At long last reached Santa Barbara!!!

Wow, amazing and awesome are just some of the words that can describe my flight from Manchester to Los Angeles (LAX).  You actually get to see the snowy mountains of Iceland and Greenland. Never before have I been grateful for a window seat and actually appreciated the idea of flying. For those of you who don’t know me, I hate flying. On this occasion however, I was pleasantly surprised by the likes of British Airways. If you ever plan to come to LAX, I would definitely recommend taking a flight in the morning so you get the amazing view. For most of the flight, I was actually just gazing out of the window and completely forgot about the fact that I was on a 10hr flight.

Now, what awaits you at LAX isn’t necessarily amazing. Clearing customs and immigration is quite routine and you need to remember to not pet the sniffer dog 🙂 The airport was actually being refurbished, so I didn’t actually feel I was in LA. But as soon as I got out of the terminal building, I saw an enormous pimped-out Escalade with just one person behind the wheel. That moment was my America! From there on, I had to wait for an hour or so for the bus to Santa Barbara. I wish I could remember the bus ride, but in all honesty I was so tired that once I had paid for by bus ticket, I was dead to the world. The next time I woke up was when the bus was driving along the coast, almost an hour from Santa Barbara. The view was breath-taking as dusk was settling in and all the shades of orange and red seem to mix with the blueness of the Pacific Ocean.

As we pulled into Goleta (area near University of California, Santa Barbara), the bus driver had taken the liberty of calling a taxi to those who needed it. I collected my luggage and jumped into the classic yellow taxi. As I had managed to sort out the accommodation mess that I had been moaning about in my last post, I was relieved to go to the apartment that my flatmate Nicola had kept ready! It really was good to be received by Nicola and Jonathan (both EAP students from Glasgow).

So since the first night here, just been fighting jet lag and at the same time trying to take in as much as possible. The day after I arrived, we had to sign up for our first classes. In a sleepy daze I managed to stay awake during both lectures which were slightly worrying due to the prospect of exams in less than 3 weeks. Somehow, I anticipated a lot of project work but the mid terms (exams after 3 weeks) are all that count. So on one hand no project work but loads of continuous revision. The timetable has worked out quite well, lectures on mondays, tuesdays and thursdays. Wednesdays and Fridays off!!!

So having sorted out lectures, all that remains is our empty flat. We spent the weekend buying everything from pots and pans to shelves to make the place feel a little less empty. Lighting was also a crucial bit of shopping! Kmart has been an amazing place to get the essentials at a reasonable price. The university housing office was kind enough to provide mattresses, a desk and a chair for about $20. Even though it is a studio bedroom, the apartment complex as such is amazing with a decent sized pool and a fully kitted gym. A note, do not underestimate the distances you have to travel. The university really is outside santa barbara so the main shopping area in santa barbara really is a long bus ride. Thankfully, the uni matric card gets you free bus rides anywhere in santa barbara and goleta. Even if you’re not into shopping you’ll definitely have to make at least one trip to down town santa barbara to open a bank account as well as purchase a pre-paid sim card. The cell-phone system here really is quite different. With a tmobile $100 prepaid sim card, you get a thousand minutes. But what they don’t tell you, those minutes are used for everything from sending and receiving a text to making and receiving phone calls. USA is one of the few countries that charge to receive texts so be aware! As for food, I’d definitely recommend getting a Costco membership card before you leave the UK. The Costco here is much bigger and after conversion, the food is cheaper as well. At the same time, we’re still looking for a semi-decent Tesco/Asda like place. Can you believe Walmart isn’t in Santa Barbara???

But apart from all that, as I arrived later than everyone else due to various passport problems, I did miss orientation and at the same time still overcoming jet lag. Going back 8hrs does take its toll! Therefore, can’t really say much on the night life. But, Del Playa seems to be the street where all the parties are. Thankfully, due to my flatmate Nicola, I’m slowly but surely making friends. I must admit that, having missed orientation, you have another layer of cliques to overcome. But I know, that with my charm and my rather questionable looks I’ll make an impression that’s bound to impress 😉 Joining the buddy programme should also help get a local insight on things to do in Santa Barbara.

So anyway, it seems to be my turn to cook tonight, so as I prepare to cook some seafood linguine, I’ll leave you with a final thought. The campus is so big that they’ve managed to create a bike lane, a skateboard lane along with the foot-paths. Pedestrians seem to be the lowest of the low on the transportation chain, as we have to do all the watching out whereas the skateboarders and cyclists (who think they’re the bomb) just get to give us angry looks!

Anyway, more campus shenanigans to follow next time!

‘Oh yeh, I’m here to study’…classes begin

So as my last post told, I have been having a great time over in BC but the reality is that you are here to study…

 

Classes You are required to take a minimum of 12 credits per semester to fulfil visa requirements, and this usually means you have to do a minimum of 4 courses. From my experience so far, this is plenty! Some international students have had to take 5 classes because their home universities have required them to but the work load from 4 is more than enough to keep you busy!

I am doing the exchange for my third year, which means I am taking junior/senior classes that correspond to honours level courses in Glasgow. The level is fairly advanced, but perhaps this is just the step up from second year level courses. The way classes are taught is much different from back home. Class sizes are typically no more that 30 students and classes are very interactive. You are expected to go to every lecture and a register is often taken. Homework is given in basically every class, and ranges from readings to written exercises and group work. Grading is much different as well, with mid terms, group projects, presentations, homeworks and class participation generally all contributing heavily to your overall grade along with the final exam, which for me at most counts for 35% of my final grade. I have found the workload reasonably easy to adjust to as long as you have a clear view of what you need to do and when, as work can easily stack up quickly!

 

I keep being reminded that Boston College is a ‘work hard, play hard’ uni, and I would say so far that’s more than accurate. All the students take classes and the work that goes with them very seriously, but there are more than your fair share of events going on at night time and when possible through the day. (American) football games are a big deal. They take place on Saturday afternoons, and basically all the students go along with thousands of fans filling the 45,000 seat stadium on campus! There parties basically throughout the days on football days and people get really into it. They are a lot of fun and even if you have no interest in the sport, you should definitely go to one game!

BC is a huge sports college with dozens of sporting teams offered to all levels and extensive facilities. If you like sports, this is a great place for you. If sports aren’t your thing there’s a huge offering of clubs and societys you can join. They literally have anything and everything to suit people of all interests from acapella singing groups, to investment clubs, democratic societies, international clubs and even a knitting club. They literally have everything you can think of and it’s a great way to get involved. I joined the rugby, golf and investments clubs which is enough to keep me occupied right now.

 

Its been a very quick 4 weeks since I first arrived and I’m hoping the rest of the trip doesn’t disappear this fast, there’s just too much to do and too much fun to be had!

 

Any questions anyone has, don’t hesitate to ask!

 

Craig

Fun and frolics at international orientation

Hi all! So I have been over here nearly a month and its been brilliant fun so far. I will start from the beginning…

First week  I was not one of the lucky 15 of 140 international exchange students to be given on campus housing so was left to find something when I arrived. My dad came over with me for the first week which was helpful in getting set up and we stayed in a motel about 25 minutes walk from the college. You can secure housing off campus before you arrive but obviously you wont see what you are buying and I found that it was very easy to find something once you’re over here. I was lucky to find a place within 10 minutes walk from the campus, in a building owned by the college. Next year it will be reserved exclusively fro BC students and I would suggest to anyone coming here to have a look at these apartments. A lot of international kids stay here, including my two French roommates. There is a free bus that loops around the surrounding area of the campus and I would suggest anyone looking for an apartment here to look for one on or near the bus route. It’s a great resource and they come every 10-15minutes.

Task 2 was to get a bank account and that was very easy. I went to Bank of America because they have ATMs all over campus. All you need is two forms of ID and you’re all set after about 20minutes. Mobile phones were a bit of an issue. I would not suggest getting a pay as you go as the rates they offer are terrible, and you cant get a contract phone because the minimum term is 2 years. I have ended up getting a pay monthly phone from t-mobile which for $55 about (£35-£40), which offers a much better deal. 

The college campus is nothing like anything back home. It is an enclosed campus, meaning all the college buildings including the halls of residence are within the university grounds, and even though there are only 9000 undergrads the size of the campus is unbelievable. There are countless places to eat, sprawling areas of open grass to lie and study or have a game of football, vast sports facilities and so many halls of residence I don’t even know what half of them are called!

The city of Boston is about 30minutes T-ride away from the college. The ‘T’ is a tram/underground transport system that runs all over the city, including a stop at the campus. Combined with the free buses, getting around the area and into the city is easy! The city itself is great, European in many ways with lots of Irish pubs and a huge Italian district with many restaurants. It has a lot more history than many other US cities and the ‘freedom trail’ is a good way to see the cities major sites. Sports are huge over here, with Red Sox baseball having probably the biggest following and the New England Patriots (American football team) also

International Orientation  About 10 days before classes start we have ‘international orientation.’ This is a scheduled 3 days of activity where you get to meet all the other international students (ISs) and your international assistants (IAs). Each IA has 3-4 ISs. They are a great source of contacts, info on what’s going on around campus and in general just to help you settle in quickly. My IA is a second year international student from Costa Rica and is has been brilliant so far in helping me settle quickly and getting to meet other students, both American and international.

The orientation is a great way to meet other international students and the IAs. Everyone is eager to meet people and making friends quickly was easy. Before classes started we managed to fit in (amongst other things) a trip to cape cod, boat trips around Boston harbour, a college American football game (they are a pretty huge deal), tours around the city, kayaking down Charles river and through Harvard, countless dinners and probably an unwise amount of partying!

Although orientation is only scheduled for 3 days, there are always things being organised both by international students and IAs. You find yourself saying ‘yes’ to anything that people suggest just to get to know as many students as possible. My advice would be to do just that. Do as much as possible in the time you have before classes. Meet as many people and join in in as many events and activities as time allows. I can honestly say it was one of the most fun 2 weeks I have ever had and set me up in a great mindset for the year ahead!

Halfway point

Hey there,

Ok so its been a while but there has been plenty going on. Basically, work has been getting pretty hard. Unlike Glasgow, Australian universities tend to go for the constant assessment approach and so there is a lot less weighting on the final exam. This has pros and cons. Effectively you retain a lot more because you are constantly going over everything you have learnt but this does mean you spend a lot of time working away when its glorious sunshine outside and all you want to do is sit in the pool.

Last week I had my midsemester exams which went ok but there is no revision period so you still have to attend classes and so it does get a bit stressful. Thankfully that is over and midsemester break kicks off next week. I’m flying down to Sydney on Sat and planning on doing all the touristy stuff and may be hitting Byron Bay the following week so its a really good chance to be tourists and have fun.

The social life in Brisbane is pretty good. Just a word of warning though. Always take ID everywhere and that means driving license/passport because the don’t accept student cards regardless if the uni gave you it. This is because there is some massive fine for pubs/clubs etc if they have underagers on the premises. It got so ridiculous that I got ID’d in a bottle shop buying a bottle of coke – you just have to laugh.

Also forgot to say went to see the Wallabies v the Boks at Suncorp at few weeks ago and saw the Broncos win in the NRL yesterday. Both occasions were awesome and if you like your sport Brisbane is great for it. Tickets to the finals in the NRL were 18 bucks (£9) for pretty reasonable seats too. You can also see the Aussie rules at the Gabba which is on my to do list next semsester.

Anyways I’ll let you know how mid semster break goes and get back to you later

Bienvenue à Montréal

the Stoop!Bonjour!

I have arrived in the beautiful city of Montreal. (That was almost a month ago now, but i’ve been really busy)

Again, extremely tired after an 11hr flight, via Zurich.
Luckily I had emergency exit seats this time!

Before collecting our bags we all had to go through immigration. On the plane they give you a simple form to fill in which you hand to the officer.
Being a student I then had to go to another queue where I handed the lady my study permit and original acceptance letter to McGill. A few minutes later she stamped it and directed me to the CAQ queue. All i had to do here was give the lady my CAQ and i was done! It only took 30mins, alot shorter than i was expecting.

After that I collected my bags and went through to arrivals. In my McGill International Student Services Pre-Departure and Immigration Guide, it said there would be a team their all day to help you out. It’s definitely worth speaking to them because they gave me a ticket which gave me discount on the bus to Berri-UQAM (the main bus terminal in the city). Usually it would cost $16, but students were able to get it for $5.

I was keen to practice my French, so i got chatting to a French dude on the bus. I clearly needed lessons, since it had been 3 years since last doing any.

Montréal has great public transport: Metro and Bus. A single fare is $2.75, but this allows for changes onto all the different coloured lines. Included in your ticket fare is a bus journey too, so $2.75 for 1 metro and 1 bus ride. Not bad.

MAJOR TIP- BUY A 3 DAY TOURIST CARD-ALLOWS UNLIMITED TRAVEL!!!
I didn’t know about it at the time 😦

Once you’ve registered at McGill you can also get an Opus Card, which allows unlimited use of Metro and Bus for $37 per month. I’ve been told that the metro is vital when it comes to Winter!

Ok, so the first 2 weeks I stayed in a hostel near Jean Talon, which is quite a francophone area. I would advise getting a taxi from Berri-Uqam to wherever you’re staying because it’s really difficult with two 23kg bags, especially in the unexpected humidity of Montreal.

My hostel was called Explorers House Holiday Makers. It was one of the cheaper places to stay, around $20 a night, but that’s due to it’s distance out of town. On arrival I was greeted by lots of friendly travellers, all here for short periods of time and looking to go out and party. So basically, for the first week or so, instead of looking tirelessly for accommodation, I went out every night with these guys. Maybe not the best plan, BUT… I met some truely amazing people. I’ve stayed in plenty of hostels before but I can honestly say they were the best! Plus, I now have reasons (and free accomm.) in Boston, Delaware, Israel, Netherlands and VENEZUELA!!!

After this mental week and only viewing a few places I started to panic. Term was starting in a week and FROSH (equivalent to Fresher’s week) would be starting in a couple of days….

I’ll do another post talking about Frosh, Flat Hunting and any other crazy stuff I got up to soon.

Where to begin??

…….. So, I am now pretty settled in my halls. I share a bedroom with a girl called Melissa who is from North Carolina and studies linguistics. At first I was a bit concerned as she seemed to be the only person I had met that wasn’t mega excited about being in Hong Kong. She seemed pretty cold and spent all day on the phone to people at home, didn’t take me up on offers to come out and socialise etc. But as time has passed she has warmed up and has started to mingle and I have realised that she just likes her alone time. So her cynicism, sarcasm and complaining are mostly amusing idiosyncrasies thus far, let’s just hope I can keep this attitude. That’s easier said than done because it’s pretty tricky keeping your own morale up in this situation, never mind someone else’s too. But no, really she is very sweet and funny and is interested in good things like photography, classical literature and beer.

So, Positive Mental Attitude is the way forward. I spent a thousand dollars in IKEA (there’s an Ikea?!) which made me feel amazing. It’s about £80 so actually still quite a lot but I worked it out as £2.50 per week I am here to have a nice room (which I think is a wise investment for my mental health). My manky little room is now a relatively clear white space (relative to the local students’ rooms which tend to be crammed with brightly coloured plastic tat) with nice storage boxes, bedcovers, lanterns and even a plant to keep me company. When I first arrived the hall looked pretty miserable – it was Friday night so the office was closed and I had to settle for a little old Chinese lady who could speak no English to give me my keys and send me on my way (not before making me fill in a million forms – little did I know filling in forms was to take up most of my first couple weeks here) to an empty room with no air conditioning, no bedcovers, no internet and no view (manky little window looking into a courtyard which is obscured by one gigantic sheet of green netting hung on bamboo scaffolding). But the scaffolding should be removed by the end of October, there is a nice man who speaks a bit of English in the hall office from 9-5 during the week, and we had our first floor meeting today! (Does what it says on the tin-  meeting to discuss the running of our floor of the hall.) I have taken the position of Pantry Secretary! Which means I am partially in charge of buying everything we need for the kitchen. I am very happy with this result as I have been complaining about the lack of sponges, to nobody who cares, for far too long now.

The local students like to get very involved with their hall/ floor activities. In the first week they have an ‘Orientation Camp’ for the freshmen. This varies from hall to hall but is basically designed to toughen up the kids that have been wrapped in cotton wool (that’s most of them) and to force them into friendships (because they tend not to be so good at building close relationships quickly apparently). To me though, in this hall, it just seems to be a boot camp. They have Lee Hysan Hall songs, chants, marches and a different matching t-shirts for each day. When I first arrived they were all out in the courtyard in the blazing sunshine and humidity standing in rows and learning the chants and marches. This is all led by five or ten senior hall residents who walk up and down the rows yelling and physically forcing everyone to put their arms up at the correct angle and their feet the correct distance apart. They do team building games right into the middle of the night and we are all awoken at 6.30 every morning by someone yelling over the tanoy in Cantonese. The worst thing I saw was when they seemed to be doing circuit training and one boy, who was so exhausted he was actually vomiting, was being propped up by two seniors and forced the run the rest of the circuits regardless! Absolute madness. So it was all pretty strange and unfriendly for the first week while the local students all got stuck into their O camps but since then people seem a lot more friendly and the floor meeting really helped me feel a bit more welcome here. I’m really going to try and make friends with local students because I don’t like how segregated it is here. All the international students just hang out together really, and I don’t think that’s how it should be. Saying that, I’ve been having  a great time with all the international students. There are lots of Chinese people from Canada and America which is really helpful as some of them know some Cantonese! There’s also a few guys from Australia who have been here for a term already and they are really great at helping all the newbies out. They have arranged various beach trips, hikes, dinners and nights out over facebook which have been really successful.

Speaking of nights out… there is an area near central called Lan Kwai Fong which seems to be where all the ex pats, travellers, exchange students and visiting business men/women migrate to when the sun goes down. It can be pretty expensive but there are lots of parties in clubs organised by local and international students in huge clubs which just have a cover charge and then an open bar!!! HK is much cheaper for the ladies too! Wednesday and Thursday are ladies nights in particular bars which means free entry and free vodka and mixers for the girls and extortionate prices for the lads. The exchange students tend to go to this area but just buy beer in the 7/11 (7/11 is your best friend in HK) and drink it on the street- you can drink anywhere in HK and buy alcohol at any time of the day- and just go into bars for a chat/ air conditioning/a boogie! One of the Ozzie boys was giving us a run down of the ‘good 7/11’s’  where they have benches and public toilets nearby! Hahah. So the first week or so was pretty mental with everyone -especially the English boys- wanting to go out every night! But it’s calming down now and everyone is getting to know each other a bit better and starting to explore the Island and more remote parts a bit more.

Despite this Lan Kwai Fong area though, generally Hong Kong is nowhere near as international as people like to make out. It’s so much more like China than I expected. Probably a bit of a silly thing to say, but I had the impression that everyone speaks English and the place is literally designed in order to make life easy if you don’t speak Cantonese. Not so. People even still stare at me here because I have fair hair! You have to ask the minibus driver’s to stop when you want to get off and you have to do it in Cantonese! (Or just wait til you’re miles past your stop). None of the people you encounter in daily life, in restaurants, shops, train stations, information counters (!) speak English at all! Which makes sense, of course, but the university and the tourism board would have you believe otherwise! It’s just taking a bit of adjusting because I wasn’t expecting day to day life to be so difficult. I also feel pretty rude coming here with no Cantonese under my belt and having to expect everyone to be able to help me out with stuff despite the language barrier.  Saying that, after a while I found a part of town where you can get everything western that you could dream of, including fish and chips, bacon sandwhiches, yorkshire puddings, fry ups and newspapers, magazines and books that are written in English. But of course it all costs loads, so I had to leave empty handed – except for a miniature bacon roll that cost me about a pound!

HKU is on Hong Kong Island but Hong Kong Special Administrative Region actually encompasses part of the bottom of mainland China too which is called Kowloon and the New Territories. Kowloon is full of street markets selling tat but also has big markets for particular things such as the flower market, bird market and fish market and there is even a street which is just full of pet shops selling tiny puppies, kittens, rabbits, exotic fish and turtles etc. There’s also a night market that specialises in seafood and you can buy a whole deep fried squab – which turns out to be a pigeon actually. I took a bus into the New Territories on Sunday in the hope of finding a clean beach (the ones on Hong Kong Island tend to smell funny as the sewage is just pumped straight into the surrounding water, took me a couple trips to the beach to realise the water wasn’t just brown because of the sand…) but got distracted by some cheap clothes shops…. so didn’t get to the coast in Sai Kung until sunset. It was still worth it though because the place was absolutely packed with people going to eat at the brightly lit seafood restaurants along the pier. They have GIGANTIC tanks of fish and crabs etc covering the entire front of the restaurant and people in white wellies clamber over them to get the ones you pick to eat. Apparently if you go there during the day you can pay someone with a boat to take you to any of the little surrounding islands and come back for you later so I’ll be doing that at some point soon.

Last week I climbed to Victoria Peak which is the highest point on Hong Kong Island. We did it at night in the hope it would be cooler but I still have NEVER sweated so much in my life. It took an hour and a half and the first half of the track was on a ridiculous gradient. The weirdest part is that there is a shopping complex at the top (!) where you can have a champagne breakfast with a spectacular view of the city, the harbour and the surrounding islands- if you can afford it. The views in this city are absolutely indescribable when you catch a glimpse of them. Mainly you can only see skyscrapers in every direction but every now and then you get a peek through at the sea and the islands and it’s amazing or, if you get high up enough or far away enough from the city, the buildings themselves are really beautiful at night and during the day. The pictures you tend to see of Hong Kong’s cityscape are of Victoria Harbour on Hong Kong Island as viewed from Kowloon and the buildings along that harbour actually have lasers built into them so they can put on a light show EVERY NIGHT!

Started uni last week as well which I was really looking forward to. The campus is a short bus journey from halls which actually seems like a nightmare in this unbelievable heat. The campus is a labyrinth. Hong Kong is a labyrinth but the uni campus takes it to another level. Hong Kong is so densely populated, and there is so little space, because the city is built into the side of a mountain, that they have to sacrifice having spaces between the buildings sometimes. This means that they sacrifice having streets (!) and just have the buildings linked together instead. So you always have to walk through loads of shopping malls and office blocks to get to where you want to be. It’s not as bad in town where they do have streets for cars and buses etc, but at the university there are no streets or spaces between the buildings so you just have to go into the one in front of you and get the lift to the level you think might be roughly the level you’re try to get to and follow corridors in the general direction you would like to go and hope for the best! It was very confusing at first but now it’s actually kind of fun and you get such a sense of accomplishment when you find a reasonably direct route between your classes. Most of my classes are in the main building at the front which is lovely because it’s a hundred years old and filled with courtyards and fountains and benches (this city seriously lacks benches). The registration process is a nightmare by the way. They send you on a wild goose chase around aforementioned labyrinth for first couple days in order to collect and hand in various forms blah blah blah. It can be frustrating but helps you get to know your way around campus and I bonded with some other exchange students over the experience! But, there is a special international student’s haven called the Global Lounge – this magical little nook houses the exchange office, a coffee shop, free internet/computers, lovely seating areas, plasma screen tv’s showing international channels and air conditioning that is always up full!

Oh and I really must add something about the heat…. IT”S SOOOO HOT!  You know when you walk behind a bus and you get that gust of dusty, wet heat coming from the vent on the back of it and it’s hard to breathe and you feel like your lungs have been irrepairably filled with fumes? That’s what the summer is like here. Constantly ‘glowing’ (sweating profusely) and praying for a breeze or some air con. But it’s starting to cool down now and there’s absolutely nothing like the feeling when you catch a rare breeze.

Ok that’s enough for now. Basically I’m steadily turning many acquaintances into some friends, attempting to learn Cantonese and understand the Hong Kong way of life, trying to see everything there is to see and also get away for some calm time out of the city every now and again.

i’m here!!

I’m here!!!

First things first – the flight. It was fine, i sat next to two amazing strangers who filled me in on what to expect in Canada. Loonies, toonie, garbage, cells etc were all explained. We flew over Iceland and the view was amazing. But, i have learnt it makes sense to fly with a decent company. I went cheap but ended up with only 25kg baggage allowance inc hand luggage – not a good plan.

 Once i got here – I know it sounds corny but it really is like in the movies; wide streets, malls, trucks and checked shirts. it’s good though, and roasting… canada is clearly not the freezer it’s made out to be.

 The uni – The UBC campus is lovely, really big and situated on a peninsula , covered in trees and surrounded by beaches. It’s all really new compared to glasgow (the oldest building is 100 ish years old) but it has it’s own charm. Food shopping is certainly limited on campus but due to the u-pass (a transport pass you are made to buy due to Vancouver being an eco city) means that catching a bus to Safeway, two stops away, is no trouble at all. The pass also means that you can explore the whole city without feeling like you’re paying which is amazing.

My accommodation is also really good, townhouse style buildings called Fairview. It’s cute and my flatmates seems really nice.

The last three days have been GALA orientation week, basically a meet and greet for all the foreigners, 1300 of us here form over 140 countries!! It’s good because it totally removes that ‘i’m all alone’ feeling.

One thing that is proving difficult is the fact that you have nothing in terms of household stuff like duvets etc and as it’s not home you hav no idea where to go to get them.  Having now done it i’d suggest Winners, Wallmart and the Canadian superstore. Certainly budget for spending a fair it on setting yourself up as the self catered flats are completely bare.

So far at least the experience is amazing and there are far more cultural differences than i first thought i’d see. It’s started raining now – booo. I’d  better run to the next GALA meet and greet shenanigans.

One final word of advice…..there are TWO number 17 busses, one that takes you back to UBC from downtown and one that goes completely the other direction. A group of us got totally lost in the suburbs due to this the other day, oops!!

 

p.s twilight is being filmed here, around Vancouver and even on campus!!