Yet again it’s that time of year when I try to sum up a year into a blog entry. Except I think I could write a thesis on the differences of culture here in Canada and I haven’t even been here for a week yet.
My second year in St Andrews was unforgettable. I organised my very own trip to the Artic Circle to see the Northern Lights. I worked full time at weekends. I danced and partied like mad (Eye of the Dug rawked!) I went to bonfires and played with fire. I got really ill – I was practically paralysed. I got bruised and battered during the Star Ball ceilidh chasing for a mooli. I had a cough for at least 4 months. I stood on my laptop (Macbook *cough*) which cracked the screen. I only had one hangover during the entire year. I did my annual tree planting and brought a bunch of students with me to Chisholme and they didn’t run away. I went to a Physics conference in Sheffield and gave three presentations which were all frightfully awful. I volunteered at the World Saxophone Congress. I volunteered at the Olympics. I returned to Astro Camp and saw my first meteor shower (Pleiades). I got teeth! I got a scholarship to Canada! I almost failed Maths. Again. Actually, I didn’t make it into Masters. Hell, I didn’t even make it into Bachelors. And somehow I pleaded and I was still allowed to go to Canada.
So now is my chance to redeem myself and be the student that I once was when I was at school. Or better. Currently this is quite easy for me since I don’t have a computer. It is impossible to procrastinate. There’s only so much tidying, cooking and music listening a person can do. I am actually feeling rather anxious; in both Classical Mechanics and Electromagnetic Theory it is assumed that I have a “solid grasp of vector calculus”. Of which I have done nothing. Also, it is assumed that I have done some programming and have used Matlab for Computer Simulations. I have also done nothing. It’s rather depressing. And terrifying.
However another bonus is that there hasn’t been a Fresher’s Fair yet, thus I am not in any societies. I do plan on joining a couple: UWO Swing Kids, Space Society of London, Israel on Campus, Juggler’s Club, Mustang Paintballers, UWO Choir… but yeah the fair isn’t for another week. Weird. And I don’t have a job! Which is like the best thing ever. I’m not exhausted and getting fat on cupcakes.
Canadians are insanely friendly and helpful. If you go into a shop you get harrassed with happiness. Too much happiness. But in a way this makes them seem distant. So far the Canadians in my classes haven’t particularly befriended me. Although it’s highly likely that this is due to them studying Physics. And my classes are tiny. There’s 8 people in my Astro class and definitely under 20 people in all my other classes. So I’ve just been out with International Students thus far, which slightly aggreviates me since I didn’t travel to Canada to hang out with Europeans. But there’s still time, I shan’t fret. Luckily one of my housemates is Canadian so I can absorb some culture from her. She’s a lively one. Then there’s a French guy too who’s cool.
The incredibly shocking thing is that there is junk food everywhere. This is how I imagined the U.S. to be like, and if this is how it is here, then what is it like there!? As a student I think I have a million coupons for buy one get one free pizza, ice cream, burgers, cup cakes, chicken wings… and I can proudly say that I haven’t used a single one! There is also Israeli food in the supermarkets! I have bamba and soup croutons!
My half-aunt who just so happened to live in the same city is amazing. She’s got me sorted out with groceries, bed linens, even offered to get me some baby sitting work or to learn to drive. She lives in a mansion. Apparently that’s normal here.
Canadians all seem to be anti-smoking. It’s bizzare. Also, the University is extremely anti-alcohol, the Fresher’s are strictly forbidden to drink and if they’re found drunk they get a letter or something. The halls have security guards and check your picture against the room you live in (so glad I’m not in halls). There is also nowhere to buy alcohol. I’ve heard that there’s only one store, in the middle of nowhere, that sells it.
I also have no tutorials! This to me makes no sense. Tutorials are surely crucial for learning, so that you can know if you’ve got the right idea and figure stuff out. On the other hand, it seems that you just go to see the Professor instead during his Office hours. Some classes have TAs (teaching assisstants) but others don’t. Still. No tutorials!
I have also been told that there are skunks here! Haven’t seen or smelt any yet. I thought that they might have been the black squirrels that are everywhere, but got laughed at when I asked. “Don’t you have squirrels in Scotland!?” “Duh, yeah, they’re just not black and ugly looking.” Oh and if you ever get skunked on you are supposed to have a bath in tomato juice. And the racoons have rabies. And they call a roundabout a circle. And cars drive through red lights all the time, but it’s actually legal. And there are no bloody road names anywhere, I spent an hour getting lost wondering around in circles because they don’t flipping know how to label a street. And don’t get me started on textbooks. I’m supposed to spend almost $400 on books! Got to be kidding me. Found one of them on ebay for $27 ($179 in the bookstore) yeah boi!!
Downtown feels like a wasteland during the day. Every building is completely different, it looks like a shambles. On our tour we were told by the very excited tour guide that this is the oldest house: 150 years old! We tried to share our enthusiasm but couldn’t help but laugh. But yeah London is pretty much deserted most of the time, the atmosphere only seems to be good at night time when everything comes to life! Jagerbombs are only $2-$2.50 – score! I’ve still not been to a game yet. I’ve not seen any maple syrup yet either. And I am so proud to say I’ve not been in a Starbucks or a Tim Hortons yet. Canadians and their coffee. Sigh.
I really need to pee. So I’m going to go now.