Learning to be Still

 

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Study central

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still – Exodus 14:14

Even though I have only been back at school for a week and a half, it already feels like months have gone by. Between finding classes, switching courses, buying textbooks and catching up with friends, it seems as though Christmas break never even happened.

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Very busy “TO DO” list this week

Last semester, I ended up being really, really stressed out, particularly in October when I had the bulk of my midterms and papers due. Although I don’t regret my first semester of university, as I learned a lot, this semester I’m making a concerted effort to be more organized, prioritize what’s important to me and make school not so much a struggle but a season on my life to enjoy to the fullest. I made myself a list of 16 goals (I’m ambitious okay) that I’ve actually been looking over at the end of each day and trying to ask myself if I made most of them happen that day.

And it’s incredible how much of a difference some of those things have made even in just the few short weeks I’ve been working on them. I’m not going to lie, getting up at 7am every day is not my favourite thing in the world and my floormates are not super impressed by my insistence on my “bedtime” of 11pm. But SERIOUSLY my days feel like actual, full, productive days! My friend Tati wrote a great post this week about becoming a morning person and  it’s crazy how much of a difference it makes. And the libraries are so quiet in the morning, having a cup of tea and ploughing through a couple of chapters of econ or history can be accomplished before most people are even out of bed.

But in the last week or so, I’ve been realizing something else that is important: knowing when to be still. Between classes, readings, working out, volunteering, clubs, friends, errands etc., I sometimes have to take a minute to be still, and just breathe. I talked about this actually last semester as well but clearly didn’t learn my lesson.

Which brings me to the point of this point. Every year, I choose a word to focus on, kind of a theme for my year. Last years word was courageous . This year, nothing was really coming to me and I kind of had decided to just go with “Joy” since one of my goals was to “choose joy”.

But then I went away to Wintercon, a weekend retreat with my school’s Christian fellowship. It was a time to get to know each other and learn about the “good news” of the gospel. It was definitely an amazing experience. Upstairs they had this prayer room which was absolutely beautiful and peaceful.

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p.c. Steve Kim @ stevekinsung.wordpress.com

All weekend however, I had a song stuck in my head that I used to sing with my choir in high school. The lyrics go:

When the oceans rise and thunders roar

I will soar with You above the storm

Father you are King over the flood

I will be still and know you are God

The word still really stood out to me, in two senses. One, for me to be still, in the busyness of life, to take time and just be in God’s presence. And secondly, still as a steadfastness, a continuation, an “even now”, an always. Since being in school I sometimes find myself just trying to get through it so I can move on with my life, forgetting why I’m here. But this weekend I was really reminded that God still has  plans for me, that the passions and promises he has given me are still remembered and that he is still with me everyday. In particular I really felt affirmed and renewed passion about my call and love for Nepal which I’ve written about here and here. My friend Dayna is actually there right now (as was my friend Tori about a month ago) and hearing their stories and seeing their pictures just makes me so much more excited for when the day comes that I finally get to go and explore this place I feel inexplicably drawn to. These are some of Dayna’s pictures, so of course photo credit goes to her!

So that’s my word for the year. Still. It will be interesting to learn how God can bring about incredible adventures for me, even when I am patiently standing still.

Sorry if this hasn’t been a super interesting post for you guys to read! This one has been (and let’s be real, several of my recent posts are as well) a lot of personal reflection and letting my thoughts spill out onto my blog…not to fear! I’m trying to come up with some fresh and interesting content soon so stay tuned!

Until then, I hope you’re having a lovely day. Pro tip: studying with a facemask and a cp of tea is pretty not bad.

-Sam

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Not a great picture but I got glasses for the first time this week. What do you think?

2016-A year to truly LIVE

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It’s January 2nd, 2016 and I’m currently curled up on the couch with a cup of chai and some Christmas cookies. The house is quiet. I’m wearing a pink fuzzy onesie. My dog is sleeping (and literally snoring) beside me. Life is SO good.

It’s only two days into the New Year and 2016 is already treating me well. I came home on New Years after the count down and sat and chatted with friends until 4 in the morning. On the 1st, I got to go back to my old job and work with my favourite co-worker from high school. Then my sister and our friends picked me up and I went to their house out in the country for a sleepover and movies. It’s been so relaxed and nice. I feel so blessed to be able to spend the first week of the year at home in Barrie, catching up with friends and family, going for long drives, sleeping tons and preparing myself for the semester (and year) ahead.

Looking out over a whole new year is both exciting and nerve -wracking but most of all, hopeful. There are so many possibilities and adventures waiting to happen. I know that as long as I continue to trust God and give everything I do my full effort, life will always be full of opportunity.

That being said, I love to take New Years as a time to look at my life and find areas that can be improved. I’ve learned over the years that many people don’t keep the resolutions they commit to on January 1st. But for myself, I need goals and benchmarks to work towards. What better time then the start of a year to set up goals? Sure, some may get broken or not turn out exactly the way I hope but if I don’t try, things will never change. And I find that even having them written out (and this year published online for anyone to read!) makes me way more motivated to stick to them and make things happen! I’m never one to step down from a challenge and I LOVE the feeling you get when you’ve worked hard for something and you succeed. Some of these are little, some of them are big. Some will require an everyday commitment and some can be accomplished in one go. Some of them may seem silly to you, or unrealistic. Maybe some of them ARE unrealistic. But I’m writing them down, big and small. And I’m committing to 2016 being better than 2015. I’m committing to these goals and all that they may entail. So here they are, in no particular order, 16 goals for 2016.

1. Speak more French.  I moved all the way to Ottawa, in large part due to the fact that it is a bilingual school. I take classes in French. I’ve made Francophone friends and, for goodness sake, I live in the French residence! Want to know what I don’t do? Speak French. Like ever. I know that I’ve lost a lot of my vocabulary since coming home from Switzerland, that I make a lot of grammar errors and that I have a strong accent. But I need to just get over myself. I’m going to try to speak French this year whenever I can, rather than just when I have to. 

2. Swim 200km. I thought a lot about this number. 100 seemed like too little to be of significance. 300 seemed unattainable. So, 200 it is. This fall, I finally got committed to going to the pool and was swimming 3-5 times a week. It became less of a chore and something I actually looked forward to, a reward after a long day of studying. It’s something I really, really want to continue and commit to in 2016 because it makes me feel so much better to be working out consistently. By putting a number on it, I have something measurable to commit to long term. And, I just think it will be cool to look back on and actually know how far I swam when I add it all up at the end of the year. Good thing I got a new bathing suit for Christmas!

3. Read the Bible. ALL of it. Go big or go home right? Something I’ve been really struggling with is making time to read my Bible and do devotions since going to university. Someone in the Christian fellowship posted in our Facebook group today, asking if anyone wanted to do a reading plan to go through the Word by the end of the school year. Perfect for me, short time frame and accountability. After that, I’m hoping it will become habit. I’m starting today and if you’d like to join me, this is plan I/we’re following. You read all the chapters across the row and move down the columns each day.

4. Finish the sweater I’m knitting.

5. Cut down on social media. I seriously waste WAY too much time on my phone. Before bed, when I wake up in the morning, in the dining hall if I’m eating alone, as a way to procrastinate while studying. Most of that time is spent flipping between Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I’ve decided to disable Twitter for the time being as it is the least useful of my social media accounts and to just make a conscious effort to check my media less often. It’s a major unnecessary time waster.

6. Keep my GPA high enough to renew my entrance scholarship for next year. This is going to be a tough one, but I’m determined (and luckily, on track after 1st semester). Grades aren’t the most important thing but I do pride myself in working hard to achieve them. I want to use the opportunity I’ve been given to get an education and my goal is to get a GPA of 8.5/10 in order to renew the $3000 scholarship I was given this fall. I’ve learned a lot about how best to study after first semester and get the grades I want without losing my mind. The biggest one is stopping procrastination and prioritizing my health as much as my grades. And remembering that all-nighters are not my friend. Time management IS.

7. Blog once a week. This is a big one for me. Over the Christmas break I’ve remembered just how much writing means to me. It’s something I’m so passionate about and blogging is an amazing way to practice writing consistently. And it’s fun. And it’s not stressful. And I feel like it’s part of God’s plan for my life. Making time for it (an “non-essential” activity in the world of school) is going to be hard but that why it’s a goal; something to work towards.

8. Reclaim my mornings. Or…claim them…for the first time. Let’s get this straight. I am NOT a morning person by any stretch of the imagination. I’m happiest sleeping until noon and staying up past 2am. But I read this blog a few weeks ago about making mornings a productive and enjoyable part of your day. I’m kind of tired of jumping out of bed 10 minutes before class, gulping down coffee without eating breakfast and bemoaning my 8:30 classes. SO I’m going to try my very hardest to get up at 7am. That gives me time to go for a swim before class or just sit and have a tea and read my Bible (yes, two birds with one stone!), or make myself an omelette to have a good breakfast. Don’t worry, I’m still going to let myself sleep in once in a while but I’m praying that God gives me the strength to approach mornings with joy and productivity this year!

9. Find a church to call “home”. Being involved in a church community is so important to me and I’ve yet to find a church in Ottawa to call home. I went to one for several weeks in a row and though I was good to go but in December I started to strongly feel like God was telling me that it wasn’t where I was supposed to plant myself for these next 4-5 years. I’m praying that I’ll find somewhere I can find fellowship and actually GROW my faith.

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10. Eat healthier. I know this is pretty basic but I noticed in the last little while how much BETTER I feel when I’m eating well and limiting my intake of sugar and processed food. A bit of a challenge with a 24 hour dining with a dessert bar and unlimited french fries but I’m going to do my best to eat salads and fruit and veggies and chicken and all that good stuff rather than pizza and ice cream!

11. Make my bed. A little thing, but in my small dorm room, makes all the difference.

12. Invest less in things and more in experiences. For Christmas this year, I asked to go on a family vacation instead of getting tons of unnecessary “things”, so we’re going to the Dominican Republic during reading week (YAY). I’m going to spend my Christmas money on a winter retreat with my school’s Christian fellowship and a trip to Carnaval in Quebec City. These are adventures that I will cherish far more than clothes I don’t really need or random things that just take up space. This year, I’m going to focus on doing things rather than buying things.

13. Spend more time outside. I want to go on a canoe trip this summer. I want to go hiking with my best friend. I want to sleep under the stars. I want to jump in lakes and eat lunch under the trees. I want to skate on the canal and go for long walks with friends and feel the cold winter air in my lungs. Like I mentioned in a recent post  I realized that being outside in the world God made seriously feeds my soul and makes my life so much better.

14. Pray intentionally. In high school, I loved making prayer lists and taking time to go through them and pray for people by name, for situations in the world, for really whatever God put on my heart. I believe that prayer has power and interceding on the behalf of others makes my soul sing. This year I want reintegrate intentional prayer into my life.

15. Volunteer. Again, this was something I was really passionate about in high school but have let slip since starting university. In high school I learned how to serve without expecting anything in return and God gave me so many opportunities to show love through the giving of my time. I learned that the least glamorous jobs are the ones that need doing, like stacking chairs or cleaning toilets or sorting paperwork. Over the break, I went with my old youth pastor to the Salvation Army and helped make and serve dinner. It was just a few hours of my week but they so appreciated having some extra hands around. My life in high school kind of revolved around my many volunteer commitments and I LOVED it so so much. I want to find that again and make this year not just about me. I’m not sure how I’m going to volunteer (I’ve been sending tons of emails out) but I’m willing to do whatever God gives me the opportunity to do. One thing I’m really excited about is the possibility of teaching swimming lessons to kid with special needs but I’m still waiting to hear back from them (who knew volunteer placements could be so hard to find??) However it turns out, people are important to me and therefore so is stepping outside of my own desires and putting time aside to serve others practically.

16. Choose joy. Last but definitely not least. Funnily enough “Choose joy” has been my Twitter bio for the last year or so but I don’t feel like I’ve been taking my own advice as of late. Emotions are fickle but I can CHOOSE to be joyful in every situation and every moment of 2016. The absolute best definition of this that I found was in a devotional by Rick Warren :

“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation” 

In 2016, I am going to be assured of God’s plan for my life, I am going to delight in the seemingly mundane and I am going to praise the Lord for every blessing in my life.

I think that what I’m most excited about for this year to to just GET BUSY. It’s so easy to feel  caught up in day to day life and go through the motions rather than actually living life. In December, a leader from my high school youth group was killed in a car collision at the age of 24. When going through his things, they found a painting that he had made and put up on his wall. It read “There’s more to living than being alive” and that phrase has been rolling around my brain ever since. Colin was an amazing leader, a man of God, a role model, an artist, and a person who loved humbly and practically. He LIVED. It’s made me think so much the last couple of weeks about what I want my life to look like.

This is life. This is all it is. It’s the day to day. For me right now, it’s going to school, it’s living in res, it’s late nights studying in the library. But I’m not going to wait to start living. In high school, I was always so crazy busy. I made time for things I loved. I volunteered, I wrote, I followed crazy dreams (see Switzerland), I sought God, I knit, I read. And I thrived being busy and involved in life. I guess, to sum up all of these goals I could have just said

“Stop procrastinating, stop wasting time and start remembering what it’s like to be passionate”. 

Because isn’t that what it’s all about? God put me on this earth for a purpose. I’m pursuing that purpose with my education but I know that there is more to life than books and papers. This year, these goals, are all just another step in my attempt to do life the best that I can, to live, to love people, to follow God, to be adventurous.

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2016, I’m coming for you. I’m ready to live this year, present and joyfully. I’m ready for the adventure a fresh new year brings.

And you, dear readers? Thank you all for taking the time to read and be a part of my life. It humbles me and makes me so incredibly thankful that people actually take the time to read my thoughts and follow my attempts at the blogging world. Thank you, a million times over. And welcome to the New Year. You too have an opportunity, 365 days to live out however you choose. What are you going to do this year? What goals will you set? How are you going to live life as an adventure?

-Sam

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15 things I learned in 2015

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2015 is winding down and it’s certainly been one of the biggest years of my life so far. I graduated high school, spent another amazing summer working on Beausoleil Island, moved to a new city and started university. Suffice to say, I learned some things over the last 12 months. Here’s 15 of them!

1. Things change. Things will always change. Life evolves and you have to learn to be content in every season and every opportunity you get given, even if that means closing the door on a good time in life.

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2. I am more capable than I knew. If you ever want to push the limits of your capabilities, go be a camp counsellor for a summer. You will learn more about problem solving, relationships and thinking on your feet than ever before. From canoe trips gone wrong and first aid situations that went right to defusing cabin conflict and telling bed time stories, working at camp this summer taught me that I am capable of more than I ever would have thought.

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3. Grades matter, but not as much as effort. In university I had to learn pretty quickly that good grades weren’t going to come as easily as they did in high school. But I also realized that knowing I had put everything I had into my work made me prouder than getting an A. Effort and work ethic mean a lot more than a number.IMG_20151114_163238

4. There are likeminded people everywhere. I promise. You might think you won’t find anyone who shares your sense of humour or your love of Doctor Who but I swear, if you’re willing to be social, you will find people to talk to.

5. T.V. is a waste of free time. Go for a walk, have coffee with a friend, have a nap, read a book, workout, bake cookies, draw, whatever. The less free time I had, the less tolerance I had for watching T.V. I realized that there were so many things I’d rather be doing than staring mindlessly at a screen. (Note: movie nights are always an exception…especially Disney movie nights)

6. University is hard. I swear, it feels like no one ever told me that before I went. It was all about how fun it is, how exciting it is, a new adventure etc. But holy heck, the workload is cray! It definitely takes getting used to and really good time management skills. Get a calendar. Use it. Don’t write a paper at 5am the day it is due.

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7. University is also fun. Despite the papers, midterms and long nights in the library, university IS an adventure. Living in residence and having friends around all the time is a blast. Exploring a new city is exciting. Freedom is awesome. And learning is actually amazingly interesting when you’re passionate about the subject.

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8. You can learn a lot from sucking at things. I’m not a fan of being bad at things. It stresses me out. For example, I hating driving at first because I sucked but, unfortunately, that is how you learn. The worse you are, the more room there is for improvement… but only if you’re willing to stick it out. This year I did a lot of things I wasn’t so great at; economics, driving, Arabic, using public transit, dodgeball etc. Guess what? It was hard, an I got better.

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First place in Res Dodgeball…and I swear, I actually helped.

9. Family is more important than I’d realized. It wasn’t until I moved away that I truly appreciated my parents. I missed my sister more than I expected and seeing everyone at Christmas was amazing. Although, they will also drive you nuts within a week of being home, guaranteed.

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Reunited with my not-so-little sister

10. Advil is expensive. So is toothpaste. And cereal. And shampoo. And socks. And deodorant. I never really grasped the value of money until this year when I had to buy things that had always just been there. Life costs money!!!

11. Snail mail is literally one of my greatest pleasures in life. I don’t care if that is a stupid life lesson, I learned this year just how much it means to me when someone takes the time to write me a letter. It’s a fun surprise when you get it, it means and lot and it is seriously just so FUN! Why did we ever stop sending mail?

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Camp friends make good pen pals

12. Nature gives me energy and revives my soul. Going from spending the entire summer outside and on a national park to living downtown in the capital city was quite an…adjustment. I’ve always loved the outdoors but this year I realized how much trees and lakes and stars make me feel alive haha. Not to mention, nothing beats long talks under the stars. This summer I lay on a dock and watched a meteor shower and talked about life until 3 am. Those are the kind of moments you don’t forget. In Ottawa, walking by the canal and seeking out parks quickly became a priority.

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13. Taking time to destress and do things you love is important. Little things that you enjoy are important for mental wellbeing and avoiding burnout. I like knitting, writing, catching up with friends, going for a walk or swimming lengths when I need to clear my head. Even when I’m crazy busy, making time to destress and do Sam things is important.

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14. Community is vital. For the first time in my life this year, I found myself in a place where I didn’t know a soul. I thrive off of relationships with others. In Barrie, I had an amazing group of friends, an amazing church and two families that loved me. Then I spent the summer at camp living with a whole bunch of my favourite humans . Suddenly I was in Ottawa, not knowing anyone. Thankfully, LeBlanc is the best (lebest) residence in the entire world and I quickly found a close community in the 3rd floor. Shoutout, heyyyy guys! I learned this year how valuable community is. Having people you can laugh with, trust and be comfortable around is what makes life fun.

15. Trust God. So many changes this year, it’s been kind of a whirlwind. There have defiantly been times when I questioned if I made the right choices. Thankfully, I’ve had the faith to continually put my decisions in God’s hands because I’ve learned that when I do, things always turn out better than I could have imagined. My God is faithful, and I am blessed beyond measure. When I don’t know what to do, trusting God is the answer to every problem because with Him, I don’t fear the future.

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Well, that’s definitely not everything but it’s what I can think of at the moment. It’s been a good year, definitely one that will be looked back upon as a turning point and a learning curve.

2016, I look forward to welcoming you in. I’m ready to give this next year my best shot and, I’m sure, rack up some more ridiculous stories.

Bring it on, New Years.

-Sam

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Sam’s Experiment with Sleep Deprivation

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It’s currently 3:20am on a Friday morning, and I’m supposed to be writing an essay. Clearly, I’m not.

To be fair, I’ve been here since 8pm, mind mapping, making lists of points and reading books for research, trying desperately to make my thoughts somehow synthesis into a cohesive piece of writing for my essay writing class; I’ve made progress but it’s slow going.wpid-20151106_033938.jpg

Why exactly am I up at this hour, blogging instead of curling up in my bed? Tonight is the “Long Night Against Procrastination” (LNAP) event hosted by my university. LNAP is an event held at universities all over that encourages students to buckle down and get things done, with Academic Advisors and Writing Assistants to help along the way. Personally, I’m not a huge fan or believer in “pulling all nighters”. Honestly, I don’t think they are an effective way to study or get work done because your brain just doesn’t operate at it’s full potential when you’re sleep deprived. Unfortunately for me, I’m a sucker for interesting events and programming so the idea of a bunch of students coming together and staying up all night, writing papers, studying together, and eating free food was too much to resist. Not to mention they have cool stuff going on every hour to give ourself breaks. We just came back from a walk around campus and in the next few hours there is mediation, colouring and even therapy dogs coming to visit
before we have breakfast and prepare to face the real day.

I wasn’t planning to stay all night. I really wasn’t. I have class at 8:30 tomorrow and while my paper does need to get done asap, I have the weekend to work on it. But then I got asked to participate in a study for Human Kinetics class about our abilities when we are tired. A few guys had set up a station a couple feet behind me and I was listening to them on and off all night do some kind of interview or test with various people. They finally approached me but I had to commit to staying until at least 7am to be retested. After I agreed, I was shown a board covered in double digit numbers and the another board with completely random pictures. I had a minute each to memorize and then try to recall as many of them as possible. I actually did really well and beat the record for most numbers memorized. The trick will be doing well again in a few hours!

I am seriously feeling the exhaustion already. I can barely read let alone come up with critical thinking or academic writing. I figured I would take a break from reading about political correctness and write a bit about my experience with a real university all nighter. At this point, my commitment to their project (and my own stubbornness) is the only thing keeping me from crawling back to LeBlanc and going to sleep. Worship music, coffee and more writing it is! And you know what, I think I’ll post this right now so I can look back at it when I’m more rested and see if it’s below my usual quality haha. Please pray for productivity and my sanity since clearly I am crazy! I’ll keep ya posted

Until next time,

  • Sam 🙂

A simple pause

Sometimes you need to just be.

The last few weeks have been a blur of rushing around and a flood of names, faces, places, instructions and information. Even my last blog post was written in one shot and published immediately. The rhythm of university life caught me up in it’s current before I knew what had happened. And you know what? I love it. I love being busy. I love getting to know people and exploring and learning.

But sometimes, it all gets to be a bit overwhelming. Today for the first time I felt a little buried in this new experience. I looked around and felt odd knowing that no one here really knows me. They’ve met me and I’m sure they have a general idea of who I am and what I’m like but they don’t really know me, my thoughts, my soul. Maybe that’s a little dramatic but I miss having people around who just get me. Victoria, if you’re reading this, I miss our heart to hearts and you just knowing what I mean when I sigh and wave my hands around.

I think all this is amplified by the fact that I’m sick right now and having to take care of yourself kind of sucks to be honest. I miss my mom making me soup and rubbing my back when I’m not feeling well. I guess that’s part of growing up though right?

Today, I just needed to be Sam. Completely me. Not a university student, or a floormate, or a new friend or anyone. Just me. So I went for a walk and when I got back to my dorm, I put in my headphones and listened to some worship music. This one song came on. To be honest, I can’t remember what it’s called anymore. The lyrics go something like:

Holy Spirit you are welcome here

Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere

Your glory God is what our hearts long for

These words hit me so hard today, as I was sitting in my little room at the end of the hall. Even though it’s not what the song was talking about, I felt God speaking so clearly to me…as soon as I was willing to listen.

The One who knows my soul and my being better than any human ever will, is with me. My God knows “just Sam” better than even I do. I was so overcome with peace and a sense of the Holy Spirit as I sat and there and remembered that I am not, nor have I ever been and nor will I ever be, alone. That, my friends, is the most incredible feeling in the world.  Even when I am in a strange place, with no one I know, I am known. I am known by a God who cares about my thoughts, my dreams and my passions. My God knows that I need community and I can have full confidence that He will provide opportunities for new relationships and places that I’ll feel comfortable in. Barrie, Mapleview, Kitchi…Ottawa will eventually make the list of places I call “home”.

Today, for me, that pause in my day to just be alone with God for a few minutes made me feel so refreshed, calm and ready to reassess what I had to get done, one step at a time. It helped me get my thoughts back in line rather than let myself get caught in a rut of feeling out of place.

Life is busy. Life as a student in a new city is even more so. Today I am grateful that I’ve been blessed with this experience and even more grateful that I have a God who’s got my back. Essays and readings ain’t got nothing on me!

-Until next time, Sam

P.s. How is life going for you? I hope it’s good.

My little nest
My little nest

101 Week – I survived!

So if you weren’t already aware, I MOVED!

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10 days ago (was it that few days??) I packed up all my things in a van my mom rented, said a heartfelt goodbye to my friends and puppies and drove 5 hours north-east to the capital of Canada, Ottawa! I’m going to school for International Development and Globalization at the University of Ottawa and after a week and a bit, I can say that there is nowhere else I would rather be. You know that feeling you get when you have just complete peace with knowing that you’re in the right place at the right time? I was in my orientation for my program on my third day, listening to the President of the School of Development speak and I was just so overwhelmed with excitement and anticipation and this strong sense of being exactly where I’m meant to be this year.

So far, I have had an easy peasy transition to university. I’ve made lots of friends right off the bat, my dorm is small but cozy. I love my floor. Most people seem to be very social and we all hang out and study together almost every night. There are a couple of other first years in my program living on my floor so the three of us have ben hanging out a lot, buying books together, studying etc which is cool to have that support system built right into where I live. There are also quite a lot of international students from the US, Morocco, Nigeria, France etc. I love getting to learn about other cultures!

And campus is so pretty! I love the architecture and the vines and ivy growing on the buildings. One of my favourite parts is that the school is really integrated with the city around us so I can basically walk off of campus and right into downtown, instantly having access to museums and restaurants and I can practically see Parliament from where I live! Also, my res is the only one connected to the “skywalks” or “tunnels” that connect various buildings on campus so we don’t even have to go outside to access the dining hall or library which is kind of cool. Speaking of the dining hall, it has a waffle maker, a chocolate milk dispenser and a latte machine, so it’s basically my favourite place to go. The salad bar is cool too, don’t worry guys!!

Frosh week has come and gone, so now it’s time for the real work to begin. 101 week was fun, to an extent. It definitely introduced me to a lot of people. My program has their own student federation which means we got our own frosh week and I met a ton of people in my specific program and therefore in my classes so that was great. My favourite activities were probably a fundraiser we did called Shineday doing silly things in downtown to raise money for cystic fibrous, a camping night, exploring the city and jut getting to talk to other first years and the guides. A lot of the other events were not really my cup of tea, like parties and stuff. I’m glad I did it though, it was good experience.

Turns out, my high school teachers were not exaggerating about how much reading there is in uni! I feel like all I do is read  pages and pages and pages of my textbooks. And those things are not cheap, let me tell you! I’ve never been so grateful for education than I am now when every second I’m here costs me money! So far, I’m very excited about the classes I’m taking. It’s such a breathe of fresh air to feel passionate about the things I’m learning, to want to engage with the material and to have real opinions about the content. High school was basically pretty cookie cutter but now I’m in a program tailored to my interests and I already love it so much. The french immersion, honestly, it turning out to be easier than I thought it would be. I had my first “cour d’anthropologie” today and I understood pretty close to everything the prof was saying! I think a big part of that was that I had done the reading in advance (took 5 billion years) so I had the vocal already but still, it definitely relieved some of the fears I had. And today just kept being a good day to learn because my other class was Arabic! After the first day, I can admit. This is not going to be easy. But, I don’t need easy. I just need possible. That’s a Bethany Hamilton quote I believe! Anyway, ana ismii Sam, please pray for me in that classe!

The hardest thing about this week was Sunday night. In the morning I went to a church near the school with some people from res and it was pretty similar to what I’m used to at my home church. But even though I know my God is the same anywhere I go, it sucks not being with my church family. Like seriously. It’s weird being surrounded by people but having not one of them actually know me, or to be honest, care about me. Not yet anyways. That night I sat in my room and wished I was in Barrie, at Mapleview, worshipping with the Young Life. They say you take things for granted until they are gone and I am seriously missing the community I had back home. I’m praying to find a place here in Ottawa where I can connect and find a way to be involved. And I know, these things take time. I see a few friendships here with the potential to bloom into long lasting ones, and I’m sure I’ll meet more as time goes on. I’m going to try more churches too, and find one that fits! Just one thing I’ve noticed about being here that makes me miss home. Shout out to all my TSL people, love and miss you guys always!

That’s all for now, it’s getting late and I have class tomorrow. Have any of you started school the las couple of weeks? How has it gone? What are the best and worst things thus far? Let me know!

  • Until next time, Sam

First dorm room selfie hahaha

First dorm room selfie hahaha

Update on my life

Hello! I'm back!
Hello! I’m back!

I’m starting to find that the longer I go without writing, the harder it is to get back into. There have been so many times the last couple of months that I’ve thought to myself “Hey, this was cool, I should write a blog post about it.” And then, obviously, never did. Which makes me sad because, I write this blog for myself as much as (or more) than I do for readers. Being able to look back at my exchange in at least a decent amount of detail is already something I appreciate.

Since the last time I blogged, a lot has gone on in my life! I spent the summer at my of my favourite places on earth, Beausoleil Island being a counsellor at Camp Kitchi. It was honestly one of the best and challenging experiences of my life. At first I felt like I had no idea what I was doing but I figured it out slowly but surely. Hanging out in the cabin with all my crazy girls, becoming close friends with the rest of the staff, guarding and teaching at the Main Docks, canoe trips to McCrea Lake, camp-fires and mail and all camps and life chats on the dock at night. It was just incredible and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I’ve also started gr 12 which is exciting, stressful and challenging all at the same time. All anyone talks about is “So, what are you doing next year?” which becomes absolutely exhausting after a while and you just don’t want to hear the question any more! At least I already know where I want to go (kind of) and what I want to study. I actually applied for my schools/programs yesterday which is kind of surreal! Weird to think that next year I’ll be living in a new city whether it be Ottawa, Peterborough or Toronto! Can you guess which schools I applied for? 😉 I’m actually taking a few days off school this week to go tour the campuses! I applied for International Development/International Studies and hope to add a second major in French eventually! Apparently you can’t do that when you apply!

university-application

I also have a job now, I work at a gas bar on a highway rest station which I like! I wanted to lifeguard but missed the hiring because of camp! I actually do like my job though because it’s not stressful and I get to interact with people all the time! I also still am a student leader at my church, a mentor to grade 9’s at my school and just recently became a French tutor which is kind of cool! So that’s about it. Just figured I’d catch up on what’s been going on in my life so that I can get back into blogging and such. 🙂