All I Want For Christmas Is A Real Good Tan

I know it has been a few weeks, but I have been studying away trying to pass my four 60% exams of death. Thank goodness they are over and I am now back to going to the beach everyday and living on island time. 

ooooooooh don’t ya think it’s a pretty good plan, all I want for Christmas is a real good tan. ~ Kenny Chesney 

Thanks to Kenny, I actually have a Christmas song that I can relate to. And it’s true I am working on my tan so that I look like I am a true beach bum and to hopefully beat my Aunt Karen’s incredible tanning skills. I am officially finished my exams which means that I have to recuperate from sitting in room for the past two weeks studying. Let’s just say I don’t remember what it is like to look this pasty. 

Yesterday, was probably one of the best days of my life. I took my first class for my PADI Open Water Scuba Certification and it was amazing, awesome, wonderful, beautiful and crazy exciting all mixed into one. My instructor Kane is really nice and he said I was a natural. I spent the morning in the pool with him learning skills and then he was like “okay time for the ocean!“. And I was like “whattttttttt“. Let’s just say I was not expecting to go diving in the ocean in my first class. But I am so happy that I did. We dove to 40ft and we saw some sting rays, sea turtles, a seahorse and some shipwrecks. Literally now my snorkeling seems so lame compared to what I was seeing under water. I have now spent 48 minutes underwater and it only goes up from there. I have a completely new respect for the ocean and the earth in general, I still can’t believe how lucky we are to live in a world filled with all these different wonders and beauties. 

Today, was my break day so this morning I went to go and pick up my passport because my visa was ready. After I got back from the immigration office in Bridgetown, I went to the beach with Meike and Emma and Tyler met us there. We spent quite a bit of time there and let’s just say my pasty skin did not take too well to being reintroduced into the sun for that long. When I was sitting on the beach I was thinking about how bittersweet it is going to be to leave the warmth and ocean. 

Tonight we are headed to Oistins for the last Friday night fish fry of the year! Tomorrow I go back to scuba and write my exam, so wish me luck! 

Love, 

Use The Good Crystal

Hi everyone,

I’ve been invited by Libbey to do another guest blog and although I readily agreed I didn’t think that she was going to insist on a deadline. So here you are my darling granddaughter even before the deadline.

It’s not surprising that she jokingly proposed a time limit because if not I would still be procrastinating or doing one of the other “jobs” on my list. It baffles me that a retiree can be so busy.

Tons of things have been going on since my last blog. Earlier this year a dear family member unexpectedly passed away. When a young healthy person is suddenly gone you start looking at your own life and those around you in a whole new perspective. You realize your time here is fleeting. Even the bible in James 4:14 says,  “For what is your life? For it is a vapour that is appearing for a little, and then is vanishing;”.

Trying to remember this has led me on some whole new paths. A path that includes first and foremost trying to be kinder, more understanding, more generous, and more helpful to others. Sentiments that should just be so natural and yet somehow get pushed aside in a busy, it’s all about me world.

Second TRAVEL!!!! I have been very blessed this year to have gone on so many wonderful trips with some pretty special people. First was Cuba with a few of my sisters, nieces and Libbey. It was wonderful a week of fun and sun.

Next it was off to British Columbia with my sister Karen to visit our brother Douglas and his family.

In August my beautiful daughter Jennifer, sisters Christina and Karen and I drove 17 hours north to surprise Libbey and Ivy who were working at a provincial park there. It was a wonderful surprise for them and we spent the week “glamping”. There were a lot of laughs, campfire stories, and barbecuing of some pretty spectacular meals. I even managed to slip a craft in and despite all the groans it turned out to be one of the highlights of the week.

In September there was a bit of a lull travel wise but certainly busy with other events. Libbey, Ivy, and Elle were leaving for school so we hosted a back to school bash. It was quite a sendoff. A few weeks later brother Doug was back home for a visit so Michael hosted yet another get together. This brought 8 of my 9 siblings under the same roof, quite a feat itself.  We had an awesome celebration!

The Bratt Family

October came and I was back in flight, this time with my husband (finally), two sisters, and a niece, for a visit again to the west coast. Seeing Douglas and his wonderful family for the fourth time this year. We also got to visit some brilliant friends; it was a great introduction of this beautiful province to Michael who was a first time visitor (and now can’t wait to go back).

This month brought us to Barbados to visit Libbey. Boarding a plane in freezing weather, with Karen, and my bestie Karla, heightened our desire to dodge to the hot, tropical island. Again another week of laughs, sun, beach, with Libbey proudly showing us around her beautiful temporary island home. But alas, we had to return to the freezing temperatures albeit with great tans.

Back home now starting to redecorate the dining room, painting, wallpapering, and trying to declutter (ugh). Which brings me to my third path. Use the good crystal!!! For over forty years we have had a hutch filled with fine crystal, what are we saving it for? To pass on? To use only for company? To walk by the cabinet and think what pretty glasses? All of those questions sound ridiculous, so guess what. We have now moved the crystal to the kitchen cabinets and are using it everyday. I feel so grown up, gone are all plastic glasses, one of a kind, chipped or scratched glasses and we drink from crystal!

I guess what my new thinking in a nutshell is, live for the moment, take chances, spread joy, and thank God everyday for special blessings.

Love, 



A New Level of Tan

You know it’s bad when WordPress emails you to let you know it has been awhile since your last post. 22 days to be exact. Well for the past 20 days I’ve been telling myself, “Okay Libbey, today you are going to put out a new blog.” And finally, here I am sitting at my desk typing out the words that can  hopefully be pieced together to make a good story.

Well, on November 7th my Gramma, Aunt Karen and “Aunt” Karla came to visit me in Barbados, and every single minute of it was awesome. We stayed in an Airbnb only 3 minutes away from my school, so I pretty much got a week’s vacation which was obviously a way different experience than what I have been living since I’ve been here. Let’s just say that I have never, ever been this dark in my life and it was a pretty proud moment to be at Aunt Karen’s level of darkness. It was a super relaxing week (I don’t want to go into too many details because one of my favorite guest bloggers aka Gramma is going to write about the trip, which should be up in a few days). Obviously, I was sad to see them go, maybe not as sad as they were to leave and head back to the snow, but in about a month I will be headed back for Christmas vacation. 

Time is just flying by and next week is pretty much the wrap up for all of my classes, so then I have a week “off” before exams start. I have been busy finishing up last minute assignments and studying for my scuba diving course. I am so EXCITED to get my certification, I’m counting down the days until I get to goto the bottom of the Sea. 

So other than that, I’ve just been doing the typical; school, beach, sleep.  Maybe the order of those aren’t accurate, but it will please my mother thatI put them in that order. 

Keep looking for my Grams post coming later this week!

Love always, 

Two Months

Two months ago, I was beyond scared and excited to be leaving on another exchange. Two months ago, I was stepping on a plane in Detroit as someone who I am not today. These past two months have taught me so much about myself and the world, overall giving me a new perspective on life, opportunities and taking chances. And I am in shock that I am already writing a blog with the title Two Months. The past two months have flown by. I am officially at the half way point for my first semester, and before I know it I am going to be getting on a plane headed to Detroit for Christmas.

The past few weeks have be insanely busy, which is why I haven’t written anything in a while, so I apologize! They have also been a roller coaster of emotions, but I will leave out the bad today and only discuss the good.

The University here puts out a draft exam schedule to make sure that no students have overlapping exams before they put out an official schedule. As of now, I will have my four exams from December 4 – 12, which means I have a 10 day vacation before I come home for Christmas. I am super excited because I am going to take my PADI Scuba Certification during that break which should be a lot of fun. Mom keeps reminding me that more people die from vending machine deaths than sharks so I hope the odds will be in my favor.

Last week I was looking at flights to Europe and they had some pretty good deals on, so I thought what the heck, I want to go to Europe during my break in January! After mentioning to my Grams, she decided she wanted to come too, so in January we are going to London, Paris and to see my Mamie and Papi in France! I’m still in shock that we just casually booked a trip, but I am so so excited.

While on the subject of Gramma, she is coming here in 12 days with my Aunt Karen and her best friend Karla! I can’t wait to see them and get out of residence for a week! I am hoping that the weather is nice and that it won’t rain as much as it has been the past few weeks.

Obviously, this is just a small part of what I have been doing the past few weeks but I hope you enjoyed reading about my upcoming adventures. I can’t wait to share more with you all in the upcoming weeks!

Love,

Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 10.37.10 PM

Just Keep Swimming

Since the summer I found a new found love for sea turtles. All summer I talked about them and how much I wanted to go swimming with them. Well if you follow any of my social media accounts and have seen an overload of sea turtle pictures, it’s because last Saturday I finally got to go swimming with them. And it was AWESOME!

I didn’t realized when I booked the tour that I had done so through a third party site, so when we got to Barbados Blue Diving, they had no idea we were coming. But, they were super quick and amazing and brought us on our own personalized tour which was great! If you’re ever in Barbados, I highly recommend them. We ended up getting on the boat with a bunch of scuba divers, and once we dropped them off we had the whole boat to ourselves! We not only got to see and touch the turtles but we also got the chance to see three shipwrecks.

Overall, it is pretty hard to explain how happy I was that day because pretty much that was the main thing I wanted to do while I was here; and check!

6836b73a-f1e0-4f89-97e8-3129ba732b8f7e42d013-45c3-4794-ab72-5875f8595ee9IMG_0740IMG_0804

WHAGalxQQ+Cy9x3lc5Hgmg

Tyler, me, Raymond, Emma, Grace, Meike

Facetune_06-10-2018-13-54-47

My Face the Entire Day

Also if you want to learn more about sea turtles and how you can protect them you can visit Barbados Sea Turtle Project. Simple things such as using reusable bags, water bottles and straws go a long way! Don’t hurt our oceans!

Love always,

Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 10.37.10 PM

 

One Month

Well today officially marks four weeks in Barbados. Four lovely, hot and glorious weeks in this beautiful country. This month has been about learning new things, trying new foods and reminding myself every single day how blessed I am to be living this life. Don’t forget that no matter where you are in the world, you are so so lucky to be living in this beautiful world. Over the past few weeks I have heard the words “well aren’t you afraid” several times. Here is my best advice to that: get busy living. Don’t be afraid to try new things or go new places because you think it might be scary. Try EVERYTHING! You will look back at the things you didn’t do one day and regret all of it. So what if you get lost, or scared or end up not liking something. At least you tried it, that’s what is important.

This week was the first week I have actually been really stressed out about school. All of my classes have some aspect of group presentations (some more than others) and it I find that it is super hard to work in groups to get even a simple project done. Because not too many people live on campus, not only do you have time to meet, but then some people don’t do their work or I am busy and can’t get to things at a certain time and it can get really stressful. Classes seem a little disorganized here as well (ex. not having enough chairs for everyone, people showing up and leaving when they want etc.) I guess it is just the little things that I’m not used to that I will have to learn to adjust to.

This weekend I knew I had to do homework/ presentations to get done, so I devoted my mornings to the beach and the afternoons to studying. On Friday though, a group of the other exchange students and I went to Oistins which has a massive Friday night fish fry on the South Coast. It was one of the coolest things I’ve seen, hundreds of people walking around and eating at picnic tables, listening to music and watching people dance.

The rest of the weekend has been pretty relaxing, mainly focusing on school (which is so hard to do here, when the ocean is calling my name). Later this morning I am going into Holetown with Meike to do some grocery shopping and to maybe pick up some souvenirs! It’s nice to walk around the little towns here, because it seems that every one of them has something different to offer.

I hope that everyone has a relaxing Sunday and a great week at, school work, or home if you’re lucky enough to be retired (aka Gramma). Please let me know if you have any questions about my exchange so far or if you want to see something special on The Blonde Traveler!

Love,

Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 10.37.10 PM

Hurricane Issac

Well I know that I said I was going to write about my weekend adventures but I have been super busy prepping for a hurricane and class. Never thought I would say those things in the same sentence, but I just did. Sunday morning, we woke up to notifications saying that Barbados was officially under a hurricane warning and that all necessary emergency supplies should be purchased. Meike and I got this notification on our way to a Southern town called Hastings that I heard had a good breakfast cafe. The Artsplash Center not only has art, but a farmers market and amazing breakfast. I had a smoothie bowl and I honestly can say it was one of the best things I have ever eaten in my life. If anyone comes to visit, I will definitely be bringing you there.

We went grocery shopping on Sunday afternoon and Morning afternoon, mainly because I forgot to get water (which was on the hurricane supply checklist). Also, I bought my first ever pineapple and I can’t believe how sweet and good it was, and why I had never eaten pineapple before?

This week school went by pretty fast, though I did start to freak out a little bit over how many readings that I have to do every week. Most of my tutorial classes started this week and I have to do a presentation in most of them, so I am trying to get those done before November. Why November you ask? Because my Gramma, Aunt Karen and my Gramma’s best friend Karla are coming to see me! It was supposed to be a surprise but I have supersonic hearing and heard my Grampa talking about it in the background!

All week it has been raining or gloomy outside, which means I haven’t been to the beach once and I think I might be going through withdrawals. Wednesday night the hurricane passed us (250km north of the island), so I am well and safe. It is supposed to continue raining for the rest of the weekend, but I really REALLY hope that it doesn’t because I need sand in between my toes again!

Wednesday, I officially booked my flight to come back home and then back to Barbados in January. I can already feel the days slipping away and I haven’t even been here for three whole weeks. I want to do and see so much stuff but at the same time I have to focus on school, which not going to lie, sucks.

Last night I was as I was just about to fall asleep a massive centipede crawled on my leg. You see at the time I did not know it was a centipede, I felt something move on my leg so I jumped out of bed in a panic not knowing what type of bug was in my room. I flipped on all of the lights and looked everywhere and finally after pulling out my bed I saw it still on my covers. I was kind of in panic mode after this so I’m not really sure how i got it off of the bed, all I know is that I had to step on it several times and then eventually jump on it before it died. Overall, I did not sleep well last night, though the cleaning lady told me it is a good thing it didn’t bite me otherwise my leg would have swelled up.

I hope everyone has a fabulous Friday and a great weekend. More adventures to be written about soon!

Love,

Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 10.37.10 PM

IMG_1848 4

IMG_4558

IMG_6347

09-09-2018-11-00-09

fedbbe07-d7f0-4b02-9e52-fba03c06aa09

 

I’m Jealous of Myself

Almost every time I talk to someone from back home they’ve said “I am so jealous that you are in Barbados” or “I’m so jealous that you’re living on the beach”. I’ve started responding with “I’m jealous of myself”. I am beyond blessed to have been given the opportunity to live abroad for the second time in my short life. Two weeks ago, I was crying because I didn’t want to leave (mainly because I was nervous and anxious about moving abroad again), and now I keep thinking you were an idiot Libbey. I am living in such a beautiful country and I only have 9 months to live it to the absolute fullest. So that’s exactly what I am doing. The hardest decision I make every day is deciding what bikini I should wear.

Every single person in university should go on exchange. If you have the opportunity and you don’t take it, you honestly don’t know what you are missing out on. 

School started on Monday and so far my classes have been going really good. It is super weird to be back in school though, I really got used to the work/strike life. My French class is probably my favorite and my professor is from the Democratic Republic of Congo which seems like the coolest/craziest thing to me. Tuesday was the first day since I’ve been here that I wasn’t able to go to the beach which was a big bummer, but I will definitely be making up for it this weekend!

Our tutorial classes haven’t started yet so I only had a three-day week which was a good way to start off the school year. School might take a little bit to get used to, the way that classes are taught and the fact that they have 60% exams here, which I am not looking forward to.

I know this was just a quick little post but I just wanted to pop in and say hi! I’m going to be putting out a post early next week on my adventures this weekend!

Love always,

Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 10.37.10 PM

Hello September!

Is it just me, or has this year flown by? Maybe it’s because I haven’t been in school since March, but I am literally shocked that there are only 4 more months until 2019! September is the start of new beginnings, it marks the end of summer, start of school and a fresh start. I can’t believe that I am starting my third year of university in two days. It feels like just yesterday that I was packing up to move to Glendon for the first time.

I’ve been in Barbados for almost a week and things are going really good. I am starting to get used to the heat at night (my dorm room doesn’t have any AC), so I’ve mostly been sleeping on top of my covers with shorts. I’ve gone to the beach every single day since I’ve been here (except the day I arrived, because I didn’t get to school until 7:00pm), and I’m loving every second of it. I can’t believe how dark my skin has gotten already and I can only imagine what it is going to look like in four months when I come home for Christmas.

On Monday, there was a small lecture for all of the exchange students so I got to meet everyone which was really fun. This year UWI – Cave Hill is hosting 36 exchange students, 4 of which are staying the entire year. Probably 3/4 if not more of the students are here for first semester, so next semester there will only be a few of us. After our lecture we had a Bridgetown tour and the school showed us which grocery stores are nearby and whats more expensive where. I made a friend with another Canadian from Barrie, named Meike (pronounced Meika) and she showed me where the closest beach was to the school.

Tuesday we had another meeting with the exchange students and did a treasure hunt around campus to get to know it better. We played games in the early afternoon and had a pizza lunch during which it started down pouring. Usually, rain only lasts 10 minutes or so before it passes, but this was different. Meike and I had to wait over 30 minutes before we could walk back to residence. We went to the beach in the afternoon, with another exchange student named Grace, and soaked up the sun all afternoon.

Wednesday, the school planned a Safari Tour for all exchange students who wanted to participate. I am so happy I went because it was so much fun, plus I got to see the East side of the island and the Atlantic Ocean. (My school is on the West side of the island and the water is the Caribbean Sea.) Afterwards, Grace, Meike, and I walked to Jordan’s Supermarket which was a pretty long walk in 100 degree weather. I honestly thought that I was going to spend more on groceries, but I think as long as you try new things instead of buying all American products you can really save a lot of money.

Thursday, I had to enroll in my courses and I am happy to say that I still have Friday’s off! I got my picture taken for my student id card and I didn’t realize until later in the day that instead of saying Social Sciences as my program it says Humanities and Education (which Mom thinks sounds a lot fancier LOL).

Yesterday, Grace, Meike and I decided to have a beach day and it was probably the hottest day since I’ve been here. All of the beaches in Barbados are public so we decided to walk down the coast a little bit and try a different beach. We ended up at Ranger beach which is right beside a very fancy hotel, which was pretty cool. It was fun to people watch all the hotel stayers, doing water sports and lounging. We walked back to school for lunch and then met up again at 3pm to go to our regular beach. As soon as we got there it started to rain, so once it passed we walked back to school. There is a little grocery/ convenience store on campus so we popped in to grab an ice cream. I had a coconut ice cream bar and it was amazing, it reminded my of the coconut ice cream in Mexico.

Today we are off exploring again and we are going to take the bus to Speightstown. We are going out for lunch and going to spend some time on some fancy beaches in the area! I hope everyone is well and has a good labour day weekend! For everyone going back to school at the end of this week, good luck and have fun!

If you have any questions or want me to talk about something on my blog, shoot me an email or a direct message!

Love always,

Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 10.37.10 PM

IMG_8105

IMG_1061

IMG_9991

Our regular beach (10 minute walk from school)

IMG_4386

Grace and Meike

IMG_9667

East Coast Barbados – Atlantic Ocean

e1f10584-7d75-4c8c-8188-13f5cc566a85

 

I’m Out of Here Y’all

And so it begins again. 

One week ago I was driving home from Fushimi Lake with the Glamping Squad (Mom, Gramma, Ivy and my Aunt Karen and Aunt Chris) rattling off everything I had to do before I had to leave. Well somehow I managed to get it done because I am now sitting in the plane on my way to Florida (how cool is it that my plane has wifi?!). 

Tuesday the whole family took a party bus to Detroit to go and see the Tigers play the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs only play the Tigers in Detroit about once every four years, so we all went to go and honor our Uncle Doug who was the biggest Cubbies fan of all time. We tailgated before the game and after a small sprinkle of rain the most beautiful rainbow came out. We had a lot of laughs, some tears, and some of us a whole lot of beers. 

Thursday one of my best friends (Michelle) from Glendon came down to see me which was amazing. We didn’t do much Thursday afternoon, just hung out and watched a movie which was nice. Friday, we went to Point Pelee and to Windsor. I really wanted to go to Spagos (my favorite restaurant) one last time before I left so we headed to the Casino Friday night. There was a show going on so Spagos was jam packed, which ended up working to our advantage as we got free tiramisu due to the wait for our food!

Yesterday we had an “empty nesters” party as everyone will be heading out of the house within the next week. It was nice yet sad to be saying goodbye to everyone for a while. This exchange is a little bit different than the first though as I will be coming home at Christmas time and spending a month at home before I head back to Barbados.

This morning I woke up at 3am, packed my bags in the car and headed to Detroit. Mom, Dad, Ivy, Gramma and Grampa came to the airport to say goodbye (Elle couldn’t come because she had to work). We all held our breaths as I put my bags on the scale, but somehow I managed to get 98.5/100 pounds (which is not a personal best) of luggage packed for the beach. After getting a full body scan and pat down, I had to watch security open my carryon and take out my peanut butter. Who knew you weren’t allowed to bring “spreads” on the plane either? I stopped at McDonald’s for breakfast and went to wait at my gate for boarding. Somehow I lucked out and my plane needing people to check their carryon bags instead on putting them in the overhead bins. I jumped at the chance to have my bag checked for free, meaning I didn’t have to lift a heavy bag into the overhead bins while people watched me struggle and I didn’t have to lug it around Florida on my layover.

And so, I have started my journey towards the Caribbean islands. I am super excited/ nervous and I can’t wait to see my new school. I will be updating everyone in a few days, so stay tuned. (A little tip; you can subscribe to The Blonde Traveler and you will be emailed every time I put out a new blog so you don’t miss any of my adventures!)

Love Always,

Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 10.37.10 PM