New Heights

News
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Graduation Ceremony, Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops, British Columbia (June 2017)

I’m not sure what to say. Graduating from university with my second credential was a mixture of emotions that has left me jumping for joy.

I would describe my university career as if I have been hiking up a very tall mountain. There have been some strenuous patches of loose gravel where I felt like I was gripping on for dear life. There were moments of pure exhaustion and some filled with much needed rest. I had moments of pure elation and celebration, with my heart bursting with pride, joy, and happiness. I have learned so much both in the classroom and beyond the walls of this great post-secondary institution. I’ve made incredible friends from around the world who climbed most of the way, or all of the trail with me. I have travelled across North America and in Europe throughout my studies as well, which has given me the most amazing life experiences. As I stand here at the top of the mountain that I worked so hard to climb, I am incredibly grateful for every experience that has brought me here today. It is quite the view from up here – Wow! On my first day of university, I never would have guessed that I could push myself this far. And here I am, a completely different person than I was five years ago.

Thank you to my family, friends, mentors, professors, employers, and colleagues who helped me to reach this new height. Without your support, I would not be where I am today.

Now, I do believe it is time for another adventure! Cheers!

Video Blog – August 2016

Travel

Well everyone, I have returned to Kamloops, British Columbia and I have begun my last year of university to complete my double degree in Tourism Management at Thompson Rivers University. This will be my last video blog for a while, as the most excitement I will have over the next few months will be drinking coffee, hiking in the Thompson Okanagan, late night study sessions, and catching up with friends and family. The past month was filled with a mix of emotions, exciting adventures, and fantastic memories. It began by celebrating a dear friend’s birthday in a small village of the Netherlands, and ended by hiking through Cape Scott Provincial Park, along with an exploration of Vancouver Island all the way from the bottom to the top. All I can say, is thank you dear world, for the beautiful memories. It’s already time for a new adventure!

Last First Day Of School

Events
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Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops, British Columbia (September 2016)

“Don’t let your anchor hold you down forever. Eventually, you will have to sail to a new adventure.”
– Unknown

Remembering & Celebrating The Fallen

Study Abroad, Travel

In The Netherlands, on May 4th, is a day called Dodenherdenking, which means ‘remembrance of the dead’. On this day, around the country, services are held and two minutes of silence are observed to commemorate all civilians and members of the armed forces who have died in wars or peacekeeping missions since the outbreak of World War Two. In Amsterdam, at the Dam Square Memorial, the King and Queen stood vigilant with thousands of on lookers to remember these brave souls.

The following day, is known as Bevrijdingsdag, and is a national holiday to celebrate the end of the Nazi Germany occupation. The nation was liberated largely by the First Canadian Army, which included British I Corps, the first Polish Armoured Division, and in some areas, American, Belgian, Dutch and Czechoslovak troops. Across the Netherlands, free public music festivals were held in honour of celebrating freedom. Most people do not have to go to work, and many are adorned in orange and the country’s national colours, red, white, and blue. Celebrations of big and small are all over the country, as in Utrecht, I saw thousands of people in line for a music festival and in Tilburg, I saw a group of friends who had sat outside on the street curb in lawn chairs drinking cold beverages. Later that night, I was cycling home from seeing a film, and I could hear the British anthem playing loudly on a sound system somewhere in the city centre, echoing over the sleeping rooftops.

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An Adorned War Memorial (Utrecht, May 2016)

In my opinion, it is really a beautiful contrast to see such somber thoughts moved to overwhelming joy over these two days. I’m moved, really, to love such a proud nation who have overcome so much since this time period. I am so proud to say that I am Canadian, and so please to spend time celebrating such a special occasion with a country that now call my second home.

As many of you may know, last December, I won a scholarship in honour of the Liberation. This is also another reason why I am so moved by this occasion, as over seventy years later, this incredible moment of history has affected my life in a way that I never thought possible.

Take a look at some iconic photos of Liberation day, be grateful for everything and everyone you have in your life in this present moment, and remember.

By Your Side In Barcelona

Study Abroad, Travel
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Barcelona, Spain (April 2016)

“Every time you have to go,
I shut my mind and you know.
I’ll be lying right by your side
In Barcelona.”
– George Ezra

I spent an amazing few days with my best friend in her new home of Barcelona. While we completed many exciting activities, my favourite stories include being surprised with tickets to hear classical music at Palau De Musica Catalunya (the second most beautiful building I’ve ever seen next to the Sagrada Familia), sunburning my entire backside after I fell asleep on Barceloneta Beach, and enjoying so much incredible street art and murals in the Sants neighborhood.

When Life Hands You Lemons

Travel

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Christmas Decoration at Katowice Airport (December, 2016)

“With every roadblock, a detour is built. With every ending, a new beginning is defined. Embracing a challenge makes life interesting, but overcoming it makes life meaningful.”
– Matthew E. Fryer

I found this quote to be so true during this experience, and I choose to have a really great time exploring the stunning, historical city of Warsaw this past week. I had planned to stay only the weekend in Krakow, but there were bigger plans in store for me, as my passport was stolen during my time in the beautiful city. So instead of travelling home to Breda, I ventured to the capital city of Warsaw before the Christmas holiday to contact the Canadian Embassy. Everything worked out in the end, and I was able to order a new passport. After waiting a few days for the document to be made, I made it back to Breda on Christmas Eve. Stalin) by day and night. One evening I also went to the top of this building to see a beautiful panoramic view of the city at sunset. This is the tallest building in all of Poland, and it offered beautiful views. I was so glad to make it home to the Netherlands, but this experience was definitely a classic example that when life hands you lemons… you should grab some Tequila and salt!

Two Degrees? Yes, Please!

Study Abroad
NHTV (2)

Attendees to the NHTV Double Degree Presentation on November 19th 2015

As you may know, I am studying in Breda for one year to obtain a double degree in International Tourism Management and Consultancy from NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences  (Netherlands) AND a Bachelor of Tourism Management degree from Thompson Rivers University (Canada). This is such an incredible opportunity to become a globally minded, academic professional with access to one of the largest tourism libraries on the world, internationally focused classrooms, and wide range of topics to study.

Last week, Dr. Scherf gave a presentation to seventeen interested leisure students from NHTV and I stopped by to help out. It was so great to visit with her and promote two places that I am very passionate about.

I am the first student representative from Kamloops, British Columbia to attend NHTV and I am what has been dubbed as the “guinea pig” of this new collaboration. If you attend NHTV or TRU and may be interested in this great opportunity to study abroad, please feel free to ask me any questions!  There is so much to do when preparing for this adventure, from visas and residency permits to financial planning and medical preparations. I am more than happy to share my personal experiences with you. Definitely check back here as well, as this blog is meant to be a way of sharing what I have been up to throughout my time in the Netherlands.

 If you would like to learn more about earning a double degree, see here.

Street Art

Study Abroad, Travel
Street Art in Breda's City Centre

Street Art By Brazilian Artist, Cranio (Breda, The Netherlands, August 2015)

I have to say I’m loving the culture here in the Netherlands – especially, the historical buildings and the large amounts of art in public spaces. When I was driving around the south a few days ago, I saw lots of art in the centre of roundabouts and along the highway. I hope Canada can learn a few lessons from this beautiful country. For example, back in Kamloops, we have a piece of artwork in one of our roundabouts. It has not been well received and often locals have comments about it. Roundabouts are being used more and more in Canada’s urban development. Wherever I go by train, there is plenty of well done graffiti along the concrete walls of city centers. It is simply amazing.

The Centre of The Universe

Travel
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Vedette Lake, British Columbia (July 2015)

My Experience:

I have been longing to travel here for years, although I really needed to wait until the right time to have friends with me who own a truck and knew the way to Lonely Planet’s number one Kamloops attraction, the Centre of the Universe. I am not a religious person by any means, and I still appreciated this experience with an open mind and heart.

Take it from me, this is an incredible adventure! It is a beautiful drive up through two provincial parks filled with beautiful landscapes of caves, volcanic areas, hoodoos, wildlife and several forestry recreation sites.

Upon arrival, my friends and I met with Mr. Ray Stad, the present owner of this area and the Vidette Lake Resort or Gold Mine (now known as Vidette Lake Spiritual Retreat). He was a great host and invited in his home for a cup of birch bagga tea. One of my friends with us is a cancer survivor; Ray recommended this tea that he made from fungus of a dying birch tree that has been said to cure many different ailments. While the colour of the drink looked daunting, it actually tasted quite neutral! What I loved most about this adventure was that Ray joined us in exploring the area and offered such great insight, stories, and genuine love for the natural outdoors.

Upon entering an area marked “No Trespassing”, Ray introduced our group to the concept of dowsing for water by using two metal prongs the same way some people use pendulums.

We visited “The Healing Tree” along the path, filled with semi-precious stones, sage, crystals and messages tucked into its bark. We followed tradition as Buddhists do and walked around the tree clockwise in a full circle before placing our left hands onto the tree and leaving our right hands to release our negative energy.

The trail was filled with neat tree formations and rocks that are all naturally found as they were. Without Ray to point out a ‘Sasquatch foot’ or the ‘two headed snake’, I may have missed them! All in all, the trail only takes about fifteen minutes to walk along. It is not considered intensive, although it is not accessible for those unable to walk well.

Once we were atop of the hill seen in this photo, we were greeted by a grassy knoll, a rock and juniper tree decorated in prayer flags. As a Buddhist custom, we walked around the rock in a clockwise circle three times before entering the sacred space. Our bodies gently brushed up against the juniper tree budding with berries. The tree is adorned with tattered prayer flags of various colours. Ray informed us that is a Buddhist belief that every strand that falls off a prayer flag and is released into the wind, a prayer is shared with the universe.

Other highlights included the beautiful view of Vidette Lake and the surrounding mountainside, the Turtle Rock, and a simple, yet beautiful altar. Turtle Rock is a rock (of course) found a short ways down the hill and is said to be the place to release all of one’s prayers. One must do so barefoot. It is a place of silence, contemplation, and prayer. This natural rock has comfortable space for all feet sizes to stand on. It is called the Turtle Rock as it looks like a tortoise or turtle shell.

The altar is a simple circle of rocks filled with treasures and tokens left from other visitors over the years. Many people feel the need to leave a homage behind to pay respect to the universe, Mother Nature, and this space. I had told a friend of mine who is currently abroad in the United Kingdom that we would come here one day. I hadn’t thought of leaving something behind before leaving my house that morning, but it felt like the right thing to do when I left my London key chain in honour of my friend.

Everyone will experience something different when they visit this gorgeous, treasured area. Some say that they have seen the tips of grass light on fire or hear beautiful voices singing in the wind. Others say that it is too emotional to even step into this space. Perhaps, you will just enjoy the stories and the gorgeous view. Keep in mind that everyone (humans and animals) are welcome to visit the Centre of the Universe.

It is also important to remember that natural spaces like this need to be cared for, respected, and most of all, not over-used. In my opinion, visiting the Centre of the Universe was an incredible experience, but it is an alternative tourism product that is hard to truly convey to future visitors. Ray’s ‘guided tour’ is completely organic and can not be experienced in the same way twice. This is one of those adventures that you just need to experience for yourself!

Directions:

According to the Vidette Lake Spiritual Retreat’s website, travel north on Deadman Creek Road from Hwy 97 for 54 km (33.5 mile), where you will reach Vidette Lake. At the north tip of the lake you’ll see the entrance to Vidette Lake Gold Mine Resort veering to the left. Deadman Creek Road continues very steep up the hill and makes a sharp turn to the right. The road continues a little further towards Deadman Falls. After that you’ll need a four wheel drive to continue. The elevation is approximately 2,500 feet. The shoreline is approximately 22,590 feet.

Know Before You Go: 

  • Call ahead to ensure that Ray Stad is available before heading out.
  • It’s highly recommended to drive up in a four wheel drive vehicle.
  • There is an entrance fee of $20.00. Bring cash.
  • From March to November, be aware of tick season.
  • Bring your own lunch, water, camera, and proper hiking gear.
  • Prepare for warm and cool temperatures.

Related Links: 

Vidette Lake Spiritual Retreat (Official Website)
Tourism Kamloops Information
The Globe And Mail Article (2013)
Great Canadian Bucket List Blog
Vancouver Sun Article (2007)