Adulting

Back To School-Advice to University Frosh

Starting university is pretty daunting, especially the first year. You have this to do list that stretches on for ages, you’ll be meeting a lot of new people, adjusting to a new place, and having to get back to studying.

If you’re a frosh, and just panicked slightly from reading that last sentence, take a deep breath. It’s going to be okay, you will survive your first week, first month, and first year at university.

Now, since you took that deep breath, here are my tips on how to survive your first year on campus!

  1. Enjoy every moment of frosh week. Do all the activities, eat all the free food, and go down a jello slide or two. You will treasure these memories for the rest of your life, and make some amazing friends. Us older students are always jealous we can’t do it over again every year.
  2. Use your meal hall or food swipes. Even though I can guarantee that by the end of the first few months you’ll be sick of campus food, use your swipes. Take the unlimited food (and chocolate milk) for granted while you can.
  3. Get a feel for the campus and the town or city you’re living in when you arrive. Knowing where things are will make you feel all the more confident.
  4. Try to not skip classes, and don’t be that person who just shows up for finals. You might not want to go to that early class, but your marks will thank you for showing up later on.
  5. Get involved on campus. There are so many clubs and activities you can join, and chances are that there’s a night where they showcase all these organizations on campus. Plus, first year is a great time to get involved since you’ll have a bit more free time.
  6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Whether you need to change courses, your scholarship money got messed up, or anything else, ask for help when you need it. It’ll save you headaches later on, and there are people on campus whose job is to help guide you through any problems. 
  7. Try to get along with your roommate(s), and people in your building. Unless you’re stuck in a terrible situation, you’ll make friends really fast that way. Plus, they might save you later on by letting you use their printer for a last minute essay.
  8. Get some school spirit. Even if you’re not the biggest sports fan, you can still be proud of your school. Help out with the student union, get a positive residence rivalry going on, or pop by the rink to watch your team play hockey. It’s really easy to show your support for your campus.
  9. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. I know how difficult it can be to push yourself when you’re in a completely new environment, but it’ll teach you a lot of valuable life lessons. I know I’ve met some great people at university just by saying hello, and found what I’m passionate about by trying something new.
  10. Stay in touch with friends and family back home. If you live across the country from them like me, having their support is fantastic for getting through homesickness. Plus, long chats with family and friends always make you feel better.
  11. If you’re unhappy with your program, what you’re studying, or university in general, that’s okay. First year is a learning experience, and if it teaches you that you like something else or that you don’t like university, that’s great. You can always change classes or programs, no matter what the university website says.

What do you guys wish you’d done differently first year, or what do you wish you’d known? Leave them down in the comments below!

-Mel.

Finding Your Voice

I’ve had a blog or journal since I was in elementary school. So, I can say I’ve always had some way to express my own voice, and only recently has it been made more public by things like this blog.

But I haven’t always had the same voice. I doubt I would have even expressed my views on politics and current events a few years ago, but now I’ve started to.

I think part of that is because I’ve realized that the more silent you stay, the more other people take your decisions for you. And that thought terrifies me as someone who values equality between sexes and the liberty to choose who I date, among other things.

So, I have decided of late to use my voice more for expressing what I value, and for those who may not have as much access to express what they value. However, that includes acknowledging the fact that I cannot speak on behalf of groups that have experienced life in another way that I have never been subjected to. Instead, I’m choosing to be an ally to those groups and help support them in the causes that are important to their them.

Not to mention, I think now more than ever the world needs to recognize we are all humans and all deserve to be treated with respect. This is not a time to tear each other down for being different, but a time to embrace those differences to work together for a better future.

So, I hope you all find your voice and use it for the good of humanity.

Peace and love,

Mel.

Living With a Roommate

If you’re off to university or have ventured off on your own for the first time, chances are, you have a roommate.

Lucky for you, I’ve been there, so here are my top tricks for dealing with roommates.

  1. Talk to them before you meet. That way you can figure out some things about them and they won’t be a total stranger.
  2. Respect their personal space. Ask if you’re borrowing things, or if it’s okay to invite over other people, etc. Especially in a small living space, both of you will probably need your own bubble to retreat to.
  3. Know who’s going to take care of what essential household stuff. Whether it’s cleaning or paying rent, be responsible for taking care of your share of household tasks.
  4. If there are any issues, make sure to try and talk to them first before involving anyone else. Communication is key to solving anything, and in a worst-cast scenario, you can move or transfer residences.
  5. Try to find someone who shares your interests. That way, you have enough common ground to get along most of the time. Keep in mind, living with friends can still end badly, and strangers can become your best friends.
  6. Get their number just in case. If there’s an emergency, you lock yourself out, or you need to tell them something important, you can always reach them.
  7. Know whose stuff is whose, and which items are communal. It also goes for areas of the place you’re living in. Trust me, people who hog the bathroom or steal your food are annoying, so it’s best to have some ground rules.

I hope some of this point help you guys with dealing with future roommates (or current ones)! Remember, so long as you have basic trust and respect for the person you’re living with, things should turn out well.

If you have any questions or other roommate advice, please leave them below!

-Mel.

I’m Tired…

…of seeing another person shot and killed by the very people meant to protect them.

…of seeing yet another headline about an attack on civilians.

…of hearing hate filled comments about other races and cultures, bred from ignorance.

…of seeing some leaders around the world put their goals before the wellness of their citizens.

…of seeing countries refuse refugees, just because they can.

…of seeing constant talks of war, but very rarely talks of peace.

…of seeing so many people exploiting this beautiful place we call home, just for profit.

…of seeing our differences tear us apart, instead of helping us come together and achieve so much more.

…of going to read the news, and being worried about what I’ll read about today.

…of hearing one positive thing, only to hear a thousand more negative things.

…of seeing so much violence in this world, that I only feel numb.

…of seeing the present, and worrying what world my future children will be brought up in.

 

But mostly, I am tired of seeing this world full of hate and fear, instead of love and peace.

 

-Mel.

Life Update!

Hey guys, sorry posting hasn’t picked right up again, I’ve had to deal with a lot all at once in the last few weeks.

First things first, I’m living out in Banff again for the summer, working a pretty cool job. I’ve been meeting up with old (and new!) friends for the last while, as well as settling into the job and where I’m living. It was pretty busy packing to fly home, then unpacking some stuff, then repacking for Banff, but I made it!

I also met up with some friends in Calgary a few weeks ago; we went up the Calgary Tower so our Kiwi friend could experience it. I’ve never been up the Calgary Tower too, so it was cool being a tourist in my city for a change. I even stood on the glass floor, which is a big accomplishment since I am afraid of heights.

Calgary Tower

 

I headed to Calgary Comic Expo two weekends ago, which was awesome!! I only had a Saturday pass and didn’t get the chance to cosplay since of all the moving stuff, but it was worth it. I saw panels for Karl Urban, Alan Tudyk, and John Barrowman. Highlights from those where Alan Tudyk was signing random objects for people asking questions, and John Barrowman flirting with both cameramen at the same time, and him wearing a onesie. I also poked around all the booths but couldn’t find any pins I liked, and slowly walked through the signing places to get glimpses of Billie Piper and Tom Felton (much staring was done). I really hope next year will be the third year in a row I go…and I have a cosplay ready.

What have you guys been up to? Hope it’s been an amazing couple of weeks like mine!

I will be doing another 30 day challenge in June; I’m not sure which one yet so stay tuned, and in the meanwhile the list of post ideas is growing. Plus my sister gave me an awesome idea for a fanfic Shakespeare thing so that might be my summer project…

-Mel.

Thoughts About: A Year Ago

So about a year and a half ago I started a gap year, ending it this fall to go to university. While I do miss some of the aspects of that year, I’ve also learnt so much while here at university, and since it’s a new year, I decided to make a (short) list of things I’ve learnt in the last year and a half.


  1. That thing that you want to do but doubt yourself about? DO IT.
  2. Talk to strangers, they have interesting stories. (but be safe)
  3. Approach life with a positive mindset and you’ll get so much done.
  4. Learn about your fears. Then face them.
  5. Don’t be afraid to be alone.
  6. Send a message to someone you miss or haven’t spoken to for a while.
  7. Get a planner and put everything important in it, from exams to bills. It will save your life (a few times).
  8. Be spontaneous, go on random adventures.
  9. Talk to your professor. They’re not mean.
  10. Explore the services you have access to where you live. I mean, puppies in SUB? During exams? LIFESAVER.
  11. Take one hour every day for you. And only you.
  12. Get fresh air. Especially if you’re a student cooped up inside.
  13. Eat your fruits and veggies.
  14. If you learnt a second/third/, etc. language, find somebody to practice with.
  15. Wear flip flops in questionable showers.
  16. Do a little bit of a monstrous task each day and it’ll be easier. Plus it will seem like less work.
  17. Wake up earlier. Yes, your bed is comfy. No, it does not do homework.
  18. Learn how to make basic meals. You’ll feel grown up and will save money by going out less.  
  19. Read the news.
  20. Do your laundry before you’re wearing questionable clothing on campus.
  21. Don’t get too excited about meal hall.
  22. Say thank you and please.
  23. Learn when to cut out toxic people in your life.
  24. Travel.
  25. Find a hobby that you like. Like writing, or photography. Or playing board games.
  26. Dress to impress yourself first, and others second.
  27. Buy noise cancelling earbuds. You’ll thank yourself when the business students are partying Thursday night and you have an exam Friday.
  28. Book flight and buses in advance. It’s cheaper.
  29. Use your student discount for groceries or whatever you can find.
  30. Small town life and city life are both pretty awesome. I mean, my profs say hi at the grocery store. But the city has more nightlife.
  31. Do frosh things. Even if they seem stupid or daunting. And then you can say, “Remember that one time I went down a Jello slide?”
  32. Have goals, and keep making new ones.
  33. Find a cozy space on campus to call you’re own.
  34. Recognise that some days will be awful and that it’s okay not to be okay. Dust yourself off and try again tomorrow.
  35. Never doubt the power of the Nicholson stairs, and that you’ll be out of breath by the end of them.
  36. Naps. Beautiful things those are.
  37. Learn your alcohol tolerance, and eat before and during your time out. And find electrolyte freezies for the hangover.
  38. As much as cheese is good, it’s not good if it makes you sick.
  39. Have a coloring book. Yes, I’m an adult, and it’s relaxing.
  40. Volunteer your time.
  41. Learn how to listen to your gut instincts.
  42. Don’t spend all your time on somebody who could care less.
  43. Pay your bills on time.
  44. Remember that becoming an adult takes time, and it’s totally normal to call your mom for advice now and then.
  45. When you start to feel sick, do something about it. Don’t wait until five weeks later when you’re hacking up a lung.
  46. Your friends will become your family when you’re on your own. Cherish them. 
  47. It’s okay to be sober at the pub. 
  48. Treat yourself to nice things. That lipstick will help you kick ass. 
  49. Get informed. Ignorance may be bliss, but you’ll need some knowledge in life. 

And lastly, #50, remember the most important things in life are a full belly, and a warm and safe place to fall asleep in at night.

-Melissa

How To Survive A Gap Year: Finding A Job You Like Part 3

So you’ve done the interviews, and now you have a few job offers on the table. How do you decide which one to choose, and what do you do after you get the job?


How To Decide Which Job To Take

Consider the following:

  1. Salary and Benefits: What’s the wage? Is it competitive? Are there benefits?
  2. Commute or Moving: How far do you have to commute? Do you have to move? How far?
  3. The Company Itself: Do you like them? Are they trustworthy? How big is the company? Will they continue being successful?
  4. The specifics of the position: It is all you wanted? Is there something you don’t like or want to do?
  5. Start and end date: Are you going to be there a while? Can they accommodate your schedule? (important for students)
  6. Promotions: Is there a chance to move to a higher position? How long would it take?

I usually make a giant pros/cons list with all my offers in order to choose, but sometimes you just have to go with your gut too. Also, if it’s your dream job, go for it!


Accepting the Job, and the Aftermath

Some things you’ll probably have to do for the new job:

  1. Get a new uniform, whether provided or purchased my you.
  2. Fill out t4s in Canada and lots of paperwork including things like requiring identification, banking information, and your SIN number.
  3. Get some training done, and have your first day at work. Good luck!!

Remember to inform all the other companies that had given you offers that you’ve accepted another job just as a courtesy, so they’re not waiting for an answer from you. Plus, it’s very polite to do so after they’ve spent a lot of time on you.

Some things to consider after moving forward with your new job, maybe after a month and then three months:

  1. Check in and see if this is the job you want, and that you’re enjoying it.
  2. If it is, identify a goal you want to accomplish such as a promotion or more of a leadership role.
  3. If it’s not, or if you were let go, get ready to go through the process all over again. Make sure your resume is updated.
  4. Ask your manager or supervisor how you’re doing. Most companies will do an evaluation within the first 90 days, so chances are they’ll have feedback for you that can help you in considering sticking with the job.

That’s the end of the job section of How To Survive A Gap Year. Hope all of you enjoyed it, I really enjoyed writing it, and leave any suggestions for what you want to see next!

How to Survive A Gap Year: Finding a Job You Like Part 1

So a big part of my gap year was finding jobs and working, so I figured I should have a guide on jobs. This is part one of three or four. Enjoy!


Your Resume and Cover Letter

These are the first things your future employer will see, so it’s important they look their best.

My tips for resumes and cover letters:

  1. Tailor each resume and cover letter to the position, but have a general copy you can give out to things like job fairs.
  2. Pick a design that reflects who you are but it still professional. Search Google Drive for some nice templates to use or to get inspiration from.
  3. Include everything, from awards, languages, computer skills, and volunteering experience. If you’ve done it, it counts.
  4. Have someone look over your resume and cover letter. A second person is always useful for criticism and to double check things like grammar and spelling.
  5.  Check you resume for keywords that match some of the ones in the description of the position you’re applying for, the more they match, the better. There are also websites out there that will do it for you like Jobscan.
  6. Pretend you’re selling yourself to your future employer, and highlight all your strengths!
  7. Remember to keep updating your resume, especially to check to see if anything needs to be added or is out of date.
  8. Look at other people’s or sample resumes for pointers on your own.
  9. Always have a copy or two of your resume on you while you’re job hunting to hand out to anybody that has a possible job for you!

Finding Employers and Job Opportunities

This is simply a list of potential places to look for a job, and to find a potential employer:

  1. Word of Mouth: ask your family or friends if they know of anyone or anywhere hiring.
  2. Websites of companies or malls, often they have a career section or job section.
  3. Websites like CalgaryJobShop, which have all the local job listings for an area.
  4. Government websites, provincial or federal.
  5. Go to job fairs, especially ones geared towards your field of interest or age group.
  6. Walk around a mall, or a place with lots of businesses and hand out your resumes!
  7. Kijiji or Craigslist, but be careful with these sites as there are a lot more questionable jobs on these sites.

In general, just put out the word that you’re looking for a job to as many places as possible, and usually you’ll have a few answers back! Personally, I always try to apply to two jobs a day while job hunting.

Goodbye to My Faithful Companion

This week, I’m saying goodbye to my summer job and home in Banff, my family in Alberta, and my home in Calgary as I move out to Nova Scotia for university. But there’s one special goodbye I need to make before I leave.

My first dog, Jerzy, is being put down this Tuesday. She’s 15 years old, and in a lot of pain because of her age. So it’s time to let her go before I don’t have the opportunity to because I’m living across the country.


I still remember the first time I met her. She jumped up on me because she gets excited around new people, but because I was still pretty young and small she almost knocked me over. I also remember the car ride back from my grandparents with her and petting her the entire way. I think my skirt was covered with dog fur from that trip.

That’s not the only car ride we took together. I’ve been on several road trips with my old girl curled up in the backseat for hours. Hopefully her last car ride is as exciting as the first one we took together.


I’ll be forever grateful for her lying next to me while I’ve been really sick, or upset. She always has a knack for coming over and making me giggle when I’ve had a bad day. Even though she can’t talk, she’s always a great listener when something is bugging me or stressing me out.

Her loving personality is one of her best traits. Given my family adopted her after she had puppies, it’s not surprising my sister and I were basically her children. I always feel safe with her in the house, and always know I’m well protected with her.

But this Tuesday, it’s my turn to take care of her one last time.


Jerzy was always coming on my childhood adventures. We would walk to the nearest park (more like I was pulled) and look for interesting things like animals or our friends.

She loved the snow as well. As soon as there was fresh snow in the backyard, she would be rolling all around and eating it by the mouthful. She really is a true Canadian dog, eating snow instead of drinking water in the winter. That and she came tobogganning with my sister and I countless winters.

In summer, when we went camping or down to Medicine Hat, we’d go on exploring in the woods or down by the river. She loved playing in the water and swimming around because of her Newfoundland dog breeding. The only downside was the wet dog smell and her shaking water all over after being in the water.

So this Tuesday, I’ll help her to her next adventure, as she’s always come on mine.


Goodbye Jerzy, my favorite giant ball of fluff and winner of self-petting. I hope your ten years living in this house with me were the best of your fifteen years on this earth. May your suffering be short this Tuesday, and may you go on to a peaceful next adventure. You’ll always be in my heart wherever I go in life. Love you always.

-Melissa

Jerzy 2000-2015 RIP my sweet angel

Jerzy 2000-2015
RIP my sweet angel

How To Survive a Gap Year: Learning a New Language

So these are my ways I’ve tried/used to learn or improve my language skills the last year, as the kickoff to the series of posts of How To Survive a Gap Year.

1) Take a class or course.

Find a local place or company that teaches classes for the language you want to learn. You can also look for tutors, or take a university course, but compared to local places those two options tend to be more expensive. In order to learn a language well through a course or class, you need to be willing to put in the effort to getting to the class and (most likely) doing assignments or tests. However, an upside to doing a class from a business or university is it’s more likely to get recognized by future employers or for future credit at a university.

2) Immersion

To use this method, it usually involves travelling or living in a place where the language you want to learn is spoken. You have to learn by interacting with people and learning the language as you go. It can be really hard at first to get the hang of not only new vocabulary, but also strange localized accents. However, once you catch on to language in the immersion method, you’ll have rather smooth sailing. Benefits to this method include being able to see new places, learn about new cultures and traditions, and getting very good at using more than verbal communication. The downside is, to travel or go through an organization that offers immersion is usually on the pricier side because you might be travelling halfway across the world.

3) Friends

Learning a language with a friend that a) already know it or b) wants to learn with you it always a great experience. Not only will it solidify your relationship from many hours learning verbs or rolling R’s, but will also allow you to pool time and knowledge to learn faster. However, that being said, learning with a friend can be dangerous because it’s not hard to end up distracted or doing silly things instead of learning.

4) Websites/Online Learning/Software

There are definitely many programs and websites (FREE and paid) that are excellent for learning a new language. The upsides to learning online are that you can learn whenever you conveniently have time, and in a technologically advancing world, be able to access it anywhere. Personally, I have a harder time learning online because of all the other distractions on my laptop, but if you have the motivation or learning online is easier than this could be the method for you.

Some sites/programs I recommend to help learn a language:

  • Duolingo: Free, has lots of languages, multiple platforms, lots of different types of exercises
  • Rosetta Stone: The classic, lots of different exercises, kinda pricey, you’ll need to install software
  • Google Translate: It’s not the best, but gets the job done (useful for chatting with foreign friends)
  • Reverso: Like google translate, but also has a dictionary. And if you need spellcheck/grammar check for english or french texts (they’re very thorough)

5) Advice, in General

Remember, learning a language is like learning anything else. You have to have the motivation and dedication to learn a whole new set of sounds for naming the exact same object (and sometimes even another alphabet!). Practice is really the key to cement vocabulary and verbs in your mind. Also, NEVER be afraid to test out language skills with somebody, even a stranger, who knows the language better than you. I’ve learnt way more by talking to people who know more about a language than sitting in a classroom.

In any case, I hope these methods (and some advice) help you out on your next language learning adventure. Good luck, bonne chance, and buena suerte in your learning.

-Melissa