What’s in the suitcase?!

  • Hello again. However, not this time from Canada but from sunny old England. Yes, you read right, I’ve returned back home. In fact I’ve been back at home for just over a month and trying to adapt to life back with the family.

The past month has flown by and I’ve been reticent to write a blog because it means contemplating that my Canadian adventure and amazing year away has come to a close. The past few weeks have been a mad assortment of visiting relatives, catching up with friends and eating my favourite foods I had missed.

Looking through my suitcase and the items I had brought back provided a snapshot of the differing experiences I have had whilst on exchange in Kingston. The random collection as follows:

  • My paint and mud-splattered coveralls – basically mechanic-like overalls saturated in bright coloured paint and mud stains from the mini-Olympics I took part in during Frosh Week. reverting to a little kid was so much fun with around 100 other exchange students.
  • Suncream- a reminder of the temperatures when I first arrived of plus 28 degrees and lazing on the grass by Lake Ontario, and being part of a scene from an American High school programme where all the students hang out in bikinis and trunks, swimming in the lake and playing music loudly- surreal

  • Canada Goose Coat, a vey very wooly hat and mittens lined with wool that look like oven gloves – A reminder of the FREEZING cold temperatures (down to minus 40) that meant I needed to be bundled up like a very bundled up thing. Trudging through the 4ft high snow to get to class and seeing people wearing balaclavas as a daily necessity.
  • Pumpkin seed butter and sunflower seed butter – oh how I love this stuff! An ode to the many new foods I tried in Canada. My first impressions of Canadian cuisine were disappointing to say the least. There didn’t seem to be many new things to try my tastebuds with, how wrong I was. Needless to say my Canadian stay became a mini culinary experience in trying new fruits, veg and random products. Beef jerky anybody?! Kabocha Squashes, goji berries and pancakes drizzled with maple syrup to name a few.
  • A First-nation  dream-catcher – a reminder of my travels to Quebec City and the products made by the First-nation people of Canada and a reminder of the history that Canada does have despite being a young country.
  • 2 pens decorated with images from Australia – given to me by my Australian friend Rabia who was on exchange for the Winter term (first term) at Queen’s. She exemplifies the great people I have met and will keep in contact with.
  • The Queen’s university flag – students are proud of their uni and rightly so, the flag now takes pride of place in my room. The flag functions as a reminder of the camaraderie between students and the relaxed atmosphere.
  • Books, books and more books – the heavy proportion of my suitcase was filled with books from my course and notes – detailing the hard work and way in which my brain has been seriously bent and challenged over the year. Studying abroad was by no means an easy option but definitely an enjoyable one (even if at times I wanted to tear my hair out!)
  • A wooden photo album embossed with a maple leaf – given to me by my Canadian housemate Shira as a leaving gift to add my photos to. I have far too many to fit into the album, however.
  • A black beret with a bright orange pom-pom, trimmed with orange and yellow tartan – the height of fashion! I could maybe start a new trend back in Edinburgh with this, more likely not though. The “Tam” as the hat is called is integral to your inauguration into Queen’s life. Each new student receives a tam which is worn with pride at every sporting event or university service.
  • A comforter – a blanket/duvet -like pillowy creation that goes on your bed and over the top of a sheet – a reminder of my first few days in Canada trying to sort everything out and buying the essentials.
  • tickets from ice-hockey matches, baseball-games,  the “Maid of the Mist” at Niagra Falls, plays, laser-tagging, trips to Quebec, the maple syrup bush etc. – just a few of the varied activities I have taken part in this year.

The odd collection of bits and bobs sums up my eclectic experience in Kingston. Unpacking was hard but I’ve left some of my things in the case ready to escape back to Canada at a moments notice (wishful thinking!) It’s good to be home but I’ve left my heart in Kingston!

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