What it’s Like to Witness The Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis

The Northern Lights or the Aurora Borealis, are a spectacular sight to see, but there is a mystery behind capturing that picture perfect moment on your camera.

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All photos belong to my friend who took these for me when my camera broke.

The Aurora Borealis, in real life, isn’t actually full of such vibrant colours that you see on a camera. The Aurora Borealis is actually much softer in colour, like pastel. It looks as if it were coloured milk spread out all throughout the sky: it is so magical.

So how and why does the camera pick up a more vibrant colour?

When attempting to capture this brilliant moment on your camera, there are certain settings that can only pick up this wonder. If you try to use your iPhone (yes, even the iPhone 7) it will not pick up the Northern Lights. All you’ll be left with is a black screen. And yes, even the apps on the App Store that say they will pick it up are wrong.

When shooting on a camera, there are many different settings you can play with, depending on your camera: click here for a detailed instruction.

You can also capture the Aurora Borealis on a GoPro and here are some good starting settings:

  1. Night Lapse Mode
  2. 10-30 second shutter
  3. interval: continuous
  4. 12MP Wide
  5. ISO min: 100
  6. ISO max: 800

Obviously you might have to play around with these settings.

Now to actually see the Northern Lights are a bit more difficult. They only come out late at night, so when I went to go see them in Yellowknife, NWT, Canada; the bus picked us up around 10:30pm and dropped us off at 4am. Since we were with a tour, they brought us to their huge open fields where there was a restaurant, tripod rental, and lots of mini teepees (where we could go in for hot chocolate when it got really cold). No joke, even though it’s summer, it is FREEZING up there. I was dressed for like -15 degree whether and I was still cold.

The Tour package campus was perfect for viewing the Northern Lights because they had lots of levels: lots of mountains which required a bit of a mini hike, and flat ground to suit everyone’s photography needs.

Keep in mind, that we did a 3 day tour package deal, since there’s no designated time that the Aurora Borealis will show. It is a hit or miss deal. The first night, we saw zero Northern Lights; however, on the second night we saw a category 4 Northern Lights (which is actually like, a big deal for Yellowknife). The lights are ranked on a 0-9 scale. Here is a super cool website the check out the Aurora Borealis levels near you!

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How are the Northern Lights formed?

They are formed when tiny charged particles from the sun collide with atoms and molecules in the atmosphere, which results in bursts of lights (dum dum dum dum dummmmmmm) called photons! Wooo science!!! Different colours are formed when different collisions occur: oxygen produces red and green auroras, while nitrogen produces the pink and purple auroras!

The Aurora Borealis is a spectacular sight to see and I recommend everybody to go check it out at least once!

How To Keep Long Distance Friendships

Moving away from your BFF’s can be one of the hardest things in the world. Not being able to walk over to their house or meet up for coffee is like waking up without any hair on your head: traumatizing and agonizing. Well, at least that’s what it was like for me. I moved to a completely different island without my partners in crime by my side and I was absolutely devastated.

About one year ago, I left my childhood friends whom I’ve known for practically my whole life, and moved to a completely new place with barely any friends. My parents warned me that because I was moving so far away, that my friendships with my best friends would most likely fall apart; however, I refused to believe that.

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My first week away from my best friends was definitely the hardest: I cried everyday, for hours a day, until, one of my best friends came to visit me for the weekend. She came and  brought me lots of housewarming gifts to remind me of her and slowly she started to piece my life back together for me. Ever since she came to visit, she promised me that our friendship could never be broken, and this is how we have stayed close even with the distance:

  1. Visit each other

Yes, it is hard to see each other when you are going to school full-time and your best friends are working a few jobs at a time, however, if you really want to see someone, you’ll find the time. My best friends came to visit me at my university a few times throughout the school year because I couldn’t make it out. But during the summer season, I went to visit them whenever I could too! We took turns taking the ferry over and enduring hours of horrid public transport, but it was all worth it – even if that meant only seeing their faces for a few hours.

2. FaceTime and phone calls are your friend

FaceTime and phone calls are the best things invented. My best friend would call me at least once a week to keep me updated with her life, even if that means just ranting about a bad day she had at work.

3. If you can’t FaceTime, TEXT!

Texting is sooooo easy, especially in this day and age. If your schedules don’t line up, then simply send a text to see how your best friend is doing. It makes your best friends feel needed and appreciated while it provides a piece of mind to yourself, knowing that they are still there for you, regardless of the distance.

If you aren’t a technology person, then here are a few cute ideas that you could do also!

  • Write “Open when letters” to give to your best friend (Pinterest has some great examples). I made these for one of my best friends when she went to school abroad for a year and she loved it.
  • send each other snail mail: It’s old fashion and takes longer, but totally worth it!
  • send each other post cards! cute way to document where you’ve been and what you’ve been doing.

If you have any more ideas on how to keep long distance friendships or have any stories of how you’ve kept them, then feel free to leave me a comment!

 

 

 

What it’s Really Like to Live Alone

I often get people asking me what it is like living alone, in a new city, with barely any friends. Every time I reply with “It’s really lonely and I have no friends.” Thats an exaggeration no doubt, but however, there are definitely some pros and cons to living alone:

PROS

  1. You have your own space.

There is no one to tell you when you have to come home, you don’t need to worry about waking up your roommate at 2am. You can also walk around in your own home in a sports bra all day and not have a care in the world.

2. Safe Haven

Living alone means you start to really appreciate your home. It is a safe haven where you can let your emotions run free and know you are in a safe place. There is also the perk of not having to listen to some 19 year old boy screaming down the hall, unlike the university residence.

3. Cooking/baking

Living alone means you can cook and bake and HOG the kitchen all you want!!! With no one around to get up in my grill, I can have cookies baking in the oven and making a deluxe meal (no, I don’t mean instant noodles) at the same time and not having to worry about sharing with anyone else.

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CONS

  1. It really does get lonely

I wasn’t joking when I said it gets lonely. I am an extrovert and only having three friends (yes, only three) who live in the same city as me, really is hard. Especially, since they either all work full time jobs or have a significant other in their lives. You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve face-timed my parents and bawling on the camera because I feel so alone.

2. Cleaning

You wouldn’t believe how much cleaning I do! At least once a week I need to take out a WHOLE day out of my week to clean my WHOLE home. Having a roommate and being able to split the duties would be really nice, lemme tell ya. On my cleaning day, I have to vacuum, dust, clean the washrooms, clean the bedrooms, clean the kitchen, and my least favourite; clean the fridge. Taking out everything in your fridge to wipe down all the food crumbs and spills gets really annoying.

3. Boredom

yep, I can honestly say that even with a job and chores, I get really bored. As a result, I spend WAY too much time on Netflix and binge watch a bunch of meaningless shows; which is partially why I started this blog. Gotta do something with all that free time.

To my roommate: Hurry up and please come back!

Everything you need to know before volunteering abroad

Travelling the world and volunteering with kids sounds like the ultimate summer dream… am I right?

Well, um yes, I’m always right.

ok, definitely not always, but regardless, there are a few things you should know before you decide to hop on a 13 hour flight, thousands of miles away.

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Alishan Mountain

Right after I finished my freshman year, I decided to travel and volunteer abroad to Taiwan. I was teaching English classes and sharing the Canadian culture to students from anywhere between grades 1-6 for three weeks. I also had the privilege of going on a 3 day field trip with them to Alishan Mountain (a place known for its breathtaking sunrises). After my three weeks of volunteer time, I spent another 2 weeks in Taiwan and my last week in Japan. Although this sounds like the summer dream, there are a few things I wish I would’ve known before setting foot out of Canada.

  1. Culture Shock is a real thing

Travelling to a foreign country was a huge cultural change for me. Everything from food and water to language and customs was something I had already been exposed to, but nonetheless, didn’t exactly make it any easier. Heres why:

When I travel, it is really hard on my body. My body gets so upset that I experienced Traveler’s constipation my first two weeks in Taiwan. I had to use 3 enemas and laxatives to finally become my normal self…or so I thought. The following week I was feeling okay up until my last week in Japan, where I experienced severe food poisoning. When I came back to Canada, I had to get 3 tests done (so far) to determine if I had contracted any parasites from unclean food/water, or IBS.

2. Volunteering doesn’t mean it’s easy

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Volunteering is hard work, and it becomes THAT much harder in a different country. I completely underestimated the language barrier when volunteering in a Taiwanese elementary school. When you are trying to teach another language, please remember to bring your laptop because my mom convinced me it would not be necessary to pack it since they have computers at the elementary school. Although she was right, the computers were all in Chinese – something I cannot read. Luckly, I had an English version of powerpoint on my google drive account that I was able to access on their computers, but that only helped me so much. When teaching another language to a variety of children, who are all different ages, it really requires you to get creative and fast! I ended up printing lots of cartoon photos like fishing, snowboarding, zip-lining, swimming and using these to play a game of sherades with the kiddos. However, I had no idea I was going to do all this until I got there because I was under the impression they had lesson plans already in place…WRONG!

3. To be abroad, means you’ll change abroad.

There is always that cliche that says when you travel abroad it changes you. But it is also a cliche for a reason… because that couldn’t be more true! I had never noticed any changes in myself when I was in Taiwan and Japan; however, when I came back home, that’s when I realized I had changed. I’m not a totally different person, but rather the little things in my personality had changed. For starters, I can honestly say that the little things that used to bug me so much, don’t anymore. I just don’t care because there are way more important things in life to spend time worrying about. Second, I am no longer a sloppy, messy person that just leaves things all over my bedroom floor. Perhaps it is because I’m living alone, or perhaps I have more time to clean, but whatever the reason, I find myself maturing in aspects that I didn’t even know existed.

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All in all, travelling and volunteering abroad are loads of fun, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be any bumps in the road!

My word of advice, don’t be a hot mess like me! DO some research before leaving the country. Even packing a few Tums would have made my trip that much more amazing!

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