Snow, snow and yet more snow!

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I feel like I’ve started all my blogs with “apologies- I’ve haven’t written in a while”, but this one truly deserves it! So much has passed- exams, flying back home, a little trip to Edinburgh, Christmas at home, and finally back to Kingston for another mad semester to start!

Home, as expected, was brilliant. Heading back to Edinburgh after 4 months away was pretty daunting but it was so nice to see everyone and celebrate the end of exams with them- I even managed to fit in a trip to the last Big Cheese of the year- result!  And Christmas at home was perfect- far too much eating and relaxing and perfect time spent with the family- it all went too fast.

I did notice however a touch of reverse culture shock that hit me for the first time…. I could buy alcohol where I wanted instead of only in a government store. I continually forgot which way traffic went and kept looking right by mistake. I was told off by using “Can I get..?” for ordering instead of “Can I have…?” and I think my parents were more worried about the fact I didn’t seem to know the difference anymore. Money was the strangest- I had forgotten what pounds looked like and was very confused with the lack of quarters in our currency!

Before long it was back to Gatwick airport and another transatlantic flight and a bus ride later I ended up back in a very snowy Kingston- and so the semester began as it meant to go on. There is something magical about living in a winter wonderland. There are a few days here where the sky turns bright blue and the snow sparkles and I wonder how I ever survived winter without 3 feet of snow surrounding me! Winter living does take some adjusting to. At all times snow boots, a  goose down coat, scarf (or two), mittens and a toque (a hat) is required, which then must be discarded the moment you step instead because the Canadians believe firmly in heating to an extreme level. They have good reason however. Two weeks ago I experienced what -31C felt like for the first time…. its exactly how it sounds- totally freezing!  The Canadians totally put us to shame- whatever the conditions, the snowploughs go into overdrive, the roads are clear and life carries on, these guys know what they’re doing! (For some reason the Queens rugby team seem to do a lot of snow shoveling on campus- no idea why, but I guess its great training!)

Queens students though seem to have thoroughly acclimatized to the weather and think nothing of heading out for a night out in bare legs and heels! Slowly the exchange students are catching up, it was -7C the other day and everyone was wondering whether we actually need jackets or not. Our sense of “normal temperature” is being very skewed.

This semester is quickly becoming the semester for travelling. I have just come back from a weekend skiing in Tremblant, Quebec which was fantastic. I adored that fact that no matter where I end up skiing  in the world, I still get shouted at in French by the lift operators. The 12 hour round trip was totally worth it for 2 days of whizzing down the pistes. This week, the French theme contuines and 8 of us are off to Quebec City to experience Carnival. Everyone’s said great things about it so we’re hoping for ice palaces and unlimited beaver tails!

Then reading week is fast approaching, and surely what will be an absolute highlight- our very own spring break trip to Cuba! 15 of us are jetting off to an all inclusive beach resort for the week- and promising to visit Havana at least once so its not all cocktails and sun worshiping!

We’re definitely living for the weekend at the moment, and work- as always- is slowly building up in between the adventures… a constant reminder that we are still meant to be doing a third year in between all the fun!

So to finish, a few “firsts” so far in 2011…

First ice hockey game- genuinely thought the puck was going to kill me!
First polar bear shot- tastes like an aftereight, and genuniely addictive
First snowmaggedon- 30cm of snow in 24 hours, and still Queens refuses to give us a snow day
First ice skate without collapsing in a heap… progress is being made!

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