Arrival…and a few wee other things

Well heloo there!!

I was just sitting in an adorable cafe called ‘Tea Store’ – which, as you can probably guess, is a store that sells, well, teas…although not just tea, many, MANY a tea of all different shapes, varieties, flavours, colours, scents and temperature.  Yes, temperature – so having just had a ‘bella coola’ iced tea and a little chocolate cake (which was inordinately rich, chocolately and dreamy) I thought I’d give you a wee report on my time here so far!  However, as there’s so much and the topic of my one-ended convo might skip about a bit mimicking my head, I’ll divide it into wee categories to make it easier, so…

Flight!

Interesting.  My flight was direct from Glasgow International Airport to Toronto Pearson International Airport and sourced from ‘Moneysavingexpert.com’ (which gives links to finding cheap flights).  I just got a one-way so I can either travel/explore, or decide later if I want to return.  Minor misshap with my flight; at 1pm it was announced that  ‘The 1:30pm plane for toronto is missing a vital part.  We’re now getting this part flown in from Gatwick.  Your new departure time is 5:30pm’ (hmm, the left filangee perhaps???).  Shame, I had to fill my time in duty-free, darn ;).  Was very excited when they handed out free £5  vouchers.  Lunch and shopping helped occupy the 4 hours nicely!  Was admiring the view when the nice old lady beside me wore a somewhat bemused expression whilst saying; ‘Oh, I thought Greenland was Green!’  FYI.  No, Greenland is not green, it is a splended sheet of dazzling white of an extraordinarily vast scale!  It was 7  1/2 hours and I got a free meal and a chocolate chip muffin, good times 🙂

Other Transport

I stayed at a hotel at the airport which provided a free shuttle-bus to and from.  There’s a bus directly from Toronto Airport to Queen’s University which costs $50 by Coach Canada which takes about 4 hours.  I was really exhausted after my flight so was glad I rested, took my time and got in the next day, which I think is worth doing to give yourself to adjust!  It’s a big change so don’t give yourself extra stress by cutting things too fine/rushing.  The flaw in my splendiferous plan was that, when I dismounted the bus at Queen’s I had no mode of transport!!! Nooo!

1st Lesson in Kingston:  The people are nice.  As I wached the bus drive off, leaving me with a backpack, suitcase and what was clearly a fairly blank expression, I had barely made a full turn when a girl riding by on a bicycle said ‘Hey!  Are you lost?’.  She had me with a taxi number and a smile on my face within 10 seconds and I headed off to Jean Royce Halls where I was booked into for temporary accommodation through the Queen’s website.  It was so late by that point, my first meal in Kingston was a subway from round the corner…class will always out hee hee

Accommodation

Jean Royce is kinda a Murano-like joint.  Very simple, a bed, desk, drawers and phone.  There are two communal bathrooms with 2 showers and a toilet between a floor of about 25.  They’re not the most private of areas but there’s endless hot water and a very big mirror (or maybe I just used it all??).  Anyway, it’s not to put you off, just the truth that it’s very basic, absolutely fine for just now while I look for a place.  There are other halls which I would reccommend instead if you get a choice in the matter but if not and you stay there, the International Centre guy said it’s a great atmosphere when it’s filled with students! 🙂  (I’m here fairly early so it’s very quiet).  It’s 20 mins from campus though, not the 15 they try to tell you :p

1st Steps

The International Centre.  Here’s where I checked my UHIP (mandatory health insurance), spoke to an accommodation officer who gave me a very helpful leaflet of sites to check for listings, got a bus timetable, and the ladies there are SOOO nice and helpful, ask them anything!!

Gordon Hall.  They’ll send you there anyway to register for your QCARD – your Queen’s Uni student card (which, btw gets you on busses for free, Yey! & until you get it, tell the bus driver you’re a new student & they’re usually kind enough to let you on free of charge…if not it’s only $2.25 anyway.

I met two lovely exchange girls (from New Zealand and Norway) here, spent most of the day with them, then kept meeting people in the International Centre who have a phone you can use for free local calls.  If you see anyone, introduce yourself and start talking, it’s SO handy to share your worries/concerns/experiences with people and make friends.

CELLPHONE!!!!  TOTALLY NECESSARY FOR COMMUNICATION & FINDING A FLAT – if you need to that is.  Virgin Mobile seems to be the cheapest (we’ll see though!)  at $50 which I got from the Cateraqui Centre (a good indoor shopping mall about 1/2 an hour bus ride away from town), others are about $160.  Again, ask at the Int Centre where the stores are.

Flat-Finding

You’ll get info from the int centre, but just in case the one’s I’ve been using are:

http://quic.queensu.ca/resource/permanenthousing.asp
http://kingston.kijiji.ca/
http://kingston.en.craigslist.ca/

Rule:  DON’T PANICK!!

Everyone I’ve met is only staying 4 months (1 semester) and people are rushing into getting a flat.  I almost did and almost made a mistake.  The annoying thing is that as it gets closer to term-time, only now are students advertising spare rooms where you can visit the actual people in the flat so you get an idea of who you’re moving in with.  If you don’t mind you won’t have a problem, there’s plenty available, and people keep saying there are more houses than students, so that should be reassuring! 🙂

Miscellaneous

I got a Canadian Bank Account!!!  Felt very grown up when I sauntered in with my travellers’ cheques, passport and Study Permit to open a foreign account.  I have to say it gave me a bit of a buzz!  You don’t have to get one or anything, it’s just better for me and the TD Canada Trust has ATMs around campus – very handy.  Also, the cheques they give you make giving a deposit easier.  I’ve also seen an outdoor movie – The Aristocats – which was AWESOME!!!  And there’s a Jazz Festival on this weekend, too, there’s so much going on!!

Anyway, my tea is long-finished, stomachs are rumbling, and my friends and I are on our way to find somewhere for dinner…I’m off to listen to some Jazz!! 🙂 xx

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