It’s strange how well you can get to know people in nine weeks. Or how well they can get to know you more like. My work friend made a point of pressing these post-its on my side of the partition between our desks periodically, and each one made me giggle in a very office-inappropriate way. This one I thought he got particularly spot-on.
The way I see it, packing was a sort-of game in which I had worked my way up through the levels and finally reached the super hard Fit-A-Years-Possessions-Into-Two-Bags super-boss challenge. University the first time round was hard enough. In first year we had to get three extra Freshers Reps to help my family unload the estate car and lug all my things up to the 3rd Floor. I didn’t realise I had a problem before, but once I started comparing myself with peers it was blatantly obvious that I am awful at it. Packing I mean. Apparently, you don’t need a 4-man tent for Freshers’ Week…a bean bag however, very handy!
I began by admitting defeat and chose to take two checked-in bags with me rather than one. I then made a list of what I needed to take. A very extensive list. Once this had been scoured by more sensible people than myself, I began accumulating the items on it. I bought vacuum-pack bags off the internet (Amazon do 12 for around £10 – bargain!), a fancy compact camera (a Sony alpha series A6000 if you’re interested) and started piling my favourite clothes on my bedroom floor. Starting early worked well, if you’re awful like me I recommend around 3 weeks prep. My task was made harder by committing to traveling to the airport straight from a week holidaying in Norfolk: a challenge indeed. Eventually I managed to squeeze everything into two bags by sitting on them and jumping up and down. And a backpack. And a bumbag.
For booking my flights I used skyscanner.com, and really recommend it. It will show you flights from all the different airlines so you can pick and choose the most convenient (and cheapest!) flight for you. Viator insurance (the one that the university organise) is free, and covers you for pretty much anything. Make sure you leave at least 3 weeks before applying for this! I’d say about a month before you go book your flights, then apply for Viator insurance and think about packing.
McMaster offer a free shuttle service from the airport to campus which is great and takes about 45 minutes, and after that they give you a free bus pass to travel back and forth – ideal! The only negative thing about McMaster (that I have witnessed so far) is that they don’t let you join in with the First Years for “Welcome Week”. In order to get into the events you have to have a wristband that you buy in the form of a “MacPass”. Unfortunately exchange students don’t qualify for this as we don’t pay full fees or something. I promise I will try and argue my case for this to be changed for next year – wish me luck! However, the MIX society do hold a sort-of alternative Welcome Week program which may suit us weathered Third Years a little better by catering to our desire to explore and travel rather than party hard. I’ve heard rumours of a Waterfall Crawl.
And so, as I write to you from seven hours into an eight hour flight, sitting just above Québec, I eagerly anticipate the year ahead. Amazingly, I found two other Durhamites in the queue for the plane and most of us (this year there are six!) are living in the same halls, so the nerves have somewhat subsided and
excitement taken over. I’ll be sharing a four-person apartment with three other girls: a Canadian fresher, a Canadian fifth-year frep-type person and a lovely girl on exchange from Limerick, Ireland. I can already tell from our mad Facebook messages that we’re going to get on pretty well! Here’s to 300 happy days!!
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