Holland or bust! | Briana

So school started back up on January 9, and for the first time since January 1994, I was not going back. And even though most people might be over the moon about the chance to extend their holidays, which for me means only working a full-time job, not balancing that with full-time school, I was not so excited. I miss school.

Luckily, my trip to Mexico with my best friend made up for that. We went to Playa del Carmen for a week from the 10th to the 17th. We did a lot of tanning, a lot of eating, a lot of taste testing different slushie drinks and we took a tour of Ek Balam, Mayan ruins that have been recently opened to the public. That same day, we rappelled into an underground cave filled with icy water, did some ziplining and slept in hammocks. We had an absolute blast! The downside was that we left Lethbridge at about +6 degrees… and returned to Calgary at -46 degrees. That was the sad part.

But the real point of this post (hence the title), is that I came home on January 17, knowing full well that I had to leave the country on January 26. All the preparations and all my packing had to be done in less than a week, so I could spend time with my boyfriend in Calgary before I left, as well as see my family in Red Deer. I had a nice little going away shindig on Saturday night, which was awesome of my friends to stop in and say goodbye, and then I left for Calgary on Monday morning.

I packed in about two hours. If you ever leave on exchange – don’t do this.

So now all that’s left is to buy a backpack at Mountain Equipment Coop, MEC, (for weekend trips), find some converters (for European plugs), and leave my straightener here for my boyfriend’s sister, because they won’t work over the pond (see, I’m European already!!). Then head to Red Deer, where my awesome parents couldn’t decide who would take me to the airport, so they both are. I’m their favourite daughter.

The truth is, I’m excited beyond belief. The other half of that truth is, about half the time I’m also having anxiety attacks that require me to curl up in the fetal position and focus on my breathing. I know Europe will be an amazing adventure. I do. It’s just that right now I’m terrified about half the time, and I will be until I step on the plane. 🙂

Well I have to finish my preparations, but the next time I blog, I will hopefully be telling you all about the wonderful start to my adventure in the Netherlands!!

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crunch time!! | Briana

In case you’re not at the U of L yet, or in case by some miracle you haven’t noticed… November (and March, in spring) is called crunch time. More assignments and papers are due now than any other time during the semester. You’re tired, you’re cranky, you might be a little homesick, and no matter how keen you were in September, you’re definitely tired of school. You just want to be done and be home for the holidays. That’s all I want right now. I want this Fall semester (my very last!!) to be over, I want to get started on finishing everything for Utrecht, getting ready for Mexico and spending the holidays with my wonderful family back home in Red Deer, my awesome partner and his family in High River. I can’t wait.

But, as is the nature of crunch time, I’m swamped. I just wrote it all out, and I have 9 assignments/exams to be done by December 8, and 3 more due in the exam period. That gives me TWO WEEKS. Two. Weeks. Two weeks!

Crunch time, how I hate you. But as a ULeth veteran, here are some ways to get through November with (some of) your sanity and get onto the best part of Fall term – Ender Bender/when it’s finally over. 🙂

1. Sleep. I know you stay up all night sometimes to do a paper or a project the night before. Because you procrastinated!! But don’t worry, we all do it. I’m in year 5 and I do it, because some people never learn. But even if you stay up all night, make sure you schedule yourself time the next day to sleep. Sleep is key! You need it. Don’t feel guilty – get 8 hours a night. And if you have an all-nighter, PLAN for sleep. Make time for it. You’ll thank me.

2. Eat. And eat right. It’s so easy when you get crazy busy to eat either nothing (which I’m always guilty of doing) or eat garbage (which is what I always did in my first couple years). So I’m telling you now, when you do a grocery run, buy lots. Buy lots of good food, food that will sustain your energy and your brain power, all to maximize studying and paper-writing ability. I usually buy a bunch of veggies and then slice them up that same day. Then when I’m hungry, I have no excuse to call for pizza. I can just go to the fridge and chow down on something healthy.

3. Relax. I mean this. Schedule time for you. Relax. Reserve one evening a week where you don’t hang out with friends or do homework or anything. Workout. Play Modern Warfare Watch YouTube until you cry with laughter. Just do something, anything, that’s just for you. Just relax, and give your body and your brain time to recharge. This is valuable time. I swear.

4. Prioritize. I’m a huuuuuge list maker. I make lists all day, every day. Sometimes I make lists with things I’ve already done on them, just so I can cross those things off. So here’s my method, just make sure you choose one that works best for you! I took a huge piece of paper (hazard of being a teacher, I have weird stuff like that everywhere!!) and wrote: Things Between Me and Christmas! Then I organized all my assignments/presentations/exams by class and then by date. Now I have my last 12 things of the semester written out and I can see what has to be done first. What do I want to work on right now? My Prezi for Women and Physical Activity. What do I actually have to work on? My reading report for Native American Women. PS – I made this list tonight and already crossed off two things! They were the easiest, but I don’t care! I feel accomplished.

5. Remember that everyone feels like this. And if they say they don’t, they’re lying. November is a stressful time for everyone. Everyone is under the weather and stressed and eager for school to end. But you can make it through… remember, only two more weeks of classes!!

Best of luck in crunch time! Keep your eyes on the prize – holidays!!

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christmas shopping & midnight madness! | Briana

It’s almost Christmas! Yep, that’s right. There are only 3 weeks left of classes in the Fall semester – my last Fall semester! – and they are flying by. Which means… it’s time for the holidays!! My holiday is Christmas, but I know at ULeth there are plenty of other holidays being celebrated around this time, and even if you don’t celebrate a specific holiday, you can definitely celebrate the time off school!!

Now, in Lethbridge we have one major mall, which is Park Place. It’s on 1st Avenue South, and it’s the mall with the most big name stores. Don’t compare us to Calgary, though! But the mall hours are a little shorter than in Calgary or even in Red Deer, which is about the same size. The mall is open until 6pm Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday and only until 5pm on Sundays. However, holiday hours are now in effect, so the mall is open until from 10am – 9pm Monday through Saturday and 11am – 5pm on Sundays so that if you need to get some shopping done, there’s plenty of time to do it!

Now, even more important that the new mall hours is Lethbridge’s 11th Annual Bright Lights Festival & Midnight Madness!! This happened on November 18 in the downtown core. Galt Gardens was lit up (apparently it’s a pretty fancy light show), Santa arrived, and businesses downtown stayed open until 11pm. They also showed movies, gave hay rides and sold hot chocolate and cider. It was a perfect winter night out to get into the holiday season! It was (and is every year!!) a great opportunity to have a fun night out in the community, appreciate the beauty of Lethbridge’s downtown and start feeling festive!

I hope some of you were able to make it out to the occasion, and if you weren’t, I hope you’ll consider it for next year!

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building healthy lifestyles | Briana

So now that volleyball is over, my life hasn’t slowed down at all. I’m now working 5 shifts/week at my regular job, plus 2/week at the mall for seasonal help. I’m still in my five classes, so things are getting pretty busy. And whenever things get busy, I always notice that the first thing to suffer are my eating habits. Sometimes I get home at 6pm and I realize that the only thing I’ve eaten all day is a granola bar for breakfast. Not very healthy.

So I called the University Health Centre and asked to set up an appointment with the campus dietician. Apparently I missed the memo that there is no longer a dietician on campus, but the Health Centre gave me the number and I called Building Healthy Lifestyles to set up an appointment. I went today at 8.30am and met with a wonderful lady named Faye about how I can start to eat better.

We went over a bunch of different handouts about healthy eating and what nutrients my body requires. I learned that I’ve been ignoring my hunger symptoms so much that they may be manifesting themselves in different ways – severe headaches, tiredness and inability to concentrate, among other things. So after talking to Faye for about an hour (and getting a parking ticket in the process), I made some small goals to implement changes into the way I eat, which should be easy to attain no matter how crazy my life gets. Hopefully.

First of all, I’m going to try to incorporate no less than three food groups in every meal, and two food groups into every snack. For example, for breakfast, post-dietician, I had two poached eggs, two pieces of toast and a glass of milk. This is fairly easy, and just thinking about it makes me more conscious of how balanced my diet is.

Secondly, I’m trying to eat every four hours, whether it’s a whole meal or a snack. So today I brought a cheese bun and a banana to eat around 2pm, which is in my last class today. Then I’ll make supper for about 6pm, and if I need a snack around 10pm, so be it.

So I feel like I learned a lot. I’m still going to keep planning my meals and stay focused that way, but talking about eating right and learning some easy tools to help me eat right was exceptionally helpful – and did I mention that if you present your Alberta Health Care card, it’s also totally free?

So maybe you already eat healthy, maybe you’d like to eat healthy, maybe your eating is as horribly disordered as mine. I’d absolutely recommend a trip to Building Healthy Lifestyles and checking out what they can do for you! Being a student is a huge transition, especially when it comes to preparing your own meals, so it’s okay to ask for help!

 

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coaching | Briana

So this past Thursday marked the end of my very first coaching season as a head coach. I coached the F.P. Walshe Junior “A” Flyers, which means I coached 11 grade 8/9 boys. I coached with the Lethbridge Volleyball Club last season (January – May) as the assistant coach of the U14 (grade 8) boys, so this was something I’m used to. What’s more, I was lucky enough to have two players from my LVC team at Walshe, so they were lucky enough to have me for an entire year straight. Lucky boys!

I love coaching. I would recommend it to anyone – except for the massive time commitment. I already have five classes and a job where I worked between 2-3 shifts/week (usually graveyard) – now that volleyball is over I work 5 shifts/week – and to add on the extra responsibility of driving the 30 minutes to and from Fort MacLeod every day was a lot. We had practices or games, Monday – Thursday, and we had tournaments every single weekend except Thanksgiving. This means I was with these guys 6 days a week. That’s a huge time commitment for a University student not doing her PSIII at Walshe.

That being said, I adore coaching, I loved my team, and we had a wonderful, wonderful season. I was lucky enough to have some talented athletes try out, which means we started the season strong. We improved and ended strong as well, and have the records to prove it. We brought home 5 gold medals (one of which was a consolation gold from the weekend my starting setter broke his foot… so sad), 1 silver medal and 2 bronze medals. We also went undefeated in league play and won the league championship, meaning we have a beautiful banner to be hung in the gym with my signature to stay for the future generations. Some days I was so happy I felt like dancing, some days I was so mad I thought I would break down and scream (not at my team… usually), some days I was so disappointed I wanted to cry. But overall, it was amazing and I loved every minute of it. As stressful as being the head coach is, it also meant everything was my way, and I do mean everything. I chose the line-ups, the players, their positions, the drills for practice, conduct on the bus, the way they spoke to one another, the terms they used, the way they interacted with other teams, coaches, refs and parents… coaching, especially coaching boys this young, means you are not just a coach. You are a coach-parent-teacher-babysitter, all wrapped into one person. This means I pushed my athletes to play to their maximum potential, as well as stood just outside the bus and to make sure each and every one of my players thanked the bus driver. This means we had team talks about the appropriateness of certain (derogatory) terms they called each other in jest, as well as cleaned up all the empty water bottles and food wrappers from under both benches after every match. (The exchange went: “Pick that up, please.” “But Coach, it’s not mine.” “I didn’t ask you whose it was, I asked you to pick it up.” and was heard at every game and tournament for 9 long weeks.)

In short, I had the time of my life coaching these guys. They are so funny, and they kept me laughing all season, even when I thought I might lose my head. If you’re into sports or enjoy working with kids, I encourage you to get involved with some schools in Lethbridge – it looks great on a resume and you will have an absolute blast working with Lethbridge’s talented young athletes. Trust me, we can never have enough talented, enthusiastic coaches!

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Utrecht, here I come! | Briana

It’s official!! Well, okay, it’s 99.8% official!! I will be going to Utrecht, The Netherlands for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to study abroad!! I can’t believe how excited I am!!

I decided in May that I wanted to go on exchange. I had thought about going to Australia in my third year, but in the end I decided against it. But this time, I figured I’d go for it. Why not? I’m in Education, technically, but I’m taking an extra year of classes to make it possible to get a Master’s in Women’s Studies at some point, so I have tons of available electives and no residency requirement, since I am owned by the Faculty of Education and not Arts and Science.

I got all my paperwork in and paid my $140 initial fee. Then I saw an academic adviser and then I was put in touch with the incredibly talented and patient Exchange Coordinator for the Faculty of Management, who has been dealing with my sometimes often panicked emails, asking about requirements and scholarships and everything else. She’s been wonderful and supportive, and I met her today face to face for the very first time. We filled out my official application and it’s done!! All I need now is to get new passport photos to send with my application and I’m MOVING TO EUROPE, BABY!!

The process itself has been fairly simple, both with the U of L and with HU, my university in Utrecht. That being said, without the coordinator, it could easily have been a nightmare. I needed my initial fee, program checks, official transcripts sent over to Markin, an online application to HU (which would not open on my Mac no matter how many times and how many browsers I tried!), and an application sent in to Short Stay Housing, which handles all off-campus housing for international students because there is no residence at HU. Anyway. It’s all done, except the passport photos. But once those are done, she will send my official package to HU and they will officially say, “Yes, Bri, we want you!” and I will go!

The other thing I did? I BOUGHT MY TICKETS. I know I said 99.8% sure, but I went to check prices with a travel agent today and the price was great and I said, “Let’s do this thing!” and I bought tickets. I JUST BOUGHT THEM!! Crazy, right?! So I leave for Amsterdam on the 26th of January and I come home on the 28th of June. Five full months! Oh, and I chose my program! Social Change and Social Reform through the HU Faculty of Social Work… perfect for an almost-teacher and a Rotaractor like yours truly!!

Well, I will keep you updated, especially when it’s 100% official, and not just 99.8%. What can I say? I’m an optimist. I just know everything will turn out and I will be out of here in 89 days. 89 days! (I may or may not have a countdown on my laptop…) This girl is Europe-bound!!

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humans vs zombies!! | Briana

For those of you who attend the U already and read the Meliorist (I mean besides the TLFs), you will have seen the excellent article explaining what humans vs zombies is. For those of you who don’t read it or who don’t attend U of L yet (you know you wanna!!), let me tell you about it. Because it’s awesome. And hilarious.

Humans vs Zombies is a campus-wide Halloween game put on by the ULSU. Students have to register (online now, which is cool) and sign a waiver, then they’re given their HvZ package: two foam balls (these are crucial!), their game ID card and a bandanna. The ID card must be on you at all times, and the bandanna identifies you as human (if it’s around your upper arm) or zombie (around your head). These are the basics of the game.

THE RULES ARE SIMPLE!! This is the zombie apocalypse!! If you are a zombie, you must tag humans to turn them into zombies as well! Once you tag them, they surrender their ID cards to you and you log on to enter your “kill” on the registration website. Humans must evade infection at all costs!! They can use the foam balls provided to defend themselves – if they hit a zombie with a foam ball, the zombie is “stunned” for five minutes, enough time for the human to head for safety!!

There is no bandana removal allowed. Once you sign up, you’re in the thick of it as long as you are on campus. There are no time outs in the zombie apocalypse, after all! But to be fair, since this is a school, there are safety zones where the game is on hold. These are places like the library, any classrooms and offices, bathrooms, the Zoo and some other places around campus.

Now, to make things more complicated, there are missions that must be completed by the players! These are top secret, sent to the players via their email. Humans have a day to complete their mission and receive a stamp on their ID card or they turn into zombies, and zombies have missions that can increase their number of kills.

I’m not registered to play, since I’m rarely on campus this semester, but trust me, I’ve been around campus long enough to see intense foam ball warfare where the human narrowly evaded infection, or a gang of zombies chase after a lone, terrified human, or humans moving together in packs, peeking around every corner, wondering where the undead may be lurking…

This is a Facebook update from a friend of mine who is was desperately clinging to his life. I think it sums up the feeling of these humans and zombies wandering around campus this week!

“Day One: Zack Moline (ULSU President) has doomed us all… Had my first encounter with the ravenous undead today. Didn’t really believe the stories until I saw them. Stiff and shambly when they’re milling about, but boy can they move when they’ve got the scent. Managed to escape into the tunnels beneath the University and made my way out a service elevator. Apparently, 9 of my friends have already been infected… I’ll celebrate on your behalf when I make it out of this.”

Today is the last day… best of luck to the remaining humans out there!!

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Clubs on the South Side | Briana’s Blog

So I already told you all about what you can find close to home, right on the West Side. But how about if you’re looking for someplace you can dance? Well don’t worry, because Lethbridge has no shortage of places to shake your groove thing! (Except don’t shake your groove thing, because this isn’t 1978… I know my expressions are dated. I’m aware. I’m just tired, and a little bit lame. Forgive me.)

Thursday!

On Thursday night, there’s only one place to go: Studio! (Also known as “Studi-noooo” and much more uncommonly known as “Studi-YES.”) Studio has $2.75 “whatever you like” on Thursdays, and that’s the only place in town that gets any club attendance. You can try to head to another pub, but I’ll tell you right now: on Thursdays, people only ever go to Studio, to get their dance on, at least. So if you’re looking for the Thursday night hot spot, take a cab downtown to “Stuuudz” (yes, people call it that. I don’t. But people do. Really!)

Fridays:

On Friday, you have more options. People tend to go to the other three clubs: Essie’s, Pulse and Boss Hogs. But only Essie’s does Ryeday Friday, so I’ll showcase Essie’s. Esmeralda’s is half country, half top 40. The dance floor is raised in the middle of the bar and the whole place has a definite country-western feel. There are lots of tables to sit at, some pool tables and arcade games in the back (and I want to say a VLT, but I can’t remember for sure) and of course, bar stool around the dance floor. I love Essie’s. Everyone who goes out is just looking to have a nice time. There are rarely any incidents or any fights, just some two-stepping and good clean fun. Essie’s also does a great Monday night, where they always give away tons of prizes and have great specials!

Saturdays:

You have two options on Saturdays. See if you can spot which one I love and which one I can’t stand.

Pulse is the resident Top 40 bar, full of popped collars and bedazzled male t-shirts. If you’re from Calgary and are into the Top 40 dance music, this is your club. I went to Mansion in Calgary once, and it was like Pulse on steroids. If that’s your thing, do it up! Pulse has a light-up dance floor and about four bars. You don’t have to wait too long for a drink (tip: go to the bar way at the back, past the washrooms), which is nice. There are a couple tables, but the dance floor is the big hit. This bar used to be the Roadhouse when I first came to Lethy, but with some renovations and some new owners, it’s looking much better.

The other bar, which is conveniently located right down the street about 30 seconds, is called Boss Hogs. Boss Hogs is nothing but country all night long. People don’t dress up or act stuck up, they just come out to enjoy some cold ones and some great dancing tunes! If you’re looking to have a calm, relaxing night and dance your socks off, Boss Hogs is the place for you. There are always men looking for two step partners and ladies waiting to be asked, so you’re guaranteed to get out on the dance floor. This place isn’t for slinky dresses or Lacoste polos, though. It’s definitely a blue jeans kind of establishment. Extra points for the belt buckle!

Honourable Mention:

The Honourable Mention goes to Soundgarden, which is right across the street from Pulse and Boss Hogs. I’ve never been there because it’s a 21 and over club, and I was too young for a very long time, so I haven’t been there yet. Maybe I’ll review it when I have time!

Enjoy your weekends out and about, or at home, but remember to be safe and if you enjoy a cold cocktail or two, always call a cab and get home safely!! (I don’t recommend the Whoop Up Challenge, but it’s better than driving yourself!)

Bri

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the girl effect!

My beautiful, talented, passionate roommate Kristina is doing her PSIII right now in Punta Gorda, Belize and loving every minute of it! Somehow she also finds time to Facebook me and let me know about things that she thinks I’d be passionate about, and today especially she was right on the money. October 4 is the day for The Girl Effect Blogging Campaign! I’m late, as usual in my insane life, but better late than never! So I’m here to share my blog contribution to the campaign, as well as Kristina’s.

Okay! So the girl effect fits right in with my love of charity and my love of all things pro-woman and pro-equality. The Girl Effect is all these things! The entire belief behind this unbelievable movement is that by helping girls, you help the world. Isn’t that so simple and so unreal? Here’s a thought that has been ignored for centuries.

If you help girls, you will change the world.

It’s a fact that by educating girls in Global South countries, things start to change for the better. Girls with more education marry later, have less children born into poverty, make more money, and are less likely to be abused. All of a sudden, by educating girls in this world, we have lower birth rates. We have lower incidences of disease. We have better economies. And this continues from generation to generation to generation. Beautiful.

Why was this so hard to see before? The feminist theorist in me believes that no one gave girls a chance before because girls were seen as irrational, unintelligent and generally lesser humans than their male counterparts. Though this remains true in a large part of the world today, it is also true that more and more people are starting to come around and embrace The Girl Effect. Because we can start with girls and end with humanity. We can use these amazing girls and women to start a global movement that is capable of bringing about real change. And that benefits everyone, male, female, Global North, Global South. We all win, and it starts here.

Check it out. I know you want to.

www.thegirleffect.org

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meal planning (or, how i learned to get over myself) | Briana

Growing up, my parents never had a set meal plan. They just kind of decided what they would cook as the time came. Of course, being “real” adults (and geniuses), they always had all the ingredients in stock. You know, the weird stuff that recipes seem to need that you don’t have but feel you should? For me, it’s the spices. I never have the spices.

Anyway. For the first four years of my University career, I stubbornly refused to meal plan. I mean, seriously, who are these people who are nerdy enough to make a meal plan? Doesn’t anyone believe in spontaneity anymore? Look how well that worked for me! I lived off pizza, KD and fast food for the better part of two years! (Needless to say, I was very healthy and didn’t gain any freshman weight at all… NOT!) But recently I’ve become nerdily obsessed with organization blogs and with exercise and healthy eating, so it was the perfect storm of things to force me into the long-dreaded meal planning.

So here’s a link to the meal planner I use at Project Girl (suitable for men as well, of course). Basically, I plan out what I’ll eat everyday for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and I usually account for a snack as well throughout the day. Then I fill out the groceries I need to buy to make this happen. Then I post the planner on my fridge so that when I get up in the morning, I can check my planner and get out the appropriate food for the evening. Voila! No more nights spent craving meat that I forgot to thaw and no more getting ready to cook recipes, only to realize that I don’t have a key ingredient required!

Though I am now, by my own standards, very boring, I am definitely eating healthier and saving money, which, you know, is pretty great since it means more extra cash for important things like getting gas and paying my rent! I know this might not work for everyone, but it’s worth a try. And learning from my mistakes is better than taking five years to learn this yourself!! Five less years and fifteen less pounds, a gift from me to you.

Happy meal planning!

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