2013 & 2014

A lot was done in 2013! It was an amazing year filled with new friends, old friends, travelling, climbing, new adventures, learning and lots of food experimentation.

I think it is also my fittest year yet. Even counting my lazy days in Fiji where I used the heat as an excuse not to exercise, I feel like I’ve gotten stronger and improved my cardio (slightly). A big moment was when I did my first pull-up!

I lived in many places: Wanaka, Christchurch, Suva, Christchurch (again), Vancouver!

I worked in many places: Mountain View Backpackers, Lakeside Hotel, Ernst & Young, Hume Doors & Timber, Vancouver Cliffhanger, Pacific Community Resources Society and 2 day-long jobs.

And I tried many new adventure activities: backcountry skiing, traditional climbing, backpacking, scuba diving, surfing, caving, outdoor bouldering, ridge walking, paragliding and participated in my first bouldering competition.

I am lucky to have had such a good year.

My most challenging goal for 2014 will be to climb the Chief in Squamish. I want to be able to switch leads, and not just follow. My other goals are a bit smaller, but numerous (Kat says they are boring): climb at least once a week, concentrate on my studies, climb at Smith Rock (Oregon), go to the US, venture farther east in BC, get a promotion at the climbing gym, volunteer once a week for at least 3 months, outdoor lead a 5.10d, get hired as a TA, win a scholarship, get a good co-op job and eat more naturally (I’m thinking once a week I am going to try to not eat anything that is made with prepared ingredients – but not sure if this is the best strategy).

Oh! And finish up/make a Fiji/NZ travel journal.


fiji, in conclusion

I did not expect my exchange in Fiji to be like it was. But when I think about it, I really didn’t have any expectations. I spent a lot of time deciding where to go for a year, and I have absolutely no regrets about choosing to spend that year in Suva. I had an amazing time at the University of the South Pacific.

I’m really glad that I went for two semesters. It gave me enough time to experience and embrace the culture, make friends with locals and internationals, see the country, get better at sailing, hiking and diving, AND learn in my classes.

Being able to share my experience with my dad, Kate, Katrina, Mary Ellen, Paul, Helenka and Lauren was great too. It’s nice to have what feels like two different lives fuse together.

The classes I took were really varied. I took 3 direct transfer courses, Human Resource Management, Marketing and Managerial Accounting. Human Resources was far worse than I would have gotten at SFU, but Accounting was a lot better. Marketing was about the same. I took two political science classes (Managing Change and Ethics & Professionalism) which were useful – I really got to learn about current issues in the public sector in the South Pacific and it made me really interested in foreign aid and international development. Working for the UN might be a goal in the near future! My Health Psychology lecturer, in terms of teaching ability, was the best professor I have ever had. And to finish up, I did both of my Science credits, Earth Science (not a fan) and Marine Biology (very interesting, learned a lot, but a difficult class for me).

There were great moments: Playing cards at the top of Mt Korobaba. Getting befriended at my first paddling practise. Getting yelled at by my hobie coach. Falling on every single hike. Diving for the first time. Meeting people in my lab classes. Diving in reefs that look better than pictures in the National Geographic. Drinking kava with my Marine Science class. Eating pizza every Tuesday night. Learning how to make palusami. Knowing everyone in the dance club on Thursday nights. Watching every possible movie. Watching rugby 7s with my entire hall. Eating curry for breakfast. Camping on the beach footsteps away from an expensive resort. Colo-I-Suva, every time. Menz from Bureta visiting in Suva. Night, shark and manta snorkelling in the Yasawas. Watching and screaming at any show, social or sports event. Celebrating Diwali for a month. Hanging out with the expats in Suva. Taking the bus by myself from Buca Bay to Savusavu. Standing on top of a sand dune. The incredible food and missing the incredible food back home. Giving up on umbrellas and raincoats.

I really look forward to seeing everyone I met again.

fiji map


leaving fiji soon

Things are wrapping up here, and this could be my last post from Fiji! Hopefully not though, I still have one more in the works.

My courses are all done, as well as exams. Yesterday a big group of us went to the forest park one last time as most people leave today or tomorrow. Last night we had our farewell evening and we’ve been wrapping lots of things up and having lots of nice dinners.

Alex on the rope swing:


Our girls night:

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The Canadian girls this semester:


They are awesome. Me, Christine (Vancouver from SFU too), Liz (Guelph), Maggie (Guelph), and Catherine (Quebec City). Canada is big, but it doesn’t seem as big when you’ve lived near both ends.

I’ve decided that I am electronically cursed.. my netbook power cord has stopped working so I will really be technology deprived for the next while. I’ll leave Suva on Monday and fly out to New Zealand on Tuesday. I have some ideas of plans, but I’ll try to figure out more of that stuff this week. I am hoping to visit Pam (Grandma’s cousin!) in the first few days. It’ll be a bit challenging to keep doing all my prep without a computer, but I’ll figure it out.

During the first week of exams, the new stadium in Suva had a New Zealand Classic All Blacks rugby game vs Fiji 15s. It was a lot of fun to go to! SFU barely has practically no school spirit and the games are boring, so this may be the pinnacle sports game of my entire university career! The American students here were shocked when they heard that. The Classic All Blacks team are all ex-All Blacks, but they were still alright. They were slotted to win, but Fiji dominated 33-14! I had no idea what was happening at most times, but it was still very exciting.

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natadola beach

Earlier this week, Lauren and I went on a trip along the Coral Coast. We started off with Marty and did some excellent snorkelling at Votua Reef, where I went with my Marine Biology class. It really is a stunning area because of all the soft coral! It is a marine protected area so everything is very healthy (you are not allowed to fish there).

We all went to Natadola Beach (SW corner of the main island) and hung out there. The beach is huge! Definitely the largest beach in Fiji. It was very nice there so we decided to set up the tent on the beach. I felt slightly like a dirt bag because one of the nicest resorts in Fiji is on that beach. You have to have heavy pockets to stay at that resort.

The beach was really deep, Marty could dive off it!

Credit: Marty

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Here is Lauren’s interpretation:

volcom fiji pro and puppies

The Volcom Fiji Pro surf competition is going on right now at Cloudbreak (last I checked they had 3 days of events so far – the whole competition has a waiting period of over 10 days but they only surf on the first 4 days with good waves) – if I budgeted it in better I would’ve gone to watch but alas not this time… A bunch of international students went and this is Milou’s photo! WOW!


And for anyone that stayed at my apartment in the past 5 months, you will appreciate this sign that is on our lawn:


We still haven’t figured out who put up the sign.. whether it was the owners of the puppies or someone who has finally had enough of the puppies….