It’s safe to say that the past four weeks have been absolutely hectic, a complete ‘snowstorm’ of events, emotions and new experiences. I genuinely don’t think I’ve stopped for a minute. For that reason it’s actually quite gratifying to have this blog; to be able to sit down, compose myself, mull over the craziness of it all… take a deep breath… aaaand… spill out my thoughts in the form of a short, sweet and hopefully coherent post.
I feel like I’ve been running around campus like a headless chicken recently. And I only have UofC to blame for my frantic behavior. Why? Because its dynamic, inclusive and engaging community facilitates a way of life which I fully support and embrace. There’s such an unbelievably diverse array of things to do here, practically 24/7, that it would be criminal not to make the most of it! When I first I arrived here I was in awe of the university’s actual facilities; huge stadiums, ice rinks, a two-floor night club, a wide array of food outlets, cafés and restaurants, a massive sports complex and a students’ union containing everything from a hairdressers to a travel agent’s. Everything a university needs to help over 30,000 students survive the cold winter months… and more! However living here for around three months now, I realize that there’s more to it than that. There are hundreds of clubs and societies and a large collection of support services on site; I’ve never experienced anything like it. However you define yourself, whatever you want to achieve or find, no matter what support or advice you need, you can find it here. I have already personally felt these effects; I definitely feel like I‘ve been given the chance for personal growth. I know that I will return to Durham with a wholly new understanding of myself, my values and my perception of others.
Of course, as many of you can relate, it’s certainly taken some serious time management to balance my academic schedule, fitness routine, going-out and extra-curricular activities, as well as keeping in contact with my friends and family at home. But it is do-able (with just a few caffeine refuels a day!). Apart from being part of some awesome societies such as the EDM club, the Kula Ring (anthropology) and belly dancing, I guess my biggest commitment this term has been to the Women’s Resource Centre. This has been an invaluable resource for me (and not just because of the regular provision of Tim Hortons donuts). Through frequent training programs, workshops and events I have learnt so much more than just my regular degree could ever teach me. Additionally I hope that by volunteering there and providing peer support, I might have given a little bit back to the campus community.
So apart from aaaall that, what other fun things have I been up to this month?
Well… Halloween was just as amazing as you can imagine. And yes, it really does seem to be taken a lot more seriously here than in the UK. I noticed a lot less ‘slutty/spooky’ dressing-up, of the kind we do in England, and a lot more simply hilarious and random costumes. I had great fun scouring through the most incredible, jam-packed fancy-dress shops and even greater fun going clubbing as a ‘pumpkin fairy’ (an excuse to raid Claire’s Accessories and cover myself in glitter essentially).
I had a fantastic weekend not exploring Edmonton, the capital city of Alberta. Instead I went shopping at its West Edmonton Mall, the largest shopping mall in North America. I think I died and went to heaven. I ran around like a hyperactive child, exclaiming when I saw the indoor theme park, the lake (including a life-size replica of Columbus’s boat and some sea lions!) and the water-park. Admittedly I was most passionate about paying a visit to the British Import Shop; who knew that something as mundane as Bird’s Custard Powder or cans of mushy peas would be the first thing since arriving in Canada to make me feel a little homesick?
Last weekend I went with the Ski Club to Lake Louise for their first trip of the season. It felt so invigorating to get out in the crisp, icy mountain air and take in the spectacular views, especially after being cooped up inside for far too long. But my goodness, didn’t the Club know how to party and ski hard? – I returned home on Sunday night a shell of a person and I still don’t think I’ve fully regained mobility! I’ve never skied in my life but it was exhilarating (and at times absolutely terrifying) to learn a new skill, even if I lost the remnants of my dignity in the process. On Saturday morning I was sliding out-of-control and landing on my bum before even reaching the slopes but by Sunday afternoon at least I had managed to learn how to snow plow out-of-control down a pretty steep green run. Baby steps for now… but hopefully I will be donning some skis again soon.