Coming Home: the Airport Chronicles

6:20 AM- Alarm goes off. Wake up to messages from my mum: “ARE YOU AWAKE?! DONT YOU DARE SLEEP THROUGH THIS FLIGHT”

6:40- Scoff around my room because I packed things that I need to get ready, and the things I still need to pack don’t fit in my bags.

7:01- Cab arrives. Not ready, naturally.

7:04- Water bottle explodes as I’m carrying my 32 kilo suitcase down the stairs. Naturally.

7:06- Take one last look back at Cimetiere d’Ixelles from the taxi. It’s still not sinking in that I may not see this place again.

7:27- Arrive at airport. Taxi driver insists that I get a cart for my luggage. No sir, I GOT DIS.

7:30- *scans passport into check-in machine* *error message* *repeats 3 times before giving up*

7:38- Lady at check-in desk tells me I should move things into my carry on to make my suitcases lighter. I laugh to myself because she has no idea that my carry-on alone weighs 20kg.

7:56- Security. *oh god oh god, hurry up and get your laptop back into your bag and your shoes back on before people start judging you*

8:00- *dries off sweat*

8:08- Rejoice that I’m going back to a country where healthy, bread-free options are offered at every turn and at a decent price.

8:20- Half-hour of free wifi won’t connect. I hate airports.

8:35- Cave and pay three euros for 15 minutes of internet on one of those little booth computers, just so I can message my mum to tell her I’m still alive.

8:36- GO GO GOGOGOOO CHECK ALL THE SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS

8:50- Time’s up. Now what?

8:51- Wander into the abyss of wifi-less territory in total misery.

8:53- Collapse on the ground at the gate. I’ll just lay here in my own tears until we board.

9:20- Try, to no avail, to spot my suitcases getting loaded into the plane. Man, I feel badly for whoever had to lift those. I hope they didn’t inspect them out of spite, because they definitely wouldn’t have been able to zip them back up.

9:34- Why are people lining up already? YOU HAVE ASSIGNED SEATS.

9:40- Boarding!!!!1

9:40- I’m leaving.

9:40- I REFUSE

9:53- This is not real.

10:05- Take-off.

10:11 *comatose*

11:00- “Welcome to Dublin airport AKA heaven on earth. Here’s the best wifi you’ll ever use!”

1:05- On my fourth episode of Portlandia, accompanied by copious amounts of chocolate and wifi that, no matter how much I use it, won’t expire. Do I have to get on the plane to Toronto?

1:20- I should probably get in line to board.

1:33- There’s no one in the seat beside me. *PLEASE, NOBODY SIT HERE*

1:33- *NO, GILLIAN, YOU JUST JINXED IT*

1:45- Doors are closed. Seat beside me is still empty. Assume fetal position across two seats.

1:50- *comatose*

4:04- Pre-ordering a gluten-free meal was a good idea. Eating half an hour before everybody else. HA, SUCKAAAAS!

4:30- *comatose*

4:00 (Back in EST)- *Wow, I really wish I could take a cute photo of the CN Tower out of the airplane window. Too bad I’m on the wrong side of the plane…*

4:25- *scans passport into Customs machine* *error message* *repeats 3 times before a tired employee comes over to help*

4:34- Suitcases are the first onto the belt. Probably because they were so heavy. Oh look, both of my luggage tags are gone. Airport staff are totally going to send me hate mail for having such heavy bags…

4:39- Mum’s crying.

4:45- Dad forgot where he parked the car.

4:50 PM- *comatose*

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Post-travel realizations & optimizing the time I have left

I came to two interesting realizations these past couple of weeks as I travelled through several countries for Spring Break (Italy, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany!). I spent some time looking back on the trips we took during first semester, compared them to my trips this semester, and saw a lot of differences. I’ve become much more adventurous in my travelling; I’m comfortable making last-minute decisions, taking in new surroundings, and not even knowing what I’m doing at all. I’m more independent and less paranoid, in substantially better physical and mental shape and, most importantly, learned. As my expense allowance has thinned out substantially, I see myself as less of a tourist in these cities since I’m trying to live as frugally as possible. Restrictions like that, though, have made my travel so much more valuable to me. And who doesn’t love a cheap picnic?!

picnic

As excited as I am to have become a much more adventurous person than I have ever been, I think I’ve officially exhausted all of the energy that I could into this year. I’ll never, ever be finished travelling, but I’m definitely finished for now.

IMG_4939Last Seen: Wandering around the continent with a backpack that JUST fits in the overhead compartment.

I have three weeks left in this amazing city (Brussels, of course), but I have to spend most of it studying and preparing for my final presentations. I want to soak up all of the city that I can before I leave so I’ve decided to veto working in the library and spend my time at many of the city’s independent coffee shops, and perhaps take breaks at local restaurants ;). This way, I can have the best of both worlds: productivity and the city. I’ll be writing a post in the coming week about the places I visit, photos included! À bientôt. 🙂

The evolution of my photos

I had a Canon Rebel T1i in my first year, and I loved it to death. That being said, however, I had NO IDEA HOW TO USE IT; literally zero knowledge. I had learned how to use an SLR in a grade eleven Media Arts course, but most of that information went in one ear and out the other. So, I’d use my Rebel on its auto setting and left it at that. I eventually ruined this camera. I won’t go into detail, but I learned that day to ALWAYS keep my camera in a camera bag, and not in a backpack with bottles of things. Yeah.

My parents boldly decided to give me another shot with an expensive camera and splurged on a Rebel T2i (step up!) for Christmas in 2012, a year and a half after the backpack incident. I didn’t have much time to really master the use of my new camera, but I played around with it when I had the chance. Before I knew it I was heading off to Europe on exchange, so I packed my camera without any hesitation.

When I first started out on my adventures my photos were nice, but I clearly wasn’t THAT great. What I’ve noticed is that I’ve always had a great eye for composition but when it came to light settings, my shots were often laughable. A few photos from first semester with obvious progress throughout my travels:

Over the course of the year I’ve really been able to get to know my camera; my photos got better and better with practice! Cue solo France trip (which the blog hasn’t seen yet, so I’m killing two birds with one stone!):

Many friends ask me if the photos I post on Instagram are taken with my iPhone, and the vast majority are! It’s totally possible to take very high quality photos with an iPhone, granted I have a bit of help from my Olloclip lens. Here are some of my favourites (apologies for the white borders on a few! #instaproblems):

And then something life-changing happened, which actually inspired this post! I downloaded Lightroom, Adobe’s Creative Suite photo editing software, and my photos went from pretty awesome to OH MY GOD WHAT IS LIFE (well, for me at least!) Cue Valencia:

Sometimes I look back on older photos and get frustrated because I wasn’t able to take photos of the quality I shoot now, but I also take a huge amount of pride in the obvious progress I’ve made with my photography over the course of this year. Regardless of quality, I love looking back on my photos and taking in the amazing memories that I’ve made while travelling! It may take me longer to walk from point A to point B because I often stop to snap photos, but I love the satisfying feeling of scrolling through them at the end of the day.