakes when the risk is low so that when you’re in a real situation, you’ve already applied your training and are therefore more likely to make the right judgement call.

When it comes down to it, sometimes you just have to get back on the horse…or back in the canoe! My two dips in the river happened on the very first day of a week and a half of training, during the 1st of 5 courses. It would have been pretty easy to get discouraged. I’m not going to lie, heading out to day 2 was rough. I was feeling so defeated from the day before and let me tell you, a 7am start, combined with spilling your breakfast all over yourself (in typical Sam fashion) and then putting on an already wet wetsuit is not exactly a morale booster. However, once I got out there I firmly decided that it was a new day, that I wasn’t going to let anything stand in my way of learning. Fear of failure only makes failure a more real possibility. And guess what? That Sunday on the river was probably the most fun I had in the entire week. Once we started to get a hang out it, running the rapids was SO SICK. Like for real, you should try it. In fact, I’m hoping to take my 2nd white water level at some point soon. What a change from day 1! Even our instructor (who is basically the most impressive canoeist I have ever seen in my life, Marty you are a Jedi) was impressed by my come-back. And I let THAT experience set the precedent for the rest of my week, not the first. Now, I am SO looking forward to being able to take my leadership to Temagami! Can you say dream come true??

Last summer, I started talking about wanting to be a tripper and my campers, as well as some of my fellow staff, started jokingly calling me “Tripper Sam”. While “tripper” may not be my actual job title this summer, and I still need to log some more experience before I get fully certified, I am proud to have kind of accomplished that goal for myself. Thanks to those friends for believing in me before I did! Also, shout-out to the trip team – you guys were so so fun to paddle with, laugh with and learn with.

 

By the way, thanks to any of ya’ll who read this funny little blog on the regular. It may be messy and silly and often irrelevant but it’s my little pet project and I so, so appreciate any of you who take time out of your day to read my thoughts…wow, what an honour!! Thank you dear friends for joining me on my (not so) grand adventures through everyday life.

Until next time, Sam

P.s. Guys. Can we just take in how incredibly beautiful the world God created is? Like holy cow. Several times I made a point to wander off so I could sit by myself and just breath in creation. Get out of the city friends, it’s so so worth it. You’ll never feel more alive than when you watch a sunset beside a set of rapids while eating a dinner that was cooked over the fire.

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RIP Sandy Grey Falls –  p.c. Grant B.

 

 

Choosing Joy When Stress Is Looming

 

Spring? Is that you? I think it might be!

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The weather the last couple of days has been absolutely incredible here in Ottawa. On Sunday it was over 20 degrees (celsius) and the sun was shining all day. A lot of people are actually rocking sunburns around campus right now because they didn’t think they needed sunscreen in April haha. A grave error to make; Canadian weather can never be predicated!

At 9:30 this morning I wrote my history final which unfortunately for me was only my second out of six exams I have this semester. Lots of my friends at other schools (and even some here) are already done and home but I’m not even half-way yet! In light of that, I figured I’d give myself a break and write a little post about how I’ve been staying sane and joyful even with the stress of exams looming over me in case you’re still with me in the struggle (or if you’re in high school and haven’t started exams!)

One of my goals for this year  was to choose to be joyful in every situation. However as we all know, stress can be overwhelming and quickly consuming, making it really difficult to stay positive. This exam season, I’ve been making sure to prioritize my mental health and find ways not to let stress swallow me up. They are simple tips but sometimes a reminder is all we need to encourage us to do the little things in life!

Go for a walk – This is my number one way to destress or take a break. Being outside in the fresh air, especially with the beautiful weather we’ve been having, is the best way to clear your head and come back refreshed and ready to work. It’s active so it gets you up and away from your desk and it always reminds me how lucky I am to live in this beautiful world. Walking along the canal in the sunshine makes me feel joyful without even trying. Although, yesterday I may or may not have gotten lost and taken 2 and a half hours to find my way home…yes, my life is a gong show. But hey, it was an adventure at least!

Dance/sing/listen to music – Pretty much everyone can agree that listening to music can affect our moods. Whether that you need to be energized or calmed, picking good music is key to any study session. Even if you’re someone who can’t focus with music playing, I would still recommended throwing on some upbeat tunes when you take a break. The other day I had a mini dance party in my room to Shake It Off by Taylor Swift, all by myself. Did I look ridiculous? Most definitely. Did it make me laugh? Yep. Just letting loose and doing something silly like dancing and singing to a pop song makes me feel more relaxed and able to go back and conquer that next chapter of economics or whatever I’m working on.

Change up the study space – For me, I’ve learned that studying in my room is a no-go. I will, invariably, fall asleep and take an accidental nap. Therefore, finding different places to study on (and off) campus has been really important for me this year. Try switching it up and finding somewhere new to work. This week I’ve been sitting outside with my books a lot but I also like the common room in my res, the library, other buildings on campus, coffee shops and even the laundry room (it’s quiet and no one cares if you study out loud). Having a study space where I feel productive empowers me to deal with stress.

img_20160414_152357.jpgTake care of yourself- eat and sleep. This is pretty self explanatory and gets drilled into our heads by every study tip source EVER. Eat well and please, please, please sleep the night before your exam. You will feel overwhelmed and stressed if you’re trying to study or write a test on 3 hours of sleep. Not to mention, choosing to be joyful is really hard when you don’t even have enough energy to get through the day.

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And sometimes you deserve a treat 😉

Have confidence –  Self-confidence? Sure. But even more than having confidence in myself, I find it essential to have confidence in God and His plans. Confidence that no matter how these exams go, there is a plan for my life and that my worth is not wrapped up in my grades or my accomplishments. With that in mind, I can have a settled assurance that everything will be okay and this freedom allows me to be unrestrained by stress. It enables me to put my full effort into everything I do, secure in the knowledge that my best is good enough. When my confidence is anchored in God, it can’t be shaken by something as simple as words on a page. The best part: when you’re confident, you’re more productive because you know that you are capable of producing the results you want. Let’s be real, if you put the time into studying, you will do fine; the more confident you are, the better you’ll be able to perform under the pressure of exams. Believing that God’s got your back is the best way to make full use of your talents and abilities.

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Source 

Let it goooooo. -The most stress is that which we put on ourselves. A healthy amount of pressure is fine and can even be helpful; I know I work best when the pressure it on. There comes a point however where it stops being healthy and we start beating ourselves up. You can do your best and nothing more; be kind to yourself. Prepare for your exams, go in and write them and then let it go. Rehashing things in your head after the fact doesn’t help anything so try to just live in the moment and be glad that they are over. You did it!

 

Whether you’re one exam in or have just one exam left, I believe that you can survive the end of the semester. School is not the end of the world, nor is the stress worth it. So stay joyful and do the best that you can; it’s all anyone can ask!

Good luck, and remember…summer is coming! I can feel it in the air 🙂

-Until next time, Sam

5 Things 1st Year Taught Me

Wow it’s been a while! It’s crazy how fast time goes when you’re writing papers 😉

Today I went to my last class of my first year. Sorry what?! That’s right, there are just 6 exams and 14 days between me and the end of my first year. Unbelievable! Honestly, I know that’s a pretty cliché topic to write about but I definitely learnt some things from first year that I figured I share with you guys in just a quick post (before I drown in exams).

Don’t go to class if you aren’t going to engage

In my opinion, there are three types of students when it comes to class attendance. The ones who don’t go at all, the ones who go and play on their phones/computer and chat with friends, and the ones who go and actually pay attention to what the prof is saying. To be straight up here, I have been all three of these students at some point in the year. But something I’ve learned is that I would rather skip class than go and fool around. Why waste my time sitting in a lecture hall flipping through Facebook? I’m not learning anything and if that’s the case, I’d rather be sleeping. Just being in the room doesn’t mean you’re learning. If you’re taking the time out of your day to show up (and you should be), commit to it fully. Listen, process and absorb what the prof is lecturing on. Take notes, ask questions if need be and take advantage of the education you’re paying thousands of dollars for.

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Economics is soon not my strong suit and yet, here I am.

It’s easy to get involved if you’re willing to step out of your “comfort zone”

I mentioned in another post that I had sent out a ton of emails looking for a volunteer placement. Not being involved first semester was literally painful because I spent all of high school juggling all kinds of clubs and commitments and I love being busy. But this is the thing. There are so many opportunities in university if you’re willing to try new things. I’m actually typing this while I’m on shift waiting for a call to come in at Foot Patrol, the campus accompaniment service I volunteer with. I’ve spent the last couple months teaching English to Syrian refugee kids and it’s consistently been the highlight of my week. I was a (sporadic) member of a Bible study, the floor rep for my floor in residence, a player on a dodgeball team and when I had time I practiced with my school’s competitive lifeguard team. Are any of those activities I did in high school? Aside from Bible study, nope. But once I started putting myself out there, opportunities popped up everywhere I looked. Getting involved has made my first year richer; I’ve gotten to meet people in all years and all programs, having conversations with all kinds of unique people.

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A photo display I put together for our floor’s end of the year party. So many great memories!

Be spontaneous

Some of my best memories of this year have come from someone saying “Hey does anyone want to…” and then just going and doing whatever it is. Go for a walk at midnight with your friends. Show up to an event you know nothing about and participate in it. Visit a museum. Go into the little coffee shops and the strange little purple thrift shops. Buy a fish, build a fort, sleep in a tipi, have a snowball fight, sit and talk to a stranger. I don’t know what it is it but do it! Studying is important but sometimes it can wait; learn to say yes to the random, crazy, (safe), adventures that pop up.

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I loved getting to explore my new city this year

Take a risk. 

This is similar to the last point but this is a more serious note. Do the things you don’t think you can do. Being in immersion and having come from Core French is super intimidating! The amount of times I’ve hesitated to speak French this year is seriously ridiculous. And yet, when I went to my first bilingual interview, not only did I get the job but the French portion was actually my strongest part! There were so many things I turned down this year because “I’m not bilingual” or “My French isn’t good enough” and I’ll never know how many friendships and experiences I missed out on because of it. French may mean anything to you but we all make excuses for why we refuse to try something. So go for it, stop making excuses and try things you don’t know if you can do. If you succeed you’ll prove yourself wrong, and if you fail you’ll gain experience that will help you succeed the next time. You have NOTHING to lose. 

 

 

Yes, it’s a lot of work. Yes, you can do it.

Let’s be real. University is freaking hard. It is so not a walk in the park. At least, it hasn’t been for me. The sheer volume of work I had looming over my head 24/7 was overwhelming to say the least. But I did it . Not only have I survived but I’ve actually thrived in my new academic environment. I took classes in French for the first time, I got a GPA that I had convinced myself was impossible, I declared a minor, started learning a new language, wrote countless papers, aced tests and wrote others that did not go so well. I pulled all nighters and cried once or twice (or a lot). I had profs that I respected and looked up to, profs that were totally insane and profs that told me I had impressed them.

A couple of times, especially in first semester, I remember sitting at my desk and wondering how on earth it was humanly possible to get a university degree. Like how do people do this for 4+ years??? And yet here I am, very nearly having survived the year. It’s possible. Sometimes it’s hard. Other times I find myself furiously researching for a paper that I can’t wait to write because I am so passionate about the topic. You CAN do it. Just remember why you’re in the program you are in. Sometimes all you need to get through a week of hellish assignments is to remind yourself why you’re doing it, whether it be because you are fascinated by the intricacy and complexity of biology or because you want to work for the United Nations. Studying with a purpose makes it so much easier to get through.

I also have been really liking this Bible verse lately to give myself study motivation for exams. “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. – Hebrews 12:11

Obviously, school is hard work if you want to do well. But this verse reminds me and gives me hope that it will pay off and produce a harvest. University is meant to test you, train you and prepare you for the future. Although discipline is hard, it is the only way to see real progress. I learned this year that sometimes, I really do just have to sit down and plough through the stuff, whether I want to or not. The future pay off and reward will be greater than the temporary fun of procrastination.

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BONUS: Enjoy every minute of 1st year because it WILL be over before you know it

I’m sure you’ve noticed a recurring theme throughout all five of these points because if there is one thing I learned in first year it is to live in the moment, as cheesy as it sounds. Take advantage of all the time and opportunities you are given because this is life. Don’t wait to live it. I got so sick of listening to people complain about the dining hall or living in res or how they just want to move on to med school/law school/the rest of their lives. In high school you couldn’t wait to be here and now you can’t wait to leave? There are so many things to explore! We have to enjoy this time and glean all we can from it.

This year I spent 8 months learning. Not just in class, but in life and now, in just two short weeks, I’ll be moving out of my cosy little dorm room and headed off to a jam packed summer full of adventure. Crazy.

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My little nest

-Until next time, Sam ❤

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P.S. If you need some productive procrastination, check out this TedTalk on the subject, it’s pretty funny and also scarily accurate haha #thedarkplayground

 

Planes, Trains and Automobiles…and Buses…and Subways

Hey friends! How’s life?

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The girl who lives next to me in residence mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I always greet people with “friends” and since then I’ve been very aware that that is almost become a catch phrase of mine. But really, I do it because I mean it. I love all the human beings I know, with their little quirks and personalities and I consider everyone to be my friend. Including you dear readers! Anyway, that was a side bar. Sorry for being distracted.

Speaking of being distracted, it’s been close to a month since my last post! Where oh where does the time go? Even now, I really should be doing my economics project or studying for my history midterm but hey, we all need study breaks sometimes. And at least blogging is “productive procrastination”. Life is just busy!
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Since I last wrote, I’ve been on two “adventures” that included actually leaving city boundaries. One was a weekend trip to Quebec City to experience Carnevale and the sweet charm of Old Town. I’d been before and seriously loved it and it didn’t fail to meet my memories expectations. We explored, we ate, we shopped, we drank Cariboo (the signature drink) and visited the ice palace, we tried “tire d’erable” and danced in the snow and went to a nightclub. We made new friends and spoke lots of “Franglish”. It was so much fun. I almost didn’t go because I didn’t really have the time or the money but I am so glad that I did. (My pictures here just didn’t want to upload…imagination ooooh, ahhhh, poutine, pretty buildings.) UPDATE: pictures are here now!

 

Secondly, I just came home from a week in the Dominican Republic! Although I was sassily told this week that by a friend that he “got more tan staying in Ottawa” than I did by going away, it was really relaxing and nice to spend time with my family (Mom, sister, aunts and family friends). I just lay on the beach and read and napped and played in the waves all week long. And, was sorely disappointed by the dismal Spanish skills…I seriously need to brush up! (In all my spare time right?) One day we left the resort and toured through the city of Purto Plata. My favourite part was when we took a cable car up one the highest mountains in the country. It was so beautiful! Ya’ll know I got a thing for mountains. There was a national park at the top and I dragged Mal up and down several winding forest paths to see the lagoon and visit a cave.

Honestly, it just felt good to have a change of scenery. I get so antsy staying in one place for too long and this was the first time I had been on a plane since coming home from my exchange, almost 2 years ago exactly. As the title suggests, I took just about every form of transportation possible to get from Ottawa to Toronto to Porta Plata and back but I loved it. I love airports and train stations. I love how everyone is basically trapped together in this little building. And then, as if someone dropped and shattered a glass, we go flying to every corner of the globe, sending friends, family, strangers…everyday to new places. All kinds of people can be there all at once, for all different purposes. Are they scared, excited? Where are they going? Is someone meeting them on the other side? I don’t know, it just makes me think and want to people watch. Airports have a lot of potential and they make me happy 🙂

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That’s all for now, just a little update post. Kind of random and a little messy but that’s ok with me. I hope it’s okay with you too. Best of luck to those of you with me in the midterm grind. We got this! Smile today. Put on some happy music and do a little jig in your room or your car or right outside on the street. You’re alive! You’re alive and today, today is a good day to be human.

-Until next time, Sam

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P.S. Oh wow! I almost forgot. If I’m doing a life update, I have to include my two new volunteer assignments! I’ve started both of them now.

Foot Patrol. Basically, this is a service at my school that runs weekdays from 8pm-2am that offers walks to people who don’t want to walk at night alone. I go on Mondays from 8-11 and myself, along with a partner are able to walk people home so they feel safe, or just have some company. I love to walk and I love to talk, so basically, it’s the best thing ever.

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Sage Youth. This is a literacy organization that I am SO excited to be working with. Although it has programs all over the city, the one that I am currently helping with is with the Syrian refugee children that have recently arrived in Canada. Once a week, I go and help teach English to kids, many of whom have never spoken the language before. I went for the first time today and it was so chaotic but so fun. They are eager to learn and so polite and all of them want “teacher” to hear them read over everyone else haha. Some of them are just learning the alphabet. Anyway, I’m looking forward to next week.

That’s all, just thought I’d share how I’ve been trying to get involved. It feels good.

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Night Musings

Sundays are for sleeping in and brunch with friends, for catching up on readings and spending time with Jesus. Sundays aren’t always a day of rest but it’s best when they are. Today was one of those lazy, lovely Sundays.

It’s not very often I just lie in bed, awake but still cozy in my blankets and nest of pillows. Today I did. Well, actually I got up and made a tea, got my bible and then climbed back in. I did my devotions and lay and thought about life for a while. Just when I had almost convinced myself that I was going to be productive today, BAM. An old high school friend texted and asked if I wanted to have brunch. Should I have said no? Probably. But I didn’t, because life chats and crêpes from Cora’s are better than the library life any day.

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We ended up coming back to my residence afterwards because Michelle lives off campus and wanted to see what LeBlanc is like. For me, trying to see my friends and our interactions from an outsiders point of view was so interesting. She kept commenting on how close we all seem to be and it made me grateful all over again that I get to spend this year living in such a close knit and fun community. And at the same time, I got to spend my afternoon with someone from home. It felt like my two worlds were mixing, just a little. It was so fun talking to someone who knows the same people I know and misses some of the same places and things.

I didn’t end up making it to church (which, by the way, I think I’ve found one) because I was having trouble figuring out the bus schedules to get there. But my God isn’t contained to a building or a group of people. I went to my room and listened to some worship music and dreamt about the future and prayed for my friends and read some theology blogs. I just got to hang out with Jesus. Anyone who could hear my music through the wall (totally a possibility in res) probably wondered why on earth I was listening to the same song over and over again. But sometimes words just speak to my soul and show me God in a clear and powerful way. Today that happened with the song “All the Poor and Powerless” by All Sons and Daughters.

 When it was finally time to get a start on my homework, I made a “To Do” list on my desk whiteboard, as I always do. Today though I decided to start with a bible verse to keep myself focused. This verse really made me think today and I posted it on Instagram with a caption: 

Started my “TO DO” list with some encouragement tonight. Right now my “wherever” happens to be the desk in my dorm room. Definitely not all that exciting and not exactly frightening nor requiring of courage. But the fact of the matter remains that God is WITH me. Whether I’m at a desk or on top of a mountain (please?) I can rest easy with the knowledge that God’s got my back. Also, with Arabic and Econ at the top of that list, I’mma need the back up.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened. Do not be dismayed. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” -Joshua 1:9

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And now, I’m here. Sitting at my desk, more behind in homework than I should be and yet completely satisfied and content. Working hard is important but so is having days of rest. Thank you Sunday for being so lovely. You’ve set the stage for a wonderful week.

Until next time,

-Sam

Nepal – Shaken not Shattered

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Anyone with access to media knows at least the bare minimum about what’s going on in Nepal right now. On April 25th, they experienced a 7.8 magnitude earthquake which killed thousands, destroyed cities and damaged most of their heritage sites. Although aid is flowing in and the people seem, for the most part, to be in good spirits, it is going to be years before their infrastructure and economy recovers.

I have had a fascination and obsession with this mysterious and mountainous country for well over a year now. I’m not exactly sure what initially drew me to it, nor do I remember exactly when it started. But as I’m sure my friends can testify, I’ve talked about wanting to go there for quite a while now. No one really understood why, myself included. There was just something about this small country that fascinated me.

Maybe it’s because I have a thing for mountains and Nepal just seems like a country created for adventure. Or maybe it’s because they have an ancient and beautiful culture, language and temples and colours and smells that would be foreign to me. Then again, maybe I’m just stereotyping and being an ignorant white girl from Canada. But the people there seem to have joy in their smiles and a strong work ethic deep in their bones and I just fell in love with Nepal the more and more that I read about it. I thought about it often, read about it often, dreamt about it often.

I want to be clear that I’m not oblivious to the fact that it is a developing nation. I know that much of the country lives in poverty and brokeness. But for me, that doesn’t and shouldn’t disqualify them as a nation of potential. I’m going to be studying International Development and Globalization in university next year (which I am SO excited about) and I am so passionate about seeing those small “third world” countries develop and grow and share with the world why they are so awesome. So Nepal, for me, was a place of both mystery and beauty in spite of their struggles. I felt drawn not just to the place but also to the faces of the people and wondered how long it would be before I could visit.

Fast forward to last month and my economics teacher assigned a project where a partner and I would have to choose a country currently on the United Nations list of Least Developed Countries, learn more about it and then come up with a theoretical plan on how they could improve their economy. Naturally, I convinced my partner that we should choose Nepal.

The next day, the earthquake happened.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that it felt like something had been ripped out of my chest. I was actually heartbroken. Why would something like this happen? And more importantly, why did I now have to sit in a classroom everyday and work on a website called “Solutions 4 Nepal” while the real country lay in ruins? This past month I have come very close to booking a ticket and just going, I would say about 6 times. I wanted nothing more than to help this country that had somehow found a special place in my heart.

Truth is, an 18-year-old girl from Canada showing up in a recent natural disaster zone with no experience working in developing countries and nothing but a heart to help and the first aid knowledge of a lifeguard would have been more of a hinderance than a help. No matter how good my intentions are, I am not equipped to help in country right now.

Maybe in a year from now, when most people have forgotten all about it, I will go. Nepal will be recovering from years to come and I don’t want to be just another person who forgets all about them after the earthquake stops being on the news everyday. I’m not trying to be self-righteous but that is what we all tend to do in situations like these. We are interested for a minute and then leave them to try to do the rest of the recovery alone.

For now, all I can do is pray. When I feel helpless, prayer is my only possible response. And I can ask you to do the same. Will you please intentionally pray for Nepal today? The Nepalese are so very proud and they don’t trust the first world and the help we offer. Pray that they would be open-minded. Pray for the people who have lost family. Pray for the aid workers, that they would have wisdom, humility and that they would go in willing to partner, not take over. Pray for revival. Pray for joy in this dark time. Pray for hope. Pray for opportunity to not just recover, but to grow. Pray that Nepal will come out of this stronger than ever before. Pray for the people above all, for jobs, for homes, for relationships and for safety. Pray that they would be ok, whatever that means.

If you want to learn more about the project my friend Rico and I did, you can check it out here (fair warning, the project isn’t due until next week so it’s a work in progress) If you want to donate to help with the rebuilding check out this link .

That’s all I have to say. Just wanted to share a bit about why the earthquake has bothered me so much. I’m still hoping to see Nepal one day, to explore, to experience the culture and meet the people. I have faith that I will see a beautiful country as I’d always hoped, a strong, proud and hopeful nation. I believe that Nepal, while shaken, is not shattered. The country lies in ruins but they will recover. This is not the end of Nepal’s story. I don’t know if part of God’s plan for this country includes me…but I hope it does. Either way, I think I will always have a soft spot for it.

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Shaken, not shattered. I have faith in you Nepal, you can do it. But please, trust us to help. We really do care.

– Sam

*all photos come from google

Back in the Land of Maple Syrup

Home sweet home! Sorry for the post delay, I wanted to have pictures but had temporarily “lost” my phone (it was on my chair in my French class duh)

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                                         Reunited with my baby sissy ❤

So as most of you probably know, I have now been back in Canada for just over a week and am not quite sure how I feel about it. As happy as a I was to see everyone, I really, really miss my friends and family in Switzerland. I miss speaking French so much. I love to think in French now as much as I can which means I accidentally start responding in French to my family sometimes. Why does English sound so harsh now? 😦 And speaking of French, I can now see just how sad and pathetic our language courses are in Canada and it’s horrible because now I have such a passion for the language and want to learn and improve and my class watched an English movie today that had zero relevance to our class. I wasn’t impressed.

Sorry, end of rant…for now 😉 #strongopinions

I was also super excited to get Benny Lewis' new book! Check out his awesome language learning blog of the same name!
I was also super excited to get Benny Lewis’ new book! Check out his awesome language learning blog of the same name!

So last week I flew home with a whole ton of other exchange students and although it was an extremely long and tiring day it actually was quite fun. The entire back of the plane was other returning exchange students and I had a group of fabulous friends that I sat with (5 to 4 seats much to the stewardess chagrin haha). There were games of life, lots of pictures, checking out cute (and very weird) boys, Franglish, laughing and generally being loud and obnoxious followed by reunions with our familys and friends. What more could ya want?

My first day home was wonderful too. Two of my bestest friends showed up and surprised me while I was still in bed so I talked their ears off for a while, got some Timmie’s and Thai, hung out with another bestest friend, bumped into a billion (okay it was four) people at Chapters, went to movie with my Marmee and sister and was jet-lagged yay! (The last part sucked. Jet-leg and I are not friends.)

So basically, I’ve just been trying to settle back into life here, catch up with friends, catch up with SCHOOL (send help) and trying not to miss Suisse toooo much. I also have to figure out what I’m going to blog about now!

This is unrelated but  I learned a new hair thing
This is unrelated but I learned a new hair thing

Late Night Thoughts and Thanks

One last Sunday afternoon roadtrip
One last Sunday afternoon roadtrip

To the teenage boy I saw full out singing along to the radio on the highway today, who smiled and waved and kept singing when he caught me staring, thank you. You made my day a little bit brighter. I think we all might be happier if we were that carefree. And you made me think of this video

Thanks to Amen for making me smile by trying to plan a surprise party that fell apart at the last minute. I know you felt terrible because you wanted my last free day to be great. It was anyway. You’re absolutely the sweetest and I can’t believe we have to say good-bye soon. You’ve made my exchange absolutely incredible.

Thanks to my host dad for saving the day and taking us for one last road trip and picnic today. You are always doing things for other people.

Thanks to my host mom for making packing just a little bit easier and not making me do it all alone. You’ve made me feel so at home these last few months

Best host family ever!
Best host family ever!

To my Marmee, thanks for getting my room ready for me to come home and just for being great, you’re the best. I can’t wait to hug you when I get home.

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To my Daddy, I couldn’t find any recent pictures of us but I wanted to thank you for giving me diverse interests and adventures growing up. Because of you I enjoyed museums and train rides here more than the average kid haha. Oh and thanks for holding shopping bags for us girls 🙂

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Mallory, my little sister, expect a running tackle hug when I get home. I’ve missed you more than anyone

My non-twin twin <3
My non-twin twin ❤

To my amazing friends who have keep me in touch with life back home and made sure I knew how much I was missed, seeing you all is one of the only things making leaving Switzerland less sad. To the other exchange students, it was amazing to always have someone to talk to who understood what I was experiencing. It was so much fun laughing and bonding over all our #exchangestudentproblems. And to the friends I’ve made here, you will never be forgotten. Thanks for not laughing at me when I couldn’t say what I wanted to say and making me feel welcome.

 

Thanks to the ladies in city centre giving out “free hugs”. You made a lot of people laugh and smile

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And to God for making such an incredible, diverse world and letting me experience it. I handed this whole experience over to You back in August trusting that You would work it out and You did. Thank you for your faithfulness. Because of You I never felt lonely.

He is an amazing artist
He is an amazing artist

So many people in my life that I’m so grateful for, I’m lucky to be so blessed. Tonight I finished packing to go home and I was really sad but I decided to look at the good rather than the bad. I couldn’t sleep so I decided to write and this is what I ended up with.