Lovely Little York & Durham

Durham Views

First off, I would like to formally apologize for not having updated you all on exactly what’s going on with me and my travels. As many of you know, once you start to travel, the tiredness and the constantly moving gets to you; it’s hard to want to do much but sleep. However, I will try to give a summary of what’s happened since the last time I wrote.

York: Since we only were staying in York for one night, we knew we would not have much time to go out or to really have time to see many sites since we only had 1 evening and one night there. We first got to York around in the evening since we had been in Durham earlier that day after boarding our coach then stopping to explore Durham for a bit. Durham Castle is supposedly where some Harry Potter scenes were filmed, however, the castle was closed for a private function. However, I did manage to get a photo to give you a look which I will insert here.

Later that night after seeing Durham, we drove more on our coach till we got to our hotel in York. York is a really cute town with lots of little shops, restaurants, and even a little wall around part of the city. There was a completely gluten-free and vegan restaurant called El Piano that was marvelous. I got an entirely vegan burger with some vegan chocolate ice cream as well and took it back to eat in my room with my friends Nathan, Rachel, Jaylene, and Caitlynne. I took a lovely little walk complete with a beautiful bridge and a river full of lily pads and lovely yellow flowers. A phrase I have gotten used to saying since coming on this trip is, “Oh look, another church/castle.” They are everywhere and are all beautiful in their own way whether they be big or small.

When I was walking to get my burger and ice cream, I passed a church and what looked like a demonstration was going on with signs about feminism and equality. It turned out to be part of a demonstration by the local theatre about the suffragettes of York and their fight for the right to vote back in the day. I did not get to see this production due to our one day in York, but I’m sure if I had more than one day, I would have been there. Feminism is my stuff.

Going back to Durham for a second, I saw the most dogs I have seen on this trip so far there! I met and pet 7 dogs who were all beautiful and gracious puppers. Seriously, dogs are too majestic. What did we as humans do to deserve them? Their names were Barrett (Whippet), Allyah (Golden Retriever), Molly (White Westie), Charlie (Brown Westie), Bonnie (English Setter), Annie (Yellow Lab), and Connie (French Bulldog.) 14/10. Dogs are the best things ever. I want to pet all of them. If you couldn’t tell I love dogs by now, you may not know me very well.

London blog coming next and I shall try to upload all my photos of my travel, or the best ones, to Facebook as soon as I return home or anytime I can. Thank you all who keep up with me through here, it means a lot!

Till next time,

Lydia, The Dog Lover

Edinburgh Days 1-3: Dogs & Other Happenings

Hello everyone and welcome back to my blog!

Recently, as you all know, I went to Australia and New Zealand with my family for 2 weeks to places like Gold Coast, Auckland, Wellington, and other travel destinations. We had a blast and I miss it already with its wonderful food, the lovable abundance of dogs to pet, and meraculous landscapes. However, I am now off on another adventure with EF College Break that takes college or just past college students from ages 18-28 on wonderful adventures overseas.

I started off my day leaving from Tri-Cities airport, flew to Atlanta, then had to run to my gate in Amsterdam due to a delay at Atlanta, finally arriving in Edinburgh, only with one problem… My suitcase wasn’t on the belt anywhere! Needless to say, I was worried. I asked the help desk to send my suitcase to our hostel and gave them my phone number in case they found it. I assumed that it just didn’t make it on my Amsterdam flight due to our quick turn around and my delay overall. I met up with the rest of my group in the hot outdoors, and headed to our hostel via bus. We arrived and had free time until our mixers and dinner that evening. Having worn the same makeup and clothes all day, I wasn’t excited about my suitcase being missing. However, I wasn’t the only one missing their belongings, so I felt slightly comforted. We walked around a Beer Festival with live music and plenty of dogs to pet. I met a wonderful little mop of a dog named Rosy, I forgot to ask the breed, I do apologize. I also do not have photos of these dogs as that would hold up the group as a whole. She was so soft, gave me a quick kiss as we left. We then went to our mixers where I had some delicious wine, along with a wonderful pizza (veggies no cheese) and proceeded to have some lemon sorbet as dessert.

Day 1 was a tiring success.

Day 2: We woke up early, had breakfast at 8, and headed off on a walking tour of the town while Tim, our lovely Scottish tour guide (complete with kilt), toured us around closes, told stories of the town, and told us some witty jokes. ¬†Closes are the back alleys of Scotland where the worst slums weren’t equipped with the latest in hygiene, everything just running through the streets due to gravity and rain. He told us a story about Half-Hanged Maggie the fishwife who came back to life, a carpenter named Deacon Brodie who would copy the rich’s keys and steal from their homes, and also Buddy, the most loyal dog Scotland ever saw. There was a statue of him, and believe me, I definitely booped the snoot. We also went to see Edinburgh Castle and heard the Leonardo DiCaprio had visited in the last year and asked some wonderful questions. I also went on a Harry Potter tour complete with the Elephant House Cafe where J.K. Rowling wrote the 2nd and 3rd Harry Potter books. We also visited Spoon, formerly called Nicolson’s Cafe, the inspiration for Lord Voldemort, Hogwarts, and its 4 houses. I got sorted into Slytherin and clarified that the Spoon, not the Elephant, was the “birthplace” of Harry Potter. After the Harry Potter tour, some of us took a long nap before going out for a quick drink with the group. We went to an Ozzie bar, an Irish bar, and our hostel bar.

Day 3: This morning I woke up at 4 am and couldn’t go back to sleep. As we headed down for breakfast, we realized how many people were in line. Only having a few minutes to eat, I packed an apple because snacks are always necessary on exploring trips. We headed up to see Stirling Castle, rode around the countryside, and took a small hike in the Highlands. There I met another dog named Holly who was a black lab that loved for me to throw her tennis ball far out into the water. We stopped at the Scottish Wool Center for some food, shopping, and to see the different kinds of sheep, We also watched Swift, the beautiful girl Border Collie, herd some ducks through different obstacles. Then we headed back on the bus, took a wee hike, chilled on the beach for a minute, and headed back to downtown busy Edinburgh. We are now relaxing and getting ready to leave early tomorrow morning for our 3 and 1/2 hour bus ride to York for one night, then 3 days in London. I am having so much fun, have made a lots of new friends, and have pet as many dogs as I can.

More updates coming soon! Please feel free to message me with any further questions about my trip. Cheers!

Day 2: Hiking in Gold Coast

Today we hiked at Springbrook National Park and decided to do the Twin Falls hike that was around 3 miles to the falls itself. We ended up hiking further into the rain forest due to the nice weather and the fact that the trail actually extended on past the falls anyways.

We first headed out towards the National Park which was about 20-35 minutes away but decided to stop nearby to pick up some early lunch to take with us on our hike as a sort of picnic. Pita Pit wasn’t open yet so we decided to get Subway instead. I saw beetroots on the menu but was disappointed to learn they actually didn’t have any beets to get. ūüė¶

The difference from hiking in the rainforest of Australia versus say the forests of Bays Mountain were significantly different. First off, the canopy of trees in the rainforest made the temperatures much chillier and had less light hitting the bottom of the jungle floor. Secondly, the change in elevation and terrains including lots of switchbacks was a second striking difference. There were so many different types of flowers, trees, and wildlife in the jungle, but not much wildlife that we got to witness. We saw a sign indicating to not touch the leaves on the edge of the trail because some of them could sting you as a defense mechanism to protect the trees of the undergrowth. However, I, thankfully, did not get stung by any of these said “stinging leaves.” I tweeted during the course of eating my Subway lunch next to the two falls, “just eating lunch next to two waterfalls, no big deal.” Another cool feature of the falls was the fact that you could go behind them and take photos as well as a little wet if you got too close to the second tinier falls. I took tons of photos of the foliage around me and posted a few on my Instagram to show to the great beauty of the hike itself.

Finishing up the hike was a wonderful feeling and so was looking through all the gorgeous scenery¬†photos we took along the hike itself. It was definitely more strenuous than Bays Mountain, but it wasn’t the hardest hike I have ever done in my life.

Sorry for the late upload! More to come!

Sincerely,

Lydia

Day 1: Byron Bay Lighthouse and Palm Valley Beach

Today was a wonderful first day in Gold Coast, Australia! I’m sure everyone must be asking if I am adjusted to the time difference as well as used to the jet lag. The truth is, I am. Besides waking up at 4 am with a pounding headache, going back to sleep was no problem.

We woke up this morning and headed out with our family to Byron Bay and also to see the Byron Bay Lighthouse. This lighthouse is the brightest in all Australia, and the LED bulb inside it cost at least $10,000 dollars. The light was originally made in France and shipped in 445 pieces to Australia. The lighthouse oil lamps used to have to be re-litevery hour and the crack would have to be wound in order for the light to turn. Up until 1989, the lighthouse was maintained by workers but then switched to be all computer run.

After taking the lighthouse tour with my sister, uncle, father, and cousin, we climbed down and started further down the cape to see better views and more of the coast. The cliffs were so steep and the water so blue! Around the lighthouse was particularly calm because no commercial fishing, jet skiing, or boats of any kind are used around the cape because there are no boat docks. Wind whipping through our hair, we continued down the cape and actually ventured off the path a little to get to climb on some rocks and to take more photos. We were constantly going from hot to cold with added wind. We were either taking our jackets off or putting them back on in the shade.

After we drove down from the Cape, we decided to stop and get some lunch in the village below and found a wonderful Mexican restaurant with the most amazing Mexican mandarin orange soda pop and stopped to get some vegan gelato. I got 2 scoops, one of lemon, and one of mango with passion fruit mixed in. Best vegan gelato I’ve ever tasted by far!

Finally, we then drove from Cape Byron to Palm Valley Beach for a little beach and sun despite it being about 65 degrees including the wind. We wanted to stay on the beach until the sunset to get a spectacular picture, but it was getting too cold and we were ready to head back to our Air B&B house anyways.

Day 1 of Gold Coast complete! Wonderful views, temperatures I love (60s-70s), wonderful vegan gelato, and Mexican¬†burritos, what’s not to love about Australia? If I were ever to move somewhere else besides the United States, Australia, specifically Melbourne, would be my first pick. It is listed by The Independent as one of the Top 10 Cities for Vegan Travelers, and I will certainly have to visit there if I shall ever return to Australia.

Sincerely,

Lydia

Traveling Abroad

Everyone likes to travel. Whether it be out of your county to hike a trail or out of the country for business or on holiday vacation. I firmly believe that everyone should get to travel at some point in their life whenever possible.

For me personally, I have been fortunate enough to get to travel to lots of different places with my family such as Cozumel, Mexico, Austria, Paris, Rothenberg, and many other places. In traveling to these various locations, I have learned a lot of things along the way about other cultures, living conditions, personal experiences, and much more. Soon my family and I shall be heading to Australia and New Zealand and I am so excited! Some people get intimidated by the idea of traveling in general whether that be driving or flying. I know I have certainly taken for granted how many wonderful places I have gotten to visit throughout my life so far. To put my traveling experience into perspective, my father didn’t travel out of the country until he was 28 and that was only to Canada. I was lucky enough to travel to Cozumel, Mexico to visit our dear friend Chanti at the young of 8 in 2005. It is amazing to me that I got to travel out of the country at such a young age while my dad didn’t get to travel until he was an adult.

According to a study posted on Psychology Today by Art Markman Ph. D., a study taken looking at the prolonged psychological differences between German students who traveled abroad versus those who did not, shows that students who traveled abroad returned more open to new experiences, more agreeable, and more emotional stability than those who did not travel. Along with this knowledge, traveling abroad also gets you out of your comfort zone and allows you to see how different people live in different cultures from language, mannerisms, and food. I know for me particularly, it was very eye opening to travel in the more rural areas of Cozumel and see the contrast of poverty between them and poverty in the U.S. Some houses did not have doors, their bed was a hammock, their floor was dirt, and any number of people could be living in the confines of one room all together.

So whether you have never flown before, never left your county, or never traveled out of the country, it is never too late! Seeing the world outside of your bubble is an experience you will never forget from the architecture,¬†culture, and photos you take. You change as a person. You see the world from a new perspective and use these experiences to influence your thinking and how you view the world and the places you’ve traveled.

So whether you have never left your county, or already left the country, travel as much as you can! I have never heard anyone say, “Wow, traveling is such a waste of time, and I had a horrible time and learned nothing.” It just doesn’t happen. You will not regret traveling, and I never have personally. So if you are given the opportunity to travel abroad whether that be for a mission trip, for work, or for fun, go for it! You will not live to regret it or the memories you created along the way.

Sources: Extended Travel Affects Personality: (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ulterior-motives/201309/extended-travel-affects-personality) 

Changing Lifestyles..again

As many of you know, I have been a dedicated vegetarian for about 4 1/2 years. I first started being a vegetarian as a New Year’s resolution my freshman year of high school, and I have continued successfully until now.

However, my lifestyle is about to change..again. I have some exciting news for you all, I am going plant-based¬†a.k.a. VEGAN! Now for those of you who don’t know, being a vegan means I will stop eating anything that has come from an animal such as meat, milk, eggs, honey, etc. This is different from being a vegetarian because I am cutting ALL animal products out of my diet, not just meat. According to Websters.com, a vegan is:¬†a person who does not eat any food that comes from animals and who often also does not use animal products (such as leather).

Plant-based diet is the same as being a vegan but just a little bit different. Veganism is not only about eating completely plant-based, but is also a change in lifestyle such as not wearing leather, not using animal tested products, using non-animal tested makeup, etc. I will transition into the complete vegan lifestyle soon, but being a broke college student, eating plant-based will be challenging enough.

However, I am looking forward to going back to school and also to starting my new lifestyle as a vegan/ plant-based college girl! You may ask, Lydia, why would you want to switch lifestyles again from being vegetarian to vegan all of a sudden? That’s a very good question friend! I have 3 main reasons for changing again: I want to be healthier than I already am. Two, I do not want any more animals to lose their lives for me. And finally, as a fellow inhabiter of this planet, I want to be more of an activist for the animals of this planet and to help people understand that animals contribute so much more than just being our meals to this planet we call Earth.

 

Memoir of a College Kid

All throughout high school I always used to hear the same quote, “Everything will be so much better in college.” I’m not denying that fact by any means, but as a current college student, I’d like to give you some of my insight of my college experience so far with one semester behind me.

My first semester of college was not the least bit easy as some people might have thought. Moving from my small town, driving 4 1/2 hours away to my college, and starting to make new friends was not a walk in the park by any means. Not only was I trying to assimilate myself to living in a freshman dorm with community showering, laundry, and kitchen area, but also trying to meet new friends as well. Now I have always been able to adapt to my surroundings pretty easily, but when you go from your own personal bathroom to sharing a bathroom with 25+ girls on your floor, it can be frustrating to say the least. Now I got assigned my own private room which I am eternally grateful for. This means I personalized my room as much as possible and can keep it at whatever temperature I want. This also allowed me to stack my beds so I could have more floor space to move around in.

Moving on from my dorm: classes. The first days of classes were pretty standard. Going over the syllabus, meeting all your fellow students, and of course, meeting your professors. Most of my professors first semester were alright, but there were some definite favourites in my mind. After getting lost at least 5 times on my way to class, I would finally find my right room. I was always told that the older students would be astronomically helpful when it came to finding your way around campus. This, however, was not the case. Most of the older students I asked for help, either had no idea where I was going, or couldn’t be bothered by a lowly freshman’s questions. Thank goodness there were information and guidance tents all around campus for the first week. To whoever kept answering my stupid questions, you are amazing.

I have always had a very strange sleep schedule even back as far as middle school. I always seem to be tired no matter how much I sleep I got or didn’t get, and no matter the amount of caffeine in my system. I do admit, I am the heaviest sleeper according to many friends and family. For this, I am truly sorry. But as we all know, college students statistically need more sleep than anyone else at this point in their lives due to the constant studying we are doing as well as homework, and other activities. There can be even more stress on us if we are an undecided major, minor, or just general anxiety about classes, relationships, and friendships. With all the factors of college we are dealing with, it takes a lot of energy out of us on a daily basis. Especially if we have more classes, work, or other activities on some days more than others.

Here are some tips for ways to better communicate with your college student:

  1. Please stop asking what we want to do with our futures: I know this is the question you are all DYING to know, but it gives us major anxiety up the wall even if we know what we want to do. The average person changes majors at least 3 to 4 times,  this means our answers could vary from time to time depending on when you see us. Also, that is the number 1 question we hear all the time. So mix things up a bit please, would you?
  2. LET US SLEEP: I know you may think we are dead when you don’t hear from us for hours on end, but at least for me, I need as much as sleep as I can possibly get no matter what the situation. My friend brought up a good point when she said, “Why can’t my parents just let me sleep? I’m not doing any bad things, they know exactly where I am, and I am not widely spending their money. I don’t see a problem here.” Sorry Mom and Dad, but I cannot help but to agree. So the next time I sleep for forever, just let me.
  3. Listen to us: I know it sometimes seems like we’re in another realm of reality over here in college, but every now and then, shoot us a text, email us, or send us food for example. We like to know that we are loved, missed, and appreciated even if we get on your nerves a lot. Being under constant stress about our grades, or even comparing ourselves to other’s grades, we still need to know we still matter to you. So even if you just tell your kid, “I’m proud of you,” that can mean a world of difference to us.
  4. We still love you, even if we don’t talk to you as often as you would like: With all that we have going on, we may not be the most reliable of responders, but we will get back to you when we have time. And who can blame us? For some students they may have a multitude of activities on a daily basis such as school, homework, work, sorority/fraternity events, sports, or even clubs. (Refer back to point 3, last sentence)

All in all, with one semester of school behind me, I am getting more adjusted to college life, but still figuring out my place here and still trying to hang on to friendships where we are apart distance wise, and or going to different universities. College may be the “best years of our lives,” but right now, it’s just stressful and a little hectic, but we will pull through. But only with support from friends, family, and relatives.