Looking back: Fall/Winter 2016/2017

Please believe me when I tell you that the Fall/Winter 2016/17 academic year has been the busiest and most rewarding year. It was one that challenged me in different ways and I’m forever grateful for it.

I was a part of three clubs – Carleton University Dance Crew (CUDC), Spoon University Carleton Chapter, and Parks Canada Outdoors Club of Carleton – and a student volunteer/student staff with three different university on-campus departments – a peer mentor at the Student Experience Office in the first semester, a peer helper with the Centre for Student Academic Support (CSAS), and a volunteer at the International Students Services Office (ISSO). I was terrified for myself at the beginning of Fall 2016 and was unsure whether I would be able to do it all while keeping myself sane.

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L-R: Lujie, me, Mana, Julia, Shaelyn, and Colleen
Volunteering for ISSO during Fall Orientation Week 2016
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Cloudy and wet day didn’t stop me from going hiking at Gatineau Park

There’s no other way to say it but I genuinely enjoyed the year despite my crazy schedule every day. I was so happy and as I packed my things to leave campus earlier this week, I was feeling sad and reluctant to move out of my room in Frontenac House. I was just sad to leave the year behind. I met so many amazing people, came across so many wonderful opportunities, and improved myself by gaining various skills.

To make it easier to read, I’m going to elaborate on each person and opportunity in different subheadings chronologically (if possible) to explain how my year went.

ISSO

While everyone was still enjoying their break towards the end of August, I returned to campus on August 30 to begin my training as a Fall Orientation Ambassador, an international student mentor, and a volunteer for the ISSO.

There I learned a little bit about different cultures and countries. I loved it and it was so rewarding. I was crazy energetic throughout Orientation week and extremely talkative – Wei Ni made fun of me when I told her how much of an extrovert I was being. Regardless, the feeling of being able to help these new students kept me so motivated that I felt that I had an unlimited amount of energy.

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Excited international students ready for the Parliament Hill Light Show

After orientation week ended, I took on the role as an international student peer mentor where I had to help new international students settle down and ensure they were well-adjusted to their new environment. I was honestly unsure of my position and ability to be a good mentor. As far as I knew, I was someone who had cultivated self-discipline and self-motivation on my own, at the same time, I wasn’t so sure whether I’d be able to convey a similar message to someone else. I was afraid that I wasn’t doing my role justice because I did check off all the criteria of what I imagined a mentor would be. I should’ve better prepare myself to adjust to different personalities, listened more, and so on. It was an interesting experience nonetheless but I could’ve done a lot better. I’ve learned my lesson and will be applying these considerations the next time I decide to become a peer mentor.

CSAS

I honestly don’t remember what made me apply for the position of an Outreach Peer Helper. As far as I remember, I was only motivated by the fact that I could make myself more employable. I didn’t know what I was going into nor was I expecting anything amazing, I was solely focused on gaining new skills. It’s a cliché but I’m just going to say it, I am incredibly grateful for the experience, skills, connections and memories I’ve gained during my time as a peer helper.

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Journo-senpai and cutie pie, Alyssa
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Fellow Whovian and staff lounge buddy, Joanna
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Giant gingerly ginger, Connor

If there’s any place that made me felt safe, welcomed, happy, and motivated, it was working at CSAS, chilling or doing assignments in the staff lounges, located on the 4th floor of the library.

Every time I was there during its hours of operation, I’d be sure to find someone who’d be willing to talk or help me out. They really made the library my second home, it was somewhere I never wanted to leave. People would always check up on each other, ensuring we’re all taking care of each other, supporting each other, and giving helpful suggestions/advices on certain things.

Of course, I remembered the things I learned while I was there too – creating social media content and different promotional programs to generate more student engagement with the centre. It was a pun-tastic time of creating content. Going out tabling in the tunnel junctions with the Plinko board was also a fun and enlightening experience. By enlightening I mean, it put me in a position I’d never see myself being able to get comfortable with – I was constantly pushed to convince students to learn about CSAS by asking them to play with the Plinko board. Looking back, I realized I’ve grown.

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My almost-big sister, Jenny!
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Fabulous Alex!

When I first started with the Plinko alongside Rebecca, I was unsure what to say and always mimicked Rebecca but as the weeks went by, I slowly gained confidence in spewing out things to say to hype the students up to play the Plinko. It was a fun time and definitely one way to improve your public speaking skills.

CUDC
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Always smiling LJ ❤
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Awarded the “Most Improved OLD Member” by my fellow CUDC Execs and Advisor

If you knew me from last year, you’d know I was a part of CUDC since my first year. During my first year as a CUDC member, I was always unsure of where I stood in the crew and that still hasn’t changed. Unlike most clubs, this is where I felt the most closed-off from the whole group and I never felt truly home. If anyone ever wants to see me quiet among people I know, this would be where you’ll see me being quiet (besides the library). I know that’s kind of shocking to hear and it is shocking to me too! I don’t know why this is the way it is but I can only guess it’s because everyone else me is super loud and I don’t know how to respond to that or I just let other people to be loud and not challenge them? I don’t know.

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With Nareen and Shaelyn
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Vice-President Brenna
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Sassy Sarah!
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Lovely Colleen and Julia ❤
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Riri group: Jodi, Alex, me, and Sarah
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Amazing dance partner, Collen

But if there’s one thing that’s change this year, it’s that I gained more confidence in my dancing abilities – I even did a duet with my new friend, Colleen! I don’t think I’d be dancing at CUDC with confidence without the support of Colleen. Colleen is such an amazing and passionate dancer. I’m genuinely thankful I met Colleen because she gave me an opportunity to try out different dance genres – contemporary and modern – and it was an honour being her duet partner.

Esther

Where do I even start? I met her a cross-country skiing event organized by the Parks Canada Outdoors Club. It was a beautiful and warm cold February morning that day and someone (Esther) to her surprise, arrived at the meeting spot a little too early. Me being the person who arrives anywhere early, arrived a little later than her, and started chatting with her – she started the conversation. Lots of chatting went on that day and we found out we had so many similar interest like Yuri!!! On Ice. Heh! Anyways as we were chatting in the car on our way to the skiing place, I invited her to go to the gym with me after skiing – classic tip on making friends. Long story short, she agreed to gym with me.  Funny thing is when Esther was on the way to the gym, she forgot her running shoes and she went back to get it. By the time she got to the gym, it was 15 minutes to closing. Somehow we still got to know each other and planned our gym schedule for the week. Fast forward today, we’ve been gym buddies ever since and became food/travel buddies – we went to Quebec City and Montreal together.

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That’s Esther and I in front of the Chateau Frontenac!
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Rue du Petit Champlain

The year went by incredibly fast and I’m grateful for everything that’s happened. I’m excited for the new school year because I’ll be rooming with two amazing girls – Carleigh and Selene. I’m also terrified and worried because it’s going to be the toughest one yet – Third-year journalism is extra tiring. Bummed that Esther and I won’t be able to spend any more time with each other for the year because she’s going on exchange to Edinburgh. I’m hoping I can keep up with her and hoping she’d do the same because she really made my year a lot better although we just met. Heh.

Spontaneous Trip to St. John’s, Newfoundland!

Hello everybody!

It’s been a while since I last updated you guys but I think it’s been known that I went back home for two months. I honestly would’ve loved to stay a tad bit longer but I had plans of what I’ll be doing once I was back in Canada.

How I felt leaving home
How I felt leaving home

The whole plan didn’t fall through but I made do. See, I was supposed to visit Temagami once I arrived back in Canada, then Montreal and finally pack my stuff to move out. I didn’t manage to visit Temagami because my friend who lives there, suddenly had a full schedule.

On the bright side, I went to St. John’s in Newfoundland instead! You must be thinking, “how in the world are you travelling so much?” Well… One thing I always do before travelling is asking myself… “Do I have a friend there who is willing to take me around?” or “Can I crash at someone’s place while I’m there?”

Because I hate travelling alone so I’ll need someone to accompany me.

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ME: Let’s go! Let’s go! FRIEND: No.

Thankfully, I had Simon who is my secondary school senior and fellow school chorister. Funny thing is… We didn’t really talk much in school but were always on good terms. ❤ Upon discussing my plans with Simon, he was super excited and so I booked my flight ticket the next week.

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A random cliff St. John’s.

I arrived in the evening but because Simon had worked that day, he only came back at around 10pm. We were finally reunited and it was a crazy night reconnecting.

DAY ONE

So on the very first day, we woke up bright and early (4.30AM) to catch the sunrise (5.50AM) at Signal Hill. It was such a groggy morning for us so we took a taxi up to Signal Hill and walked down.

At the top, you can see most of St. John’s and the Atlantic Ocean. The scenery was stunning! Ah… I miss looking at the sunrise. The sky was in all sorts of colours, it was so surreal. Needless to say, I took too many pictures. Thankfully, I picked the best and sorted them down below.

Sunrise at Signal Hill
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Simon and I on top of Signal Hill with St. John’s behind us!
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Panorama of the view

Walking around Signal Hill, we were also Pokemon hunting. I don’t know why but there were so many Vulpix and Evees. 😀

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Simon caught an Evee on his hand.

Walking down, we were enchanted by the beautiful rock formations. Simon told me that most of the rocks that look vertical were once horizontal millions of years ago. #funfact

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Shamelessly climbed up to the rocks and did some cheesy poses. 😛

Walk, walk, walk… We walked all the way to downtown. Yes, we did… It was tiring walking session but thankfully, the view was amazing and the weather was pleasant. Oh yeah, it was pretty cold in the morning but it warmed up as the sun was rising.

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So apparently these colourful houses are called the Jellybean Houses. There’s a reason why they’re all so colourful. Back in the olden days, each ship had a different coloured sail to signify different families or something. So when a ship returns, the sailor’s wives would be able to identify their husband’s ships easily and wave their specific colour of their husband’s sails to guide their husbands ashore.

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On a statue of a Newfoundland dog. I want a big dog like this too! :<
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National War Memorial
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By the Harbourside Park

We ended up being too early for any shops to be opened so Simon and I just sat at the Harbourside Park to have a long chat. We spent two hours, just chatting and taking in the warm sun.

P.S.: This is also a hot Pokestop area

Later on, we just walked around Downtown browsing the shops and looking at some knick-knacks.

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Freak Lunch Box, a colourful vintage candy store

We had lunch at Asa Sushi at Water Street. We ordered three rolls—the Godzilla Roll, Mango Roll, and Spider Roll. Overall, it wasn’t too bad and it was a nice change from the usual sushi buffets Canada usually has. 🙂 Sorry not pictures as we were quite hungry and devoured them all. What was really nice about this restaurant was that it’s run by a Japanese chef so you know that the chef knows what’s he doing with sushi.

Walking towards Bannerman Park, we had an ice cream stop at Moo Moo’s Ice Cream.

Turtle Cheesecake Ice Cream (not made from real turtles, I hope)
Turtle Cheesecake Ice Cream (not made from real turtles, I hope)
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Random statue of a girl near Bannerman Park and Moo Moo’s Ice Cream.

We thought it was funny to put the phone in her hands to look like she’s playing Pokemon Go.

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Colonial Building

We continued our journey walking up towards The Rooms, a museum but first had a stop at this beautiful Basilica of St. John the Baptist.

Unfortunately, my photos don’t do the spectacular interior design any justice. 😦

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Basilica of St. John the Baptist

History lesson time: The City of St. John’s was named when the Genoese explorer, sailing under the British flag, John Cabot (aka Giovani Cabotto) became the first European to sail into the city’s harbour on June 24, 1497 which is coincidentally the feast day of Saint John the Baptist. Tada, that’s why you’ll see lots of churches named after St. John. 😀

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The Rooms

We ended our day by visiting The Rooms, the provincial museum. The museum houses an array of artefacts. Do note, they just unveiled a new permanent exhibition on World War I (WWI). It’s worth checking it out as you get to understand the Newfie pride through it. They also have replicas of wartime attire that you can try on. Needless to say, I did.

Me dressed as a WWI Newfie solidier
Me dressed as a WWI Newfie solidier

Other than that, they’re currently having an art exhibition by Jinny Yu on migration. It’s a three-dimensional painting exploring the emotional responses and attitudes towards mass migration. (creds: The RoomsHonestly, I thought this exhibition was really trippy as you’re immersed in this installation with voices releasing their frustrations.

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Trying to replicate an historical artifact in hopes people would know my value.

Another exhibition worth checking out if you’re more in to the interactive art is the Free PlayThis has got to be my favourite exhibit as they have interesting twists on your typical games such as chess (where you and your rival have the same coloured pieces which means you both have to move at the same time and remember whose pieces are whose) and light-switch piano.

DAY TWO

Started the day bright and early again! Thankfully not as early because we were so drained yesterday…

The day I had hope that’d we see whales because we were going whale and puffin watching! We went with Gatherall’s Puffin & Whale Watch which picked us up at Sheraton Hotel to go to Bay Bulls.

Do note that you can request for them to pick you up with an extra charge but they usually pick people up somewhere in downtown.

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The view from the ride to Bay Bulls

Upon arriving, Simon and I were greeted by such beautiful weather and landscape. I took so many photos, it’s so shameless. I also made Simon take millions of photos of me with the landscape.

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Going to touch the Atlantic Ocean #goals
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Cruisin’ on the boat to catch a sight of some whales and puffins.

On route to the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve to see some puffins and whales, we saw some dolphins! SO COOL. OMG! WILD DOLPHINS LIKE WTF. Ok, calm.. Basically, we caught sight of about 70 Atlantic white-sided dolphins.

Again, my phone camera doesn’t do justice as to how amazing seeing the dolphins were.

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Atlantic white-sided dolphins!
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Puffins flying around the area!
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Common Murres (birds that look like itty-bitty tiny penguins) just nesting on an island

To my dismay, we did not see any whales and a puffin shat on my head. T_T Yes, one of them pooped on my head. Naaaasty. Thankfully, we had tissues with us and managed to wipe the poof my head.

On another bright note, seeing wild dolphins was also a rare experience so I can’t complain about that.

After our cruising adventure, Simon and I walked to Quidi Vidi village.

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Quidi Vidi Lake

It’s a really cute village but the only thing I’ll need to complain about is the lack of public transport. We had to walk from downtown to it. Not such a pleasant walk because it took like 30 minutes. 😦

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Quidi Vidi Harbour

So our initial plans were to have lunch at Mallard Cottage but we arrived just in time for them to close for the afternoon and we ended up going to the Quidi Vidi Brewery instead where we bought two bottles of Iceberg Beer made from 25,000 year old iceberg water harvested from Newfoundland’s icebergs.

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Had some famous Quidi Vidi Iceberg Beer

The beer tasted like soda water with alcohol. It was very easy to drink but I didn’t like it all (I also don’t drink alcohol) Just when I thought Simon was going to help me finish this bottle of beer as he said he would, Simon purposely opened the second bottle to drink which meant that I couldn’t waste it. Ugh.

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Spotted some ducks by Quidi Vidi Brewery

Because of our sad attempt to have lunch failed, we decided to head back to Downtown to have Fish N’ Chips!

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Have some famous Fish & Chips at Duke of Duckworth

I ordered (Chicken) Fingers & Chips while Simon got Fish & Poutine.

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Fish & Poutine and Fingers and Chips

Lunch was so good! Also, I had some of the fish Simon ordered and it was tasted delicious! I DON’T EVEN LIKE FISH. The batter was perfectly crusty and the freaking cod, oh-my-codness… FREAKING FRESH. It didn’t have the super pungent fish taste which was A-MA-ZING. So happy with my money spent there. I’d 100% go there again and order Fish & Chips with chicken fingers. 😀

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Took our time to remember the Chinese immigrants who helped with the developed of this city at Chinese Immigrant Monument

Final agenda of the day, we went to Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN).

I must say, it’s a large and spacious campus.

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Random piano at the cafeteria
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MUN Library

We walked around the campus and caught some Pokemons cause free WiFi. 😉

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Bruneau Centre for Research and Innovation
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MUN’s new first-year residence. Looks amazing from the outside but apparently the rooms are really small. 😦

Near this residence, there is a pond. That pond is filled with ducks. Ducks that are so savage. Unfortunately, I did not take photos of these savage ducks. I’m just informing you guys, don’t feed these savage ducks.

day three

Final day doing touristy stuff in St. John’s, we attempted again to have brunch at Mallard Cottage.

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But first, PETSTOP.

Managed to get a seat at the bar because the whole place was BOOKED. Walao.

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View of the area from the bar
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L-R: Chalkboard menu, the bar and the dessert bar
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Knick-knacks

As you can probably see, the ambience projected a feeling of warmth and fuzzines. Like duh, it’s a cottage. I enjoyed the whole interior design and thought it was presented tastefully. As for the food… I don’t think it’s worth the hype.

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Simon ordered the Pork Benny
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I ordered the Plougman (meal) and St. John’s Fog (drink)

The dish I ordered was was not my cup of tea but worth a try if you like separated different flavours onto one cold dish. I liked the St. John’s Fog but I wouldn’t order it again for the price I paid.

Overall, it was a lovely place with homey ambience to have a nice dinner/brunch. I’d love to come again but I’d probably order something cooked.

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Mallard Cottage exterior

Right after that, we went back to downtown.

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Petstop #2

This time around, we went to another church. It was the Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.

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The Gothic Revival interior
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Relics that survived the Great Fire of 1892

After we were done admiring the church, we decided to check out Bowring Park. Most of it is to waste time and do some Pokemon hunting.

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Swans and ducks were attracted to people with food

After taking a break at the park, we went to Rocket Cafe for some tea.

We ordered the Pulled pork Turnover, Lemon Tart and Cream Puff that tasted like eclair

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Rocket Cafe & the food with ordered

We stayed there for quite a bit to rejuvenate our phones and ourselves as well as enjoyed the free WiFi!

When it was dinner time, we decided we’d try to find Moose Meat Burger. The closest option for us that was on our way back to home was The Guv’Nor Inn Restaurant.

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The Guv’Nor Inn Restaurant

Sadly for us again, there was no Moose Burger and so I settled for a Bison burger instead.

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My Bison burger and Simon’s seafood dish that I can’t bother to remember because it wasn’t that great

With that, it concluded all the touristy things that I could do without a car. 😦 I still need to go to L’Anse Aux Meadows and Cape Spear (the easternmost point in North America!) and actually see whales!

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One of the last snaps before I left him the next day. 😦 #SimonMissesMe

 

Toronto Part Two

Alright! Part Two…

So at this point, I’m staying at Chiara’s house.

Day Five

On Friday, I caught up with Lester and Dorothy for lunch and then Centre Island.

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L-R: Dorothy, me and Lester

Hadn’t seen Lester since CIMP. lol. It was nice to catch up.

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L-R: Toronto Skyline; Ward Beach and the dock

We spent quite a bit of time at Ward Beach because -cough- Dorothy loves the beach. I don’t know she does it but it was cooooooold.

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Dorothy enjoying the beach

After 3 hours, we left and head to check out Lester’s place and eat dinner. His condo is really nice. It was so modern and so new. Ugh…

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L-R: Fritata made by Lester; View from Lester’s condo
Day Six

The next day, I hung out with Chiara the whole day!

We checked out University of Toronto (UoT) St.George Campus.

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Inside Trinity College, UoT

It was really, really pretty with all its historical architecture.

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King’s College, UoT

We just leisurely strolled around the campus. I actually wanted to check out the Rare Collections in Robarts Library but unfortunately, it’s closed on the weekends and so we couldn’t go in. 😦

Right afterwards, we walked to Kensington Market.

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Kensington Market

It was extremely busy and packed… It reminded me of pasar malam back home. Trololololol. We wanted to grab lunch here but man, like I said, there was so many people! Lines everywhere for food. 😦

We settled for this hot dog place and then we walked further downtown for dessert at Cafe Crepe.

Lunch at Let's be Frank
Lunch at Let’s be Frank
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Dorito Taco Dog from Let’s Be Frank; Crepe with dark chocolate, banana, fresh strawberry, coconut and ice cream

And that pretty much concludes my trip to Toronto.

I wish I had more time in Toronto to catch up with other people. But don’t worry, I’ll be back! :3

Next up on my list is Detroit, Montreal and Temagami. Huehuehuehue.