Friday, 13 December 2013

Over and done with.

I have finished all of my exams now and have had an amazing few days!

I finished my last exam on the 11th, early on, and i feel it went well so went to Tim Hortons for a celebratory Earl Gray and chocolate chip muffin :P and then had a well deserved nap before being woken up by my neighbour to try and encourage me to be productive and actually clean my flat and pack. After blitzing the kitchen and cleaning all of the pots i had failed to wash during exam time (any excuse ;)) I then went out for a birthday meal with my friends and to say goodbye to my friends that were leaving after this semester.

The next day i then flew to Montreal in a plane i was genuinely terrified to board. One of them ones where you can see the propellers and only hold around 70 people. Look like they need to be jump started. Yeah. One of them. But i shouldn't have been scared really, i made myself fairly at home in the hour and half we spent on the tarmac waiting for a new super strengths blend of anti freeze to be made so they could unfreeze the wings... Only in Canada. But, the perks of this then meant that all food and drink was free on the flight, took advantage of that little gem :P After landing late and finally getting in to our accommodation i conked out in a very toasty room.

Today we then explored Montreal and, not gonna lie, got very very lost. Ended up going for some brunch and then ambling in -21 weather to the metro station, where we got lost again and a kind lady, who ended up being very interesting, helped us at the station and gave us directions to where we wanted to go. That was the Olympic Park which we were told had an ice skating rink in it, but it did not seem to be open so we decided to go up to the observatory, 175metres high and got panoramic views of Montreal, which is very flat... Then on to the biodome which was so interesting, where they mimicked lots of different environments and had animals everywhere and cool plants. We played spot the sloth and waited for ages to see an alligator to move just to make sure they were real. It was extremely strange having monkeys swinging overhead and wondering if they have ever escaped because it is all so open.

All in all a good first day in Montreal and tomorrow should be just as good. Just got to make sure i put some more layers on :P

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Growing Up

The realisation hit me today that in about 2 and a half weeks time i will be turning 21, even though this means i can now drink alcohol in America, it also means that i am getting older and growing up. Which got me thinking if i have grown up any since being in Canada. I like to think that i have, and i like to think its because i have been partaking in more events that are seemingly more cultural, rather than going out drinking all the time (that's mainly because drinking in Canada is fairly expensive :P)

Since i last wrote about my time in Canada i have done many things, as i wrote so long ago, both culturally and not. I went to on a bus tour to Peggy's cove (the most photographed place in Nova Scotia) and on to Ludenburg and Mahone Bay, where the tour guide, told us all about the history of the places we passes from islands where treasure is supposedly hidden to the church in which he got married. That evening i then went to an event called Nocturne that i had to go to for one of my courses and it is a city wide art event with people have art exhibitions in derelict buildings, on the street, down by the sea front and over the water in Dartmouth. It was lovely to see the streets so full of people and the unique exhibitions that were going on. My favourite were some fire breathers who not only breathed fire but also set themselves on fire!

I then went on a ghost walk at the Citidel, after hours and in the dark! This was probably not the best idea for someone who is freaked out by even the smallest thing :P But it was very interesting, and the scary was boosted up by a girl fainting half way through a ghost story, honestly thought she had seen something supernatural/been possessed. We got to go in to part of the citidel that people don't usually get to access, as well as walking inside the walls that surround the area.

I then spent an entire weekend at a leadership conference that was being held at my university, and it was an amazing weekend. I met loads of new people from all over the East Coast as well as learning about things that really interest me, and also was provided to endless amounts of food and Davids Tea :) I went to some really interesting talks on the sexualisation of campus', cross cultural differences that can hinder leadership as well as talks on being an exchange student (something i feel i know a lot about ;)). There were also some amazing key note speakers, one, called Jen Mcmillen nearly broke my heart! It was all about how privileged we are, or how little things can alter our privilege such as being able to buy an appropriate birthday or anniversary card for a partner. We then all rounded off the weekend with a lovely meal at the Boat house and our final key note speaker. All in all it was a lovely weekend and i got to meet some amazing people there too :)

Whilst i am here, i really wanted to pick up a new skill or hobby and last night i decided what that new skill would be, swing dancing :) I attended a swing dance event called 'swing with the fishes' and i loved it. Lessons were given, which was a god send because the extent of my dance experience is me thinking i can dance in a night club! It was all women in full skirts and men in bow ties and waistcoats, as well as a swing band playing and people would come up to you and ask you for a dance. I felt sorry for the people who asked me, with my two left feet and the fact they had to teach me how to dance :P. Needless to say, people will see me at swing dance lessons next semester ;) you have been warned!

And, even though i am scared about turning 21 in 2.5 weeks, in the same amount of time i am also flying to Montreal to spend 3 weeks there for Christmas and New Year :).

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Halifax: What we have learnt

Me (Vicky Clarke) and Harriet Lees are exchange students from the UK. The Halifax and the World course appealed to both me and Harriet because it gave us an opportunity to learn more and explore the city.

We soon found out that our perception of Halifax only reflected the British Colonial version of history. This shows how powerful dominant historical memory can be over others. However, we soon found out that there were many historical narratives, in particular the Mi'kmaq. All that we had learnt about the Mi'kmaq was not only completely new for us, but also for other students from Canadian heritage. The disparity between the dominant historical narrative and that of the Mi'kmaq became very clear when doing the map project as it was far more difficult to find examples of Aboriginal heritage in the city. However, we did learn about allyship and ways in which the two communities can come to a mutual understanding, but this is not an easy process as historical injustice has to be factored in, but also we need to move forward as a community.

Today, there is an ongoing redress of the balance between the historical narratives of both the Mi'kmaq and British Colonial. For example, the previously named 'Cornwallis High School' changed its name after campaigning by the aboriginal community that bought to light the genocide that Cornwallis ordered.

Since our time in Halifax, we have witnessed celebratory examples of Mi'kmaq culture, such as the Ma'wiomi, and Mi'kmaq performers at the arts event, Nocturne. These are examples of ways in which the aboriginal community can educate others and share their traditions.

We hope that reading this has helped you reconsider aboriginal culture and how you can't take the dominant historical narrative as face value.

Monday, 14 October 2013

A few weeks of firsts.

Recently i have been spending a lot of my time, especially the weekends exploring Halifax and other places in Nova Scotia and also trying to learn more about the cultural differences and experience some of the things that make Canada, Canada.

Going apple picking was one of these things, being taken on an old yellow school bus to go apple picking, i never thought i would ever feel so American/Canadian (this has been topped though :P). It was a beautiful day too, we arrived and tried some free cider (which here does not mean that it is alcoholic, much to the disappointment of the Brits), and went around filling a punnet full of apples, and getting suitably burnt/bitten in the process. On that same day i also experienced my first ever ice hockey game, a particularly violent one i have been told, and i loved it! Not just because someone got hit in the face with an ice hockey stick and there was blood everywhere, but because it is amazing that the players are so well practised in what they do they can not only play on ice but also beat the crap out of one another on ice. Then i was even more shocked to find out this week that they are from the junior league so are only aged 14-20, baffling.

Me and all my friends then got dressed up all swanky like and went to a ball, there was a 3 course dinner and charity auction and a band playing... i felt much too common to be there :P Then the next day was another Canadian delight, a lobster dinner. It was homecoming weekend and we went for lobster then to the American football game. The first time i had done either. Firstly, lobster is a tricky dish to eat, it is certainly not something you would eat on a date with a bib round your neck and claws flying everywhere, but it is an experience! I was also the epitome of playing with your food, but what else am i meant to do when i have a full lobster in front of me! It was lovely though to be sat enjoying lobster with a man on a ukulele serenading us. And then lots of cake to follow :) The football game was a little less exciting though, i attempted to learn the rules, the man behind tried his best to explain it, but still, i thought it just stopped and started too much. The day after i then went to a historical site called the citidel for a project that was due not very long after (whoops) and i had a roam around and watched the midday cannon be set off, which is very loud, I'm glad i took the tour guides advice and put my fingers in my ears.

This weekend it was thanksgiving weekend, and never having celebrated thanksgiving before, i didn't really get it, but i have figured it is like Christmas without the presents :) I consumed lots of turkey this weekend. Firstly though i went to a place called McNabs island, which was just off Halifax, about a 20 minute boat ride away, and explored the island, it was beautiful with lovely beaches and views. After getting the boat back from there we went to an amazing hot chocolate shop and then to the harbour to buy bacon butties, which are different to the ones in England, they have maple onions and tomatoes in them, but nice all the same :) Then on to a thanksgiving supper i went and ate turkey and played boardgames :). Then yesterday i went for another thanksgiving dinner, but this time there were loads of us, and two turkeys, a massive mound of potatoes and 3 pumpkin pies. Needless to say i went back for seconds and had 2 desserts, leaving feeling content. We should celebrate thanksgiving in England ;)

All in all, a good few weeks of firsts, and many more to come :)

Monday, 23 September 2013


I'm getting more in to the daily routine of Halifax and university life now which has meant i have been a busy bee the last few weeks! The workload is heavier than in the UK but the fact that i enjoy all of my modules makes it well worth it, never before have i actually enjoyed a 10-5.30 day of lectures!

So... what have i done since i last wrote? I went on a hike and met an amazing group of people and we walked the most beautiful route round a lake that is just a bus ride out of downtown Halifax. It was such a lovely day for it too!

The 'Across the pond' trivia team are now firm fixtures at trivia night, and also firm fixtures in the bottom half of the winners list! Give it a year though and we will be pro's at the trivia lark, i can see it now, 'Across the pond. No#1'

I ventured out as well to a karaoke night, in an underground sports bar, now what is not to love, sitting in a nice environment drinking a beer and eating a bowl of fries! I even got up and sang... with a group... stood furthest away from the microphone... but it is the participation that counts, right?

Then, i did actual work on a weekend! I had to follow some maps for one of my modules and take interesting pictures to write about. I did get to see a fair amount of the city that day, going down the historical streets, up to citidel hill, then stopping to eat a beavers tail, which is a bit like a doughnut, but flat, and shaped like a beavers tail (hence the name :P) and you can have all sorts on it! I have chocolate spread and banana on mine :P We then ventured on to the ferry bus over to Dartmouth, which is not all that interesting... But i did go there again this weekend and went to the mall there, and spent lots of money in H&M and bought my first Canadian piece of clothing and i think the only thing that is preparing myself for winter.

Then lots of work happened and business try outs so my time has been taken up very much so by assignment writing and reading, as well as going out for lots of coffee and tea... i blame my neighbour for this ;) This week though it is green week at the university and there are lots of free events around campus and in the city. I am also going apple picking this weekend, so i warn anyone that is around me, you may be in abundance of shoddily baked apple pies :P


Friday, 6 September 2013

First Week

I have been here just over a week now, but it feels like i have been here so much longer! I had my orientation and it was like people overload but it was lots of fun and i made a lot of new friends, admittedly all of the British seemed to migrate towards one another. It was then the university's freshers (or frosh as they call it here), i didn't get a band to that and only went to the free events, so i spent that time exploring the city, but mainly just getting lost! I went to some parks that seem to be scattered all over Halifax, and i did a lot of shopping! Not bringing a rain coat here was possibly the biggest mistake i have ever made, the weather here is a bit bi-polar and one minute you are being burnt in the sun, next minute the heavens have opened and you cant see for rain! I did go to one of the events though and that was a thing called meet the fam where you met the dean and all the importantpeople. And i can honestly say i have never been to something so peppy and cheery in my life! We sang O Canada, made a pledge and then there was impromptu chants, i guess at least i now know the university chants :P I did get a scarf given to me though, and it made me feel slightly like i was in Hogwarts with a school scarf.

Me and my neighbour (she is also an exchange student) have found an amazing place to escape the rain though and that is a place called 'Davids Tea'. It is a tea shop, which i am surprised we don't have in England, that has the most insane amount of tea flavours. The last one i had was Earl Gray infused with vanilla and using agarve as a sweetener. It was heaven! My new favourite place to hang out :P

Last night though i went to the first day of classes ball where a live covers band played, and they were awesome and i got in to drinking the local brew called 'Keiths'. When i was told it was ale i was sceptical but it was lovely, new favourite drink, but second to Davids Tea :P I then finished off the night with a portion of Poutine, which is a dish everyone should try at least once in their lives, it is the ultimate drunk person food, chips, gravy and cheese! What is not to love!

Today though i did do some actual learning. I started my classes, my first one being Halifax and the World, which i really liked, it is more of an exploration module so you get graded on mapping where you have explored and identifying the impact your daily routine has on the rest of the world. It is very different to any teaching style i have encountered in the UK.

Davids Tea:

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Finally here!

After lengthy good-byes and 12 hours of travelling i have arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with only a bag on my back and a pillow I stole from the airline! After waking up my room mate (who I had no idea was there at the time) I conked out on my bed just wanting to sleep, even though it was only 10.30pm Canadian time. I woke up at 6am, this is the first time I have ever experienced jet lag, and I never want to experience it again, and thought there is no point sitting around doing nothing, i have a long list of things to do and should get cracking.

Starting the day off in the typical Canadian way and going to Tim Hortons for a coffee and a croissant, then after getting lost multiple times I found the bus that would take me to Walmart, and what a nice lady the bus driver  was, she helped me count my money when i looked like a proper newbie and didn't know how to identify the currency :). One thing is have learnt today though, is that Walmart has everything a person could need. Its that type of shop where the bedroom sets are situated near the onions. Needless to say that was the only store i went to to buy EVERYTHING! Now, to set up my room and try and not nap. I will beat the jet lag and be fresh for orientation tomorrow :)

Sunday, 28 July 2013

The countdown begins.

It is now less than a month before I fly out to Canada and things are beginning to become a lot more real. All the major things are sorted out but now there is little things on the to do list that would never normally cross your mind until you get to this stage, such as, where am I going to pick my keys up? How will I get from the airport to my accommodation? When will I be able to buy all the things I need? Where am I going to obtain the money for all of these things?

All the stress and worry will be worth it though, when I'm on that plane to Canada on my way to my most exciting year yet :)

Thursday, 4 July 2013


I am flying out to Nova Scotia, Canada later on in August on an International year with The University of Hull. All the hurdles have been jumped - bar booking my flights. I'll admit it has not been the easiest process and getting to this point there has been a lot of stress and turmoil, but if your determined enough and if this is what you really want to do, then the sense of victory after every hurdle is well worth while.

Everything goes in steps and you have to complete one step to go on to another

  1. Selection Portfolio 
  2. Application Process 
  3. Acceptance/Decline
  4. Results
  5. Residence Applications
  6. Course Selection
  7. Visa
  8. Flights
So, on the 27th August I will be jetting off to Canada for a year - when i finally buy my flights that is :P