The Queen’s spirit slowly seeps into your bones. Everyone is just so proud of being here, which is fantastic. I admit at first it was a little scary the enthusiasm that the students have for their school (Canadian’s call Uni, school which is still very confusing to me). Most students wear at least two pieces of Queen’s apparel daily, whether it be a hoodie, cardigan, scarf, gloves, socks, you get the idea. But the general feeling of belonging and of being part of a community is immense – it may sound cheesy but it sure makes you feel at home and comfortable!
Last post I promised more nitty gritty information, so here goes . . .
Accommodation: I am staying in a Science ’44 Co-op House which is basically a company who own around 20 houses in Kingston in the student ghetto area (student housing is all in one area which is known as the ghetto). I’m in a house with 6 other Queen’s students. Three of us are exchange students and the other four are full-time Canadian Queen’s students. And I’m on a meal which means that for my meals I go to a larger house where the cafeteria is and eat my meals with other co-opers. The benefits are that through the co-op I’ve met a great bunch of people both Canadian and foreign and there is always someone who will be there to have a chat with, go somewhere with or just sit in silence with! They regularly hold social events such as the Monday night quiz night, which takes place as we eat dinner (quick quiz question – What food do Canadian’s consume more than any other country? answer – Mac ‘n’ cheese – google it, it is as bad as it looks!) Other socials have included regular co-op house parties, random leaf-raking and pizza eating.
Queen’s is apparently based on Edinburgh University but oh no it isn’t. It is absolutely nothing like Edinburgh in terms of anything, in my opinion. The campus, firstly is very different. Here, the different departments are all based around one campus which is very green and tree-lined (though at the moment covered in snow), with big wide roads and massive, old ornate builidings. If you think of the Teviot and Old College and multiply all over campus and add stained glass windows and ornate architecture you’ll get the idea. Also, there are lots of separate park areas and sports fields around the campus, with people out playing many types of sport regardless of the weather.
Courses – well again, very different and at first I have to admit I struggled with adapting to the differing styles of teaching. I have both lectures and seminars for English Literature. In my lectures there are around a 100 students. Part of your final mark consists of a participation mark, so the onus is upon you to put your hand up and the Canadians (I’m aware that I talk about Canadian people as though they are another species!) frequently do. I, to be honest, don’t know where they find the courage but their responses range from the person who sounds like they could have written a theory to somebody repeating the bare facts. Sometimes, I feel there is a little too much emphasis on participation rather than delivery of the professor’s ideas but the classes tend to follow the students’ interests and direction which is good.
In contrast the seminars, are much meatier (i.e. harder and brain draining!) classes. The professors for these classes are specialists and true enthusiasts for their chosen topic. Likewise, the students in these courses are equally enthralled by the subject and again active partcipation is key in the average 25 student class. Courses I have taken this term range from Contemporary Canadian Literature, Middle English Literature, Elizabethan Shakespeare and British and American Literature. The last is a killer of a class, in a good way though, that compares the modernist literary movement to the politics inherent in Cubism, Impressionism and other visual arts techniques. I feel that I am learning new approaches to literature both in terms of theory and techniques in how to study. Although, I will admit I frequently miss the tutorial system that Edinburgh has in place.
I would say that the work load here compared to English Literature in second year at Edinburgh is quite similar if not a bit more. Though the majority of my deadlines seem to fall within a month of each other. In contrast, other Edinburgh Uni students on exchange here in different courses, such as Politics, Biology and History have said that they feel the workload here is a lot more than Edinburgh. Queen’s students do work hard and I haven’t met a student who isn’t fully committed to their studies but they are also very involved with school life.
Overall, I would say that so far my studies at Queen’s have been challenging, fun and at times damn hard work but definitely worth the effort!