Travel

Back To School-What to Pack

As much as I hide away a lot of my stuff in campus storage every year, I still have to lug most of my things for university across the country. So, for those headed off to university that need to pack all their life belongings into a few suitcases, I’ve got you covered.

Here are my tips for what to pack, and what to leave behind.

What to Pack:

  1. Portable electronics you’ll need. This means your cell phone, iPod, laptop, and all those goodies. Make sure you pack all the necessary chargers and cases as well.
  2. Any prescription medication, glasses, and prescriptions. Do not forget any medications you are taking or will need to take. Having all of these will save you many hours at the doctor or pharmacist, and keep you healthy.
  3. A few school supplies. You don’t need to bring every notebook and pen in your room, but if you want to pack some essentials in a pencil case, that’s perfect. You can always buy more when you get to campus.
  4. Clothes, of course! Try and pack items that can easily be layered or worn through multiple seasons. Make sure you do have clothes for nights out, interviews or other formal events, and for comfort. Don’t forget underwear, bras, socks, or pajamas too!
  5. Some special things from home. This could be anything from family photos to a special scarf. It’s really nice to have at least a small part of home at university.
  6. A backpack and a small everyday bag. You’ll need a backpack for university, and often I use mine as my carry on bag for flying. I also usually pack a small purse for nights I want to go out, or if I’m up to something off campus.
  7. A small first aid kit. Trust me, nothing’s worse than getting a small injury or a headache, so it’s best to have some supplies on hand. I usually keep a variety of band-aids, some Polysporin, medical tape, gauze, and Advil in my first aid kit.
  8. Various forms of ID. When you’re off at university, you’ll probably need ID at some point for anything from going out to getting a job. I would recommend you have your passport or provincial ID, driver’s license, student ID (if you have it already), health insurance, and health care cards.
  9. Your wallet and debit/credit cards. Even if your bank account is a little low from tuition and textbooks, how else are you going to buy anything you need?

What Not to Pack:

  1. Bedding and Pillows. Unless you’re driving up to school or have a very special blanket you need, it’s best to buy these when you get to campus. They’re very bulky, and chances are there’s a store nearby that sells them.
  2. Lots of shoes, because they’re bulky. I recommend that when you’re packing to choose shoes that look good with everything, and that you can wear in any season. You can also pack more shoes if they can be packed flat.
  3. A ton of makeup, or toiletries. You can always buy shampoo, soap, and most makeup at stores around campus when you get there.
  4. Textbooks. Unless it’s as thin as a book you’re reading for pleasure, it’s best to get these when you’re on campus. Plus, these make your bag more liable to be overweight if you’re traveling by plane.
  5. Food. Unless it’s plane snacks that you really need, don’t pack food. You’ll probably do a massive grocery trip once you’re back on campus, or you won’t really need any if you’re eating in meal hall.
  6. Lots of cooking or cleaning things. You can purchase these later on along with food, and usually in first year, you won’t need these as much. If you do purchase these items over the year, find somewhere to store them for summer.
  7. Heavy jackets, winter boots, or other seasonal attire. Since winter is over the school year, it can be tempting to pack all of your winter gear at once. My advice is to either get all those shipped to you right before the season changes, swap out seasonal clothes during trips home, or leave it in storage on campus.
  8. Lots of room decorations. As much as having a cute dorm room is great, I don’t recommend you pack a lot of decorations. Instead, buy them during the school year, and keep them in storage.

What do you guys usually pack or not pack, or what have I missed? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!

-Mel.

Hal-con 2016

As some of you may know, I’m a giant nerd. Naturally, that meant I *had* to go to the Halifax Comic Con. And so I bought myself a weekend pass, and made plans to have some fun!

The following are observations from the whole weekend:

  1. They had a rest area with inflated seats and let me tell you, that was heaven after being at con all day.
  2. Even though it wasn’t the biggest star lineup for panels, all the panels I went to were awesome.
  3. Nobody yelled at me for standing near the wall for two seconds to figure out where I was going. (Calgary Expo, I’m looking at you…)
  4. Some of the vendor art was absolutely beautiful, and I loved all the steampunk style jewelry for sale.
  5. Everyone was so friendly, from panelists to people standing in line. Two girls my age even started chatting with me and offered me Timbits while I was in line for a panel.
  6. My favorite cosplay was two (or three?) guys that had made Boba Fett cosplays including the armor. Absolutely amazing.
  7. The location was great since it’s in the heart of downtown Halifax and close to the boardwalk. So, it’s really convenient to go to lunch or do touristy things when the con gets tiring.

Overall, Hal-con was worth the weekend trip. I probably won’t be doing it next year, but I will definitely go back!

Also, huge shout outs to my friend from university who convinced me to go, my roommate who now lives in Halifax for getting me unlost, and one of my Banff friends who spent a lot of time with me the entire weekend.

If you guys have any questions about Hal-con, leave them below!

-Mel.

Day 13-Something I’d Like To Try

Well, a relationship would be nice…just kidding guys.

I’d really like to try kayaking or canoeing sometime this summer, which I can easily do one of my weekends off.

Other than that, I’d love to go to a gun range and learn how to shoot. It’s been on my to do list for a while, and I’d like to get that checked off sooner rather than later. And I have a few willing volunteers to go with me now, which is awesome.

I’d also love to go backpacking solo in either Europe or South America, just because I’d love to travel to both. I’ve never been backpacking or travelling solo, so I’d like to have the experience while I’m still young and have the time to do it.

What do you guys want to try? Leave it below in the comments!

-Mel.

Day 5-Five places you want to visit

This question is tough because I’d visit most places in the world if I could. But these places are top 5 because I’ve considered visiting them multiple times.

  1. Venice, Italy: This has been a dream of mine since I was young, so I’d love to see it before it gets flooded and doesn’t exist anymore…
  2. Peru: I have a few Peruvian friends now, so I’d love to visit them there, not to mention Peru is a cool place to visit with places like Machu Picchu.
  3. Australia/NZ: This is technically two places, but again, I have friends that live there, and they both seem like great places to visit. Not to mention, New Zealand is beautiful.
  4. Germany (Berlin): I want to visit where some of my ancestors are from, not to mention seeing the remnants of the Berlin Wall and the art on them would be great.
  5. Scotland: I’ve been to most of the UK except Scotland, so this is more of just a completion of seeing all of the UK. Plus, I’d probably go to London again, which is one of my favorite cities that I’ve been to.

Where do you want to travel to? Or if you’ve been to any of these places, what was your favourite place?

-Mel.

Bliss

Almost a year ago, I was riding on the back of a pick-up truck towards Totogalpa, where I would stay with my host family and counterparts for the next five weeks. There wasn’t anything extraordinary about the day, just a lot of travel, and the big reveal of counterparts and host families later on in the day.

But then riding on the back of that truck, holding on for what seemed to be dear life going up and down the mountains of Nicaragua, I experienced a feeling that I’ve never encountered. It was like happiness because I was travelling to a new place to do volunteering, one of my favourite things. It was like freedom, riding on the back of the truck with the wind in my hair, with no idea where I was or where I was going. It was a stress-free moment, as the only things I needed right then were taken care of. And even though I was totally out of my element, I knew I needed to be there at that moment. It was bliss, it was peace, it was tranquility.

To this day, I don’t have a name for what I felt that day. And there probably is a word, but I don’t really want to know what it is. Instead, I want to savour that moment forever, and the feeling of being on the top of the world.

So, since then, I’ve strived to get to that feeling again, but in the right way.

By that, I mean living each day to the fullest I can and living each day with as positive a mindset as I can. I want to live life appreciating the small things, and knowing that as long as I have food, water, and somewhere safe to but my head at night, I’ll be fine. Everything else is extra, but welcome in my life. I want to take chances, to explore, to spend that extra minute talking to a special person in my life, because I believe this world needs more positivity brought into it.

I know I’ll have bad days too when, it will be a struggle to get out of bed, when I’ll want to punch someone. However, the most important is knowing that I have the things I need in life, and as much as the bad stuff will drag me down, I am stronger than it.

At the end of the day, I hope to have made myself happy by what I’ve accomplished. And hopefully, if I do enough good things for myself, my impact on the other people in my life will be positive as well. If not, at least, I can go to bed knowing that I have not gone out of my way to hurt others, and bring negativity to another life.

And that’s enough for me, because I know that’s all I need now.

So, Nicaragua, you taught me an important lesson in the place I least expected would change my life. Thank you, a million times over.

-Melissa

 

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

Thoughts About: Trips

So if you were following my Tumblr account of Courage to Continue this will look familiar…I bringing back Thoughts About! I will be reposting some of the old ones (like the one below) from my old Tumblr but updated with the addition of my current thoughts. Anyways, enjoy!


 

Going on a trip is always one of the most difficult and exciting things I ever do or have done.

They’re hard because I’m headed away from my hometown, my family, and my friends. I wish I could banish the feeling of homesickness that comes with every time I am away for longer than a week and the wave of it I get when I touch down on a runway that doesn’t lead me home.

However, the excitement of being in a new place in the world and experiencing a new culture and people makes the hard stuff easier. I love the feeling of wandering without any purpose than to wander and stumble upon the small but important things in life. I love living the dream I’ve been planning since I started planning my newest trip.

After each and every trip, I have a love-hate relationship with the bitttersweet feelings of coming home and leaving a newly discovered place. I’m always experiencing wanderlust for places I have been to and miss, but also for those that I want to visit.

Overall, trips are amazing. Go on at least one in your lifetime, and it will change your perception of the world and yourself. So, my lovely followers, book yourself a ticket to your next adventure. It’s worth more than the price of one plane ticket to travel the world.

-Melissa

(I’d also like to give a shoutout to Ireland, Britain, Nicaragua, Nova Scotia, and New Mexico for giving me the best lessons in travel to date)