Wednesday, 23 August 2017

5 Goals for the Upcoming Semester

I've never been one for New Year's Resolutions - for me, September signals the start of a "new year". For many of us, September will bring new changes - perhaps a new school, new city, new job, new roommates, new classmates, and new professors or teachers. I'll be starting my Master of Public Health degree at Queen's University in September, so I will be experiencing most of these "news". My program is only 16 months long so I really want to make the most of what I hope will be my last degree!

1. Get Straight A's
Among my friends, it's no secret that I'm a huge keener. I love school and I'm proud of what I've been able to achieve academically. I do put a lot of pressure on myself, but for the most part I find that time management skills and study strategies almost always help me achieve my goals without a crazy amount of stress (though this took me a few years to figure out!). So, during my first semester of grad school, I hope to continue to continue this pattern and maintain straight As. However, I won't be too hard on myself if I get a B grade in Biostatistics, a subject that doesn't come naturally to me.

2. Exercise
As a Health Science student, I learned allll about the importance of exercise, right down to a molecular level. Even so, I rarely exercise during school. By rarely, I mean that I can count the number of times I work over the course of a semester on one hand - pretty bad, I know. This summer I've been running and doing hot yoga a ton. I truly enjoy exercising and I find that it gives me so much energy. The hard part is actually forcing myself to get started.

Since I only have to take 4 courses instead of my usual 5 and I have Mondays off, there is absolutely no excuse for me not to exercise. During the first week of school, I'm going to march over to the nearest hot yoga studio and purchase a membership. If you're looking for a quick workout that you can squeeze into a very busy schedule, try a HIIT workout video on YouTube - they are no joke and usually take less than half an hour.

3. Socialize More
Because I focus so hard on studying, I often pass up on opportunities to hangout with friends. This was especially true during my senior year of college. Many of my friends had jobs waiting for them after graduation, but I had to focus on keeping up my grades for grad school. It's easy to say no to a movie or trivia night when applications are right around the corner. However, since I'm starting at a new school, its obviously important that I put in an effort to make new friends. Studying doesn't necessarily have to involve locking myself up in my bedroom, so I hope I can find some good study buddies.

4. Stay in Touch With Friends
Normally I'm pretty terrible at keeping in touch with long distance friends. I hate having long, important conversations over text and would much rather wait to catch up in person. Isn't it the best when you haven't seen someone in months and pick up right where you left off? Unfortunately I won't have the luxury of seeing my friends as often this year since we're living further apart. I'm going to try to text/call/Skype my friends more often and book trips to visit them when I can.

5. Plan Fun Dates With My Boyfriend
I consider myself to be in a "medium" distance relationship. I say medium because my boyfriend is only 2.5 hour train ride away! This seems pretty short compared to one summer when we were an expensive 5 hour plane ride apart. I can't wait to explore more of what Toronto has to offer and make the most of our weekends together.

What are your goals for the upcoming semester?

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Santa Teresa Costa Rica Recap

Last week I had the pleasure of joining my boyfriend, his parents, his sister, and her boyfriend for an amazing vacation in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. Santa Teresa is a small beach town full of an interesting mix of locals, Westerners, surfers, yogis, and artists. It attracts celebrities like Tom Brady, Gisele Bundchen, and Matt Damon, though the vibe is completely low-key and laid back. The area is safe, so we we're able to spend lots of time ATVing around town and checking out the local restaurants. This was a nice change from being stuck at an all-inclusive!

After flying from Toronto to San Jose, we took a small charter plane to Tambor. I have a fear of flying and being in a tiny, bumpy plane didn't help! At one point the plane dropped and I screamed. The one nice thing about the plane was that it flew close to the ground so we had an amazing view of the ocean. 

Where I stayed
The White House is a gorgeous 3-bedroom beach front villa located along Playa Hermosa. The house shares the concierge, housekeeping, and security with the Pranamar yoga resort right next door. Each morning they would bring us fresh pastries and fruit, and clean the house from top to bottom. The house has a full kitchen, so it was nice to have the freedom to cook our own meals and prepare snacks whenever we wanted.

I loved sitting in the hammocks on the beach looking at hermit krabs, spotting howler monkeys in the trees, whale watching, and drinking wine. Although we couldn't swim in the ocean right out front of the house because of rocks, it was only a 5 minute walk to prime swimming and surfing further down the beach. There's also a beautiful infinity pool right in front of the house.

I have SUPER curly hair and I left my hair straightener at home for the first time ever! I knew it would be pointless to bring it since I would be in and out of the pool all whole day. Though I won't be letting it go curly anytime soon in the city, it was nice not having to worry about doing my hair each morning. 

What I did

A big thank you to my boyfriend's mother for planning all these activities!

Yoga: Since we were located right next to Pranamar, we we're able to join classes next door at the resort and a lovely teacher Amy from Pranamar also gave us private lessons on the White House property. As much as I love doing yoga at home, nothing will ever beat looking out on to the ocean during my practice. It was so calming and I started falling asleep at end of every single class.

Horseback Riding: I used to be a crazy horse girl, so naturally I was very excited to go riding. Our awesome guides took us through the forest and along the beach, while we learned about the plants and animals.

Zip-lining: Our wild (but safe!) guides had us do some very crazy and terrifying positions while zip-lining through a beautiful forest.

Surfing: I personally didn't surf, though I enjoyed watching my boyfriend and his sister's boyfriend take surf lessons while the local dogs frolicked along Playa Hermosa. The waves are great for beginners.

Reading: I finished two books, The Glass Castle and The Invention of Wings, both great books. I added my reviews to my Reading List!

What I Ate
I'm not exaggerating when I say that I had some of the best food that I've ever tried! Most restaurants were in these nondescript, open air shacks along the road but served absolutely incredible food.

Zwart Art Cafe: An art studio/cafe that serves lots of healthy food including bowls, vegetarian dishes, smoothies, and juices. The banana pancakes that I had were good, but the atmosphere and art was better. The studio of artist Margriet Zwart is located in the middle of the cafe and her bright, unique paintings are on display. She did all of the art for the White House.

Te Parto En 8: They serve Italian food including pizza, pasta, as well as breakfast. My favorites were the pepperoni pizza,  zucchini carpaccio, and tuna carpaccio. We went twice in one week!

Koji's: A higher end sushi restaurant with a nice atmosphere. The Tuna Tataki was the best tuna dish that I have ever tried in my life! The sushi rolls and chicken teriyaki we're also pretty good.

Chicken Joe's: They serve awesome chicken (duh), fries, potato salad, tacos, and plantain chips. Their pineapple BBQ sauce is to die for! I considered bribing them for the recipe.

Soda Tiquicia: A soda is sort of like a Costa Rican diner. I had a traditional "Casado" dish with rice, beans, salad, fries, and chicken for the equivalent of $6.

Private Chef: In celebration of my boyfriend's parent's anniversary, they hired a private chef to cook dinner. We had shrimp croquettes, seabass with sweet potato puree and veggies, and banana flambe, all excellent.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Fade to Fall

Denim Skirt:  H&M // Shoes:  Converse // Sunnies:  Ray-Ban

The past few days have been on the chillier side and I don't mind it one bit! There's nothing I love more than a cool, crisp fall day. I can't wait for September when I can pull out a box of jackets, flannels, and sweaters that are tucked away in my closet.

I think that this is such a great transition outfit into fall. The layers are key for in-between weather, while the skirt add a summery touch.

On another note, I haven't worn a denim skirt since middle school! It was from Limited Too and I used to wear leggings underneath (LOL). I really love the one I'm wearing from H&M - it's high-waisted and not too short.

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