1 Day ’till Lift-Off…Canada Awaits!!

The following was written on the 21st of August, the day before my flight to Toronto.  As I haven’t had internet access until now, I’m posting it safe, well and happy from my temporary room in Jean Royce Halls!  This is my first morning in Kingston, so I’m off to explore today and go to the International Centre to get started 🙂

August 21st:

Well, this has been a summer of stress, nervousness, frustration, but most of all…EXCITEMENT!!  And tomorrow I’ll be on my way to Canada to spend a year at Queen’s University in Kingston.

Although most of my time has been spent trying to earn (and save – the more tricky part) money to go to Canada in the first place, the rest has been reserved for agonising about various survival necessities for the year of my life to be lived in a completely foreign country.  Things like ‘Study Permit’, ‘Do I need a Visa?’, ‘Credit Card’, ‘Accommodation’, ‘Flat’, ‘Clothes’, ‘Weather’, and ‘Seriously, how on earth can I be expected to only take 1 suitcase and 1 item of hand luggage out??? Let’s face it, I’M A GIRL!!!’…have been the most common thoughts chasing each other in my head.

Well, unfortunately, airlines don’t exactly make exceptions for unknowing exchange students – or, girls’ vanity hang-ups for that matter…damn.

Soooo, myyear-long adventure will begin without straighteners, a hairdryer, winter clothes, or many clothes at that – eek :0.  However, I have managed to remind myself that this study abroad experience just that:  an experience – a new, challenging, different, exciting experience and, most of all, a learning curve.  So I’m SURE I can learn to be without what seems like basic female rights to certain hair-devices etcetera…can I?…Either way, I’ll be finding out as of tomorrow!

My first recommendation is:  PACK EARLY!!!

Trust me, I wish I did.  Having spend just about an entire year contemplating the details of exactly what tops, jeans and general daily items I might need, nothing can prepare you for speed at which your suitcase will fill the moment you begin packing.  Despite keeping it to the very bare minimum, I still found myself having to make difficult sacrifices due to lack of space.

Second is:  TALK TO SOMEONE WHO’S BEEN BEFORE

I spoke to a previous exchange student who went to Queen’s who recommended bringing summer clothes and buying winter ones when I needed them as there’s about 6 weeks of summer in Kingston before the cold kicks in (albeit damn vicious biting cold).  I still tried to take a few things but my fleece just wouldn’t fit.  So most of my inclusion/exclusion choices were based on her advice and what I felt I could live without – In saying that, I still don’t know if that’s right or wrong – stay tuned for the verdict!

Third is:  APPLY TO SAAS AND YOUR STUDY PERMIT A.S.A.P!!!

This is perhaps the most important.  If you get SAAS funding, apply as soon as they let you and ask for an early confirmation letter.  You will need this to apply for your Study Permit (I did not need a VISA, I don’t think it’s necessary for Canada in general), which you shoudl do as soon as humanly possible as they may send it back if there’s a mistake in which case you may have to wait ANOTHER 6 weeks, which is not so fun.  Mine was sent back because of an error with the payment details.  And, the complicated ins-and-outs of the application itself will need a lot of pouring over.

Extra Tip:  Each visa office has its own extra specific forms you need to fill out so go onto the website of the visa office you specifically need to apply to (mine was London) where you will find details.

Anyway, my credit card, temporary accommodation confirmation (at Jean Royce Halls) and my Study Permit all came through exactly a week ago, which allowed me to relax a little and concentrate on packing and giving me plenty of time to get excited about going!

I still can’t quite believe I’m actually going having spent SO LONG preparing, I don’t think it will really sink in until I’m physically on the plane, on my own and on my way to Canada….

Well, here I go!  YEEEEEEY!

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