Surviving Week 1

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I’ve now come to the end of my first week living in ‘Rez’ (Calgary equivalent of halls) and the end of Orientation Week (or O Week), so I thought it was time to update everyone. O Week is basically like Durham’s Freshers Week, but a bit more substantial. There were sessions with your department (or faculty as they call it here), sessions for being on exchange and fun activities throughout the week.

After unpacking on the first day I discovered, again, that I had packed extremely poorly. Due to my desire to have a beautiful holdall (which I seem to be mentioning every blog), instead of a giant suitcase, I couldn’t pack everything I wanted to, meaning my cupboards and walls are quite bare. I’m planning on collecting things throughout the year, but at the minute my rooms pretty empty. I’ve also discovered my new favourite shop of Dollarama (similar to Poundland surprisingly, but with so much stuff and such a variety that it’s incredible, and I’m finding things in there to decorate. I also packed mostly winter clothes, but no one told me that it was actually 25-30 degrees until about September – Tip: bring stuff for your room that reminds IMG_0376you of home – I’ve got some photos, but not enough, bring posters, cushions, bedspread etc., just to help you settle in. This stuff is pretty important so take out that fifth jumper and don’t skimp out on decor.

The first day of O Week started by meeting your faculty and learning chants for the Pep Rally (my first real North American ‘school’ experience). This was an extremely bizarre experience of sitting in a giant gym on bleachers and having a faculty cheer off… basically we all learnt chants about our subject and had to shout them as loudly as possible at all the other faculties. It was pretty strange but also strangely fun (the Kinesiology faculty was obviously the best, with our three part chant). This was followed by speeches by a number of people, including the president of UofC, the

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Pep Rally!

students union, and the keynote speaker of Sheldon Kennedy, a former NHL player. We also met all the ‘profs’ (not lecturers) – it was interesting to see the similarities and differences between the Durham and Calgary departments – I’m starting to think that part of the training to become a physiology lecturer is how to talk extremely fast.

There were lots of activities throughout the week, ending with Kick Off, the

UofC Dino’s first American Football match of the season, with a carnival type build up with face painting, inflatables etc. called Tailgate. With a Canadian near me I

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Had to get a photo with the Dinos mascot!

actually understood some of how it was played and enjoyed it a surprising amount.

Here are some differences I’ve found about Calgary vs Durham as well as some things about Canada in my first week on campus:

#1 A lot of things have different names – aside from Rez, O Week, jumpers and Football/Soccer, lectures are called classes, lecturers called professors (or profs), essays are called papers etc.

#2 Jumpers are not a thing. I’ve confused numerous people by calling jumpers jumpers – here they are called sweaters, which encompasses jumpers, hoodies, wool jumpers etc.

#3 Stash is called swag and there is soooooo much of it. I don’t know whether this is just at UofC or it’s a North American thing but it’s pretty excessive. So far I’ve got a scarf, water bottle, lunchbox, universal plug converter, two t shirts, two pairs of sunglasses and numerous stationary with the UofC crest on. To buy you can get jumpers, hoodys, shirts, t shirts, wool jumpers, bags, cropped jumpers, hats etc. I’m a little overwhelmed, and am having to restrain myself spending my entire student loan on stash.

#4 Kinesiology (Sport Science) is really big here. It has it’s own faculty instead of being put with science or social sciences, there are two giant KNES buildings and everyone knows what it is when you tell them what you’re doing

#5 Canadian money is confusing! There aren’t any 1 or 2 cent coins, so everything gets rounded up or down. The $1 coin is called a loonie and the $2 a toonie. The 5 cent is bigger than the 10 cent coin. Plus the price everything is isn’t actually the full price – you have to add on taxes!

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Almost there…

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It’s now less than one week until I leave for my year abroad in Canada. It’s finally starting to sink in, after a busy summer where I didn’t really have time to think about it. I am now in the middle of a two week period of attempting to make sure I have everything done on time – before I left to do my various summer activities I was pretty sure I was on top of preparations, but now I’m not so sure… Continue reading

British University vs Canadian ‘School’

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14324411_10210698710769059_8881947420531825965_oWhy hello again you fabulous readers! So, I’ve almost been in Canada for 8 weeks now, and miraculously I’m surviving just fine, actually, I’m still having the best time ever! A lot has happened in the past few weeks; had a great weekend in Banff (read my other blog about it here), a spectacular Thanksgiving meal, and everyone is getting super excited about the upcoming four day Halloween weekend, they take it very seriously over here! Continue reading

Lost in Translation

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“I can confirm that I didn’t find a new version of myself huddling beneath a snow drift, or have a kind, humble yeti carry me to his hut, spoon feed me cocoa, and beguile me with tales of old.”

Articulating how it feels to have left Calgary is a feat of magnitude. My attempts to explain to family and friends about the life I left behind have felt lack-lustre, and as I furrow my brow and nod my head assuredly at earnest questions such as, ‘was it as amazing as it looked?’, I feel unable to translate my genuine sentiment on the matter unto those who weren’t along for the ride.

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Travels: Calgary

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Our last night in Hamilton consisted of removing unnecessary clothing from my pre-packed bags with the help of Rhiannon. This was the first step towards achieving the goal of leaving most of my clothes in Canada, which is the only way I am going to fit all my luggage into the long-haul allowance. We delivered an IKEA bag full of clothes to our friend who conveniently was working in a nearby bar, where we stayed for a drink with our Australian friend Elly, who we would have to say goodbye to that night for a good few years. We helped Brandon clear his fridge of random food items and then set to sleep for a few hours. Continue reading

A Lifestyle Metamorphosis

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“It all began with the planting of a set of magical beans that the Year Abroad office unknowingly handed me in January 2015.”

Undergoing a lifestyle metamorphosis is an inevitable part of taking a year abroad. Aspects of your existence that you don’t expect to change are swept out from underneath your feet and for a second you’re in limbo, floating unassisted through an exciting though admittedly chaotic flux of cultivating new friendships, questioning old beliefs and mapping out your new physical and social surroundings.

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