This blog is dedicated to all of you who seek adventure. This blog reiterates my weekend experience camping with two lovely ladies. Thank you for bringing me along, it is a weekend I will never forget.
Happy sister reunion to the MacKenzie sisters!
Jill (my cool roomie) and her sister Taylor MacKenzie were used to living moments away from one another their whole lives. This year comes as a new experience for the sister duo. Tay is at home in Ontario studying while Jill continues her studies here in Halifax. For any of you that have been in a long distance relationship, whether it is with family or a partner, you can relate to how tough being apart from loved ones can be. These sisters don’t let the distance tarnish their bond. To the MacKenzie’s, family time is important. Making family time a priority, Halifax was lucky enough to welcome Taylor MacKenzie back with open arms to visit her sister Jill this week. Let me introduce you to my roomie’s sister, Tay.
Field of study: Graduated honours sociology at Dal. Tay is currently working towards her Masters of Sociology at McMaster University.
Fun fact: Taylor is a certified yoga instructor!
Favourite memory from this weekend trip: Spending quality time with her sister in one of their happiest places!
Prior to Tay’s arrival, Jill had an entire itinerary planned for their week together. Jill had scheduled a mini camping trip- and guess what?! I was invited! For those of you who have visited, lived in, or googled Nova Scotia, you can tell it is a beautiful place to explore. Eager to connect with nature, we ventured to the great outdoors. For any of you seeking an outdoor thrill, I would first recommend reading Niki’s blogs for tips and tricks that will keep you safe on your exploring endeavours! Check out my favourite Niki blogs: Hitting the 200km mark blog for Niki’s lessons learned on the trail, and her Wild Woman: Being alone in the Outdoors Blog. These blogs will give you all the know-how to make your outdoor experience a good one!
With our excitement to get outside, we may or may not have forgotten a few essentials… I have to admit we were slightly underprepared to be camping alone in an undesignated camping area. It did however, make for funny stories! Yes we managed to pack sleeping bags, food, water, shelter, and a first aid pack but we forgot some survival tools such as a flash lights, a knife, matches, and portable chargers for phones. Learning from our trip this past weekend I would stress Niki’s tip to: “Always bring a headlamp, you never know when your plans may take an unexpected turn or end up longer than expected. Be prepared with other supplies such as a pocket knife, matches, shelter, a compass, and first aid supplies.” Don’t worry- we were all okay and had a great time, but you want all these supplies - you know, just in case!
I had an amazing time camping with the MacKenzie sisters. I love being outside. Connecting with nature is something I find so therapeutic. With the fresh breeze from the ocean, we picnicked and watched the sunset. Spending time camping with these two, made me excited to do a camping trip with my sister, Neive. Being outside and away from technological distractions created an atmosphere where we have the time and the focus to engage in quality conversations. Really getting to know one another better.
After a beautiful sunset, the night sky was clear and filled with stars. We were able to see stars like we have never seen stars before. I am grateful for having the opportunity to see a glimpse of this world’s beauty. Sometimes we get so busy I think we loose sight of how beautiful this world truly is.
If you have the desire to get outside, do it! Not sure where to camp? We find our camp by following a road and pulling over at a spot that we want to explore! We hike until we find a good spot to pitch a tent and settle into- it’s as simple as that! This is my favourite type of camping. You discover amazing spots that you didn’t even know existed. Exploring beyond the campground scope, you get the extra thrill of sometimes being the only people for miles! This is a unique and amazing feeling.
Thank you Jill and Tay for including me in your sister bonding camping experience- bears or no bears, it was an amazing weekend. Thank you for the laughter, the good conversation, and for being equally as scared of unknown noises as I am.
Stay curious, adventurous, and kind.
The adopted MacKenzie sister,
Hey kind krafters, hope you’re all doing well and feeling wonderful! Today I’m sharing a pretty personal story of things doing wrong and ending badly, of some pain and hard times that I’m being forced to tackle straight on and tough my way through. It all started with a camping trip.
I learned last year that labour day weekend and the few days afterwards are the best days to go camping if you want to have a real break and get away from it all, especially as a student finishing summer and moving into a new academic year. For me this year it was marking a transition from my summer schedule to a new work schedule and the end of my internship. It came after a crazy stressful week of busy work, missed appointments and lost keys. I desperately needed a vacation and was extremely grateful when it came time to start. I added an extra day on, so I could spend a night in Fundy National Park before heading to Kouchibouguac for three nights.
My sites at Fundy and Kouchibouguac
And so the trip was wonderful and relaxing and beautiful. I headed to Fundy and spent the night in the most beautiful secluded camp spot, off the main road, and spent the evening hiking steep coastal views, and returning to a warm campfire and hearty sweet potato camp stew. The next morning I packed up early and headed to the Third Vault Falls, hiked to the waterfall, had a snack, and then headed back to my Jeep. From here I went to Kouchibouguac. I set up camp at a giant site surrounded by woods and trees and quiet campsites. Afterwards I went to the beach and read for a bit until the wind became too much to keep my pages open. So I walked all of the surrounding short trails. I spent my evening winding through giant pine trees, along a salt marsh, and through a beautiful bog and it’s tower as the sun began to set and the moon shone in the changing sky.
Hiking on the Coppermine Trail
Third Vault Falls
The evening I went back to my site and enjoyed burritos by the campsite listening tentatively to the sounds of the woods around me. Thunder was expected that night, so I went to sleep knowing I would soon be awoken. At 1:30am the pounding rain woke me, keeping me awake as I drifted in and out of sleep until the lightning strikes began around 4am. Knowing staying in my tiny tree surrounding tent was not a safe choice, I grabbed my rain coat, lantern and book, and hopped in my Jeep. I spent the next two hours uncomfortably trying to sleep until the rain and lightning stopped and sun came out, and I was able to crawl back into the tent and sleep for three hours.
Waking up I was stiff and tired, I attributed the pain to the bad sleep, made some camp coffee and headed to complete two beautiful trails along the Kouchibouguac river. Heading back my throat had a tingle so I had a nap and went for another hike at the gorgeous Cote de Fabien. It was a gorgeous way to end the evening. That night a bunny visited my campsite, coming right up to my seat before running away. Waking up the next morning I was just as sore, more so even, and we were expecting another night of rain and lightning. Knowing another bad sleep, followed by a long drive would be unwise and unhealthy, I packed up a day early. I spent Tuesday morning with the beach all to myself reading, and ate a quick picnic lunch before heading home in the afternoon. The trip was glorious, but in coming back I realized something was not right.
Osprey Trail on the Cote de Fabien
I’m used to eight hour and 20km hikes on my weekends. Yet after a weekend of short hikes and a night of bad sleep, my legs were more sore than they had been when I ran a half marathon. And my throat was tingling and sore whenever I went to eat. I was treated for an infection and made myself take extra care to stretch. A few days later, with now swollen legs, I was told take some anti-histamines and see how it is. I went to work, and ended up with legs swollen three times their regular size and a throat no better than it had been since medication began.
And so I spent 6 hours in an ER trying to find out just what had happened. I expected maybe a reaction to a plant or something I came in contact with while hiking or camping. I later found it that I was being diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder. In response to taking an antibiotic I was allergic to a month and a half ago, my body started fighting, and didn’t stop, eventually fighting itself. When I got a new infection in my throat, my body didn't know how to respond. And so my legs are swollen and sore and marked by hives and bruises. My throat is sore and healing at a rate slower than molasses. And worst of all, there is no cure besides some coping mechanisms in the form of rest, anti-inflammatories, and medication. And so, to my utter sadness I am stuck on my couch and deck chair, unable to do anything besides walk TV and read, and walk to the kitchen and back. And I’m here as I play the waiting game, for this condition to simply go away, and it does on it’s own after a few weeks of rest and waiting.
This has been the hardest time in my life, and the toughest thing I have gone through. My health and my ability to live as I am used to and love, constantly moving and in a state of activity, in gone and I do not know for sure when it will return. Remaining positive is my greatest tool right now. I force myself to read in the sunshine and watch the birds in the trees in my backyard. I can't eat everything I want, but try and choose foods that I enjoy. I watch shows that make me happy, even if they’re guilty pleasures, and don't feel guilty for watching two movies in one day because I can’t leave the couch. It is tough. But I keep reminding myself, I am tougher. I have to be.
For those of you coming through a tough time, fighting to stay positive in the face of something crippling, know that you are not alone. Know that you can and will be ok, that you are tougher than you know and can do so much more than you realize. Know that you are not and never are alone. And if you are dealing with a tough time, reach out and chair with me, connect to me or someone you love or know is experiencing a similar ordeal. Spread love and positive vibes and knowledge. Be kind and share, spread positivity and tips for doing so.
Be Kind and Stay Well,
Hello kind krafters!
With summer coming to an end, and the craziness of school setting in, I have brought you the ultimate school survival guide. Please keep in mind; I am no expert when it comes to this whole school thing, I am always learning. I mean, students are meant to learn on the fly, and fake it until we make it, right? Making it up as I go, I decided to share my insights on how to survive school for yet another semester.
Whether you are new to school or have been plugging away at a degree for some time, let’s face it- school can be hectic. With endless deadlines, hundreds of pages to read, and the added pressure to be well rounded, it comes as no surprise that school can take a lot out of you. So how do you make it through to see the light at the end of the tunnel? You simply do your best. As cliché as that may sound, it is true. If you are giving your best efforts, you will succeed. It is important to remember that you are an individual and what works for you may not work for the next person and vice versa. This school survival guide has your back when it comes to managing your schoolwork, keeping up with your social life, and learning to love your home- wherever that may be.
School Specific Tips:
Tip: Calendars are a MUST! Organization is key for success!
With various classes happening simultaneously, it is always best to have a calendar with all your due dates recorded! I typically do this at the beginning of the semester, to make sure I don’t forget about any assignments, project, or tests. I usually colour co-ordinate my calendars so each class is represented in different coloured ink. Fun tip: mark your tests or exams in red so they stand out!
Calendars are also a great tool to document your work hours as well as your social commitments! I usually have an agenda that I keep in my backpack that is a weekly planner, and then a monthly calendar on my wall! I need all the reminders I can get.
Tip: Network! Take advantage of Professors’ office hours and get to know your TAs!
You can never network enough! Getting to know your professors as well as your teaching assistants is probably the best thing you can do in a learning environment! They are there to help you. Professors and teaching assistants love sharing their knowledge and want students to succeed. My university career really flourished once I started to build a professional relationship with my professors and TAs.
Professors and TAs can also do a lot for you! Whether you are applying for extra curricular positions, jobs, or further schooling- these connections can be the icing on the cake for any of your applications. A letter of recommendation from a professor or TA holds merit.
Professors and TAs can also be a great source to discover new opportunities on and off campus. Many are involved with research, extra curricular activities, etc. Building this connection may help you discover something you are passionate about and help you to get involved!
Tip: Ask for help! There is no such thing as a stupid question.
Being a student myself, I know how many questions can arise daily. My advice to you, is just ask the questions you have- don’t be shy. These questions can class material related, opportunity related, advising related, etc. In my first year of study I thought I was meant to have everything figured out and I shied away from asking the questions I needed answered. Please don’t do this, the answers don’t come out of thin air, and people are always willing to help.
When it comes to class material, try asking your questions to your professor or TA. If asking a question in front of 400 people isn’t your thing, professors are normally available to answer questions via e-mail or discussion boards.
Are you still hesitant to ask your prof? Don’t sweat it. Form a study group with some peers and ask them. Most of the time, you are not the only one thinking of that question. So ask away!
If you ask and you don’t get the answer you need, do not feel discouraged. Keep looking for it; try asking another professor in that faculty or an advisor, or maybe try e-mailing a professional in your field of study. The answer is there and you will find it.
Tip: Know your resources and know what you are paying for!
Many post secondary institutions have a number of resources available that are actually covered in your tuition and school fees! Things like writing centers, gym memberships, academic advising, transportation services, etc. Know what you are paying for. In my first year, I didn’t know there was all of these resources available and that I was in fact paying for them. I encourage you to find out what these resources are on your campus and to use them! If you are a fellow Dal Pal I have included the links for some of these resources around campus below.
5. Energy essentials: Sleep, eat, repeat.
In order to do well, you have to be well. What does this mean? Make sure you are well fed and getting your recommended hours of sleep. With pressing deadlines and busy schedules it is hard to justify spending 8-10 hours of your day sleeping- but trust me, this a priority. There are great benefits that come from getting your optimal hours of sleep: feeling rested, better overall mood, increase in ability to focus, knowledge retention, etc. As tempting as it is to pull all-nighters, or to stay up all night cramming for an exam you have the next day…. Don’t do it. Go home, get some food, and you got it- SLEEP! I was the worst for making sleep a priority in my early undergrad years. Since I have changed my sleeping schedule, I have noticed a dramatic increase in my daily energy levels, increase in my grades, and an increase in my overall mood. I am actually able to get many more things accomplished during the day when I am well rested.
Don’t forget to be well fed. Food can be expensive, and when it comes to a tight student budget, a night out on the town will often trump the healthy options on your grocery list! But what you put into your body is important, so if you are deciding between a healthy food haul or a night of drinking, I would recommend the healthy alternative. Food is your fuel and energy. This was a big learning curve in my university career. I learned how to shop healthy on a budget. Healthy eating does not have to be expensive. Simply draft up a menu for the week. My added tip would be to pick meals that use a lot of the same ingredients. This way you will not be wasting your food and it will save you from buying many different ingredients. Also! Making food like salads, soups, and pasta dishes can leave you with left overs that you can enjoy throughout the week!
Weekly Meal Planner template with grocery list: https://i.pinimg.com/736x/a4/64/0f/a4640fbf506cfe3f63dae5ebd9f8e738--weekly-meal-planner-template-meal-planning-templates.jpg
Social Specific Tips:
Tip: Surrounding yourself with positive people
Find your kind of people. Post secondary is a huge opportunity to meet new people. Do not limit yourself to one particular group of friends. And do not feel discouraged if the people you meet in residence or in your classes aren’t your people. Sometimes it can take time to meet the people you really click with. My best advice for social survival is to surround yourself with people that empower you. Be surrounded by people that make you want to be the best you that you can be. These are your people. These people will support you and be happy to be around the real you and that’s what matters most.
Tip: Learn your favourite social setting and try new places!
With post secondary education, comes new experiences. Learning your favourite social scene can be challenging but I encourage you to try them all! Anything that captivates your interest whether it is in your comfort zone or not… try it out! If you hate the club scene, stop going. Try a board game café or an artsy wine-tasting bar, or somewhere new. Do what you like, and if you find you keep ending up at a place that really is not your scene, stop going! It’s as easy as that. Fun tip: google fun things for students to do in your city. Here’s a link for the Halifax students to take a peek at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/broke-student-s-guide-to-fun-things-to-do-in-halifax-1.2750412
Tip: Recharge yourself: Making ‘Me’ time
As important as it is to be social with others, it is important to make sure you give yourself some ‘me’ time to make sure you can recuperate and check-in. Are you being the kind of person you want to be? Are you doing what is right for you? Are you happy? You time is just as important as the social time you spend with others! If you are living in residence or with roommates it can be challenging to find ‘me’ time. Try getting out of the house for a walk or joining a class by yourself to ensure you are getting that time.
Tip: Find a hobby or make time for your hobby
People are always telling you to join a club (I know I just did it above), and to get involved. Please keep in mind this doesn’t always have to be extravagant. I like to word it as find a hobby. You don’t have to join a painting class to paint. Whatever your hobby may be, make time for it and value it. Try and introduce your friends to your hobby or find others to hang out with that share the same hobby. This is a great way to integrate your social circle with the things you love doing.
Tip: It’s okay to say NO
Social situations can get overwhelming. If you are overwhelmed, always know that you can say no. You can say no to the activity, you can say no to attending, you can just say no. For some of us this can be hard, especially when we want to do the activity or event but we know we shouldn’t or are unable to at that time. We call that FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). Don’t let your FOMO get the best of you. There will always be a next time!
Meeting new people is hard and can sometimes make it hard to say no. However, if you are uncomfortable with whatever is happening stick with your gut and say no. When people are your true friends they will not pressure you or make you feel bad for saying no. Stay true to yourself and don’t be afraid to say NO.
Home Specific Tip: Making this your home away from home.
Many of us attending school will at some point live with roommates. Living with new people is definitely a learning experience. My advice to you about living with roomies is to make sure you enjoy the environment you are coming home to. Make sure your home is a safe space and that you enjoy spending time there. If for whatever reason it is not, understand that you are never stuck there. There are services available to help roommates on and off campus who need to change their living arrangements, so never feel stuck.
Some roomies stay together their whole school career and other part ways and find new roomies. I am lucky to have my roommates. These ladies are so awesome I couldn’t help but introduce them to you! They were kind enough to include their school survival tip that works for them!
Meet the Roomies!:
Program: Psych and Neuroscience
Fun facts: I work as a piano teacher and a photographer wahoooo! I am the oldest of five kids and I love them all very much.
School tip Syd lives by: Create a planner for yourself that you can keep in your backpack! It's so helpful to have somewhere to physically write down your schedule and your to-do lists
You can check out Syd’s photography here (do it.. she’s amazing!) https://www.sydneymaclennan.com
Program: Gender and Women’s Studies
Fun facts about Anna: I read the last page of every book before I read it and I'm a die-hard Friends fan!
School tip: Make time for the things and people you love!
Program: Social Work
Fun Facts: I’m a horrible dancer but I wear funky socks everyday! And I collect vinyl records.
Jill’s school tip: explore nature- try and get outside every week!
Program: Music and Sustainability
Two fun facts: I LOVE pickles, I spent two months travelling this summer!
School Tip Rachael lives by: schedule me time, just as much as school time
I am grateful to call these lovely ladies my roomies. So far they have been nothing but supportive and a joy to be around. We are excited to have a year jammed packed of new adventures and roommate activities! Follow us on social media to see some of our roommate activities in action! I have included some pictures of our vegan muffin baking that took place while we planned our laundry schedules! There is always a fun way to get chores done!
So remember, school is tough. No one is denying that. We are need to be here to support one another and to learn as best as we can. If you have any survival tips that work best for you please comment them down below!
Hello kind krafters!
It’s that time of year again that most of us begin looking forward and preparing for the business to come in the form of a new semester, new classes, maybe a new school, and for some of us a new season of work or phase of life in which we are no longer rushing into September in pursuit of academic goals.
For the first time since I was child starting pre-primary, I will fall into that later category. This time around, September does not signify the start of another round of orientations, classroom “get to know you” games, paper writing and exam taking. Instead, for the first time this September will signify nothing but a shift in my working schedule and a move towards cooler temperatures and extra layers. This September I won't be returning to classes.
But, as some of you who know me personally may be asking, you haven’t graduated yet! You still have classes left to complete! And that’s true. Instead of taking classes this September, I will be finishing off my last three course requirements in a Natural Resource Studies Program, on an island off the coast of British Columbia. In January, as the grind of classes once again starts anew, I will be flying to Haida Gwaii, and ending my University career studying what I love, in a way I have for a long time yearned for.
Where I’ll be heading this upcoming January for the Haida Gwaii Natural Resources Program