This thanksgiving I find myself in somewhat of a reflective mood. As I look out of my window at the view across Vancouver, I am reminded how thankful I am to be here and how good this last year has been.
It has been a long time since I have written something other than an assignment. In fact, I think it was 3 months into my massage therapy course the last time I posted on here and it kind of seems fitting that now I only have 3 months left, I have come full circle. As you can probably tell from the lack of blog and post updates over the last 17 months the course has been intense and all consuming.
It has certainly been a roller coaster ride of emotions with a lot of ups and downs – from passing exams, going to wonderful outreaches and awesome events, to having a major break down in an oral practical final where I literally cried though the whole thing. But what I have learnt about myself is that I am stronger and more resilient than I imagined, I can put my mind to anything if I want it badly enough and in all honesty, I believe I have found my calling. I wish that I had been brave and strong enough to have made this move years ago but in honesty I don’t think I would have been ready or mature enough to handle it.
I have been a massage therapist student now for 3 months and it has been intense to say the least, but it is also been one of the best experiences of my life. Yes, it is hard work and essentially you get what you put into it, but I am fortunate to have excellent teachers who actually work in the field as RMT’s, so are able to offer practical experience, as well as teaching us the fundamentals that we have to cover as part of the course.
The real surprise for me is how amazing my classmates are – right from they beginning everyone has been super supportive. We all share the same mentality of “we all started this together so we will finish it together” which I think is awesome. We have become very much of a family in a short space of time, helping each other out during the tough times of exams or failed quizzes, staying behind to help each other get through sections we aren’t entirely sure about and of course celebrating the successes we have had along the way.
It has been a while since I have last written, and that is because I have been trying to get my life together and follow my dream of living in Canada. I can happily tell you dear readers that I am doing exactly that. I am here in Vancouver doing something I want to do and living the life I have always wanted.
I have come a long way since I went traveling a couple of years ago, I have grown as a person and have become someone I actually like again, for a time, I was becoming someone I vowed never to be – bitter, bitchy and generally not a nice person to be around, and that certainly took its toll on my health and well-being.
Yes dear blog readers it has been a while. 3 months almost. I want to say a lot has happened in the 3 months since I last wrote but I would be lying. I have been thoroughly depressed with life.
I have struggled to find work, I have had no adventures or excitement, I have no inspiration to write and it has been a real struggle getting out of bed in the morning. I have even stopped interacting as much on my Twitter travel groups as it is hard to look at what everyone has been doing and the adventures they have been on.
But I am back, well I hope I am. I will not neglect you for so long again that I can promise. It has taken me 3 months to seriously get my act together and pull myself out of the doldrums I was falling into; to get out of the vicious circle of lying in bed watching endless episodes of Community and getting through the new series of Orange is the New Black in 2 days on Netflix, but somehow I have managed it.
It’s hard when you have found the place you truly want to live and yet you need to a get a piece of paper to let you stay and work there. When I came last year for two days in August I knew I wanted to live in Vancouver and after spending 5 weeks there I am more determined to fulfill that dream, but for now I have had to leave and I am heartbroken.
I had the most wonderful trip and I have met some amazing people along the way, the Vancouverites been made me feel so welcome. I attended French lessons practically every day with an awesome french teacher, I tool a trip to Whistler and Deep Cove. I ran every other day down the seawall and have made some amazing friends. The only annoying thing is that I can’t stay there permanently, yet.
Vancouver after being here for a couple of weeks has really impressed me, not just due to its beautiful scenery or sheer expanse, that goes without question, but because of the wonderful people that I have already met. I have fell in love again and am even more determined to make this my home.
I have seen and learnt a lot in the weeks I have been here, mainly to expect the unexpected where Vancouver is concerned. I have wandered through the beautiful Cherry Blossoms,discovered I am not that scared of sharks anymore (although a little piece of me will always be wary), can drink my fair share of craft beer and ride a bike home and that French lessons are tres difficile!
Last year I went travelling around USA and Canada and had a life changing adventure. I saw amazing things and met some amazing people! It made me realise that I didn’t want to just settle in Shropshire anymore, quite frankly I can’t. I need more, I need to explore and discover new places. Travel has entered my veins and nothing but a transfusion is going to stop me now.
It’s not that I hate were I live or that there is nothing to do, don’t get me wrong it is a beautiful place with it’s rolling hills, beautiful valleys and rivers. Proper countryside as a friend of mine says, its where the industrial revolution started for goodness sake but somehow it is not me anymore.
Don’t think about it just book it! Is my one piece of advice to anyone who is thinking about booking a trip with Trek America.
I cannot recommend it enough and I know it is a cliché to say this but it changed my life. From the booking process with the team over the phone, to the epic itinerary which saw us visiting 33 states and 2 Canadian provinces it was truly awe inspiring. Yes I did the trailblazer and I would do it again in a heartbeat if I had the chance.
I met some of the most wonderful people I have ever met and I am still in touch with most of them on a weekly if not daily basis. I have met up with a number of them since coming back to share the wonderful memories and reminisce about the experiences we had. So good were the friendships I made that I have since, been travelling around Central America with someone I met on this trip. The Trailblazer is a once in a lifetime adventure and I cannot recommend it enough I saw some of the most breathtaking sites from the awesome Grand Canyon to doing a lone hike in Glacial National Park. I literally had to pinch myself to actually believe I was there at times seeing such amazing sites.
Sixty four days may seem like such a long time but in truth it flew by all too quickly. From the moment we all shyly met up in the foyer of the hotel to saying goodbye in LA again felt like no time at all. This was due partly to how well organised the trip is (yes at times it feels a bit rush – but there is a lot to see)! to the excellent guides we had who aren’t just knowledgeable but are there to answer all your questions and of course drive you from one place to another!
My favourite bits? I not going to give too much away but the National Parks are stunning and so different , don’t be fooled that America is all the same it certainly isn’t and I was very surprised how diverse it was and, how certain places have been unfairly stereotyped. Austin was the surprise for me as was Las Vegas. My true love however was Vancouver in Canada so much so I am now actually considering moving there.
If your having doubts don’t, it was the best experience I have ever done. It has made me a happier, healthier stronger person- so much so I am considering booking for Route 66 next!
Lissy’s Tips for the Trailblazer
1. Make sure you have lots of things to entertain you in the van. Music, TV programmes, Games, Books. You spend an awfully lot of time travelling between places and there is only so much of small town America you can watch from the window!
2. Portable Batteries – I bought one of these with me and it was amazing! Yes you can charged your phones and tablets in the van and at some campsites but there are limited sockets. I found having one of these made my life easier and I was able to charge it back up at one of the hostels we stayed at. I recommend Power Monkey (available most outdoors shops)
3. A Pillow- Sounds odd but trust me you will use it in the van and when you camp. I got mine from a Walmart when we were there and was the best $4 I spent.
4. Don’t bring masses of toiletries (yes talking to the girls mostly here). They are so cheap in the states and you stop nearly ever day for food to restock. It is pointless bringing things you can but also limit your make up I really only wore it when we went out in the towns and cities.