Hello! I’m Jess, as new to blogging as I am to being a Brit abroad so I apologise in advance for my stunted ramblings and irregular posting. I have little faith in my own blog-maintenance abilities but every faith in the International Office politely reminding me that it’s been a while since I posted an update so hopefully this will be the first of many ~useful and informative~ posts (neither adjective is guaranteed but I’ll try my best!).

Until last year I hadn’t wanted to apply for a year abroad. I was happy in Edinburgh and couldn’t imagine uprooting and leaving behind everything I knew at home. However, I’ve spent a lot of time in the city over the years and cabin fever was beginning to set in just at the time that year abroad talks were taking place. In the space of a week my mindset completely changed and I felt I’d never wanted anything quite so much as a study permit to a foreign country (fortunately it wasn’t a whim, I still feel the same way!). Having never travelled outside of Europe, and having always had a vague appreciation of Canada as just an all-round cool country (literally and metaphorically), I decided to apply for a year abroad in the land of moose, maple syrup, mad-cold winters and [m]ice hockey. I was offered my first choice (cue an emotional moment in December last year) of Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario where as of next week I will be living for a year. What better way to beat cabin fever than to jump off the ship and emigrate across an ocean?

In the excitement of the build up to leaving, somewhat naively I didn’t foresee how hard it would be to actually leave. Eight months after crying with happiness over my acceptance to Queen’s, I sat in a park in Ottawa, in the country I had dreamed about seeing for months, and cried again. It wasn’t the way I had anticipated my first day state-side going, but fortunately my dad had flown out with me (using me as an excuse for a holiday) and proved himself a worthy companion by hiring a car so I’ve thrown myself into exploring as much of the surroundings as I can before the semester starts. Since arriving in Canada I’ve explored the capital city, Ottawa, travelled to what is apparently one of the highest mountains in Ontario (but which appears rather small compared even to Scotland’s offerings), kayaked on one of about fifty thousand lakes and seen my first chipmunk, all before I’ve even set eyes on the city I’l be staying in for the next eight months. My flying first impressions of Canada have been generally great and the stereotypes (particularly the friendliness of strangers and the abundance of maple syrup) have so far proved true, much to my delight.

Since this is just an introductory post I’ll leave it for next time to talk about said stereotypes in more detail but for now let it suffice to say that today I saw Canadian flags spray-painted onto sheep. Bizarre as the unavoidable patriotism seems just now, I have a feeling that before long I’ll be spray-painting all my belongings with the maple flag out of pride that for one year I’ll belong to this wonderful country.

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