So I’m now 5 weeks into term, and to say the last month has been fairly busy would be a serious understatement! There is so much going on around campus, not to mention in and around the city itself, that the last couple of weeks have been fairly non stop. Classes are now in full swing, and one of the biggest adjustments since arriving here has been adapting to the teaching / assessment methods. Unlike in Durham where all the exams are generally in the final term, here you are assessed constantly with class ‘quizzes’ every other week ( they’re not as fun as they sound ), assignments and lab reports to be handed in each week, and midterm exams dotted throughout the term. The work load is fairly constant however, because the ‘summative’ parts of the course are spread fairly evenly throughout the term, there is much less of a build up to the usual intense last term and final exams back in Durham. At least that’s what I have been assured….
Aside from work, there has still been plenty of time to explore the surroundings, and there is certainly no shortage of things to do! Ive been lucky enough to do far more than i could write here, however some highlights include visiting Lynn Canyon ( complete with plunge pools and naturally formed waterslides! ), circumnavigating Stanley Park, and going to watch the first game of the Football ( the american one ) season to watch the UBC ‘Thunderbirds’ play Calgary….turns out the Thunderbirds aren’t very good. But to top it all off, last weekend i went away for the weekend to Tofino on Vancouver island with the Surf club. It was an unbelievable experience with perfect waves, fantastic weather and a true chilled surfy vibe around camp all weekend. And such trips seem to be in abundance here, with many clubs offering cheap deals on weekend breaks including the Ski and Snowboard club which obviously seem very popular! Also worth a mention, is the live music scene in Vancouver. Already there have been a number of really big UK bands performing downtown ( about a 40 minute bus ride) for no more than about £25! We were lucky enough to get tickets to see Kasabian in a really intimate theatre hall which was absolutely incredible!
After some truly spectacular weather over the first two weeks here, we were finally introduced to what the locals had been warning us about…days of persistent rain! The clouds descended and the sunshine gave way to continual drizzle. Yet the weather didn’t seem to dampen the atmosphere on campus – the attitude being never make any weather dependant plans! It became quickly apparent that my ‘Vans’ pumps with 2 holes in the soles were not going to be suitable during the rainy season – which has been rumoured to last until spring!!
Overall the adjustment to living across the Atlantic has been very smooth and enjoyable! There really wasn’t much of a culture shock, although there were a few small things which took a little time to adjust to. Firstly, never knowing how much anything costs! Whether its mysterious taxes, which are added when you check out (and seem to change with the wind), or tips at a restaurant, you’re never really sure how much to pay, not to mention trying to work out the exchange rate. And secondly, being in a situation where you can entirely rely on the public transport system. The busses are frequent and arrive on time! And with the university U-Pass system, you can travel anywhere in Vancouver for free.
Once the midterms are out of the way, its time for Thanksgiving, Halloween and then the start of the Ski season, so I’m guessing this month will be as hectic as the last!!