100 Days Down

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It’s the last week of term, Christmas decorations are everywhere and finals are looming, so I thought I’d reflect on my time so far – which has flown by. I can’t really believe that I’ve almost finished my first term (‘semester’) which means that I’m almost halfway through my year abroad. As I write this I’ve been away for exactly 100 days and I can’t really believe that either. There have definitely been days when I just want to sit in my room and not talk to anyone, but at the same time I’ve made fab memories and had amazing opportunities that I wouldn’t have had back home in Durham, which outweigh the bad times.

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Making fun memories (in typical British weather) in the summer

Hardest Moments

1. Saying goodbye to everyone/making new friends

For me this was in two parts, where I left my dad and stepmum (and everyone else) in the UK but had 10 days with my mum out here in Canada. Before I left we made sure I had good memories to leave with, which made it a bit easier. I really loved having my mum with me, because it meant that I could get used to money, terms, looking the wrong way when crossing the road etc. with someone before being thrown in to uni work. What this did mean though was it was pretty hard to let her

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Making New Friends

get on a plane and abandon me in this new country. I also had a bit of a rough time in the first couple of months when I’d go somewhere and remember being there with my mum and homesickness would hit me out of the blue. But each day gets easier and after a while you get used to only seeing everyone through a computer screen – and Facebook messenger filters make things extremely entertaining. And once you’ve got over saying goodbye you’re immediately thrown into a new environment where you’re also trying to make new friends – which for me has been ridiculously hard and it took me quite a long time before I felt comfortable, but again in time things get better and now I’m feeling happy and settled.

2. Getting used to a new school system

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Flat study session in the library (because we do actually work as well)

I think I’ve said this before, but I’ve both enjoyed and hated experiencing a new system. Here I only have 4 modules each semester (instead of 6 at Durham), but I have more hours and generally the workload is a bit more. I had to completely change my working style (which was not easy for me), and getting used to different referencing and essay styles was difficult, but again once you’ve settled into a routine and worked out how to make it work everything gets easier

3. Language barriers

This is clearly a bit of a joke, seeing as Calgary speaks English, but its complicated to hear a term or word and have no idea what it is to only be explained that its something completely different in the UK. And then comes the inevitable debate about which term or word makes more sense. This also happens within the internationals (Aussies I’m looking at you), and at times even with the other exchanges from the UK. I’m torn between being stubborn and sticking to what I normally say and changing to Canadian terms so that people don’t always ask what I’m on about when I’m talking to them (e.g. when I say I like someone’s jumper and they have no idea what I mean because a UK jumper is a sweater in Canada).

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Combing Canadian Thanksgiving with Australian Delicacies…

4. Adapting to Canadian style food

Obviously the worst part for me was when I ran out of Yorkshire tea and had to buy Orange Pekoe tea from the supermarket (this seems to be the Canadian equivalent of ‘English Breakfast’). The bread also tastes weird because it has sugar in it and there’s no brown pasta or Wensleydale cheese, which if you know me is a literal disaster. I’m a fussy eater so the first few weeks were pretty hit and miss. Especially

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Emergency Food Parcels

trying to find something to try and replace Wensleydale (which could never happen). Most food is more expensive here than in the UK, so in the first few weeks I had to change my eating habits and what I usually buy regularly. But it’s also strange because some things are much cheaper – just a small tip, don’t get the cheapest fish possible purely because it’s cheap – it probably won’t be very nice…

Best/Most Satisfying Moments

1. The First time you find you way to all your lectures on time without getting lost

This has been easier for me seeing as my Mondays, Wednesdays + Fridays and Tuesdays + Thursdays are exactly the same, but the feeling when you realise you know your way around campus (including short cuts, best ways to stay out of the cold etc.) is really satisfying, and for me was one of the first moments when I realised I was settled in and ready to stay for a year.

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After standing on 3 frozen lakes we needed to come up with interesting poses for our photos…

2. Going on trips with friends

A good thing about a year abroad is that, in a way, you can concentrate on the fun things and (slightly) less on the academic side (don’t completely ignore your classes…). This has meant that over the last 100 days I’ve gone on numerous weekends away and day trips to a wide range of places, some utterly ridiculous (e.g. back country camping halfway up a mountain in the snow) but all so much fun. I’ve walked on frozen lakes, seen elk up close (because we nearly ran over it…), climbed mountains, gone snowshoeing and gone skiing, along with other trips.

3. New Experiences

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Smiling at the top of our first proper run because we didn’t realise what a massive mistake we were making

There are so many things I can do out here that I’ve not been able to do back home. The obvious example is to do with snow, like snowshoeing, and skiing, which is something I’ve always wanted to do but never been able to, and I’ve now managed to struggle my way down a green run (which I’m very proud of), I can get on and off a chair lift without falling off (mostly), and now I want to ski as much as possible. There are smaller opportunities as well – UofC is very sport orientated, Kinesiology is pretty big and everyday there’s some kind of sport to get involved with. Elite athletes also train at the Olympic Oval and the Speed Skating World Cup was held there over the weekend, so walking to and from class and passing athletes in national team kit is pretty exciting.

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Autumnal Viewpoint over the City

4. Exploring a New Country

I have loved (and sometimes not liked so much) living in a completely new country. Seeing different landscapes, architecture, lifestyles, culture etc. has been fabulous, and made me appreciate the things I love most about home, but also I see bits that I prefer over here. The landscape is so different from what I’m used to in Yorkshire, it’s so flat and all the roads are completely straight while I’m used to rolling green hills and ridiculously wiggly roads. I loved seeing the Hoodoos which were completely different to anything I’ve ever seen, I noticed the trees turning orange in Autumn (for a brief period before the snow) which I take for granted

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The Frozen Waterfalls were Amazing

back home, and the views from the top of Sulphur Mountain and at Lake Louise were like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Seeing Elk and Wild Sheep (which are completely different to our sheep) and the threat of being attacked by bears is exciting, and seeing a city full of modern office blocks and buildings threw me first, being used to old brick buildings everywhere. Snow staying on the ground for two weeks or more, and everyone continuing about their day as usual, which is something that would just not happen in the UK. There have been many similarities, but more differences, and I’ve loved living in a completely new culture.

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One of numerous Dinos games I’ve been to

 

5. Living on Campus

Compared to Durham, living on campus at UofC has been completely different, but something I’ve loved, which is also strange because when I was choosing universities when I was 18 I was adamant that I didn’t want a campus uni. It makes going to 9ams pretty easy (although I still dread them anyway, as I am doing with my three 8am exams next week) and it means everything is within reaching distance. UofC has a tunnel system connecting most buildings, so when the snow hits I can make my

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Skiing next to the Olympic Ski Jump

way to classes and be outside for as minimal amount of time as possible. As a kines student and a sport lover it’s great to be able to walk 5 minutes to watch Dinos matches in volleyball, basketball, ice hockey etc. and the same distance to amazing sport facilities (which are also mostly free to use). The fact that everyday I walk through buildings left over from the 1988 Winter Olympics is incredible – I’ve skated on the ‘fastest ice in the world’ at the Olympic Oval, skied next to the ski jump that made Eddie the Eagle famous, walked and skated in the Olympic Plaza where the Olympic medals were handed out and been in the stadium where the opening and closing ceremonies were held.

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An Unexpected Journey

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“Seven weeks have flown faster than Smaug and I have already immersed myself in the life of a new university which is vastly different to Durham.”

This blog for me is a diary – a chance to document my adventures from the year in as much detail and embellished grandeur as they deserve. I would draw comparison to myself and Bilbo Baggins, though my feet are not hairy enough to be those of a hobbit, it certainly isn’t my 111th birthday, and I don’t possess a ring of immense power. Continue reading

Sport in China

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“We are honoured and humbled by the International Olympic Committee’s decision to award Beijing the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.”

China has redefined itself as a sporting nation, or at least as a nation able to pull off great sporting events with aplomb (exhibit a: the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games). The nation seems to be capitalising on this success by competing against Kazakhstan to hold the 2022 Winter Olympic Games and, as of a few weeks ago, winning. When Harry was here over winter, we visited the impressive Olympic Park and witnessed firsthand the lengths that China are going to advertise itself as the perfect candidate (click here for our Chinese skiing experience) – as anyone who watched the Beijing Olympic Opening Ceremony will remember, the Chinese don’t do grand public events by half. It is an opportunity to impress the world and its wife, not only by throwing money at an event but also by showing the nation’s manpower and ability to coordinate (or coerce) its citizens to mobilise.

Opening Ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games at the National Stadium

Opening Ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games at the National Stadium

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Sport

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One of my aims for the year abroad was to improve my fitness and join a sports club. Unfortunately joining my company’s basketball club wasn’t such a successful idea as it was mainly frequented by 6 foot+ men, many of whom had previously played professionally. Despite this, France is really perfect for all kinds of sport, especially the southwest. Pau is an hour away from the mountains for hiking, skiing and snowboarding and an hour or so away from the beach, for surfing, sailing and canoeing – perfect! You just need a car. Good thing I have some nice friends. Continue reading

Skiiing and Heat

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Reading week is over and my exams are almost upon me. Some friends decided to come and visit me during reading week. I had a mad four days trying to get all of my work out of the way before they arrived. I didn’t really manage it, but I did get a lot done. It was great to see them, and made me miss home a bit. We all decided to go skiing, which turned out to be one of the best decisions I have made since I got here. It has been 14 years since the last and only time I have tried skiing.

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-Skiing Continue reading

Vancouver’s top 7….

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Vancouver’s Top 7….

Over the last two semesters at UBC I have been lucky enough to explore Vancouver – and what a place it is to explore! But instead of pursuing the usual cliches of the ‘breath taking views’ and ‘friendly Canadian atmosphere’ I thought I’d attempt to put together a quick bucket list of things to see and do in and around the city for anyone who’s heading over here, and hopefully include some things we’ve stumbled upon which are slightly off the beaten track and not in the Lonely Planet guide!   Continue reading