2016: My Year in Review

2016 has been as unpredictable and chaotic as I could ever have imagined. In the same year I thought my entire life was falling apart around me, thinking I had picked the wrong course and altogether wanting to give up and go live in a cave somewhere; I also conquered Africa’s highest mountain, spent a lot of time figuring out what I wanted and put a lot effort into making positive changes to the way I live my life.

At the beginning of 2016 I wrote a list of all the things I wanted to leave behind in 2015 and then burned it. A year on I can barely remember what was on that list but a few things come to mind when I think about it. A lot of what was on there was to do with my attitude towards life; I wanted to stop caring what people thought about me, I wanted to build bridges with people who had fallen out of my life, most of all it was about leaving anything negative behind in 2015 and having a positive year. I can’t say that has been 100% successful, those who know me well enough will know that there have definitely been a few struggles along the way. I can however confidently say that I am ending 2016 on a positive chapter in my life.

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Team RGU at the Summit of Kilimanjaro.

When I think about what I have achieved this year it always out weighs the negative experiences I have had. This was the year I got my first A in University, the year I pushed myself and my body further than I ever have before on Mount Kilimanjaro, I visited Germany, took a 12 hour bus journey to London TWICE, (the second time to visit some of the fabulous people that Kilimanjaro introduced me to), with the help of three wonderful ladies organised what I would say was the most successful Gray’s Winter Ball of the past three years and, maybe most importantly, I rediscovered just how much I love photography.

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My best nine for 2016 on Instagram reminds me just how lucky I have been this year to travel to Tanzania and to also live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Also the middle picture means the world to me, my beautiful mum with the two dogs in one of my favourite places from my childhood.

This year I also started at a new job which, so far, is going well and has put me on track to my hopes of visiting China and working with pandas towards the end of 2017. I feel it is important to enjoy even a part time job and as much as I may dread going to work some days I can honestly say I really enjoy waitressing. When I started at Cocoa Ooze in 2013 I knew it was something I was going to be able to do along with my studies with ease. Unfortunately and much to my sadness I had to make the decision to leave Cocoa Ooze when I realised how much money I was going to need not only for my future travel plans but also just to get me through my fourth year of University. The job I have now gives me better hours to work around Uni and also means I can save my tips away for next year.

“The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. Hey. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice-versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things and make them unimportant.” – The Doctor “Doctor Who – Vincent and the Doctor”. This quote came up on my Facebook feed on my birthday a few days ago and it reminded me that just because bad things happen all the time that doesn’t have to make your life bad. If you focus on the good things in your life then you have more chance at creating a positive environment around you and I feel that only with that positive environment can you really succeed and achieve your goals.

In short 2016 might have been a mess in some respects but I refuse to let that dampen the love, gratitude and general good feelings I get when I look back at the achievements I have made this year. I wish anyone reading this all the love and happiness they could ask for in 2017. My only goal is to stay positive no matter what life may throw in my direction.

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The Uni family ❤️

I’m pretty much winging my way through life, but if you make a plan there is no guarantee it will work they way you want it to. To me life’s more fun when you let it play out in front of you, adventure is out there. TTFN.

*I use the word positive way to many times in this post. Drinking game, take a shot overtime you read the word positive!

Morocco – 12th – 13th of June

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We began our journey to Morocco with an 11 hour bus trip to London from Aberdeen. This was not as bad as I had originally thought it was going to be as we had bunk beds on board the bus to sleep on instead of being crammed into tiny seats. I managed to get a good 5 or 6 hours sleep on the way down so I was looking forward to our day in London.

Originally our flights to Marrakech were due to depart at three in the afternoon but they had been changed to later that night so we had a whole day free in London to go sight seeing. We started off by heading to the Childreach International offices at Hand Court so we didn’t have to carry our bags around all day with us. While we were there we were shown a short video from the vice president of Childreach’s partner organisation the Assafou Association; he welcomed us to Morocco and said a few words about the village and the project we would be working on.

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From the Childreach offices we headed to Trafalgar Square and stopped to eat some lunch. While we were sitting on the steps in front of the National Gallery two drunk men decided that the heat was just to much for them and jumped into one of the fountains in the square. The security guards could do nothing but stand and watch in horror; they did not want to go in after these men. Eventually they cooled down enough or the joke wore off because the men climbed out of the fountain and continued with there day as if nothing had happened.

After our lunch we headed towards Westminster, we stopped at Downing Street to have a look through the gates and met a very nice police officer there.  I had never realised how tightly surrounded Westminster Abby and Big Ben were by other buildings, I guess because I had only ever seen it once before in person from the other side of the river or on the TV.  We had another break after Westminster in St James’ Park, it was an extremely hot day. We all decided, after about half an hour of sitting on the grass, that ice-cream was definitely needed so we went on the hunt for an ice-cream stand. It was not long before we found one but to my dismay they only did ice-cream in cones, which being a Coeliac was absolutely no use to me at all. When I asked if they could just put the same amount of ice-cream into a coffee cup instead they said that wasn’t allowed and that if I wanted a tub I would have to pay almost double for a Sunday which was not what I wanted, queue Coeliac rage mode. I went to the next ice-cream stand and they told me the same thing, so I settled for a Solero.

Buckingham Palace is a lot shorter in real life than I thought but I am pretty sure it goes back for quite a bit. Don’t get me wrong I still think it is an impressive building, it just looked a lot bigger on the footage from the royal wedding than it does when you stand right in front of it. We were going to head back to the Childreach offices after Buckingham Palace but on the way to the subway station we walked past Hyde Park and decided to look around. By this time we were definitely sunburnt, apart from Imogen because she was smart enough to put sun cream on that morning.

Back at the Childreach office we got a talk from some of the people who work their, it was amazing to see how passionate they were about the charity and to here about some of the other projects. We did a workshop in child rights where we had to pick the right that we thought was the most important and explain why. Childreach do this workshop with children in some of their projects around the world to teach them that they have rights whether they have been good or bad, which surprisingly a lot of children do not realise. We were also shown a trailer for a film that will be previewed this year and is set to be released next summer called “Sold” which Childreach have worked very closely on, about child trafficking. The film makers say: “We hope our film, SOLD, will inspire a global movement to address this crime domestically and internationally.” Watching the trailer for this film brought tears to my eyes and I am looking forward to its release.

If you would like to know more about the film or watch the trailer please visit their website at: http://www.soldthemovie.com I greatly recomend that you do.

I think it is safe to say that the Underground’s self service ticket machines brought out the angry Scot’s in all of us as they refused to take our Scottish bank notes! Eventually we thought it was best to suck it up and pay by card but don’t you think for a second that we didn’t mutter and mumble under our breath about “legal tender” and “it has the queen’s head on it doesn’t it” and ” we may swell be independent when you treat our money like this”!

After a very crowded train ride to Gatwick airport, we finally arrived at the North Terminal and met some of our Welsh team mates.  All we had to do now was check in and wait for our flight! This was not as easy as it should have been due to the size of our bags we had to put them in the oversized baggage, but nobody in the airport seemed to know where this was. Thankfully we found it and went through customs, got some food and my last Banana Split for two weeks! Before we knew it we were sitting on the plane and ready to go, Morocco here we come…

 

TO BE CONTINUED