And she’s back at ‘er

Well friends, it’s been over a year since I last spilled to you – and let me tell you, there have been a TON of developments in that time. 

Kiera B

This is what I look like now!

 

I’ve been away from this blog because I took a much-needed break from school. I wanted to step away from my studies to make sure I was really doing what I was passionate about, and work to pay off some debt that I’d accumulated while living abroad. I wrote about my plans to take time off here.

This year was exhausting.

Most of the time, I was working 7 days a week. I worked my 9-5 job for a website called Travelzoo, but it didn’t stop there. Over the past year, I’ve worked at a café/whiskey bar on the Harbourfront and a cult taco joint in the Annex, as an Elf at the Christmas Market, and a Brand Ambassador at the Distillery’s first-ever light festival. I even thought it was a good idea to take an online course during this time, and occasionally stepped in as tour guide for the company I’ve worked for for 4 years.

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Light Fest 2017

With the exception of two weeks over Christmas, I didn’t really take breaks, and that really wore me down. I had a tough time keeping my room clean and my fridge stocked; even my (incredible and patient) roommates saw very little of me. Trust me, y’all: if you can, keep your weekends sacred. I’m not trying to glorify my busy, it was simply my reality at the time. I didn’t do it to seem important or needed, I did it because it felt financially necessary for me.

This year was refreshing.

Even though I was working myself to the bone, I was learning a million new skills. I gained experience in hospitality, sales, production, client relations, account management, web publishing, travel and tourism, event planning, public relations, and more. The jobs I held presented a new set of routines and expectations, and a completely different group of people. I’m a hands-on learner, so learning on the job and applying my skill set every day felt so much more fulfilling than simply talking about theory.

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It was also nice to have a break from thinking about grades and classes and credits and exams. Going through a lot of health issues in the past few years really derailed me academically, and I started to think I wasn’t smart or deserved a place in my university. I’m a high achiever who wasn’t really proud of how I was performing in school, and I became disinterested and lost motivation. Thinking about my grades gave me massive anxiety, and I finally had a chance to define myself by something other than transcripts, while learning new skills that built my confidence.

This year, it got personal.

Being away from school meant that I was away from my core social circle. Between that and the frantic busyness that comes from working all the time, I learned who my real friends were.

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Roommate friends

I quickly weeded out those peers that looked down on me for not sticking with school – I had no time for their condescending remarks about how easy my life must now be, or the insinuations that I wasn’t smart, determined, or a hard enough worker to stick with it. I knew in my heart that I simply needed to make sure I was doing what was required to achieve my own goals and find balance again.

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Restaurant friends

I became so grateful for the people that both encouraged and empowered me to take time and do my own thing. The ones that honestly cared about how I was faring in the corporate world, and reminded me to take care of myself. These were people who checked in when my health got thrown out of wack, and when my family was going through tough times. They were a mix of old and new faces, who would gladly boost me up when I felt lost and celebrate the little wins I had each day. I shook off the emotional vampires who tried to belittle me, and I learned that I would much rather live a balanced life than a prestigious one prescribed by someone else’s definition of success.

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*****

And so, I’m back on campus and returning to eAmbassador role yet again. I’m trying to always remain present and attentive in class, and continue to engage with the unique communities that will always exist here at Glendon. This time around, though, life is a little different. I’ve pressed the re-set button in my life, and I have a better sense of what my priorities are.

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 “I took the road less traveled, and that has made all the difference.”

 

Until next time,

– K

 

 

 

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Little bit of loving: #GLAmour

Well friends, take cover: Valentine’s Day is upon us.

‘Tis the season for over-priced chocolate, newly-released rom-coms and declarations of adoration for lovers, friends, and family..also Netflix and cats.

After fumbling around for the majority of my dateable years, it turns out this is the first Valentine’s of my entire life that I am in a committed relationship. (You can all gasp now, trust me – I’m as shocked as you are).

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But this hallowed 14th of février, I shan’t be writing a letter to my weirdo. Frankly, it’s too mushy of a gesture even for me, and if I want my non-celebrating man to stick around I should probably avoid professing my love for him on the internet.

Instead, I’ll be writing a lil’ note to someone who actually doesn’t get a lot of my affection.

Me.

In the spirit of the #GLAmour challenge, I’ll be writing a valentine to myself. Oh sweet baby Jesus, here goes nothing

Dearest Kier,

Let’s start this off by admitting that writing this is hella awkward. You are your own toughest critic and to give yourself props in cyberspace is just bass-ackwards and belly up for you.

I mean seriously though, you don’t toot your own horn very much…anymore.

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When did that change? When did you start becoming cynical and self-doubting? When did your insecurities start to present themselves in self-deprecating humour? How did those jokes become entrenched in your repertoire, when did you snuggle into them like a second skin and get real damn comfortable with ’em? Was it because you realized if you told the joke, then the world would be laughing with you, rather than at you?

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I mean sure, you do talk a lot. When you’re nervous, it’s total word vomit. And you can often find lots of distractions before getting a task done, if you’re determined enough 😉 . You’ve been to a gym 3 times, and since 3 times is the charm you’ve vowed to never go back. You’re incredibly messy in your own spaces. You don’t get the top grades anymore, and you seem to be muddling through the forest of life without a map. And you NEVER seem to remember to add an extra 10 minutes to the Google Maps estimate anyways, so really, you’re damned if you do or damned if you don’t.

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But all these quirky faults aside, if you don’t love yourself, who will?
At the end of the day, you’re stuck with you. Might as well snuggle up with that reality, and give yourself some credit.

For starters, you’re an upstanding citizen. You pay your bills, abide by the law, and engage in the community by volunteering your time and resources. Tick off those boxes, girlfriend!

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You’re a kind person. You’ll happily hold doors for people, give them directions, or help them carry awkward and heavy loads. You’ll always donate to the street musician, and share a smile with strangers…even if eye contact is scoffed at in the big city…

You’re a good friend. You are honest and generous in your relationships. “What’s mine is yours.” is extended to everyone you meet. You are loyal beyond measure, and feel so fulfilled when lifting others up.

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You love your family. They may get under your skin sometimes, but there is nothing you wouldn’t do to support them or bring a smile to your face. They are a huge part of your identity, and you of theirs. Keep them close!

You are emotional in the very best of ways. You love hard, and want to hug people tight enough that their sorrows and joys become your own. You are a nurturer, a provider, always gentle, yet intensely reliable. You feel things deeply – the highs and lows, and those core emotions drive you forward every day. THAT IS SO AWESOME!

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You are smart. Intelligence isn’t solely determined by a test, so don’t get too down on yourself if you don’t come out on top. You are a problem-solver, a communicator, an innovator. Do not sell that brain of yours short!

You have talents. Even when your confidence is shaky, you ultimately have some awesome gifts. You can ski like a boss and climb like a spider monkey. You are an expressive musician with an ability to share emotions in ways many others can’t. You are a hilarious and entertaining tour guide, helping create memories for hundreds of people every year. You cook awesome food, so your friends and family never go hungry. You’re a weird dancer, but hey – always good for a laugh at parties! Oh and people are still reading this blog, so your writing must not be awful!

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Truth be told, you’ve been going through a lot. Life has thrown you some curveballs in many areas of your life. But you crack jokes to ease the tension and worry of those around you, and plug on because this is your reality, and you will not let these challenges paralyze you. That is admirable – now work hard and plug on, champ!

Above all, you are hopeful. Optimistic, and yet reasonably realistic about your future. Even when your days are less than sunny, you get up and face the days. You have goals and dreams, and have made quite the impact in your 21 years. Your intentions are good and your integrity is top-notch. You have ambitions to be a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves, and have dedicated much of your life to doing so already!

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Kiera, you are learning to care for yourself and listen closely to your intuition. Start being mindful of the ways you define yourself, and don’t be afraid to talk yourself up sometimes! You will turn the stumbles into dancing and become more resilient every day. Stop stressing about the blunders in the past, and for goodness’ sake don’t fret over blunders yet to come. All anyone can ask of you is your best – so remain present in your life and give it all you’ve got! You’ve got this.

All things told, I’m pretty damn proud to be you. 

Kudos, chicka.

With love and brutal honesty,

  • K

 

#OneWord365 : Risk

Let me begin by admitting that resolutions are so not my thing. I mean really, are they anyone’s? I’m willing to bet that more than a handful of you muse over your goals on New Year’s Eve and *maybe* even write them down, only to forget a week later or absent-mindedly lose the slip of paper you etched on.

So as I watched 2015 come to a close and the clock struck nearer and nearer to 12, I didn’t even pause to reflect on the goals I had set for myself that year because, SURPRISE! I hadn’t bothered to make any.

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Perhaps this is a direct correlation between my passive attitude about New Years celebrations in general, or perhaps I was just incredible lazy last year and not willing to work on myself from January to December.

However, I think this lack-of-resolutions roots itself in my particular fear of failure. While I am aware that this is hardly an original thing to be worried about, I am self-aware enough to recognize that my fear of failing has become intoxicatingly paralyzing over the last couple of years. So much, in fact, that I refuse to even ruminate on the idea that I could actively change something in my life because I have CONVINCED myself that I have already let myself down before I start. I mean, I’m really freaking good at messing things up! Frankly, I believe my aptitude to do this increases as I age, though for the sake of positive vibes I’m not about to draw up a laundry list of my failures. (You’re welcome)

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The fact is, I WAS a really big goal setter. I WAS totally gung-ho about resolutions – for years, even! God, the old diaries I could dig up would be evidence enough (though thoroughly embarrassing and not at all worthy for the internet)! In my adult life, however, I have felt the need to innately shrink my world and possibilities because I am so desperately afraid that I won’t achieve even the smallest of things.

And so, in my third year of blogging for the Glendon eAmbassadors, I am FINALLY taking the #OneWord365 challenge.

Instead of writing down a laundry list of possible achievements, I am hoping to join #TeamAwesome in choosing one itty bitty word that will govern my reflections, behaviour, and self-talk as I awkwardly waddle and skip through the year.

It took me all of 6 seconds to realize that my word would be risk.

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I’m not likely to jump off a platform with an umbrella. Don’t get any ideas.

As a person who struggles with chronic health issues and mental wellness, my reaction to upsetting or unexpected events tends to be to find a safe place. A tight-knit group of friends, a non-stressful and ever-so-mundane routine, a manageable workload. These things have been essential over the last few years in managing my health…

And yet.

And yet I look in the mirror these days and feel a sense of mourning for the high-spirited, top-energy, wild thing I used to be. The girl who worked 2 jobs so she could save up for a plane ticket and then disappear for a while. The girl who was involved in every charitable endeavour, who jumped onstage at any chance, who fiercely let her peers forward.

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I have been struggling with the idea that I have simply lost this girl. That my more hesitant and timid nature is maybe just the by-product of getting older. That maybe that girl is just “too much of a lot of things” to exist in my world now.

Then I found myself playing cards.

I was sitting across from my boyfriend as we played euchre against my parents, and found myself calling the shots even when I had the crappiest of hands. When the cards looked dim, I was taking chances and still coming out on top.

Now, a statistical analyst would probably say I had dumb luck and that in all cases, my choices weren’t the most informed or probable.

But I say that I’ve gotta be gutsy to reap the rewards.

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(Non-Gilmore Girls fans, this pep talk preceded the umbrella jump)

I realized need to take more risks in my life, because that curiosity and gutsiness is at the very core of my being. I might be terrified of it sometimes, but that girl from long ago still adores going out on a limb and proving the doubters wrong.

That spitfire girl has GOT to still be in there, because she has set up a year worth of risks for me, starting with the fact that I’m moving to another country in 2 weeks. New language, new friends, new food, new living arrangements. New life!

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I know that before I even cross the ocean, I’m taking risks every day in preparation for my life abroad. I’m navigating changing relationships day by day. I’m attempting to set up the necessities of life so I can walk off a plane and really start LIVING. Hell, I’m even ordering from Amazon when I’m not sure the items will arrive in time!

Every day, I have a choice to create an adventurous life. To take chances and opportunities as they come. To pick the safest route or the road less travelled.

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I know I’ll have even more opportunity to do so once I’m set up in a place that is (at first) unstable and unknown. I expect the adrenaline to be pumping through my veins for an extended period of time…

WITH THAT BEING SAID. I am hoping to document all of my risk-taking wildness with a video blog as I prepare to leave my safe space behind and venture into the great unknown. Be on the lookout for audio-video versions of my babble!

All in all, I think I know that I have spent too long being comfortable – wish me luck in my attempts to shake things up and roll the dice in my life!

Lots of love, risk, and good wishes for 2016!

DFTBA,

-K

 

Don’t let the wormy people get you down

I am going to pass on some cheesy age-old wisdom that I think every young adult needs to hear, and I especially need to internalize.

Here’s the real zinger…..

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Not everyone in life is going to like you.

There will be jerk-wads left, right, and centre in life.

They can take the form of colleagues, classmates, acquaintances, ‘friends’ or otherwise.

And you know what? They will dislike you for absolutely no good reason.

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They will target you no matter what you do. There is no use in being nice to them, because it will likely go unnoticed. They may disapprove of you from the minute you meet them, unfairly judging you and treating you like something gross stuck to the bottom of their shoe.

Please note: this post is NOT meant to make you paranoid about how many people may act cold to you over the course of your life.

I myself am one of those overly-sensitive souls who takes absolutely everything personally. A tricky comment from a supervisor, an accidental exclusion from a social event, a miscommunication from a friend. These little things bury holes in my mind, and my thoughts can spiral in some not-so-nice directions. When all those little occurrences build themselves up, it can really do a number on my self esteem.

BUT…chin up

Truthfully, when someone disrespects you in any way, that is a reflection of THEIR character – NOT yours.

I am slowly but surely learning to put all those stomach twisting situations in a box and keep on keeping on. It hasn’t been easy, in fact it’s taken more than a decade of learning how to let things roll off my back, like the odd duck that I am.

I was bullied a lot as a kid, and quite frankly, who wasn’t?  Kids are really freaking mean! While it wasn’t fair, I was an easy target – a weird child who had no idea how to relate to peers my own age and cried at the drop of a hat, giving my teasers a lot of wind to fill their sails.

In middle school, the tormenting was still present (preteens are gossipy), but I was learning a lot about unconditional respect, loyalty, and love. You see, I was starting to band together with my “people”.

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I started to bond with my brainiac boys, and together we were like a miniature-version of the Big Bang Theory crew (though I was, admittedly, a less attractive and brighter version of Penny).

In high school, I reunited with my best friends from kindergarten and our little familia was born. I got involved with youth activism and gained incredible friends and leadership skills through regional youth conferences, student council, and Ontario Youth Parliament.

For the first time in my life I felt like my quirks were an asset, and that people knew me for my heart and not for whether or not my clothes or slang was in style.

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An emotional goodbye at my last Youth Parliament

Then I left my little town behind and joined the big, bad world of post-secondary. I’ve met some incredible friends through Frosh week, residence life, classes, pub nights, socials, clubs and the ever-so-lovely eAmbassador crew. I found it easy to make interesting and meaningful friendships, because like-minded people just had a tendency to gravitate to one another.

This year I moved in with the most incredible girls, Ceilidh and Olivia. We went from being mostly strangers (drawn together by a desperate Facebook plea) to a little sisterhood, where whenever something happens, they’re probably the first ones I want to call. Trust me when I say these ladies have seen me at my worst (bed-head and morning breath, am I right?).

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And after a lot of weird and hilarious dating experiences, I was even lucky enough to find a partner who sticks by me in my ridiculous life, when most people would bolt (or at the very least flinch).

These days, my dear friend Jasmin has coined a particular hashtag for me, which she loves to pull out whenever folks are being particularly atrocious…

#DontLetTheWormyPeopleGetYouDown

Whenever I lose perspective and start to think the whole world is on my case and I’m clearly the most unlikeable and despicable human to roam the earth, I am reminded of the family I have built for myself.

At the end of the day, it’s not so much about the quantity of friends you have, but the quality of the company you keep. It’s better to have a few good apples than have your whole bushel spoiled by a few rotten ones, right?

I’m grateful for these good apples.

They are the ones I can call on when things feel out of control or I just want to share a night of laughs.

They are my cheerleaders when I lose momentum.

They are the ones who love me when I’m acting pretty damn unloveable.

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If you’re reading this and having some particularly tricky people in your life – I promise that the new waves of your life will draw in your people.

These are the ones who will see your beauty, your intelligence, your passion, your humour, and your kindness and would not trade any bit of you for the world.

Those wormy folks are passing ships, but your true friends will be your anchors. They will remind you of all of your goodness when the rest of the world, including you, has a tough time seeing it.

And in the mean time?

Haters gonna hate. So grin and bear it. Smile and nod. Shake it off. Kill it with kindness.

And #DontLetTheWormyPeopleGetYouDown

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Much love and DFTBA,

-K

***thanks to all my rockstar friends and family out there, y’all are so golden ❤

A place to call home

Since moving to Toronto in the fall of 2013, I’ve been itching to put down some roots here in the city.

As bittersweet as it is moving away from the town I grew up in, my life is here now: many of my friends, my extended family, my jobs, my education, my doctors…you get the jist. While it was tough at first to tell my family that I wasn’t going to be joining them back home for the summer, I knew that concept would be easier once I had a place to live locked down.

The Mission:

Find the most awesome apartment possible – with a few stipulations…

It had to be safe.

I’m an independent person and I like to come and go from my home as I please. I’m also a 21 year old female, and while I try to be safe and alert at all times, I definitely wanted to feel secure in my neighbourhood. I am in the big city after all! (This is not to say that Toronto is not safe, but every place has it’s seedier streets).

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It had to be cheap.

I’m a student, enough said! I’m very lucky that my parents help to support me in putting a roof over my head, but I didn’t want their wallets or mine to suffer in financing Casa de Kiera. I needed something affordable so I could save us all some financial pain, and sock away money for my exchange next year.

You will be this excited once you hit college, too.
You will be this excited once you hit college, too.

It had to have good people.

I knew I needed to live with at least one other roommate – someone who would make note of whether or not I made it home at night, someone to have the spare key if I got locked out, someone to make sure I wasn’t wasting away in my room during the hell that is finals season. Above all, I wanted someone I could get along with so we could spend time together! It was also important to me that I have a reliable landlord who would help me out should anything go wrong.

Wanted: a roommate to Netflix with.

It had to be walkable.

I have no car, and even if I did, I would NEVER want to drive in Toronto (So many signs, so little parking!). In my first year, I read Jeff Speck’s “Walkable City” for my International Geography class. It touched on some things that I already knew – like the fact that neighbourhoods where errands and activities could be accomplished on foot were more desirable. But I also learned about the impact pedestrianism and public transit have on the safety and vibrancy of a community. These things all led me to look up Walkability Scores for every place I was interested in.

The Process

Let me tell you, apartment hunting is an all-new level of Purgatory. Combining the above factors in a balanced way on a market with high turnover rates can be exhausting and really disappointing, but I knew that I didn’t have much of a choice. It was either find a place in Toronto and keep a job and a lifestyle that I loved, or head home.

All too often, the apartment buildings would be too expensive, and the cheap ones wouldn’t be very clean (Check bed bug registry before you rent – no matter where you rent). Basement suites were often grungy and dark, and the best finds were too far from any major transit lines or vibrant neighbourhoods. Some newly renovated places were in areas we didn’t feel comfortable in, and don’t even get me started on the Craigslist scams!

RED FLAG RED FLAG RED FLAG

RED FLAG RED FLAG RED FLAG

The Result

Thankfully, after nearly two months of searching, I am now the proud renter of a basement suite near Pape Station.

I’m moving in with my gem of a roommate, Ceilidh, who’s also a student at Glendon. We clicked pretty quickly after answering each others’ ads on a student Facebook page, and with two singers living together, our place will be lively!

HOUSE HUNTING SUCCESS!

We were SO relieved to have had an awesome realtor who accommodated every question and even held the place for us while we made our decision. We have a fantastic couple upstairs as our landlords, who measured the place with us and offered to change light fixtures, let us move in early, and gave us detailed instructions on how everything works.

The apartment is bright, clean, and modern – we can’t wait to decorate it together! This space will be ours for the next 12 months – we can’t wait to make memories in our new home!

***Stay tuned for move in woes – did I mention that I have no upper body strength? I imagine move-in day will go a little something like this…

Much homemaker love and DFTBA,

– K

She ain’t from around here: advice to new Torontonians

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I am not from the city. I’m from that rural-surburbia crossbreed of a neighbourhood, where some families live in old victorian houses and others dress in camouflage and go cow-tipping for fun.

Now's a good time for a good time for a stereotypical hick pic

Now’s a good time for a a stereotypical hick pic

I am in no way ashamed of where I’m from – how can you grow branches without roots, am I right?! But I will be the first to admit that there were quite a few shocks making the transition from small pond to big ocean.

I'm a city girl now!

I’m a city girl now!

Here are a few tips to get you started in the Big Smog…

1. Have an opinion about Drake.

Love him, hate him, or don’t give a damn? Be aware that this guy’s influence is massive in this city. “There was no real radio station or market for a lot of rap back home, but I can sing Redneck Woman in my sleep!” is not a good excuse. Trust me, I’ve tried. Bonus points for knowing about the OVO crew!

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2. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone from Toronto cheers for the Maple Leafs.

Tread cautiously in hockey world.

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HOWEVER…

3. Upon entering TDot, you must pledge allegiance to the Raptors.

#WeTheNorth

This team is kind of a big deal

This team is kind of a big deal

4. City folk can’t stand manure, country folk can’t stand sewer.

It’s just the way it is! Is regional sense of smell a thing? No? Okay, I’m making it one.

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5. You will sell your soul to the TTC.

There are too many cars in this metropolis, and if your idea of traffic is 10 cars at a stoplight on Main Street, you’re in for a big surprise! If you’re in the downtown core, you can probably transport yourself faster on foot when it comes to weekday rush hour, otherwise I’d suggest investing in tokens. Your love/hate relationship with the Toronto Transit Commission is inevitable, but I promise it’s the most efficient way to get around 95% of the time!

Say hello to my little friends - these tokens are the key to getting around the Six!

Say hello to my little friends – these tokens are the key to getting around the Six!

6. Know your city on a compass.

Intersections are not always clear, and you’ll look like a fool if you say to a friend that you’ll meet someone on the South-West corner, end then tell your cab driver to go North-East by accident.

(Helpful Hints with Kiera: South is where the water/CN Tower is! Mississauga is to the West, Scarborough is to the East.)

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7. Find your place in the crowd.

This is a city of 2.8 million people, and you are bound to find yourself in a sea of faces and stories. Know how to walk confidently like you’re on a mission, and learn to master the art of the “Oops, I missed my destination” U-turn.

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8. You will never fully understand city slang.

I once dated someone who kept a running list of my “hick” expressions, and rubbed it in every time his phrasing went over my head. Patience, young grasshoppers: you will (mostly) catch up. Besides, the slang is usually silly anyways – THEY are the ones who sound ridiculous!

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Me on the daily…

9. The rumours about Torontonians having weather-phobia are true.

Sure, it gets cold here (we’re in Canada, gotta keep up with the igloo stereotype), but it is much colder in my hometown and this city has made me a bit of a wimp. You’ll understand what I mean when you inevitably find yourself hiding from the elements in the PATH.

I got to work here in the snow this past December!

I got to work here in the snow this past December!

10. Identify by neighbourhood.

Not only will this make apartment hunting easier, but you’ll really start to identify unique people and places in each area. When you let yourself explore and get lost, you’ll find you’re much less drawn to the typical tourist traps. Adventure calls!

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11. You will meet the most incredible people.

My background is pretty bland, I’ll admit, which is why I’m constantly excited about being surrounded by such awesome diversity. I’ve become friends with people from countries and communities I didn’t even know existed! Good food? Cool culture? New languages? Sign me up! Make sure to check out Pride and the many ethnic festivals we have year-round.

Grupo Latino Hola. Copyright ©2013 Ruth Lor Malloy

12. Cities are expensive.

Know where to eat, shop and play for good n’ cheap! One of my favourite finds is the St Lawrence Market. Fresh and cheap food, and on Sundays they have a super cool antique market!

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13. Your Tim’s loyalty is no more: Starbucks is the Coffee Queen.

You may be hard-pressed to find a Timmies, but there is likely to be a Starbs every block or so. Plus, we all know that where caffeine is to be found, so are students.

Hello, sweet caffeine addiction.

Hello, sweet caffeine addiction.

14. Own who you are.

Small towners have a certain charm (or so I’m told). Maybe I am just oddly polite to people but often city dwellers think I’m peppy, sugary-sweet, or even fake-nice. I make small talk with salespeople and wait staff, and smile at people on the subway if we make eye contact. I for one like this about myself, so if these are habits picked up by small-towners – I suggest you keep them. They do set you apart, and you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, right?

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15. You will have two great places to call home.

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Before long, you’ll be the one tourists approach for directions while you’re confidently walking along Yonge Street. You’ll know how to expertly navigate the TTC and find the best ways to spend your Friday nights downtown.

So journey forth! Lay the foundation for your new life here, and be sure to keep me updated! Us small-towners have to stick together 🙂

Welcome to Toronto, and DFTBA,

– K

Changed “For Good”

I was about 10 years old when my vocal teacher brought me the score for Wicked, a production that had just opened in New York.

The musical tells of Oz as it was before Dorothy dropped in, and the colourful characters that lived there. Galinda (who would soon be known as the Good Witch of the North) is perky, spoiled, ambitious and popular. Elphaba (the eventual Wicked Witch of the West) is talented, passionate, and misunderstood. The plot then follows the rise and fall of their relationship as they go from reluctant roommates, to college friends, to political and love-triangle rivals…their destinies intertwining with one another’s.

There's a lot of green in this show

There’s a lot of green in this show

As an over-dramatic, aspiring musical theatre star at the time (I was ten, cut me some slack), I fell in love with the music, and took to it like a duck to water. Over the years, my sister and I tackled one number at a time, often performing in variety shows or competitions in full costumes with all of the theatrical antics we could muster in tow.

This weekend, I went to see my ever-favourite musical with that same sister by my side. This was not my first time seeing the production, but for some reason, this performance really struck a chord with me.

All the Dinsmore ladies ready for the show!

All the Dinsmore ladies ready for the show!

I sat in the balcony next to Kate, constantly looking over to see if she was mouthing the words like I was. The brass section made my chest rise and fall in anticipation, and I was pushed to the brink of my emotions during several numbers.

Why was this production so enthralling to me? Why, after knowing the story and practicing the songs for a decade, was I still so emotionally affected? Inner dialogue: “THIS IS A FICTIONAL STORY, WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH MEEEEEE?!”

(^^^I’m not a romantic by any stretch of the imagination, but I legitimately gush during this scene)

It wasn’t until later that night, upon further reflection, that I realized that musical means more to me than a fun story and some great tunes. I grew up with those characters, those songs; they are all too real to me.

In middle school, I related all too well to Elphaba, a girl with big dreams who lacked the social graces to fit in with her classmates. During her self-love power anthem, Defying Gravity, it took all the strength I could muster to restrain myself from standing up to belt out the final notes. Like the ‘Wicked Witch of the West’, it took a lot of awkwardness, screw-ups, heartbreaks, and setbacks for me to get to a point where I’m determined to be who I am, regardless of the opinions or speculations of others.

Now looking back to when I performed those iconic duets with my sister, those songs were the only things we could agree on at a time when we insisted on being nothing alike. Here she was next to me, spending the weekend with me as a friend, sharing something we both really loved about our childhood.

I also sang For Good for my best friends’ graduation. I stayed back a year before leaving for university, and watching the girls I had grown up with head off on their own adventures without me is one of the most bittersweet moments for me.

So yes: cheesy singing and dancing and costumes and lights and steam-punk-style props really make me nostalgic and reflective. What’s so awesome about it is that I’m rediscovering little bits of who I was and am in a totally different context. The story and message were relevant ten years back and will remain relevant, at least to me, for years to come.

…And because I live in this fantastic city with its hella-rad arts scene, this certainly won’t be the last time I frequent the show.

If you haven’t seen it, get your butt down to the Ed Mirvish theatre to do so…maybe the story will resonate with you like it did me.

With love and showtunes,

DFTBA

– K

 

Don’t ya wanna go where everybody knows your name?

In my hometown, I couldn’t leave the house without running into someone I knew, and if you were at all involved in the community (like I was), those ‘six degrees of separation’ were more like two (at max). There were certainly times when I griped about everyone knowing everyone (my parents were often friends with my teachers/bosses/ex’s parents, for example), but generally I loved knowing I had a friend in every corner of my town. 

What do you do in a small town? Pose with the friends you've had since kindergarten on lawnmowers, of course! (circa 2010)

What do you do in a small town? Pose with friends you’ve had since kindergarten on lawnmowers, of course! (circa 2010)

So naturally, moving to the biggest city in Canada was super terrifying to me. My life as a big fish in a small pond was now that of a small fish in a REALLY FREAKING HUGE OCEAN. #FearOfTotalInsignificance

Once I attended GL open houses though, I was sure Glendon was the place for me. People were way more genuine and engaging than other schools I visited. They actually CARED about whether or not you felt you could fit in and find your niche on campus. As soon as I started here, I understood why…

Glendon students are friendly – outrageously so. It’s a small school, and if you’re lost on your way to class – we’ll know. We’ll also be the one to direct and escort you to where you need to be. We’re not afraid to introduce ourselves to new students, volunteer at Orientation events and Open Houses, strike up a conversation with the person next to us in the cafeteria, etc. We want you to be one of those other super-nice people we hang out with!

ele

Glendonites are inclusive – with a visible queer community on campus, a large population of international students, and students from what seems like every possible ethnic/religious/socioeconomic background and more, we are bonded together by our differences. We’re proud to be diverse, and we always have each others’ backs in order to protect and celebrate those differences.

Some of our über friendly, diverse, and supportive Frosh leaders to help ease the transition :)

Some of our über friendly, diverse, and supportive Frosh leaders to help ease the transition 🙂

We’re so proud of who we are. We recognize that we are York students, and walk with our heads held high – but we REALLY love our campus (it’s gorgeous). We’re loyal to the blue, to our liberal arts lovin’, to our bilingual mission, to our collaborative and creative nature. ‘School pride’ doesn’t even begin to cut it with us.

Sarah and I showing off our school pride at Explore Glendon! #OuiTheBlue

Sarah and I showing off our school pride at Explore Glendon! #OuiTheBlue

 

Oh, and if we meet an Glendon grad, we’re instant BFFs – it usually goes something like this:

OMG NO WAY! YOU WENT TO GLENDON?! DIDN’T YOU JUST LOVE IT SO MUCH?! TELL ME YOUR LIFE STORY!

So yes, I still get that feeling of anonymity in my everyday life – it’s impossible to be friends with all 2,600 students here, or the 50,000 at Keele. However, there are friendly faces in my precious green oasis in the city. Glendon is my family: I’m never just a number, and I’ll always have this awesome community to call home.

//end loving brag.

DFTBA,

– K

Small school, big safety net

I am the classic “Oh Em GEE it’s September, school is starting and I couldn’t be happier” type of nerd…

I love new possibilities, opportunities, knowledge, and friends. I always, without fail, look forward to the first week of classes.

However, my first week back at Glendon did not go as smoothly as I would have hoped. It was chaotic and nerve-wracking, and yours truly was being a class-act flopshow.

Starting university, I had always intended to be a double major in International Studies and Political Science. However, being the-girl-who-wears-many-hats, the thought of committing and specializing in two things suddenly felt overwhelming to me and self-doubt started to rear it’s ugly head.

“What if I just had a major? Should I do a certificate? God forbid I want to study neuroscience….”

Me, in MLP form

Myself embodied in My Little Pony form

In short, I had major FOMO (fear of missing out), people.

By the numbers…

4. The times I had dinner on my roommate’s floor, wondering what the heck I was going to do with my degree/life.

6. The amount of timetable changes I made within that week.

3. The number of times I called home, where my all-too-supportive and lovely parents told me that as long as I graduated, the rest was up to me and they would be proud.

28. That’s how many times I played Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”. Adorable awkward dancing? Sassy, can-do attitude? TOTAL FREAKING EARWORM?! Check check check.

I’m now in week 3 of my studies and doing much better. Why? Because being a Glendon student saved my sorry, confused butt. Being at a small school meant that I had immediate, personalized, one-on-one sensitivity and support.

help1

I chose to see the head of the Political Science department, Dr. Ian Roberge, and Professor Francis Garon about my future in the program. Not only they super supportive and always looking out for my best interests, but during our conversations I realized I really do still love Poli Sci – I love the balance of power, the causes of conflict and conditions of peace. I undoubtedly still adore my work as a Research Assistant in the field, and my volunteer work with other political and activism groups.

politics-word-cloud

When figuring out how my timetable should reflect my revised goals, I went to see Erica, an academic advisor with a contagious smile and a calming attitude. She helped me check off degree requirements while still preparing me for my international exchange and giving me some wiggle room to add electives or specializations.

Financial services also helped a ton – they made sure that I wasn’t penalized for dropping any courses or adding new ones, and that I could rest assured that my fees were paid and I was financially sound to continue my studies.

Every penny counts when you're a student - Glendon Financial Services knows that, and will make sure you're on the right track to getting the most bang for your buck

Every penny counts when you’re a student – Glendon Financial Services knows that, and will make sure you’re on the right track to getting the most bang for your buck

If I hadn’t been at Glendon, having an academic identity crisis would have been totally overwhelming. I was so lucky to be in a place where people from all walks of life had my back, lead me towards invaluable resources, and were supportive of my questioning of my future. My experience was a positive one, which I don’t think I ever could have expected such a great result. Small school, big love ❤

DFTBA,

– K

A letter to my first year self

Dear me,

It’s late August, and you’re about to move into your dorm room. The van (or big purple box on wheels, as you call it) is packed, the family is nostalgic. You see the bright light coming from your window, and you know your next big adventure is starting. You have this weird attachment to the smell of fall; it means change is coming. Everything is steeped in potential and chance, these next months are yours to shape however you see fit. That being said, there are some things you should know…

Go to your 9 am class. It’s worth it. Green tea will help ease the pain of early wake up times.

morning

Get to know your profs and ask questions along the way – they’ll be more willing to help you as the year goes on.

You will soon realize your siblings are the best friends you’ll ever have. You’ll also still want your mommy at 20 years old, and your dad will drive to see you – just ask.

fam

Not everyone is going to like you. You can’t change that. That doesn’t mean you should be anything less than courteous in return – kill it with kindness, girl. You teach people how to treat you.

Set up your residence phone right away so you have a Toronto number, or else the delivery guys will glare at you for having a 613 area code and your food will possibly disappear.

 

Weekends scream take-out!

Weekends scream take-out!

You will have to be brave and strong at times, because you’re living on your own and some tough stuff is headed your way…but there’s no need to be a martyr. Know the difference. It’s okay to say that you’re not okay.

Call your grandparents more often. They love you lots, give great advice, and know you better than you think. Plus, the more you visit, the more chocolate brownies are likely to appear in your diet.

You will meet people who will change your perspective, show you new experiences. New friends will challenge you, giving you the courage and inspiration to try umpteen new things.

 

Some of the amazing people I met in first year!

Some of the amazing people I met in first year!

It’s okay to measure how well you’re doing on the treadmill by how many 80’s power ballads you get through. Just remember to save “Eye of the Tiger” for going back up the stairs to campus!

Just a heads up – you will get your heart stomped on. Don’t let it shake you, timing is everything! Trust the process…and keep trusting people. Everything is an experience.

aquamarine

You will bust your ankle this year, just by walking…because let’s be honest, your nickname ain’t Murphy’s Law for nothing. USE THE DAMN CRUTCHES.

Never put your student card in your back pocket – you will flush it down the toilet more than once. Explaining this to Student Services will be embarrassing and will not decrease the replacement fee.

Your Don can be the best resource – don’t be afraid to knock on her door and tell her when you’re less than fine.

Residence life! E House Hilliard :)

Residence life! E House Hilliard 🙂

Add a super dorky key chain to your lanyard so everyone will know who the keys belong to when you (inevitably) drop them in the lecture hall.

You think you have it figured out. You think you know what you want to do with your life. Newsflash: you will change your mind 4 times before the end of the year.

You will soon learn that you have nothing figured out. Spend your time collecting experiences, not blueprints for how the next years of your life will play out. With a little creativity, you’ll be making your own opportunities.

Taking two new friends who didn't understand baseball to a Jays game was certainly an experience!

Taking two new friends who didn’t understand baseball to a Jays game was certainly an experience!

I know you’re crazy competitive with yourself right now – it’s okay to be mediocre for a while. Take a chill pill.                                                                                                                                        

You will get an A on the paper you cried over in the library. Don’t be so hard on yourself! Remember to pace your efforts, breathe deeply, do your best.

Wash your pub night stamp off your hand before you go to sleep or it will end up on your forehead the next morning.

TAME pub night

TAME pub night

Do your dishes. And your laundry. File your paperwork. Put lids on things. Empty your garbage. You’re a messy person, admit it – then deal.

The nachos at The Underground will sustain your soul (and stomach) – get hooked on them early.

Thank your lucky stars you’re going to Glendon, because you will score the sweetest summer gig, and it will require you to work en français!

"I'm a tour guide!" Atop Mt. Royal, Montréal.

“I’m a tour guide!” Mt. Royal, Montréal.

It’s okay to have roots and wings. You can love where you’re from AND be excited about where you’re going! You will have the greatest assortment of people beside you at every step of the way. You are loved and valued and cared about. Don’t ever doubt that.

Keep an open mind and heart, and the rest will fall into place.

DFTBA,

– K