Homesick in London | Living Abroad

I’ve been in London now for 12 days, and I have to admit that it’s been hard! Of course there have been great times exploring the streets last weekend, wine and cheese, and afternoon tea – but it’s still been a challenge.

I’ve never travelled or lived alone before, so this strange feeling of both sadness and happiness is unusual for me.

I still feel quite out-of-place and not a part of any close-knit groups; which is something I had at home. Many of the other interns in my program enjoy partying and drinking, which I don’t really like doing anymore.

I would just rather be fully present in my surroundings and have full control of myself than have that uncertainty of going out.

I’m hoping that this weekend will cheer me up – I plan on picking up my residence permit tomorrow, doing healthy groceries (a break from all the pasta, bread and cheese), and maybe a little shopping and visiting some interesting sights.

I would love to take more pictures and try to connect more with all that London has to offer. Because believe me, I know this is an amazing place! It’s just difficult to feel like I’m a part of it rather than just an observer.

Fingers crossed I get over this hump and start to fearlessly conquer everything I set out to see and do! No one else here seems shaken at all by the life-change of living here, so I am starting to feel quite dramatic. I can’t turn a switch and be a cheerful partier, though.

Can anyone relate?

Volunteering with House of PainT

So, it’s been a while since my last post, and that’s because I’ve been busy volunteering! It has been quite the experience. Working full-time and volunteering during my down-time has been tiring but enjoyable nonetheless. I still think it beats all the readings and assignments from school. One of the places I have been volunteering the past few weeks is called House of PainT. And yes, that ‘t’ is capitalized! They are an Urban Arts and Culture festival that runs in September with music performances, live art, and many other cool activities.

At first, I began by helping out with social media. This included creating possible tweets for Twitter, along with making lists for badge identification for all involved with the festival. I definitely found the social media aspect interesting; it’s crazy how much of an impact those little reminders you see in your feed have on things like fundraising and getting noticed by the right kinds of people. Much of what happens through these media networking sites requires precision with timing and appropriate tags/hashtags that are easily searchable.

Along with being in their office working on these tasks from my computer, I got to see how people outside of school actually do things. It may sound weird, but it’s quite exciting to see how people interact when they aren’t studying or talking about their classes. I really have no idea what life is like outside of school, and even my boss at work asks me what it’s like to finally be done since it’s been about 18 consecutive years of school with no break! And the past few months I haven’t really had an answer.

But now that I have an insanely busy schedule, I feel more productive than I did in school. Mainly because with volunteering, it seems like I am adding something to the community while meeting new people with similar interests to myself. And with my job in retail, I’m at least saving a lot of money for my future travels which will then benefit my career if I land an internship abroad. As much as there were good times during university, it didn’t feel like I was contributing enough.

There was first the fact of tuition that I paid out in full every semester with my own money (okay, and 25% of help from my parents and scholarships), which was a downer. Then there’s the strange feeling of completing assignment after assignment only to have it marked by someone who was also marking hundreds of very similar papers. It just didn’t feel distinctive enough for me. Those who I were involved with for House of PainT felt more interesting and exciting than the tedious life of the average university student.

Anyways, here are some pictures that I took from the event! There are a few that were taken from last year’s festival, which I personally find quite gorgeous. I’ll have to go back and see what the final version looks like from this year, as I have a lot of pictures that are in the midst of being painted. By the way, the graffiti writers were painting on a bridge underpass, it was the first place in my city that legally allowed graffiti, which was in 2003. Enjoy these pictures! I did edit them, my ancient 8MP iPhone 4s could only do so much.

On a side note, the new Communications Coordinator for the festival (who awesomely has the same name as me) had a lens that attached to her iPhone. How cool is that?! If anyone knows of great, but inexpensive, cameras for taking pictures, please leave a comment! So far I have been looking into the Canon PowerShot G7 X. Within the next year I would like to get a camera for travelling that could also be great for taking shots on the train from London to Paris and Switzerland.

Info for House of PainT:







Wisdom Teeth of Doom

You ever just end up in a period of time where things turn out much differently than expected? One month ago, I had my wisdom teeth taken out. All four of them. They were all impacted, and the bottom two were almost at a 90 degree angle with the rest of my mouth. But when I saw those lovely little x-rays, I was not imagining the aftermath that would become of my teeth and jaw. I had never had surgery before. A friend of mine just had hers out and she was back to work four days after, so that, stupidly, is how much time I decided to book off as well.

So I get to the dentist, and the first thing I notice is the frigid air-conditioning blasting its way down the hall. It was late July so, naturally, I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt. I opted out of being put to sleep because it was more expensive than the local anesthetic with nitrous oxide (laughing gas) used for mild sedation. I sit in the chair, and my nurse is trying quietly to get the right size nose piece for the nitrous oxide. Once it is on, the staring game begins between me and the two people in front of me. I try hard to feel any change. A lot of air is mysteriously escaping from the tube beneath my nose, so I try holding it down for a few minutes. Then, the nurse gives me the waver forms to sign, as I’m being sedated. At the time, I laughed it off [get it? laughed? laughing gas? No?? *shows myself out*] and played it cool. What do I know? Maybe reading the list of dangers, including death, is great to read right before surgery! Totally awesome idea, dentist. Props to you. Anyway, this really wasn’t a big issue until the pain started, and panicking about possibly dying, began.

I get anxious quite easily when it comes to needles. I don’t intend to scare anyone off from getting teeth pulled and using local anesthetic, because 95% of the time, it goes well with minimal issues. But guys, guess who got to be a part of the 5% club?! *smiles gleefully and points to myself*. I don’t know how many needles I actually had, but I felt all of them as if a knife was piercing deep into my bones.

The first tooth that they attempted was my bottom right third molar. It was during this tooth extraction that the nurse changed my nose piece half way through, because there was too much air escaping from the bottom. After a few minutes of waiting, the new and improved kids-sized one was the replacement. Now, maybe it was the waiting time, but when the surgeon resumed with the tooth, I started feeling an aching pain.

There was blood, there were tears, but after almost an hour and many anesthetic needles later, the tooth was out. I think it was probably the worst pain I have ever felt. The closest thing I could describe it to is a pulsing migraine on steroids. They had to break and stretch my jaw to get that sucker out, and drill the tooth to bits since it was sideways and could not be pulled. The laughing gas certainly could not help me much when lacking enough anaesthesia was the issue. I was also disappointed with its effects; I heard when people breath it in, they feel calmer and start to dream. I felt fully myself throughout the whole procedure, with the addition of irrational, crippling fear and anxiety that I would be in there forever.

After that first tooth, I opened my eyes, and saw the surgeon wipe his forehead and ask me if I wanted to continue. This wasn’t exactly comforting, but I said yes. I did not want to have to come back another time and get the rest out. They were starting to ache a few months prior, and I wanted them gone. Luckily the top two were relatively more simple and I didn’t feel anything except pressure (aside from the pinch of the needles). My bottom left tooth took a little while, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the first. Instead of utter mayhem, he referred to it as a “yo-yo” with bits of shattered tooth too stubborn to stay in one place for removal.

I was now stitched, gauzed, and ready to go. I looked in the mirror, and found a disturbing creature with tear stains and swollen, cracked lips. I cleaned myself off as best I could, then my dad drove me home and picked up a syringe and some ice cream from the drug-store while I waited in the car so as not to scare off customers. They didn’t give me any prescription drugs, so it was Ibuprofen and ice packs for me. The next 16 hours I spent changing gauze on the hour, every hour. At around 5am, I finally called it quits and tried to sleep (without gauze).

Three days later, I had the pleasure of experiencing a dislodged blood clot. Can anyone guess as to which socket it was? It wasn’t the uppers. And it wasn’t the bottom left, which was the last one removed. It was, of course, the painful lower right. I can’t even tell you what it’s like to be ready to go to bed, after finally have a proper shower, to feel jello-like sludge in your mouth. Time stood still. Stars exploded across the galaxies. My heart sunk and splintered as I slowly approached the mirror on my dresser and saw the slug in his smugness take away what little joy I was beginning to feel again from recovery. I told my dad, and since it was 2 a.m., he was going to sleep and said we would go to the dentist in the morning.

So there’s me, standing in the downstairs washroom, changing gauze every hour and taking tissues and applying them to my bottom lip area to soak up the pooling Red Sea. I was doing this about once per minute, from 2 a.m. until 9 a.m. But every time when I changed the gauze, I pulled out the forming blood-clot. I did eventually take one of the dining room chairs and place it in front of the sink when I started feeling like I was going to pass out either from exhaustion or blood loss. By 9 a.m., I had three grocery bags full of discarded tissues. How wonderful, right? I went back to the dentist and had someone squeeze some packing into the socket and add another stitch. After some more needles to freeze half my face, of course. So, I was back at it again. I spent the entire day changing gauze because I was still bleeding, but it was not drastic. I woke up the next morning after a few hours of sleep, and optimistically went to check out my mouth. It didn’t look too bad, so I went back to bed to get some more rest.

Blood. After about an hour of being awake, I tasted the metallic taste of metal in my mouth. It happened again. I texted my mom since I could hardly speak, and she called my dentist who sent us to a specialist. My mom was having a melt down in the car (she isn’t good with blood or directions) but we eventually found the place. The surgeon I had was very friendly and the nurse was quite comforting and knowledgable. I had all the previous stitches cut out, some packing, and a bone graft before being stitched back up again. My face received the frozen treatment once more, and I was sent back home with a little information package and syringe which was nice.

My surgeon during this visit told my mother and I that the hole from my original surgery was unusually large, and that it should not have taken so long to remove. I told him the dental surgeon who did my surgery, and he told me he never heard of that name before and that he knew all the qualified dental surgeons in my city. I started to freak out internally at this comment, because I was under the impression that the person who did my surgery was a qualified surgeon since I believe other staff refer to him as such. My dad later told me that he knew he was just a dentist, but trusted he was competent and wanted to save money since it was still quite expensive.

All of that aside, I now have a tinge of dread when thinking about the dentist. I did end up going back to get a checkup one week later, and thought I would get the rest of the stitches removed, but only had a 10-second look into my mouth and an assurance that everything was fine. If I could do it over again I would have done more research into who was removing my wisdom teeth. I know for some people that getting it done by a regular dentist works out fine, and that’s great. But my teeth on the x-ray looked a bit more complicated and a second opinion would have been very much welcomed.

If anyone is wondering, it took me about 2 weeks before I could talk somewhat normally and I still cannot eat crunchy food. My stitches have finally fallen out (four weeks later) and I am getting back outside which feels great. As much as I love watching TV shows, it begins to get tiring after a while. One week ago I went to Toronto for a few days and was still ordering mashed potatoes, fish, and any other soft foods when I could get them. I was feeling better though, that is, until I started to lose my voice.

Such is my life.

EDIT: Reading this back months later makes me chuckle at the whole situation. But to those getting dental work done, just a friendly reminder that quality health care is important! Do not feel pressured to take a more economical route; surgery is still serious for wisdom teeth extraction. Feel free to contact me if you yourself are worried! 🙂

Have any of you had negative experiences? Or did the ice-cream make up for the situation?

From the Beginning

I suppose it’s probably best to give a kind of outline as to some of the things I’ve been up to since graduating from a four-year program. Almost four months have passed since the big day, yet I didn’t do too much this summer, mainly from not knowing what direction I was heading towards in the fall. It’s crazy how you can have a good ten years planned out from high school, yet many things change as you become more independent from your friends and family and really try to understand what YOU enjoy separate from what others think you would be good at, if that makes sense.

I don’t know about you, but I went through high school having an okay, but not spectacular, time. All throughout those years I was told of how much fun I would have during my university experience, and although I did have many good times, these were significantly less than the constant anxiety I experienced over my grades and trying to balance work with my studies. One thing I did really enjoy, however, was meeting many different kinds of people that I would have never had the opportunity to have met outside of class.

Keeping this in mind, I didn’t feel as excited as I thought I would after graduation. It took these past few months to process that I am at a different stage in my life, and I did feel quite adrift dreading the ‘so what are you going to do now?’ conversation. I feel like I am now passed that period of worry, though, as I think I have a plan established that just seems right. Maybe I’ll go into greater detail another day, but I’d like anyone who is unsure of the future and who is panicking to know that you will figure it out at your own speed. Comparing your progress to someone else, even to your friends, does more harm than good. If something doesn’t work out, breathe and take a step back. Focus on something else that is productive. For me, this was saving money from working part-time. I wasn’t really sure what I was saving for, but now starting to plan for an internship abroad gives me something to look forward to!

Hello world!

Hey all!

Who am I kidding? The only one reading this right now is the fruit fly sitting idly by my computer screen. If, by any strange chance, humans stumble upon this lovely little blog, I shall provide further insight into my purpose here. I will be using this space to record my weekly activities as I begin this new chapter following graduation. I also might post pictures and links I find interesting, along with trying to capture my own experience with being out of school.

If all else fails, at least I will have memories to look back upon in print form!