Working in regular health care settings as a deaf nurse?

Hi everyone,

It has been so long since I have written something. My last post was on the 22nd of July 2016, and at that time I just came back from San Francisco… oh how the time flies!

So, what have I been up to? Am I going to start writing again? First I’ll give an update – I’d like to say a ‘small update’, but I can never write short stories, so bear with me! After that I’ll explain a little about the title and my experiences working in a ‘regular team’ with a ‘regular job’ without any accommodations.

Last year of Nursing school has begun!
Where to start? In January I finished my 3rd year internship, and I passed, so that means I’m officially a 4th year Nursing student now! Woop woop! I did a 5-month traineeship as a student-nurse in a mental health facility, and it was such a great experience. I got to work along with registered (general) nurses, psychiatric nurses, nurse practitioners, psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers. Working in psychiatry is a whole other kind of nursing than what I was used to – On my first day working at this facility I started with meeting all colleagues who where there during shift handover, and after that I met all the clients and had breakfast together with them. Everyone was… walking… and… dressed? And were physically fine. That was definitely different!

During my 5 months of internship I learned a lot, but the most important thing is:Β I learned that this is really the work I see myself doing.


Writing a group research paper
The past 5 weeks have been busy as well: I started on my thesis and group research paper. I like my own, individual, thesis best – because in the group research I got assigned to a research-request from a health care facility and it’s always challenging to work in a group: will I hear what someone is saying? am I speaking too loud? how many times have I already asked someone to repeat what has been said? can I just nod now, or do I have to check if I’ve understood correctly? It’s exhausting to try and get all the information like this… BUT: I really like doing research in general, finding ways to help improve a facility, being part of something constructive. And I like the subject I got assigned to, so that helps!

“How accessible is health care for D/deaf and Hard of Hearing people?”
My (individual) thesis/paper is also AWESOME. I’m working on a question regarding health care accessibility for D/deaf and Hard of Hearing patients in my country.
I don’t know how accessible health care is for people who are, for example, in a wheelchair, or can’t walk very well, or people who are blind, but I assume (sorry if I’m wrong about this!) that this is mostly ‘physical’ accesibility, for example, in hospitals: can you get in and around the hospital if you’re in a wheelchair – are there elevators, wide corridors, no obstructions on the floors? How do you get around if you’re blind/have low vision? –> if you ask an employee a question, you’ll get an answer that you can hear.

Information is being said to you in (usually) your language, or a language that is easily accessible to you. I think this is different for many D/deaf and HoH people in some cases… they get around physically, they will find their way to the place in the hospital they have to be. But then? How does communication go if you can’t hear other people – or can hear some things, but not everything? If you have surgery and you have to stay in the hospital: will the busy nurses take extra time to make communication smoothly with you, if they are understaffed, overworked, and have 10 other patients to see within the next hour? Or will they say: “It’s not important, I’ll take care of it?”, or don’t finish the intake forms because you have spent a lot of time together clarifying things and figuring out what the other was saying? If they don’t know important information, or if you don’t understand important information that’s being given to you, then what will be the consequences? Do D/deaf and HoH people tell nurses what they need in communication? Or have they tried so many times that they don’t even try anymore? I’ve seen these communication breakdowns happen at work multiple times – and have read / heard about it a lot, in all sorts of health care facilities… so, that’s why I’m focussing on that with my thesis!


Working in regular health care settings as a deaf Nurse?
So, now I’ve talked about the subject of my thesis, I’ll give you some of my experiences working as a deaf nurse in regular health care settings. The day I started my 3rd year internship I told my supervisor that I don’t hear much, and so I wear hearing aids. I also told her: just speak normally, if I’m unsure if I’ve heard you I will let you know. During that week it came up a couple of times; sometimes colleagues saw my hearing aids and asked, sometimes I told them. Now, working in mental health care equals constant communication – and the clients who were in treatment knew that I sometimes asked them to repeat what they had said. I was open about it and didn’t want anyone to feel bad for me: I don’t mind putting extra energy in good communication – I sometimes summarized what I think had been said, and it was actually liked: people knew that I had listened to them.

Were there any obstacles or funny moments when working with only hearing people?
I was scared of not being able to communicate with clients and colleagues, of that people would think of me as ‘less’, but that was not the case at all. I think that because I was open about it, and gave information about what they could take into account (face me, or tap me if I haven’t responded, speak in your natural speaking voice, don’t yell – it won’t help, etc.). The only real obstacle was answering the phone, and because I didn’t hear anything through them I didn’t use them, until we got new pagers that amplified… after my shift I went home, and the next day I came to work only to see the night shift nurses’ head almost exploding because the pager was set SO LOUD that she had wrapped it in a bunch of towels so she didn’t go deaf herself.

There were many funny things… sometimes there were a lot of people standing and talking in the nurses station, while my colleague and I were writing the shift handovers. It made it impossible to focus, so I put my hearing aids off and worked along in silence. My colleagues were always jealous that they couldn’t do that too.

A nice moment was when I prepared a poem in signlanguage to practice with the group of clients, nurses and therapists, and everyone told me afterwards that they had really liked the auditory silence and the beauty of a visual language – It’s nice to introduce people to deaf culture/signlanguage, and during my internship everyone has been so open about it, and it has never felt strange.

So. I think that’s enough update for today I suppose! I’d like to do more with raising awareness, I’ve already gotten some emails about this, so I’m going to think about what’s next! Something to definitely look out for is a blog about ‘Tourettes and acceptance’ (self-acceptance and acceptance of others).

Question: what do you want other people to know (about deafness, tourettes, (dis)abilities at work)??

Cuddles for you all!



San Francisco, Yosemite and awesomeness while getting tattooed

Hi everyone,

Who knows me, knows that I’m already back home – I haven’t written something since, because: jetlag. I thought that because 6 years ago I didn’t have a jetlag from Australia I wouldn’t have any trouble getting back to the real world this time either. How wrong was I! My lovely Lilian reminded me: I’m getting old!

I’ve been home for about a week now, and I still miss my last city, San Francisco. Not just because of the city, also because of the people I met during my hiking trip to Lake Tahoe and Yosemite NP and the fun I had getting tattooed. I didn’t just get a tattoo, but opened a new chapter of my life and my awesome tattoo artist set me up with a new favourite word + tic. Thanks Kim, it was my favourite tattoo session EVER!

San Francisco
I arrived at the airport in the middle of the night and managed to get on the last train to the city center (thanks to a local at the airport who helped me get through the airport and to my train station!), and the next morning I grabbed myself a map and wanted to explore the city immediately. I looked on the map and decided to walk to the Golden Gate Bridge and explore that part of the city. It didn’t look that far on the map, but JEEEEZ San Francisco makes it a sport to make streets go up and down so steep you can’t stand still because you’ll start walking backwards.

steep SF street

Not-Used-To-That! Definitely not as a Dutch person. But I had a lot of fun exploring the city. After a loooooong time I finally saw the Golden Gate Bridge. Which was awesome! Didn’t walk across because I’d been walking all day already, but I am going to come back to SF as soon as I can and then maybe rent a bike πŸ™‚

Golden Gate Bridge1.png

Golden Gate Bridge2

I didn’t do much in SF except for walking around and seeing stuff, but most of my photo’s are on my camera (and I only have my phone with me right now) so you’ll just have to believe me when I saw that I had a great time!

Lake Tahoe & Yosemite
I had booked a 3 day tour to Lake Tahoe and Yosemite, and to be honest it was quite disappointing… Instead of 5 hours per day in the bus we had an average of 8 hours on the bus and just a few hours to spend at Yosemite. Lake Tahoe was a little better, because our campsite was near the lake and we had an evening program on a boat, but in general I expected more of it – and I heard most people felt that way – which is a pity. But well, the time I did get to spend there was AWESOME!

Lake Tahoe

On the road.png

Mirror Lake Yosemite.png

The last photo has a great memory! I was walking in Yosemite with one of the girls I met on the tour and we both wanted to go to Mirror Lake (see picture above). After a while I was just looking around to see the mountains around the lake and suddenly I heard: “Sam, are you coming or what?” – and there she was, already halfway in the lake! We had too little time to do the entire hike so we had to make a shortcut somewhere. She decided that with the warmth this was the best solution. At first I thought she was insane, but I thought it was awesome that we actually walked through the lake.

Getting tattooed
Thursday was one of the days I looked forward to most. Which at first I thought was strange, because you can get tattooed anywhere. Why would this be so special? Well, because I wanted to get a tattoo while traveling, about my travels and special memories. So, a few months before I left for the US I found an awesome tattoo artist online (Kim Stace ThomasΒ fromΒ Mermaids Tattoo StudioΒ in San Francisco) who was so great in helping me out with designing my tattoo concept. So I really looked forward to meeting her and getting tattooed by her.

And I was not disappointed by the experience! My new tattoo consist of a combination-skyline of the Sydney Opera House, the Golden Gate Bridge and a ferris wheel – partially because every big city I’ve been to has some kind of ferris wheel, and partially because it reminds me of my sister and grandpa going on the ferris wheel and taking pictures all the time πŸ™‚ And of course the nights sky and water to have a reflection of the skyline.
Normally when I get tattooed the artist doesn’t talk much and doesn’t let me talk much, because they have to focus, but Kim warned me that either she or I should be talking because it helps her focus. I came in to the studio at noon and I think I left by 5pm, and there wasn’t a minute of silence or awkwardness. Just complete awesomeness. Awesome (and variations of that word) is my new favourite word. I told Kim I have Tourettes and occasionally get a new tic, so she put emphasis on one of the words she said most during our 5 hour meet, which was the word awesome. I think she wanted to give me a tic – and I have to say it is an AWESOME tic. So thanks!

My tattoo is on the outside my underarm, where I had a pretty bad chemical burn from a year ago. And now you can’t see there’s ever been scars in the first place! It’s so good to have people not give me sad or judging looks because of that. I’m happy and grateful that Kim believed my skin could take it and to try it anyway. Getting the tattoo truely hurted worse than all my other tattoos combined, but wow it was SO worth it!

When it’s healed up properly and I’m allowed to post a picture of it I will, somewhere!

Back to reality!
I loved my trip, definitely my days in San Francisco were the best and I’m going back there as soon as I can! I miss SF but had the most fun in a long time. Now I have 5 weeks left to prepare for my next internship (as a psychiatric nurse intern on a closed ward in a mental health hospital), so on monday I’ll be starting with my assignments and research!

And OMG I’m soon going to do something I’m terrified about: take up a martial arts class again at an MMA center near me – it’s been too long since I’ve done something with that! Going back to my strong self. If I don’t die in my first classes I’ll write about it soon.

Big hugs for all of you, stay awesome!

Love, Sam

US Travel Adventures 5- New York City part 2

Day 11 (Thursday, 23rd of June): Easy day out, Facetiming and movies!
Because my feet aren’t used to walking up to 12 hours a day for an extended period of time, I had to take an easy day today – of course starting off with a 2 hour walk to the Empire State Building (which isn’t really a 2 hour walk, but it is if you get lost a little – which I did, for the first time since I’ve been in NYC!). No it didn’t really started there, but it’s fun to say πŸ™‚
I started out my day by Facetiming with my lovely Lilian for almost an hour ❀ And after that I got myself together (particularly my feet) and walked (the wrong way…) towards the Empire State Building, the 5th thing I’ve done from my CityPASS. I can really recommend that to anyone who’s in NYC for around 4-5 days and wants to see a lot.

Yesterday when I went to Rockefeller Centre I Facetimed with my sister, and I told Lilian about that. So we decided that when I got up on the Empire State Building I’d give her a little tour of what NYC looks like from above! Here’s the result:


Not really a clear picture of the buildings, but she got to see them!


I used to be terrified of heights, but I’ve grown to love it. Especially after the glass floor in the CN tower of Toronto my love for heights got a bit of a boost. So much that I decided twice this week to go up a tower!

I didn’t do much else today, as my feet were killing me! So I went back to the hostel, met my new roommate – who’s an American lady who is used to staying at fancy hotels in NYC and taking taxi’s everywhere. Nothing wrong with that, but if you’re suddenly staying in a 6 persons mixed dorm in a hostel on the 4th floor with no elevator you’re going to experience a little culture shock. She’s the first person to actually speak to me in this hostel. It was nice.

Right after that a confused looking guy walked in with his suitcase: a guy from Norway. Though I’ve always found Norway to be extremely far, meeting someone from the same continent is actually nice. We got to talk about how busy NYC is, how strange people who work in stores look at us for actually responding to their “Hi, how are you today?” –> note to self: they don’t want to hear it, they just want a “I’m fine, how are you today?” and just get on with paying and such. In the Netherlands you just have to do with a “Hello”, and how we don’t get that most toilet doors have a big gap between the door and the frame – especially in public places – WHY IS THAT?! People can see you sit and pee! Please, someone, let me know why?

This is also my last day of being completely by myself for a while – the next couple of days Michelle, a new friend I’m going to Camp Twitch and Shout with, is joining me in NYC, I’m meeting my dad’s friend and her daughter, and after that in DC I’ll have plenty of people to meet as well! Not to mention camp after that. Can’t wait!

Now I’ll just enjoy being alone in my dorm room – with the somewhat quietness (I’ll just ignore all the alarms that are going off on the streets), before going to bed REALLY EARLY!

Day 12 (Friday 24th of June): Finding Michelle and finding Dory πŸ™‚
I always tell myself the same lie: I’m going to go to bed really early tonight because I need my sleep… not going to happen. Ever, I suppose. Today was fun, I met up with Michelle and as we started talking we got a bit too excited about the Finding Dory movie… and even though I’ve already watched it, I had to again! Was really nice!

Day 13 (Saturday 25th of June): Longlasting friendships
Whiej, today was finally the day! I got to meet up with Melody and Charlie, my dad’s friends who he had met around 30 years ago by accident πŸ™‚ And now I got to meet them and hang out for a bit!

After that I had a bit of a breakdown, as I could’ve expected after running around with barely any sleep combined with sensory overload (I’ve written something about that, but it’s still in my concepts because I’m scared to post it) and being scared of almost everything I do. So in the evening I just talked to my lovely Lilian for a bit and took a long warm shower! Tomorrow is the parade in NYC, and before I’m heading for DC I’m going to have a look there!

Day 14 (Sunday the 26th of June): Exchanging this city for Washington DC
Now I have been here exactly two weeks, and it has flown by. Especially the first week, which I also dreaded a lot because that meant I had to say goodbye to my soon-to-be-wife.. but this week was a challenge, to see if I was up to the task of doing things for myself and by myself. I told my lovely Lilian that I was going to give it a try, but I never expected to actually go through with it. Now I sometimes actually feel a bit less scared of the 5 weeks ahead of me!

I’m not really disappointed by how I did, I actually managed quite well (except for my breakdown moment on saturday, but in 2 weeks of 100% new things and constantly getting new impressions that’s pretty good!)

Today is the day of the parade and after that Michelle and I will take the bus to DC.Β Will be continued!


Love, Sam

US Travel Adventures 4 – New York City part 1

Day 8 (Monday 20th of June): Flying to NYC
Today Lilian and I went our seperate ways for the coming just-a-little-more-than-a-month… Oh my lovely how I am going to miss you. We had to go to seperate gate points that weren’t connected, so we had to say goodbye 1,5 hours earlier than expected.


My flight was exactly on time, and I arrived 15 minutes too early at Newark. I had booked a shared shuttle bus instead of going with public transport – because I knew I’d get lost. After 2 hours of driving I FINALLY made it to what I thought was my stop, but the driver had decided for himself to not look at the address I gave him, but to bring me to another hostel that he found would be mine. I thought I was going to be scared but actually I just said: I refuse to get out at this stop, take me to my hostel. And so he did πŸ™‚

I was put in a 6 person dormitory, and I think my roommates are all okay. I just said hello and went straight out of the hostel to have a look around in the city. After that I went straight to bed. In the middle of the night Lilian arrived at her changing-airport and we Facetimed for a while before I headed back to bed again.

Day 9 (Tuesday 21st of June): Figuring out a city on my own
I stalled and stalled and texted with everyone I knew before finally heading out into NYC. Oh gosh what was I scared. I have a map luckily, and I have been told that you can’t get lost in NYC easily, so with a 750 ml smoothie in my one hand and my map in the other I went looking for the American Museum of Natural History (you know, the one where Night at the Museum was filmed ^_^ ). I found it and bought myself a CityPASS!


After that I went and got myself something to eat, but I was SO tired and didn’t understand the subway system here (and nobody willing to explain it to me, not even at the hostel) that I went back to the hostel to look online and find out myself.

I was supposed to do a Highline toured walk, but it started 15 minutes ago πŸ™‚ I got myself distracted and fell asleep for an hour, whoopsie! But I can still go to the Top of the rock Observation Deck. So I guess I’ll grab a bite to eat somewhere and then head off to Times Square and the Observation deck πŸ™‚

Day 10 (Wednesday 22nd of June): Taking the subway and Ticcing my brains off
Yesterday I did go to the observation deck, YAY! To my surprise, at 9pm (3am in the Netherlands) my sister was still online on Whatsapp, so we decided to Facetime each other… we watched the sun go down and the city turning dark while chatting about all kinds of stuff. Phototime!:




Ok, on to today! It’s 32 degrees outside, a lot of sun and a lot of people around! I looked in my cityPASS and I saw that I could go to the 9/11 Memorial Museum. It’s a long walk from my place (1,5 hours or so) and though I am scared of public transportation I decided to try and be brave and just go for it. And so I did. It wasn’t as bad as I expected in terms of me getting lost (because strangely enough, I haven’t been lost in this city yet!), but it was loud and crowded and all the noises made me confused. Then, because of all the new impressions I started Ticcing like a mad person and yes – then people start staring at me.

Eventually I arrived at the 9/11 Memorial. So impressive. I was only 11 when it happened, but I can still remember watching it on the news and seeing the 2nd tower being hit by a plane. My stepdad went to the US 25 years ago and he went inside one of those towers. I was able to see the memorial falls and the museum.SDC18202.JPG


I also went into the museum, which was so impressive. Can’t really say much else about that, except for this quote that really sticks with me:


After that I thought that it would be time for something lighter. So I went to the High Line, where I was supposed to do a tour yesterday. I couldn’t find Gansevoort street – and I asked a couple of people – and of course I can’t say Gansevoort the English way, only the Dutch way, so nobody knew about which street I was asking. I accidentally bumped into a guy who also has Tourettes, we talked for a bit and then I finally found the Highline!
The High Line is a former train tracks above the streets that they made into a park. It’s 2 miles long and ends near the Hudson river.


SDC18268.JPG(yes that’s a tree sticking out of a car)

When the Hig hLine ended I saw that I was near Pier 83, where the Ferry’s were that I could take with my City PASS. So I went on a 1,5 hour boat trip on my own, around Manhattan! I love skylines ❀


After this I walked to Time Square to try and get a ticket for Waitress, but they only had partial-view tickets that were still $100,-… So I went back to my hostel with a large fruit smoothie Β and Whatsapped with my lovely Lilian ❀

Right now it’s 7:30 and I’m not sure what I’m going to do. Probably read a bit, take a shower and see if there’s nice people in this hostel I can watch a show on Netflix with (YES they have netflix in the hostel πŸ™‚ ), and otherwise I’ll just fly solo for another day and a half! No biggie πŸ™‚

I’ll end this blog here, and do the weekend in a seperate blog, because this one is getting LONG!

Hope you liked it, and and if you have suggestions as to what I need to be doing the next couple of days, let me know πŸ™‚

Love, Sam


US Travel Adventures 3 – Toronto

Hi everyone,

As I’m writing this intro of the blog it’s day 4 of my US/Canada trip, I’m sitting on my bed in the hostel in Toronto. At first I was a bit scared because I didn’t know anything about the neighborhood and if we could get to the city center fast and easy, but we arrived a couple of hours ago and it’s amazing! During the next couple of days I’ll write some things and will post it probably on day 7 or 8, right before I head for New York City and Lilian will leave for Amsterdam…

Day 4 (Thursday, 16th of June):Β Traveling from Niagara Falls to Toronto
We woke up in our hotel in Niagara Falls around 5:30am, we had a nice long morning walk and bought some souvenirs for our families. After that we went back to the hotel and relaxed a little before checking out. We left the hotel at noon, and we decided to grab something to eat before heading to the Greyhound busterminal. We thought: oh, it’s 30 minutes walking, we can do that! But it was HOT outside and we were carrying our big backpacks and day-backpacks… it felt like we were walking for hours… But finally we got on our bus to Toronto (which is about a 2 hour drive, if you don’t get stuck in traffic like we did…) and we had wifi, so we heard some good news: Lilians’ younger sister passed her high school exams!! Yay for her! And we Facetimed with my mom for a bit, which was nice!

We arrived in Toronto, saw the big CN Tower, and walked straight to our hostel. And what we found was a big surprise!

We’re in a street that is totally my thing: a lot of veggies + fruit stands, vegetarian/vegan restaurants, art all over walls and buildings, people from all over the world walking around and people who sing publicly while just walking around the streets. So much fun to watch!

IMG_7822.JPG(Wanda’s Pie from the Sky in Toronto)

Day 5 (Friday, 17th of June): Facing our fears!
Today we had an extremely busy day, we had breakfast at 8am and directly after that we started walking to the entertainment district and the CN Tower. We went in, obviously, all the way to the top! At the top there was a glass floor and Lilian just walked up on there. I, being a bit of a scaredypants, was too afraid at first but in the end I jumped up and down with joy because it was so much fun!


After the CN Tower it was HOT outside, so we went to the aquarium, which was next to the CN Tower. I like aquariums so much, I start acting like a child again. We had lots of fun there!

In the afternoon we walked through Old Toronto, Β went to the Lawrence Market (which looks a lot like Paddy’s Market in Sydney, Australia!) and sat for a bit to rest our achy feet.
We decided to go to the movies in the evening, and what better movie to see than Alice – Through the looking glass?!

I forgot my hearing aids and in English speaking countries they normally don’t provide subtitles, but they had this funny selfie-stick sort of thing with closed captions. New experience, but I liked it a lot!

Today we walked for about 10 hours, so we have to let our feet rest a bit more so tomorrow we’ll be able to do some more walking and sightseeing!

Day 6 (Saturday, 18th of June): Casa Loma + Movies again!
Because we bought a city pass we were able to get into Casa Loma. We met up with our couchsurfing host Michael, who hadn’t been to Casa Loma before either. Not much to say about it, except for that it was amazing!! From high up in the castle you could see the skyline of Toronto, and I love skylines πŸ™‚ Now it’s time for us to sit down and have a nice meal at the Hungarian-Thai restaurant we went to on Thursday as well, and then go and see Finding Dory in the cinema! With my CC-selfie stick! ❀




Day 7 (Sunday, 19th of June):
Today we went to the islands that are below Toronto. We went with a crazy-crowded ferry to the center island. Lilian really wanted to rent bikes, but when we went there were dragonboat races, and the lines for the bikes were so long that we decided not to – but instead walk around, have nice and long talks, and then Lilian came up with a scary idea: she thought it’d be fun to rent a canoe. A CANOE! Since it was her last day of vacation I decided to face my fear and go along with her. The first minutes I kept saying “I don’t want to, I don’t want to!”, but after a while I started to actually like it and I started to understand how boats work.



And the luck of traveling by ferry is that you can see the pretty skyline on your way back!


Now it’s off to bed, because tomorrow we’ll be leaving the city…

Day 8 (Monday, 20th of June):Β The day I have been dreading
Lilian is leaving today to go back home. And I’m flying from Toronto to NYC in the evening. It has been a great week, but from now on, the next 6 weeks I’ll be depending on myself, trusting myself to make the right decisions and make the most out of my days. During this week I’ve been doubting a lot – will I stay here or join Lilian and just go home? It comes down to being scared of the unknown, and not trusting people easily lately. But, the people I’ve been talking to about this have all said: if you don’t try, you’ll never find out.

Time will tell if I’m able to do this on my own. I certainly hope I can. See you when I get to NYC!

Love, Sam


US Travel Adventures 2 – Niagara Falls

Hi everyone,

Today is the 15th of June, which means we (my lovely Lilian and I) have been abroad for 1,5 days. A lot has happened, and I’d like to share some photo’s and stories with you.

Day 1: 15 hours of traveling
Is a LOT. For everyone. We were at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport at 8am, and our first flight was delayed so we left at noon. At our stopover in Frankfurt we originally had to wait until 5:30pm, but left an hour later. Not really a big deal, but we had booked a shuttlebus in Toronto and it wasn’t going to wait for us. We did have a really nice big airplane with individual tv screens so we could watch movies! Lilian watched X-men and I attempted to try and watch the Big Bang Theory… 1 earplug didn’t work and I could barely hear anything out of the other one. Too bad nothing had CC.

Arriving in Toronto we had to go through security, which was HELL! We were in line for like half an hour and I felt the time ticking away (and I was ticcing away, which caused a bit of people staring at me). At one point I was so exhausted and scared and relieved (I’m scared to death of flying, so I was happy that I survived my flights) that I started to sob uncontrollably. Poor Lilian, she had to deal with a lot in that hour! Luckily we made it just in time to catch our shuttlebus from Toronto to Niagara Falls.

Arriving in Niagara
I knew that I immediately wanted to see the falls. We were both really tired, but went anyway – in the summer the falls are lit up with pretty lights and colors between 9pm and midnight. We arrived just minutes before midnight and this was our sight (sorry my camera isn’t really good with taking sharp pictures at night:


After this ended we went to our hotel again πŸ™‚

Day 2: Our first real day
We walked around Niagara Falls a bit and then decided we wanted to go to the American side. While walking the bridge that would lead us to the US, there were some army men and police officers standing there. Apparently the torch for the special olympics went through there that day. Pretty awesome!

After going through security (YAY Lilian also got a stamp in her passport for the US!) we went to the visitors centre to get ourselves tickets for the Maid of the Mist – have I mentioned that I don’t like boats either? I have to admit, IT WAS AWESOME! We got these funny blue ponchos (not sure if that’s what they’re called in English, but whatever) and found ourselves a spot at the top of the boat right at the front.

We went past the American Falls and went almost into the Horseshoe Falls. The falls are so high up and pretty and I really loved it. Especially because I was with my lovely girl.




Cave of the Winds + surprise
After our first adventure we went to get ourselves some ice cream, since it was a lovely sunny day. We asked for a SMALL ice cream, and compared to what we get at home when we ask for 1 scoop, we got 5 scoops, it was crazy! I can’t imagine what a large ice cream would look like, would that be a liter of ice cream?! It was nice though, we ate it while sitting in the park chatting.

Lilian found a map and found out that we could go down by the falls and be literally beside the falls. Again, we were given (this time yellow) ponchos and very comfy sandals. We didn’t understand why we were given the sandals, but it was so slippery and windy that our own shoes wouldn’t like it at all!


And right there on the left where you see people, right next to the fall, I did something that I had been planning for for MONTHS!

I told her she was my everything, and I wanted to stay with her for the rest of my life. I asked her the big question: do you want to marry me? and she said YES!!!


Day 3: Last full day in Niagara Falls
It’s 8am now, we’re about to find ourselves some breakfast, do some groceries, relax a little, sit in our hottub(!!) with a Lush bubblebar and walk around some more to the old part of town. In the evening we’re going into the Skylon Tower to see the night’s view and the fireworks! Then tomorrow at 3pm we’ll leave for Toronto to spend the rest of our week there. Time is flying by so fast already… on Monday Lilian will go back to The Netherlands and I’ll be traveling on to the US for 6 weeks… Long time to miss the one you love most. Luckily it’s not Monday yet!!

Have a great week everyone, I’ll give a Toronto update soon πŸ™‚

Love, Sam & Lilian

US Travel adventures 1 – preparations

Hi everyone,

I haven’t been writing much. It has to do with the fact that I am preparing for my biggest adventure in ages, which is: traveling through the US + Canada! There’s a lot more to arrange than I thought, and time seems to fly by so fast that I am in a hurry to get everything finished on time! Aaaaah, stress! But it’s going to be worth it!

Booking flights + making a plan!
This was the first thing I did a couple of months ago, I went to a student travel agency and told them where I wanted / needed to go to. I sat there for about 2 hours to arrange everything, from connecting flights to small tours in cities, but the final result is:
June 13th – 16th:
– Flying to Toronto, Canada with my lovely girlfriend
– Taking the bus to Niagara Falls
– Get to the hotel and see Niagara Falls and surroundings for 3 days

June 16th – 20th:
– Take the bus to Toronto
– Meet our couchsurfing host there
– Hang out in Toronto for 4 days

June 20th – 26th:
– Flying to NYC and sending my girlfriend on a plane home 😦
– See and do a lot
– Meet my dad’s friend
– Meet a friend from camp

June 26th – 30th:
– Take the bus to Washington DC
– Stay at a friend from camp
– Go to Gallaudet to visit a friend
– Do stuff you do in DC

June 30th – July 9th:
– Drive to Athens, Georgia
– Camp Twitch and Shout
– Lots of fun!!

July 9th – 15th:
– Fly to San Francisco
– Do a 3 day tour to Yosemite
– Get tattooed
– See the city

July 15th – 24th:
– Take the nightbus to Los Angeles
– Do a 4 day tour to the Grand Canyon
– See the city

July 24th – 28th:
– Fly to Chicago
– Hang out in Chicago

July 28th:
– Fly to Amsterdam and then go home and be sad for a few days

Getting in to Canada/the US
Luckily, as a Dutch person, I only have to fill in an ESTA-form online and pay $14,- to be granted access to the US. For Canada the same, but then it’s called ETA. I thought it was scary to fill in the forms, because what if they decline my application?! So I postponed everything until last week and then got over myself and did my applications. Within the same hour I got the message that it was all arranged πŸ™‚

Finding places to stay
I tried finding locals on couchsurfing who were willing to host me, I found 3 people, of whom 2 cancelled on me last week 😦 But I’m very grateful that 1 person didn’t and I’m looking forward to meeting him!

Other than that I booked beds in shared rooms in hostels, which will be a great way to meet people. When I was in Sydney, Australia, I saw 20-person rooms, and that isn’t necessarily what I want. So I booked a bed in a 4-person room – enough to meet people, but not too crowded. My hostels are mostly in the city centres, since I like to walk around cities and not take metro’s or trams because you can’t see the city that way (and, I hate public transportation and find it scary!)

What to do when you’re in a strange city, ALONE?
Yes, this was a bit daunting to me at first, the idea of spending time ‘alone’ and doing things ‘on my own’… not doing activites with friends or family, but deciding for yourself and by yourself. I found a website that sell the CITYPASS, where you get to do all kind of activities for a discounted price. I will buy one for NYC and perhaps Chicago.

I won’t go to fancy restaurants by myself – or ever, to be honest. Since I stay at hostels, and hostels tend to have kitchens, I’ll cook my own meals, bring a tupperware box from home and will eat in parks, or in the common area of the hostel. That way I can see a bit of the city, or talk to other people in the hostel. And if I don’t want to be around people I just sit by myself – take my hearing aids out and I won’t be bothered by anyone!

Blogs for the coming months
This blog will be transformed into a temporary travel blog, combined with what I experience as a Deaf person/Touretter abroad! I hope there’ll be lots of pictures and nice experiences written down.

Love, Sam

Question: Have you ever been to the cities that I’m going to? If so, let me know what in your opinion are things I need to do/see!