Rowing, marshmallows and getting cold!

So despite my best intentions of keep to a blog a month- I have rather neglected my posts this month… but I think with good reason. This has been the month of getting involved. With everything.

I have decided that there is a brilliant element of an exchange year that I never really thought about during all the planning and fantasizing about Canada- the chance to do it all again. I don’t mean that in the negative sense. Rather this year has given me the opportunity to shamelessly try everything I was too scared to do when I was a fresher, or never found the sign up sheet for, or just was too hungover for, or in bed with freshers’ flu during try outs…  As a result, for the past month I have been training seven days a week at 5am all in the name of becoming a Queens novice rower. I have taken up ballet classes with friends, I have been interviewed and successful got a job on campus, signed up for the outdoor club and went on an amazing camping trip to Algonquin national park, and am contemplating taking up yoga when I have a spare moment.

Its been an incredibly busy month, but ridiciously fun, and have met a lot of brilliant people outside the normal exchange bubble. In rowing in particular has been an experience I will never forget. I play on an Edinburgh sports team at home but never really appreciated how important in making me part of the university it was. Representing Queens at regattas all over Ontario and wearing the “tricolors” have definitely played a major role of making me feel part of the Queens family. Having said that, the rowing season finishes this week, and so I’m looking forward to finding something else to fill my time with (although I’m not sure if I really need to find another activity that thinks 5 in the morning is a sociable hour to do anything!)

But apart from being busy with activities, school work has had me and the rest of the student body chained to the library. I was warned that the workload was heavy here, but  I’m not sure if I ever really factored that in. So far this week I’ve had a midterm and three assignment hand ins, and I’m preparing for an assignment proposal and an online test this week… I think that more work in a fortnight than my first two years at Edinburgh!

A few cultural differences I’ve found this month- Canadians live brilliantly up to the stereotype of saying eh after everything they’ve said, they also use the phrase, “and what not” as in, “we’ve bought cookies, cakes and what not”- very quaint! They rollerblade without any hint of irony. They cough differently- into their elbows for anyone interested! They may not know what good cheese is, but they do BBQ sauce very well indeed. So swings and roundabouts. They also are mad mad human beings for deciding to live in what is slowly revealing itself to be the coldest place imaginable. It is October- as in the month to start packing up the flip flops and hunting for halloween costumes. Instead I am already bundled up in my ski coat and mittens and discovered it was -6C the other night. My Canadian friends’ favourite pursuit is to scare exchange students with tales of -40C January weather. Its working- I’m terrified! (On the subject of halloween, describing Canadian love for this event is going to take a whole other blog- they love it more than Christmas!)

I mentioned in my first blog I imagined an idyllic Canada where I skied and canoe around lakes in my spare time- well over thanksgiving weekend (no idea what they’re giving thanks for) we packed up the hire car with wine and marshmallows and headed for the most beautiful national park I have ever be to for four days of camping, canoeing, hiking and camp fires- bliss. Exactly how I wanted exchange to be, and it really didn’t disappoint! Here’s a picture from our hike…

Our canoe trip…

Oh, on a final note- just to say I walked into the sports centre last night to be greeted by a bagpiper, in full tartan dress. Only at Queens!

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