If you haven’t been keeping up with me, I spent the better part of April in South Africa on a field course, you can read about my time in the posts below:

South Africa Marine Field Course: Sodwana Bay

South Africa Marine Field Course: Sodwana Bay Incident

South Africa Marine Field Course: St. Lucia Safaris and Umkomaas

South Africa Marine Field Course: Cape Town

South Africa Marine Field Course: My Footage

Once I returned, life came at me fast. Work and university are relentless with approaching deadlines. On the bright side, my last deadline is only a bit over a week away and then I can breathe if only for a minute before buckling down on my dissertation. I’ve started with two new clients at work, so I look forward to expanding my skills and getting to know new people!

Finally, my birthday was a few days ago and it was a busy weekend. First, Diego and I saw the new Avengers film and man, was it good! The next day (Saturday, 28 April, my actual birthday), we headed to London to see one of the limited shows of the musical Chess. My parents treated me to two tickets and dinner as my birthday present to see it, so I took Diego along for the ride. We arrived in London around 4PM and walked around before heading to Dishoom, a critically acclaimed Indian restaurant I’ve been eager to try. Much to our dismay, the queue was unbelievably long, so we headed to a Canadian pub I’ve also been eager to try and got a pint and poutine before dinner at Honest Burger. Chess was fantastic! I’m not sure it’s my favorite of all time, but I’m sure I’ll come to like it even more after listening to the music a few more times. The set was amazing and the cast were memorable… the only downside was our uncomfortable seats and somewhat obstructed view. After the show, we joined Diego’s good friend Max and his girlfriend back at the Canadian pub for more drinks, hockey and catch up.

Now, it’s back again to the real world with university and work.

What I’m watching: Dallas Buyer’s Club, Mrs. Doubtfire, Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War, Django Unchained

What I’m listening to: because the internet by Childish Gambino, Loud Like Love by Placebo, Deep Blue by Parkway Drive, Braille by Palm Reader, In a Tidal Wave of Mystery by Capital Cities, Pedestrian Verse by Frightened Rabbit

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Today is the day: I’m 23!

Last year, I saw Rise Against in Los Angeles, which was not only the best gig I’ve been to, but one of the best days of my life… and I spent half of it on a coach, so that’s saying something!

I went to the cinema last night and am going to a musical and dinner in London tonight, I can’t wait!

Anyway, I thought I would make 23 highlights of my life so far…

  1. Graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree.
  2. Studied abroad for a whole year.
  3. W.W.O.O.F.‘ed in Ontario, Canada for a month.
  4. Got not one, not two, but four tattoos with no plans to stop any time soon.
  5. Became (mostly) financially independent.
  6. Made and met so many online friends.
  7. Had a long distance relationship for over three years (it worked at the time, but never again).
  8. Attended 60+ concerts.
  9. Had a big girl job relevant to my degree.
  10. Discovered my love for cider.
  11. Lived (and still currently living) abroad.
  12. Made a furry friend for life: Bailey. I will never have another pet or friend like him.
  13. Met my favorite band (Rise Against) several times.
  14. Created and maintained this blog. One of the best choices I’ve ever made!
  15. Fulfilled my bucket list item of many years of getting scuba certified (advanced- and open water).
  16. Got to travel with my family (dad, grandparents and grandpa).
  17. I’ve seen 83 of the top 250 global attractions. Pretty damn amazing.
  18. Found my passion: conservation biology.
  19. Splurged on a LiveAboard holiday to Egypt.
  20. Saw 20+ musicals.
  21. Learned how to think for myself about politics and religion.
  22. Travelled all over western Europe. My top five being the Camino de Santiago, Paris, Berlin, Rome and Budapest.
  23. Had plenty of fuck-ups… but learned to truly regret none of them.
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Apologies for the lateness of this post. In case you missed the memo, I’ve been hella busy and will continue to make myself scarce on here until 10 May at 16:01, right after my last deadline.

From 6 April to 22 April, I was in South Africa busting my ass on a field course, which you can read all about in this tag. With that, I unfortunately missed posting my favorite blog posts from the month then.

But, I’m bringing it to you now! Without further ado, here are my top five posts from all categories:

  1. Sea Turtle Conservation: Okay, this is my dream job. Travelling to write about conservation interests? Yes, please.
  2. 30 Travel Lessons I’ve Learnt at 30: Practical tips with some hilarious and relatable anecdotes. #11, 15, 16, 18, 20, 21 and 26 are ones I swear by.
  3. Gorilla Trekking Experience: This is deemed one of the better wildlife tourist options for both animal welfare and conservation and it look incredible.
  4. 5 Things to Write On Your CV as a Blogger: Although I largely consider this a hobby, it has definitely given me skills that can transfer into “the real world” and I shouldn’t be modest about it!
  5. 48 Hours in Brighton: I love seeing Brighton from a tourist’s point of view and these pictures are amazing. I love my town.

Science, sustainability and veganism

General travel and study abroad

Travel: Destinations

Blogging

Lifestyle

Entertainment

Photo by Andrew Knechel.

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I’m finally back in Brighton!

My footage isn’t amazing, but here are some highlights from my trip! Go to the full YouTube version for a description of each clip that corresponds with the timestamp.

In a few weeks, I will share my favorite photos and videos from other students as their material trickles in. Stay tuned!

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Wednesday, 17 April: We flew from Durban to Cape Town arriving at various times. My flight was delayed so I arrived a bit later than most people around 6PM. That night and during the day, I worked hard on my report so I could do some exploring on our “free” day.

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Thursday, 18 April: While everyone was locked inside doing their reports, mine was mostly done, so I got the chance to explore Cape Town. Although I would have liked to climb Table Mountain, the weather up there was horrendous and with the fog, you wouldn’t be able to see much anyway.

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Lewis’s body language with his head in his hands speaks for us all.

Instead, I walked from the hostel to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. It was a nice marina with unique shops and intriguing street performers… and seals!

That night, I few of us went out for the best meal I had on my whole holiday at a vegan restaurant called The Hungry Herbivore. It warmed my heart to see how my fellow coursemates were starting to realize animals don’t have to suffer for a delicious meal. We all played roulette passing around our different orders for the others to try, my favorite being my loaded fries starter: sweet potato fries topped with onion, spicy mayo, cheese and bacon (all vegan, of course).

Friday, 19 April: We drove to Simon’s Town for a cape fur seal and shark dive. At the dive shop, we gave Bill a gift of a card everyone signed, wine and a shirt to show our appreciation for all the hard work he put into organizing this trip, keeping us all in line and mentoring us through this unique academic opportunity. My two favorite notes were from Pedro, who ended his note with, “If you have trouble reading this, wait until you see my dive log” and Jack, who preceded his with, “I know we don’t always see eye-to-eye… because you’re short.” I’ve come to really appreciate the student-supervisor relationship on this trip as I’ve never been on a field trip as an adult. This time around, they weren’t there to hold your hand like in middle school field trips but rather support you in your work and make sure you get the most out of the trip… and eventually take the piss out of you, which I secretly like because that means they like you.

Anyway, back to diving. My group was the first to head to the seals and although the water was freezing, the seals were amazing! Probably my favorite dive of the trip. They were so playful, spinning, playing with our bubbles, biting at our fins and hoods and playing with each other. They’re so precious! I will share videos of all my dives within the next few days.

Then, we headed for a catshark and cowshark dive in the kelp forest, which was quite different from all the reefs I’ve seen, but I don’t think it was my favorite dive in the world. It was fucking cold and although we saw lots of small catsharks, the cowsharks didn’t make an appearance. All in all, it was still a great day, but quite bitter sweet those were my last dives for a while.

Saturday, 20 April: Our final day was a hectic one. We left the hostel at 3:30AM for Gansbaai for a day of fun at sea.

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First, we went cage diving with great white sharks. After luring the sharks (and dozens of sea birds) in with chum, the crew set out seal decoys and bait to keep the sharks interested while we climbed into the cage. The cage was about 5 meters long, 3 meters deep and one meter wide. About eight of us at a time would climb into the cage and keep our head above water until the crew spotted the shark. At that time, we would go under and pull the bait or decoy closer to the cage so we can get a close view. The poor visibility made it so we couldn’t see the animal until it was right in front of our face, which made for a frightening, but very exciting experience. Again, please be patient as the videos are yet to come! I was in the first group and we got about four interactions with the sharks before we rotated. When you’re not in the cage, you get an almost equally exciting experience from the boat, watching at they close in on the bait. There was one shark that actually took the bait entirely after a battle with the crew member on the other end of the line. There was a lot of thrashing by the cage and although it was exciting from the boat, those in the cage just saw a bunch of bubbles until the fin slapped them in the face. Now that’s what I call a close encounter!

After that, we went on a marine safari to spot the marine big five: dolphins, sharks, penguins, whales and fur seals. Already having swam with seals, dolphins and sharks, they were old news… just kidding (kind of). It was amazing to see the massive colony of seals on Geyser Island and watch a cage dive from a different perspective, but nothing beats a face to face interaction!

Additionally, we saw some penguins in the water throughout the trip and Indian hunchback dolphin which was quite special! Unfortunately, no whales, though.

To end our day, we popped into the African Seabird and Penguin Sanctuary, where we got to see some critters and ask any questions about the nature and care of the birds.

For our last night, we went out for a group dinner at a fun restaurant with live music. We ate, drank and danced one last time together before we all went home or on to explore more of South Africa in our own time in the morning.

This whole experience, from travelling to a new country, doing research underwater, travelling in a group of 20+ people and seeing some amazing life both on land and on the reefs was something entirely new to me. It was challenging physically, mentally and emotionally but hell, we did it. Although I think I still prefer alone time, I’m glad I had the company and support of my fellow students and supervisors and especially thankful towards Bill who has done a beautiful job organizing and running this trip and also acted as a mentor for myself and my group. I’ve come to admire him quite a lot and it was a privilege to work under him.

I’m going home with more mosquito bites than I can count, a habit of giving the diving “okay” sign in conversation that will take me weeks to break and a bit fat smile on my face because I basically get to live this trip a few more times over when I share my experience and photos with my boyfriend and family.

Until next time, South Africa.

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