My Canadian Bucket List

1. Visit the Lake Louise area

An image of the Lake Louise area.

2. See the Calgary Flames

3. Go to a music festival (even blues)

4. Go to The Hop In Brew because I enjoy playing pool and a nice drink!

5. Visit Banff and Jasper

6. See a bear (but be far enough away so I don’t get eaten)

7. Go to Glacier National Park, one of the most beautiful mountain passes or so I’ve been told!

8. Go skiing or snowboarding down a bunny slope!

9. Hopefully work towards my degree and not get distracted by everything.

10. Meet some friends for life!

I hope that you enjoyed this special ‘one month to go’ installment of my experience as an outbound exchange student, it will luckily for you be the last post you’ll get before my journey really begins. Thanks for reading!

A Month Today – Outward Bound

Not Long Now! Time flies when you’re having fun… (or working hard in my case)

Since my last post not a lot has changed if I’m being honest! I didn’t want all of my blogowers (blog + followers) to get bored so this post is all about some facts and figures about my new home in Cowboy Country, also more commonly known as Calgary and what I’m really looking forward to doing whilst I’m on my year abroad!

But first, an introduction to my monster suitcase!

Image of a large blue suitcase

Can I just tell you how hard it is to be a girl sometimes… Well in fact girls have the short straw all of the time! I’m not going to state the obvious in why it’s such in a pain being a girl but with our feminine allure comes a multitude of problems, the main thing for me is PACKING LIGHT!!!

Packing light is completely unheard of in the female world! We need hairdryers, straighteners, hair products, special toiletries (too many to list), nice underwear, not to forget clothes, and I mean plenty and plenty of clothes! In just under a months time I’m faced with the impossible task of filling a suitcase to last me 9 months, but it can only weigh 24kg! ARGH #panic_stations

Okay, so scrap the hairdryer and umm maybe the straighteners but I love clothes and make-up and oh well, I shouldn’t be going on about this, studying abroad for a year is an absolutely fantastic opportunity so  packing ‘light’ is a minor issue, if even an issue at all. I’ll get super Mum on the job! Plus I’ve been super organised and made a list of what to and what not to pack. You can also buy things while you’re over there of course; bedding, pots and pans etc. I’ve heard that the University and Calgary even has items from previous study abroad students that you can help yourself too. SORTED!

Why Calgary is amazing and I haven’t even been yet!

My New Home

So as promised, after going off track again (the things that go on in my brain, I’m a rambler I tell you), I’m going to introduce you to my new home…

Formally Introducing the… THE UNIVERSITY Of CALGARY!

Image of the University of Calgary arches


Now I’ve been doing an awful lot of reading about my new home, my Stepdad has given me a ‘Discover Canada’ book which states that it’ll pick out the best bits of Canada. Hmmm… So I started reading the orange section in the book, the highlights of ‘Banff & the Canadian Rockies’. It was so full of praise for the area, describing it as home to Canada’s most dramatic panoramas and the landscape that hiking was invented for. So I moved on from Banff, to Jasper, to the area of Lake Louise, hitting Edmonton and then I got on to Calgary…

I quote the book:

‘Livable but sometimes characterless, prosperous but economically precarious, super-modern but not always pretty.’

Oh and then…

‘Calgary isn’t a place that any unbiased out-of-towner is likely to fall in love with.’


I slammed the book shut and thought to myself that I wasn’t having it! So I’ve devised a Calgary specific bucket list and 5 facts on why Calgary is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (this is before I’ve even been)!

Why Calgary is Amazing!

No 1. It’s cowboy country! What isn’t to like?! Men wandering around in cowboy hats, checkered shirts and yelling yee-haw, I’m sold! But seriously, Calgary is home to the world-famous Calgary Stampede, held in the second week of July (so I’ve missed it). The stampede features live music and supports a rowdy party atmosphere and don’t forget the rodeo!

Image of the calgary stampede rodeo

No 2. Calgary’s music scene! Calgary boasts an impressive music scene from genres of rock, indie, country, punk to alternative! As a massive indie fan, I’m excited to explore and immerse myself into Calgary’s music culture. I’m especially looking forward to visiting the Broken City where gigs are usually held of a Thursday and Friday night. Calgary also holds countless music festivals such as the Calgary Jazz Festival and the Calgary International Reggae Festival, yeahh man!

No 3.  It isn’t pretty (according to the book)!? Well I’ve never been so I wouldn’t know but Calgary is also known as the gateway to the Canadian Rockies. It is the most likely access for both Banff and Jasper (what the tourists would call the pretty places), so even though I’m in a modern city, hey, I won’t be eaten by a brown bear and I can easily enough do some travelling during my stay. Check out my bucket list for more details! I’m sure Calgary will have buckets of its own unique charm anyway.

A cityscape image of Calgary with snow covered rockies in the distance

No 4. Introducing the Calgary Flames, a professional hockey team! Founded in 1972 the Calgary Flames have claimed 5 division championships (this is all from Wikipedia by the way)! I’m actually incredibly excited to see my first ever ice hockey game! Plus the players are huge, I know that there shoulder pads contribute a little bit but phoaw, I’m going to have to learn how to figure skate to get their attention!

No 5. Last but not least Calgary is already amazing to me prior to my visit because it’s going to be my home for over 8 months. I’m so excited and confident that I’ll absolutely love it due to already experiencing Canadian culture that there won’t be a problem for me and I’ll fall in love with the city! With the rockies on my doorstep, what isn’t to love!? I’ve also been told by a friend that during her study abroad last year she visited Lake Louise whilst it was frozen over and they hold an ice sculpture fair on the lake, how awesome is that!?

Hello Paperwork

“Okay, so I’ve got the thumbs up to study abroad, now what?!”

The feeling of excitement, ecstasy and disbelief that coursed through my veins when I was first told that I’d be going abroad for my 2nd year of university has been replaced by an overwhelming sense of panic!


I can’t describe it really! It’s like I’ve hit a brick wall! I’ve been ragging on at 100mph since the start of university and now exams are over, holidays are over, and all seems quiet in the Bingham household! I don’t think that it’s quite sunk in yet, the fact that I’m going across the pond to begin a new chapter of my life, (well it isn’t really a pond, more like 3,612.61 miles across the Atlantic Ocean and to the Western side of Canada!)

Map of North America and Europe

Don’t get me wrong, YES I’m excited beyond belief, when I found out that I was going I started hugging everyone like a I was some sort of possessed life-size teddybear! However, I’m a tiny bit scared too! I will be away from the new amazing friends that I’ve met during my first year at Lancaster University. The family will also be missed, especially my furry feline friend Kitty. This time there isn’t any popping home on the train, which previously took about 2 hours, in order to escape my boy troubles at university or to hide from my upcoming exams! I’m just going to have to be mature and manage my entire life, practically on my own, in a foreign country may I add! I think that I can do that…

Anyway I’ve formulated a cunning action plan! Yesterday I purchased a notebook and decorated it solely for my year abroad.

image of a decorated notebook for Canada

This notebook is my plan in being super organised! I will not forget to book holiday insurance, book my flights or even to leave my passport within my underwear draw and realise this when I’m at the airport! No, this little book is my lifeline so I better not misplace it!

Now with all that said I better share with you my recent attempt at getting organised and putting everything in place for my year abroad.

Tah-Dah flights are booked

Phil, the guy that I’m going to Canada with whose also from Lancaster University, will happily tell you how much of a pain that I’m being at this current moment in time!

I’ve constantly been pestering him about the best flight deals or where to go for my insurance, when I could easily access this knowledge from the mighty search engine known as ‘Google’! However, Phil seems to have his head screwed on! That man has it sussed! I could do it on my own but I like the comfort of checking things through with Phil, after all it’s a learning experience for the both of us!

Anyway, I’m happy to confirm that my flights are now officially BOOKED! Yippie!

Image of the outside view from an aeroplane aeroplane

We fly from Manchester airport on the 30th August 2014! Which is only 6 weeks away, eeeeeck!

Unfortunately I’m sat on my own during the first journey from Manchester to Toronto, hopefully no one will fall asleep and decide to have a snooze on my shoulder.

However, there’s some good news! I’m sitting next to Phil during our 2nd flight from Toronto to Calgary on the air bus. Annoyingly, he’s nabbed the window seat though so I hope that he knows that I’ll be leaning across him with my binoculars and marvelling at the extraordinary views!

So all that’s left to sort now is doing some online shopping! I need some skiing gear! I’m hoping to battle down the bunny slops whilst I’m in Canada.

So that’s it from me now until I go (or something else interesting happens to me involving my year abroad)

Au revoir,

Laura xxx

A Distant Dream

Once Upon A Time…

I believe that some things are meant to happen! I know that it sounds pretty cliché and I’m not superstitious at all, although I do nose at my horoscope occasionally and get scared when I walk under ladders! However, I base this belief on the fact that I was completely lost and floating around in this bubble of uncertainty a couple of years ago. But now I have aspirations for the future and an action plan!!!

A couple of years ago I started to do my AS exams. Everyone in my Sixth Form was applying to University through UCAS, so I went along with the flow and entered my details much to my dismay into the system! All these thoughts started exploding in my head:-

Was University for me?

Was I making a mistake?

What course did I even want to do?

Do I want to live off baked beans for 3 years???


As we know this is a difficult time for all. Anyway (I must stay on track), I found myself in a pub (what a surprise) and my Mum introduced me to the Nephew of her friend. He was tall, had mousey brown hair and eyes that flickered with life and excitement. Then he began talking… He was Canadian! (Woohoo)

He had come over to the UK to visit his Uncle and other family members. I remember sharing a steak and cheese cob with him in the pub and him enthusing about the wonders of his nation, a distant country called Canada.

Of course I was young, naïve and had a fierce passion to travel! Stupidly I began obsessing about going to Canada for myself and experiencing the things that this guy had told me about!


Cheese fondue!

Ice hockey!


Niagara Falls!

Bears! (Eeeeek)

…So of course I went for myself!

On my 18th Birthday my Mum and Stepdad took me to Eastern Canada for 2 weeks (I should’ve gone to the West and seen the bears and whales, I know). However, we still had a fantastic time! 😀

We went to Toronto, Quebec, Ottawa, Niagara Falls and Montreal to name a few!

However, the 2 weeks wasn’t long enough so I came up with an action plan in order to return!

It went something like this:-

1. Research University Study Abroad courses

2. Apply to a university that offered year abroad course (which turned out to be Lancaster University)

3. Ace my A-Levels

4. Pass first year at Lancaster University and not die of fresher’s flu!

SIMPLE! (Or so I thought)

…So after all of that hair pulling, chocolate consumption and litres of red bull downed, it was all worth it in the end! I got into the University of Calgary, passing my first year at Lancaster with a high 2:1 and now my future awaits!

As my good friend from Canada told me, “Live to Dream”

So my journey has only just begun!

Here is an image of a snowboard he made and sent me.

image of a snowboard with illustrations of both UK and Candian flag