Tag Archives: Travel

At the Top of my “Pro UK” List

The Cadbury Flake Bar

It all started when I stumbled upon a rogue box of Flake bars at the local Mac’s Milk and fell in love.
Sometimes, you can find these chocolate bars at random convenience stores. Otherwise you have to pick through the novelty royal-themed mugs and t-shirts at the British shops, and they are always at least 2 dollars each.

Walking into any local grocery and being able to indulge in however many Flake bars I want? Gold. Pure gold.

Chalk one up for the “go to the UK” side!

In all seriousness, I’m currently filling out my travel applications. Oh my god. 

I swear I won't be a tacky tourist.

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A Penny Saved is a Penny Spent…Wait…

Saving. I am surprisingly good at saving. I do not touch my savings account, and it’s not even accessible via my debit card. Still, I’m looking for ways to cut my spending even more.

Main goal: Do not leave school drowning in debt. A little water-around-the-ankles? Okay. Maybe even waist-level. But drowning? Oh, hell no. I remember our 40 year old guidance teacher telling us how she was still paying off her university debt. My first thought: Holy crap, do teachers really make that little?
Trying to plan for that plus trying to plan a trip to the UK is making my head spin. How do I save more?

I don’t get my hair done, aside from a bi-annual cut. I don’t get manicures or pedicures, I do my eyebrows myself (as you can probably tell). I don’t buy make-up aside from the yearly replacement of my Clinique powder and MAC concealer. For the amount I use them both, spending 50 bucks every year isn’t so bad.

There really isn’t that much left to cut. Unfortunately, I live in a climate that has extreme hot and colds. Winter is freezing! It can get down to -25 Celsius multiple times. This is the year I’ve decided to buy quality winter gear in lieu of $40 “coats” from Bluenotes and $50 “boots” from Spring (I never knew feet could literally turn into blocks of ice).

So, here is my dilemma. I have no winter coat at the moment, and I have my sights set on this one:

TNA Parka from Aritzia

It’s classic, super warm, good quality…and it’s going to cost me $300. I tried one on at the store and it was so warm. I can imagine waiting for the streetcar in the wonderful hail/rain/snow that likes to roll around in January, the kind that hurts your skin and stings your eyes. The hood would keep me all nice and warm and the long, waterproof body if it would keep me dry.

I’ve already picked up a pair of leather riding boots on sale for $130 to keep my feet somewhat dry. Thanks, Soft Moc!

At least they look expensive.

But can I justify $300?!? Three hundred dollars. That’s almost 30 hours of work for the minimum wage worker.
That’s $300 less than what will go in my savings for my trip. I can buy 30 pizzas. THIRTY PIZZAS.

I suppose if I use it for 3 winters, it’s better than buying three $100 coats that don’t keep me as warm. (As if I ever buy $100 coats).

Maybe I’ll have to cut my food budget this month. Oh, god.

Oh, glorious food. Glorious, glorious food. Ever since I discovered the Domino’s around the corner and programmed the number into my phone (mistake #1), they’ve seen me at least once a week for a large pineapple pizza. I don’t get it delivered, and it only comes to $10.16 per pizza, but I suppose it’s an extravagance.

There’s also my favourite Greek restaurant, which I have to admit I’m heading down to tomorrow. Again, not expensive at all, but that gives me a reason to justify my quantity of visits. It’s going to cost me 6 bucks for the subway and 10 for the meal, give or take.

It’s not like I’m spending a ton at the pub every week. I almost never spend over $30!
$30 x 3 visits a month (I don’t get weekends off much, boo) = $90
Yikes.

Every meal of tofu pad thai + a coke at the mall? 9 bucks. A bagel and an iced capp at Tim’s? 6.
A subway sandwich on my short lunch breaks? 5 bucks a pop.

I suppose it’s all about balance. I’ve yet to figure out exactly how much it will cost me to go to Edinburgh, and I’ll admit I’m kind of scared to know the total.

Next plan of action: Keep a moleskin notebook and record every single thing I buy. If anyone sees me posting about pad thai from the mall again, feel free to tell me off. Thank you.

Europe: “Why Not?”

Why not go work abroad in the UK?

I’m sure everyone who has ever thought of a crazy idea like this out of the blue has encountered doubt from their family.
Some of my favourite responses were:

“You’re not going to Europe” with a tone that implied the idea was some sort of joke.
“Everyone there hates foreigners!” but…we [Canadians] like the Queen, too!
“Every animal in Australia will kill you!” after I had thought about going to Australia instead.
“But…you’re going alone? Alone? That’s insane!” Yeah, I’ll admit it. It’s kind of insane.
“You need to stay here, work, and save for school.” My job ends in December and won’t start up again (if they decide to have me back) until April.
“The economy sucks, good luck finding a job.” Precisely why I want this experience on my resume. The economy in Toronto isn’t bad at all, but as always, having thousands of college grads applying for the same job in a few years leads me to believe I need that extra edge above others.
“You are going to waste all your savings!” Maybe. Hopefully not, but maybe.

I’m slowly convincing myself to start the process of filling out forms. I don’t have to submit them until December, really.

How did you overcome doubt from your family? Share some ways of explaining your plan that didn’t result in breaking your mother’s heart, please!

The Ups and Downs of Fall: Part 1

Bittersweet. Summer is over. The days of Birkenstocks, short shorts, and freedom from snow, sleet, and ice are gone.
Fall brings dark evenings and ugly Christmas decorations way too early. (I’m not lying when I say that where I work
has had old Christmas decorations for sale since the end of August)

To sum up my summer as quickly as possible:

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Took the ferry to Toronto Island

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Fed some goats in Waterloo

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Saw the falls for the first time in a few years. Super-tourist mode!

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Tried to be artsy waiting for my super-delayed flight at the Montreal airport.

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And then, PEI!

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Drove home from PEI. This is on the Confederation Bridge looking towards New Brunswick.

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The Blink 182 Concert at Molson. Amazing fun.

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Gluttony at the CNE

…and now, it’s Fall. And it’s raining.

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I don’t think I can bring myself to write an “Up” part to Fall just yet, hence the “Part 1” of this post.

But, I promise, the next crisp, beautiful Fall day, “Part 2” will appear.

RIP Summer 2011. You were awesome.

On The Fence: Work Abroad?

I was going to call this post just “On The Fence,” but then I realized that title could probably be applied to almost any post I write here. So I clarified. I can have my own “On The Fence” series.

It’s getting to that point where it seems everyone has been to goddamn Europe or Asia. This is what I get for going to a high school with so many rich kids (or kids who have hundred of family members in various South Asian countries. That, too.)

Being a young Canadian citizen, it’s pretty easy to get a temporary work permit for the UK. Then I discovered SWAP.ca
This is an organization that facilitates and organizes (An organization that organizes. Online thesauruses are for losers) young people to travel the world an work. They hook you up with an orientation, help you find jobs, roommates, etc.

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[Note: photo from SWAP website] I mean, look how much fun these people are having. I bet they aren’t sitting at home on Facebook crying over everyone else’s awesome frosh pictures. (Well, not crying.)

I’ll be attending a SWAP talk in October downtown, hopefully I’ll be able to meet some other people who want to also travel to the UK. Nothing is more terrifying to me then landing in London not knowing a single soul. Edinburgh is calling my name (although I’ve actually been pronouncing it wrong up until yesterday. Awkward.)
The rent isn’t as much as London and it’s a large city also inhabited by a lot of working foreigners, according to the SWAP Facebook page.

I mean, there’s a 4 month gap between when my job ends for the season in December and when it picks up again before school starts, and I’d rather travel than sit at home trying not to kill myself.
I just have to make the choice: Am I prepared to spend 4 months in a country with no Tim Hortons or poutine?