Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Well well well! I felt a final wrap-up post was necessary here. I don't really know what to say, but I have been randomly thinking about it.

First off, it is great to be home! I know some think of PEI as boring (I have been known to fall into that category) but there is something to be said for being able to go home and fall right back into your groove with minimal effort. Some may insist PEI never changes, but I like to take the positive spin on it and say it is consistant. I wish I had an extra week or so here before heading to Orlando, but it's too late to do anything about that.

People apparently "grow" when they go off the typical life path and do new things, such as moving to a new country. I never really felt I grew much or changed much while I was gone, but since having time to reflect after being home I do think I changed some and perhaps grew as well. For example, when I first left for Scotland I frequently fashioned faux-pas'ed by wearing blue eyeliner. Now I chose to faux-pas by wearing blue mascara.

It's kind of funny because it was never a dream of mine to go to Scotland. I wanted to spend a few months in London at some point but that never really crossed my mind when contemplating what to do post-graduation. In fact, I didn't even really have a huge desire to travel in Europe, I was more interested in exploring North America. As Shannon and my parents can atest to, I was rather hesitant about committing to a move to Edinburgh, a place I have never heard of prior to January 2004. Turns out those three were very wise, and the move was worth my temporary heartwound ten times over! (No offense to the other half of my at-the-time relationship but, despite many good times, it was rather obvious that one wasn't going to be a lifer.)

I never really got too homesick during my stint away. The hardest was seeing other people go home, be it friends for a holiday or saying good-bye to my parents when they visited. I had some bad days, to be sure, but I always knew it was temporary and realised I would get over it.

I made some amazing friends in Edinburgh whom, without, I know I would not have enjoyed my time nearly as much. I do like my alone time, but can handle being by myself in only small doses. (Exhibit A: traveling Europe May 2005.) When you're so far away from home your friends become a second, non-blood family. (See Sundae Sunday [Easter] and Thanksgiving.)

One day at work I made a list of all the different cities/towns/villages I have been in the world and was pretty impressed. I know many could easily top the list, but I realised that if I had stayed in Ch'town for the sixteen months and someone showed me a list of places he/she had been to that was the exact same as my current, actual list I would be pretty jealous. So that is one way I know I made the right choice back in March 2004 - if someone else had did exactly what I had did these past months I would have been jealous. Very, very jealous. And I know it's true because I remember how jealous I used to get when I got emails from Heidi when she was in France during my first year at UPEI.

I really don't think moving overseas is for everyone. Although Scotland is an english-speaking country with a robust, developed economy, the potential for culture shock is still there. I don't think it ever hit me in a culture-shock-everything-is-so-different-and-terrible kind of way, but perhaps because that was one of the things I was looking forward to. Not to say I'm immune to it or anything, toss me in Asia and I'm sure I'd panick! Regardless, when you're homesick or lonely, wandering about in unfamiliar territory (*cough* Switzerland) just reminds you how far away you are from home.

I think a huge factor in living over seas is how one handles a problem. It's easy to make a mountain out of a molehill, but why bother? I lost my wallet tonight. It had a credit card in it and some money. So the money is gone and the credit card is canceled. Really, it could have been worse. (However, I find it retarded that I managed six weeks of almost consecutive travel and did not lose a THING but have lost three sets of keys on PEI since Xmas and my wallet today. What can I say? Canada makes me disorganised ;) )

After talking to some fellow expats I think one of the hardest things people deal with when moving someone is finding accommodation. It's quite a feeling to get off a plane in a city you have never seen before with 20+ kg of your life and realise you do not have a place to live, a job, a bank account, etc. I actually really like the feeling, but I have friends/former flatmates who said the temptation to turn around and leave after a few days of an unsuccessful flat or job hunt can be pretty strong.

I guess I'm rather proud of myself for what I've done over the past sixteenish months and my friends who have done the same thing. If you asked me last year in March, May or even August how long I expected to stay in Scotland I never thought I would be there until almost the end of August this year. Heh - even in May of this year I didn't expect to be in Scotland this summer! However, when you have a good thing going it can be hard to step away, but I think I needed to. I've wanted to work at Disney since I was eleven-years old, and I think by the time my Disney term is up next September I'm going to be a bit ansy to find some form of stability in my life. A flat in which I plan to spend more than twelve months will be pretty desirable by that point!

In conclusion, here are some things I've learned about myself or just learned in general ~
  • I'm surprisingly good at reading maps!

  • Beer bellies are called so for a very good reason. Sigh.

  • A customer who sounds like he is ordering a "twisty and coke" and a "twisty with ice" probably actually wants a whisky and coke and a whisky with ice.

  • I'm brave enough to go to a social event at which I will know no-one by myself.

  • Haggis is good.

  • Chocolate is Suisse is good. Too good.

  • I prefer palm trees and water to mountains. However, when I woke up during my snooze on my Lugano - Zurich train ride (Switzerland) and saw beautiful snow-capped and green mountains I was pretty darn amazed.

  • Next time I would do a night less in Lugano and try out Bellinzona.

  • My Spanish is surprisingly decent! One of my most proud moments in the past year was when I booked two pension rooms in Taragona in Spanish and not a word of English. I also managed to hold a conversation with a bloke in Barcelona and got my point across most places except one dreadful day at the train station.

  • I know I took French for a reason in jr high/high school for a reason, and that reason is France. I loved France. EVERY place I was in France.

  • I hate filing. Oh my GOD I HATE FILING.

  • Canadian guys do rate waaay up there overall. Be it sense of humour, looks, friendless, whatever. Do your husband shopping in Canadia ;)

  • I can play lacrosse!! Not extremely well, but it was a new sport for me and I had a ball learning it.

  • Spain is amazing. I want to go back. I MUST go back.

  • I handle problems well.

  • I handle irn-bru and extra-classy vodka not so well.

  • I can't do stilletos on cobblestone.

  • Apparently, Canadian accents are cool.

  • ISIC cards are amazing.

  • I am lucky. Seriously. I met many awesome people in the past sixteen months. I had a pretty good flat for thirteen months. My parents came to Scotland together to visit me, my mum traveled in France with me, my dad made a solo trip to Scotland to see me, and I got to meet up with friends from home in London for a weekend. I never had anything stolen. I forgot my keys only once and someone was home anyway. My phone still works, despite having dropped it on the ground many times. Despite being gone for many months my friends at home still welcome me right back into our circle.
Anyway, I should probably get to bed. This wasn't really the last entry I envisioned, I expected me to sound more wise. But perhaps that's because I'm still not very wise and still have a lot to learn.

See you in Disney World!! >>>>>

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Whoa!!! Last post from Scotland!!! How fraeking crazy is that?!?!

Oooh, the woes of packing. HATE IT. I *think* I can cram everything in and possibly stay under 20kg, but it's looking pretty sketchy. Also looking sketchy is the fact I haven't finished packing but am wandering about the city wanting to buy stuff for people. Hmm, probably not the wisest idea.

I could dump my boots, as they weigh quite a bit, take up space AND are falling apart, but it feels like I would practically be cutting off my left arm. Ah well.

I really don't like packing. I still just have a few odds and ends and a bunch of stuff to throw out. I'm just running out of space. And, according to the clock, time.

Shannon is being so kind to come to Glasgow with me tonight! :) :) :) I'll be nice to have some company on the bus to Glasgow and in the dodgy Glasgow bus station until I can get on the airport shuttle.

Still feels very surreal... Kind of like I'm just cleaning my room. Which, technically, I AM cleaning my room. Hmm.

I should go now. I have dollars (both American and Canadian! ;) ) to buy. And hills to climb.

I have nine and a half more hours in Edinburgh. Sigh, it's going to be sad to leave such a marvelous city. Of all the places I've been in the past few years, Edinburgh really has it's spot among the best and I'm going to miss it terribly :( It's kind of funny how excited I was to leave Ottawa there when my time was up. This seems so different and sad which is probably a testimet as to the bulks of great people I met and how istantly this place felt like home.

I have to stop typing now or I'll just get really sad. =(

Monday, August 15, 2005

10.28 – I can’t seem to concentrate very well today. Except for on stupid things, like the elastic ball I made. You know – when you have so many rubber bands that you make a ball out of them?! Well, mine is currently the size of a golf ball and I have MANY more to add. The problem is that I can’t really sit at my desk and work on it because everyone can see me. Although that doesn’t really stop me from randomly popping open a website throughout the day. Of course, at least I’m looking at a computer screen then and can sort of look like I’m working. Wrapping elastic band around a ball of elastic bands is a little harder to justify.

11.04 – You know what? I’ve been here for six and a half weeks and the amount of filing still to do is absolutely insane. I mean STACKS.

And after this week I don’t have to touch any of it!!!! Five o’clock this Friday is going to be the best minute of my life.

Oh, and the desk at which I used to file now has a computer, keyboard and scanner on it. Thus no room for sorting four-kashmillion papers.

11.40 – I’m really glad this is my last week here. Really, really glad. I’m practically a garbage bag! (Clever take on Glad garbage/rubbish bags. This post is brought to you by product placement. Where will you go today?)

Friday, August 12, 2005

I so often think about blogging throughout the day but don’t do it. Today I am “experimenting” and going to post one blog at lunch time that I cleverly have been randomly updating all morning.

10.18 – Start blog. Yesterday was a weird day as my mood was all over the place. In the end, I decided I would stay up until I cheered up. So I think I went to bed around 1.30 after reading one chapter of Harry Potter. I’m supposed to be saving it for my overnighter at the WeegieLand Airport, but considering the girth of the book I don’t think it will make a significant difference that I already read the first three chapters. I’ve been very careful to avoid spoilers so far and haven’t even read a review of the book. And a complete change of topic, I advise any self-conscious female to avoid the brutally-lit changing rooms at Bay Trading Co. in the Princes Mall. Brutal. According to the mirrors there I am a giant walking barrel of cellulite. My favourite mirrors of recent memories were at the Mexx in Livingston. I want to get clothes elsewhere and try them on there. Also, Mexx is usually pretty pricey and I scored an awesome £3 shirt and a £5 skirt. Ahh, Livingston, such pleasant memories.

10.38 – I have decided my new job title is Information Management Technician.

Mornings are rough. Sometimes I sit here and forget to blink. I know I had breakfast this morning, but I barely remember doing so. I do believe I saw Shan in the livingroom this morning too, but I really can’t remember that either.

10.41 – I can’t believe I’m the only one in the office wearing a bright green shirt today. Obviously these people don’t know the real objective of casual day is to blind co-workers.

12.17 – Oooh! Almost lunch time. I think I dress inappropriately for work. This is the third day this week I wore orange flipflops. Sometimes (not this week though) I wear them with red pants.

“Hi, my name is Jen. In my previous life I was a rainbow.”

I have developed a nasty, deep, flemmy cough in the past couple of weeks. It was a sore throat and a dry cough, but a real smokey night at the Cumberland turned it for the worst. My sore throat has been gone for a bit over a week now, but I’m left with this deep, groggy, gross cough that brings the random comment from co-workers. It’s a bit irritating! On the plus side, my eye twitch that had been irritating the hell out of me since Monday seems to be, for the most part, gone. Woo!

Note to self: quit job over lunch hour. And go on MSN.

12.36 – Brr. I’m cold. In temperature, not personality.

12.38 – Jen’s Stomach: Grrr! Feed me! *grumble grumble*

12.57 – Screw this, I’m taking lunch. Everyone else is.

Today I toasted my PB sandwich for a little extra excitement. Or maybe because the bread is so thin that it just ends up tearing apart when I try to spread pb on it.

12.59 – Just bit into sandwich – totally forgot that I put RAISONS in it. It seemed like such a bright idea when I was in my morning daze. Wow – I wonder if all those RAISONS will fill me up. I may not even have room for my orange because raisons are so filling. As for the toasted bread, not good.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Weeeee! I think I got my bad mood of two-days past out of my system. That day just sucked. However, all was good after I left my workplace. I went to see Aida and was quite impressed. I can't believe how talented the kids are in the festival are as Guys and Dolls was great as well. During ever play I reminice about my days on stage and wish I hadn't given it up. But that's what being self-conscious in junior high and having any singing confidence shattered does to you. So I blame my music teacher of grade six and the Triple Threats guy who made me sing the low parts of songs with the BOYS.

I will be home in less than two weeks. Oh my God. CRAZY. It boggles the mind! I'm not sure yet about how it will feel to leave here... It feels real, ("I'm going home!") but fake at the same time, ("I'm going home for a two-week holiday!"). I think it will hit me as I dump the mess of my room into a backpack and the room stares back at me empty. It's going to be sad. =( And in case I don't cry, rest assured my Edinburgh friends that I will be BAWLING MY FACE OFF on the inside.

I'm starting to have a few (very, very few) nerves about the whole Florida thing. Can I manage another entire year in a brainless job? As well, I'm really used to living a ten-minute walk from teh centre of town and being surrounded by small cafes, CASTLES, culture, history, etc. Orlando really doesn't offer this. I feel like the in-your-face culture of the States may grind my nerves a wee bit. And I will be sharing a bedroom. I have NEVER done this (save hostels, hotels and sleepovers) and I'm not sure how well it will go over. I am such a slob. It's awful. And what about if I feel the need for some alone time? Ah well. The pros of the whole thing faaaar outweigh these randoms worried thoughts. I can just go to the gym when I want to tone out the world. Or sit under a beautiful palm tree and read a book.


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

As of 11.15 this morning I have 218,700 seconds of work left here.

I am currently trying to refrain from smashing my head through my desk. Help me. I was quite close to not making it here this morning but managed to show up at only three minutes late.

Oh. My. God.


Sometimes I don't hide my bitterness very well, when coming through the doors this morning I said to a co-worker, "Kind of like the doors to hell, eh?" Whoops. Lets just say my mood this morning was not a chipper one. (Still isn't.) It's more like if I could start fires with my eyes the fire department would be VERY busy today.


Saturday, August 06, 2005

Okay - here is a REAL blog post!

Last night Kelly and I went to the Tattoo with Steve, his girlfriend (Natasha), his g'friend's mum, and Natasha's flatmate Anysa. It was REALLY good! I liked it much more than I expected, and I'm actually growing quite fond of bagpipes, especially when played in large bands. For some reason, multiple bagpipes sound better than just one.

First off, Edinburgh is so lucky to have the castle smack in the centre of town! It makes for the perfect, most amazing backdrop for the whole thing. It almost looks fake - it's THAT good. The different militaries come out of the castle and through side entrances under the spectator stands. The floodlights for the Irish marching band painted the Castle green - very nifty. And the Irish reps were kind of humourous - sort of marching to the beat of the music they were playing.

The music played by the Trinidad and Tobago group was AWESOME - a whole bunch of steal drums! They kind if danced as well. It actually made me excited to go to Florida (okay - I'm getting to the point that almost EVERYTHING makes me think of Florida thus makes me excited) as I remember some blokes playing steal drums in Adventureland in the Magic Kingdom.

The Russian military was also represented and there were dancers, singers and musicians to keep us entertained. Their music didn't have quite the pep of the T&T band before them, but there dancers were great! The male ones looked a bit like mounties with red coats and black pants but they looked moreso "winterized".

There were also highland dancers from New Zealand who were entertaining, but must have been FREEZING.

One of the English portions of the show had a renactment of the Battle of Trafalagar, (which I know nothing about,) as it's the 200th anniversary of it this year. They also used the backdrop of the Castle very well and had old painting of the battle scrolling on the front wall.

The Norwegian military was also entertainig and as someone bizarrely obsessed with symmetry (yet I am an absolute slob - no wonder I don't understand myself!) they entertained me with formations that actually, gasp, rival those of the 16 -24 year olds in their cars at the BK parking lot at home. The Norwegians also did some really neat stuff that almost made them look like a human version of a kaleidescope. (Sp?) For example, a bunch with guns would be standing facing outwards in the circle and one would do something such as flip his gun to his back and then the person next to him would do it and so on. Since they did it so quickly and smoothly, it was awesome, especially from our seats as we were quite high up in the bleachers.

The end brought out all the participants, (first the pipes bands then the rest, such as dancers and Trinidad and Tobago,) for a finale of sorts and they played some amazing music, including God Saved the Queen and Auld Lang Syne (the New Year's Eve song - a Scottish creation!). For the second-to-last song the infamous "lone piper" played "Lest We Forget" from the top of the Castle and there was a lone spot light on him and the lights on the bleachers and main stage area were dimmed. It was pretty cool!
I really wanted to take boatloads of pictures, but the venue isn't really right for it, especially since the bulk of the show is after nightfall.

Anyway, that's a quick summary and I know I left out some stuff (apologies to the marines and kids on motorcycles!) but time is always precious at the good ol' Edinburgh library!

This weekend will be a busy one. Well, tomorrow anyway. I'm heading to the gym after this, (I think... the sun and thought of a free Saturday afternoon may win me over,) and work this evening at 5. Tomorrow I'm hitting up a variety of Fringe shows as it's opening weekend for the Fringe and many shows are offering preview prices or two-for-one deals. My itinerary follows.

12.00 - Guys and Dolls

19.00 - Anyone but Me

21.45 - David O'Doherty - Grown Up

17.45 - A Shut Up Comedy from Japan (which I am really excited for!! Saw a preview of it on the Royal Mile and thus bought tickets)

18.15 - Aida

And that's all for next week.

On Wednesday it's Shan's birthday so we are heading out for supper and the like. Thursday night is free and I work on Friday night.

I almost had my first good-bye last Wenesday :( I've been so excited about heading home, then to O-town, then to Florida that I kind of forgot the downside which is the many good-byes I have ahead of me to people that I will probably never see again. Tear. Sad. Luckily I diverted my good-bye to this Tuesday. Phew.

Now, thinking of that, I feel very odd and somewhat not as contente as mere minutes ago. Hmm.