I moved to Canada to study for a semester at University in 2015. I haven't ever been as nervous as I was when I boarded the plane and waved goodbye to my parents and sister at Dublin airport! I was actually on my own and had to make the 8 hour flight and 2 and a half hour extra travel time to get to Brock University in St Catharines, an hour south from Toronto! I hadn't ever flown on my own let alone lived in another country without knowing a single soul! Oh gosh, what if I didn't make friends or missed home too much? Well, I definitely panicked too much and overthought everything, no change there then! moved to Canada to study for a semester at University in 2015. I haven't ever been as nervous as I was when I boarded the plane and waved goodbye to my parents and sister at Dublin airport! I was actually on my own and had to make the 8 hour flight and 2 and a half hour extra travel time to get to Brock University in St Catharines, an hour south from Toronto! I hadn't ever flown on my own let alone lived in another country without knowing a single soul! Oh gosh, what if I didn't make friends or missed home too much? Well, I definitely panicked too much and overthought everything, no change there then!
This honestly, was the the best decision I've ever made! It was incredible and I am so sad that it's over! I met so many amazing people from all over the world and friends that will last forever. Living so close to Toronto was a dream come true. This city is unbelievable and I love absolutely everything about it, I can't wait to find a reason to go back there!
This picture was taken from the Toronto Island, I caught a little shuttle boat over to the island. Not only could you get an amazing view of the city but on the other side you could see the huge lake Ontario! There was so much to do on the island, my sister and I found some big swings which we swung on for ages. It was such a random thing to do but that memory will always stay with me, a beautiful day with my beautiful sister!
I lived in the Niagara region and a ten minute drive from Niagara Falls... Yep THE Niagara Falls, which I think should be classed as one of the top natural wonders in the world. It is incredible to see so much fresh water falling at such speed and the spray of water that you get as you walk along the way is amazing (and so refreshing during their nearly unbearable summer time, in comparison to the UK!).
One of the things that I couldn't get enough of was the exchange rate from GBP to CAD (£ to Canadian Dollar, a lot different from US $). Whilst I was living there the rate was about 2.0, so everything I bought I just had to basically halve the amount and that gave me what I had spent in pounds! Incredible and not ideal for a student who doesn't have the spending habits of one! I had to take advantage of this so I bought some of the things I've always wanted but would have to wait a while to splash out on at home! Two pair of Timberlands, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and of course some gym clothes from Lululemon!
I visited the CN Tower whilst I was there, of course! My sister and I went up it when she came to visit me! We had dinner in the revolving restaurant (I don't know if I'll be doing that again any time soon, motion sickness is not my friend!) and then went to the outside deck to walk around the tower and finally ended with attempting to walk on the glass floor. This was so much harder than I had anticipated, yes I know it won't break and its only a glass floor BUT I struggled so much, much to my sister's amusement! It took me a while but I finally did it, long enough to get a photo anyway!
Underneath me (yup 457 meters down!!) is the Rogers Centre. This is a huge stadium where I saw the Argonauts (GO ARGOS) play a football game there, not the UK kind of football, American Football.. in Canada, which is just football to them.. got it? The Blue Jays also play baseball there, which unfortunately I didn't ever get to see because they were doing very well so their tickets prices went through the roof, typical!
Whilst my sister came to visit we also went to the aquarium in Toronto, that was so much fun and I loved it! Its so cool that it is underground and they have so so many sea creatures, including plenty of sharks! My favourite sections were the jellyfish and also the fact that there is a little conveyor belt that you stand on and it takes you all the way round. I know this sounds super lazy but it was so much fun! I could take my time to look around at the amazing animals and not have to worry about bumping into anyone!
I also found the best coffee shop in Toronto, it was amazing, I used it for many pit stops on my travels in Canada, through Toronto! Dineen Coffee! Annoyingly, I didn't ever take pictures of their amazing coffees and the one photo I do have is this one of me on the phone to my boyfriend who was in Germany. Whatsapp calls are perfect for long distance! No international cost, just wifi! Their ice vanilla lattes literally rocked my world during my visits! In those little paper bags are some muffins, which was my mid morning snack before catching a six hour bus to Montreal!
Montreal was incredible! There was so much to do and so many things to see! I went to La Fountaine Parc, which was so so beautiful. I went during their Indian Summer, so their trees were turning all sorts of beautiful colours! It was absolutely boiling and they had a temporary zip line that went all along this side of Montreal! I finished one of my days off by going for a lovely dinner along their lively and vibrant street that doesn't ever stop partying! A cosmo and one of the best mushroom risottos I've had!
Another place I visited in Montreal was the Basilique Notre Dame! It was amazing and absolutely beautiful! I had a guided tour and to this day I still can not forget how incredible the interior design is.
Little Italy was so cute and the market that I went to was huge! I wondered around, bought some fresh fruit and had a coffee in this gorgeous little espresso bar! I got recommended an Italian restaurant in this coffee shop by two guys who were drinking there, I went there for early dinner and it turned out one of the guys was the head chef there! He came over to chat with me and my friend and was so lovely and friendly! The restaurant was so perfect and showed me exactly what Little Italy is made of!
This is the Montreal skyline from Parc Mont-Royal! It was amazing, however it took a very long time to get to the top and it was so hot! There were steps after steps and a lot of people wanting to do the same thing! Once at the top it was so lovely and the view was incredible!
Montreal was also home to the first time that I have ever been made, and I mean MADE to pay a tip! We had paid for our dinners separately and as I often do at home, I leave my tip on the table when I'm going, the waiter came over to inform my friend and I that in Montreal you have to leave a 20% tip and if we would be so kind to give them money for their time! I have never been so angry and embarrassed. We left them a $20 tip, which in hind sight, I wish I hadn't left them anything because of how rude they were! That was on my first night which shook myself and my friend up quite a lot. My travels did not always go to plan and things happened that gave me a little fright but I had to make myself forget, move on and not worry anymore, there was no point dwelling on 'could haves' and I still stick to that now! You live, you learn and you grow!
Next on my Canadian Adventure I visited Algonquin Provincial Park! Within this 7,653 km² park situated in Ontario there are so many animals, and coming from the UK this was a little bit of a shock. I had a lesson on what to do if we encountered a bear (!!?!) I was not allowed anything edible or scented on me as it would attract them and I was told I would have to stand up tall and confident if one came to me. What had I let myself in for?! I was so scared that I was actually so pleased that I didn't ever meet one. Although, at the time I went I was told that it was in fact the moose that were more dangerous and a lot bigger! I saw many beaver dam, red squirrels, chipmunks and my first ever raccoon! Just like Pocahontas.
For this picture I had to climb up this old fire look out, the Dorset Lookout Tower, it's 30 meters tall and one of the scariest things I've walked up! It is this iron tower that sways with the wind and... of course the day I went it was windy! Very windy! I didn't realise I was scared of heights before I climbed this but now it's confirmed! Climbing the Eiffel Tower proved very tricky after this!
The Distillery District in Toronto is amazing, it is definitely a must-see place to visit! I went there one afternoon and also for the Christmas Market. The Christmas Market was amazing! I had mulled wine, fresh doughnuts and caramelized nuts! At the entrance to this area is a gorgeous little red heart that you can stand underneath.
For all of my travelling in Canada I used Airbnb and stayed in gorgeous apartments in Toronto, chic flats in Montreal and a gorgeous little room in Muskoka with such a lovely couple that made my trip there 10x better and I wouldn't have been able to do any of that without having met them!!
My year abroad was absolutely amazing and I've never experienced anything like this! Canada is one of the most beautiful countries I've visited and I can't wait to return to Toronto one day!