Home       About Me       Review Archive

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

My Life in August: Homesickness, Ontario, and a Train Ride Across Canada

I moved three thousand miles this month, so that I could return to school to get my master's degree in palaeontology! So that was a major life event and thus my life in August revolved entirely around that.

I opted out of plane or vehicle travel for the chance to utilize my favourite method of travel: the train!
(photos from my Instagram)
GUYS. I embarked on a journey across the country to go to school: I was exactly like Harry on the Hogwarts Express!! Except my trip took two and a half days, which some people might question the sanity of, considering I could've done the trip in a few hours by plane for the same price, but for me, there is no method of travel that is more pleasant. I had a bed, three meals a day with full and varied menus (all of which were superb), and loads of time to chill out and read. I even got to take a shower! And it was the perfect way to be able to experience this beautiful country of mine.
Dining Car
Cozy Bed

Unfortunately, that's pretty much where my relaxing vacation ended. The rest of August was pure STRESS. I have never lived away from my family for any length of time and homesickness set in swiftly and deeply. And my homesickness and melancholy affected both my preparation studying and my just-for-fun reading as I found I could not focus. Which led to more stress. Which led to two very bad panic attacks, which were incredibly unpleasant. Blah.

So at the moment, I'm just trying to take it one day at a time and trying not to worry too much about what's ahead. I can only do my best, give 100%, and that will just have to be good enough. I'm sad that this may mean less time for blogging and reading :(

Otherwise, I've been trying to make the most out of my new life in Ontario. My first impressions of Ontario are:
1. It's really humid. And wet heat is so much worse than dry heat!
2. Everything is more expensive here. I've never had to pay provincial tax before!
3. There are loads of pretty, clean lakes. That's Shield Country for you!
4. There is a much greater diversity of life here. I'm loving exploring all this new flora and fauna!
5. The squirrels are MONSTROUS. Like, more than twice the size of the ones in Alberta!
6. They drink milk out of plastic bags instead of cartons here. It's super weird O_O

In one month's time I have lived in five different locations, and thus have had to move four times. I am le tired. But finally, FINALLY, I have reached my destination.

I didn't get much time to enjoy TV or movies this month, but I did see one highly anticipated movie:
So, it wasn't a super faithful adaptation of City of Bones, but I did still like it on the whole. It was entertaining anyways and the action scenes were pretty stellar. I think the 12% rating on Rotten Tomatoes is way harsh (that would rank it close to The Host and that movie was much worse in my opinion). I definitely had some issues with it though... namely Bach being a Shadowhunter and Valentine sporting dirty rat-tail dreadlocks for no apparent reason. What did you think of the movie?

Blog Posts in August:

My Life in July: Moving, Goodbyes, and Acting the Tourist
Two Major Life Changes... And What It Means For The Blog
New Blog Design!
Stacking The Shelves: Three Months In The Making
Waiting On Wednesday: Random House Fall 2013 Catalog
Muggle Monday: The Last of the Newly Redesigned Harry Potter Covers!
Review: The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling - 5 Stars
Review: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick - 4 Stars
Review: The Pirate's Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke - 3.5 Stars
Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead - 3 Stars

Best Book Read in August:
This was a reread, but I think I somehow liked it even better the second time! I think it was because I had an easier time following the politics this time around. But ohhh, how I love Ismae and Duval!! I'm still bummed that Dark Triumph doesn't continue their story, but rereading Grave Mercy has made me realize that Sybella's story will be very interesting indeed! Hopefully I can read Dark Triumph soon...


  1. A) Dark Triumph is a BAJILLION times better than Grave Mercy- seriously, Sybella and Beast are one of my most favourite YA couples EVER.
    B) I wish that I lived closer to Mississauga!
    C) I shall agree to disagree with you about The Host being worse than City of Bones. ;)

  2. I haven't been to see City of Bones yet but I might go tomorrow.

    I love the pictures you took from the train, I wish I could go see it someday (im kind of iffy on planes though, I get on but I'm one huge stressed ball of nerves for about two weeks prior).

    *hugs* i'm sorry for homesickness, that can be pretty brutal, but hopefully will go away a bit once you get into the groove of classes and the new place.

    YOU HAVE TO TAKE A PIC of those Squirrels!!! I'm curious now.

  3. Oh. My. Golly. I am so jealous that you got to spend two days on a freaking train like Harry!! Now THAT is awesome. But I'm so sorry the rest of August was stressful for you, I can't IMAGINE living so far away from my parents! The milk in a bag thing.... Bleghh. Ontario is weird! ;) I saw the City of Bones as well and I quite liked it! It's definitely not the same thing as the book was those action scenes were great. SERIOUSLY, whaddup with Valentine's rat tail dreadlocks!?? I died. But let's hope that September is a better month for you! Thanks for sharing, Aylee. :)

  4. I am so jealous right now! I always wanted to ride on a train and you got to ride through our beautiful country! I've been living in Ontario for the past 8 years or so and it is not weird! And you can still purchase milk cartons if it bothers you that much. Thanks for sharing :)
    BTW: we don't have monstrous squirrels!

  5. I think traveling by train is also my favorite way! I'm scared of flying, so that wouldn't be an option :P and it looks like you had a great time with nice meals and stuff :D

    Yeaay for Grave Mercy <3 I was sad to leave them behind too, but Sybella's story is just as fascinating and good!

  6. Your train travel sounds amazing! I hope things get less stressful as you get settled in though :)

  7. Aylee! I can't believe you had to move 4 times! I was cranky because I had to move twice in 3 weeks and now I feel like a whiner! It sucks that you are feeling so homesick, but once you get settled and make some friends in Toronto, you'll feel better.

    I really want to see TMI despite the poor reviews. My friend just read it so maybe I can get her to go with me.

    I just bought Grave Mercy. Glad to hear it's so good.

  8. Welcome to Ontario!! That looks like it was such a fun train ride, I would rather do that than fly as well! When you are free we should plan for you to come meet a bunch of the Toronto Blogettes! Hopefully you're settling in okay

  9. Plastic bag milk? Weird. I've heard of that. But in like Colombia. I would never imagine that in Canada.

    You're so cute in front of that train. I'm so proud of you for traveling retro style. I want to do something like this. Plus what great pictures. Traveling this way sounds relaxing which is like the opposite of flying in my opinion.

    I hope you're feeling better soon. *hug*

  10. I thought CoB was really fun. The Bach thing was kind of dumb, but it did work well when Jace played the piano, so ti kind of fit together, in the end. The action scenes were very impressive!

    Kate @ Ex Libris

  11. I would totally have opted for the train ride too! Your room looks amazing and the sights are gorgeous.
    Love Grave Mercy! Even better the 2nd time? I may have to try that out myself. :) I was bummed Dark Triumph had a new set of characters too and while I didn't love it AS MUCH as Grave Mercy it was still fantastic.

  12. Awe, I'm glad you had an enjoyable train ride but sorry to hear that you are homesick :( I moved to Ontario from NS almost 4 years ago, which was the first time I moved away from my family as well so I know the anxiety that comes with it *hugs*. I find it so funny that you listed those things that are different in Ontario because I found the same things!!!.... the squirrels here are MASSIVE right?! Holy Smokes, I was astonished and they are black too which I thought was fascinating, at home we only had the brown squirrels! Also... the heat this year was 20x better than last year! I hate it. You are not alone :P And... the milk bags. Freaking hilarious right? Anyhow... all my rambling... I hope you get adjusted soon and well, and good luck starting school :D

  13. Traveling by the train sounds wonderful! I always dread airplane flights, and I've never been on a train for that long, but your bed, the meals, time to relax and read sound absolutely wonderful. It always seems so cramped in airplane cabins too whereas the train looks rather comfortable. Also really nice that you got to actually watch the scenery pass by rather than a dot of lights from the sky.

    Ehhh. Such a shame that everything else was stressful :(. How far away is your family? Any chance of setting Skype dates to help with that? Any chance that something else can distract you from that if you take it on a day by day basis? I know we've only just started to interact via our blogs but I so wish I could help. Hug, something.

    1. Very true. Humidity is the worst to deal with. I visited NYC one summer and always felt dirty in the heat. o.O.
    2. I don't even know what provincial tax means o.O.
    3. Lakes!! I don't think I've ever even been near a lake. The pictures you took are so gorgeous! Any chance you might go swimming there or go on a boat or something?
    4. Pictures! I want to see this new flora and fauna! I went to British Columbia once as a kid, but haven't seen anything of Canada since. More, Aylee!
    5. Lol. Squirrels are monstrous on college campuses too o.O. Do these act as weirdly as they do there?
    6. From the plastic bags... as in it's liquid or as in it's that dry powder milk you have to make? *confused*

    I still haven't gotten to see the City of Bones movie. I did hear that it wasn't quite faithful to the book and that the history diverged quite a bit, but at least it was entertaining. I have a feeling the fact that it's a 12% rating on RT is because people really like to bash YA movies. Some people still dismiss YA novels because they're YA. And with it coming out not long after the Host and twilight, that can't help...

    ISMAE AND DUVAL <3. Hey, if you end up reading Dark Triumph soon, maybe we could do a read-along? I started the book awhile back but something came up and I've never gotten back to it, though it's literally by my bed. Sybella's story was turning out to be quite interesting from what I'd read if I remember correctly :).

  14. Yay for a safe trip to Toronto! Glad that you're settling down well. :) And DUDE. That train! Looks awesome. I've never actually been in a train that has its very own dining car, so that picture was cool. Love how you compared yourself to Harry - optimism all the way!

    I hope September will be much calmer for you, Aylee. Remember: take it slow and easy. :) Have a great month!

  15. I should re-read Grave Mercy. Glad you're liking Toronto. You should come out to Montana sometime for the dinosaurs and other fossils. They have a great museum in Bozeman.

  16. Sounds like you had a lovely trip! I've never been on a train, but I'd love to ride one at some point...and that's cool you got to have a Harry Potter experience.

    I'm sorry your dealing with homesickness. I'd be the same way, but I'm sure things will get easier as you go along! We're all here for you too!!! :)


  17. Milk in plastic bags?! We get milk in glass and plastic bottle over here, but a bag sounds super strange! O_o I think I'd prefer a train ride to a plane journey too. The reading time! The views! It sounds lovely and relaxing. I'm sorry that you've been homesick since though. :( These things generally do take some time getting used to. I hope you enjoy the rest of the month, Aylee! <3

  18. So cool you traveled by train! Really.
    I'm sorry about the homesickness. I do understand what you mean - I went to college 1000 miles away from my parents, and so it wasn't like I could easily see them for breaks or just random downtime. But I'm sure you'll feel better once you're busy doing work again and start making new friendships and all.
    I hope everything starts coming together and you're able to become comfortable in your new home, Aylee!

  19. That train journey sounds amazing! It's on my bucket list to write on a really really long train journey <3 I'm sorry you're stressed and panicky, just hang in there, I know what you mean. Wow, that is a BIG place! If I travelled that far I'd be on a completely different continent. The country where I live is only 301 miles long! I think it's really cool that you're studying palaeontology, it's very impressive that you're doing your master's in it! Whaaaat, milk in *bags*? Very strange. Will make for interesting stories though. Good luck with settling in! :)

  20. Flying might have been easier but I think the train is the more scenic option, Aylee. I've been in T.O. my whole life after we moved to Canada so I'd love to be able to see other parts of Canada.

    You don't have tax in Alberta?! I'd save so much buying things without the PST. Also, I had no idea that milk didn't come in bags over there. I love finding out interesting tidbits like that.

  21. Milk in bags sorts of grosses me out. I'd imagine it would start to taste like fridge very quickly. Haha. I loved seeing your picks of the country. Made me feel happy to live in Manitoba when seeing how pretty it can be. I hope your home sickness subsides some and you can enjoy your new surroundings and relax some. Good luck with school! I am sure that will take up lots of your time in the months to come.

  22. Milk in a bag? Ewww lol

    I've had panic attacks and they are no fun so I hope things calm down and get better for you soon ;-)

    I should reread Grave Mercy and Dark Triumph. They were both amazing.

  23. Hey Eilidh! We're going to miss you here in Edmonton as well. How long are you going to be in Toronto or are you planning to stay there? Just wondering, I'm sort of planning to go there for University as well! :)

    I don't really like milk but milk in bags sounds a bit disturbing! I can imagine how the heat is having been in China where it IS wet heat. Although, pretty much every building in China is BLASTING with AC.

    Just take some time to get used to Eilidh, and you'll do an awesome job in school! Wishing you all the best!

    1. I can't say how long I'll be in Toronto. At least 2 years, but it could be an extra 2 years after that if I decide to get a master's degree in Museum Studies, and another 5 years after that if I decide to get a PhD in Paleontology! Who knows! So we could very well be living in the same city if you decide to come out here for university!

  24. Aylee, you are such a brave young woman. I know you will preserve in Toronto. My adult son, while attending undergraduate school spent an entire semester studying abroad because he needed to establish his independence for medical school applications. He too had never been far away from his parents and just like you he also had a bit of a panic attack, resulting in a fainting spell. It was all overwhelming! After he settled in, everything became much better for him. He solved his homesickness by skyping us plenty. It was nice to see his face. He even skyped his way through our Thanksgiving dinner. You are an ambitious young lady who will I'm certain, end up on top once the early move jitters are over. Its great for you because you already have a community of online friends. So, if you are extra lonely, just hope over to Goodreads or your blog and catch up on you comments. We are all rooting for you!!!

    PS: I never knew riding on a train could be so relaxing and beautiful. I might consider it for our next vacation. Also, drinking milk out of plastic bags is BIZARRE!!!

  25. I think it is SO freaking cool that you made like Harry and rode a train across the country to attend school. You're so smart for doing that and seeing the countryside instead of just flying over it. I'm sorry to hear you had homesickness and a bit of a rough first few weeks, and i hope you're feeling better! Hopefully little silly things like drinking milk out of a bag will help brighten your day when you're feeling down. :-)

  26. Nooooo! I'd written a comment and it vanished! Alright, here we go again: I've always wanted to travel across-Canada via train, so I absolutely love that you chose to travel that way and I'm happy that you shared some pics of your journey (which were lovely btw^^) I think I would feel like Harry Potter as well - oh who am I kidding, OF COURSE I WOULD!

    I am sorry to hear that you've been dealing with homesickness and anxiety attacks :( HUGS I used to get those too in Uni, before I got my health under control and they are no fun. I hope you're already doing better!! I'm glad that you got to see and enjoyed City of Bones though! As much as I am in the minority when it comes to those books, I really do want to see the movie. I think it seems really well done and I feel like it might make me enjoy the series more heh!

    I SO AGREE with your comment on dry heat vs wet heat. When I was a kid, we used to have dry Summers here and then like 10 years ago, it switched to humid and I. can't. stand. it. >.< Oh and we have milk in bags here too, as well as in cartons. My grandmother always used to buy the bag kind! Does Ontario no sell the cartons as well??

    PS- your Tweet about being 'in' Toronto got a snort-laugh out of me! LOL I'm sorry I missed that one when it went up live. HA! ♥

  27. Oh, I remember seeing all these pics on IG and I must say that it looks like you're having a great time overall, Aylee and i'm glad to hear (and see) that. You really are like Harry on the go! :*

    Sarika @ The Readdicts

  28. Wow wonderful journey :) I'm glad to hear you are settling in in your new place in Toronto. I'm sure you'll represent the Edmonton bloggers well as an alum at all those fab author signings you'll get out there!

  29. Wow wonderful journey :) I'm glad to hear you are settling in in your new place in Toronto. I'm sure you'll represent the Edmonton bloggers well as an alum at all those fab author signings you'll get out there!

  30. I loved the pictures from your train ride, Eilidh, and I'm glad that you enjoyed the trip...that's what really matters! Plus, who would pass up the chance to be like Harry Potter?! I know I wouldn't! ;P

    I can understand being homesick...I totally felt homesick moving into Lister my first year of University. Even if the distance isn't always far (and in your case it is pretty far), it's hard to be away from what you know and the support system you have at home. At least the internet and technology makes it nice and easy to stay in touch with people now though...I can't imagine leaving home years ago without all the neat stuff we have now. :P I hope you love it in Toronto though, and I'm looking forward to seeing you when you visit home...we'll have to make sure to schedule meet-ups when you visit! ;D

    Good luck with school and we must chat about Downton Abbey lots and lots...I totally just posted about it on my blog today and I mentioned you. haha I hope to talk to you soon, and drink some milk in a bag for me. ;D

  31. It sounds like you had a great train ride! I've only been on the Via Rail once, but it was a lot of fun. Short trip, but enjoyable! That's too bad that you had a very stressful August, though ... I hope your stress doesn't stick around!

    Oh gosh ... the squirrels? We get LOTS of them here, so I can't imagine what I would do if they were larger. And milk in a bag? No thanks. *goes to hug the container of milk in the fridge*

    Be sure to update us lots on your travels in Ontario! :)

  32. Good luck with your studies!

    I had a chance to ride a train with two small kids and my dad. First ever train ride. 13 hours vs 6 hour car ride. I took the car.

    I did enjoy a train ride later. All by myself (with a book!) to meet my husband who was at a meeting. It was great. I'm ready for a longer trip now but there aren't many near my home.

  33. Congratulations on the move and getting all set up in your new city! Homesickness is hard, and the worst part is that you just have to suffer through it. I hope things are perking up!

    That train ride sounds awesome - I've always wanted to do something similar.

  34. I was just going to say!! You are on your way to Hogwarts girl!! :) I would take a cross country train ride over a plane any day. When my hubby and I traveled Europe we took the train to all the different countries even thought it cost 3x as much because it was more fun. :D Those pics are beautiful.

    Aw you are bringing back memories of when I left for college. I only moved 1 hour away and it was still hard. It's got to be so much harder for you. It gets better though (hugs).

  35. Train is also my favourite method of travel. Really Useful article You post. Cheap rates toronto airport taxi services availables for students.

  36. Did you know that that you can make cash by locking premium pages of your blog / website?
    All you need to do is join AdWorkMedia and add their content locking widget.