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Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Twilight Zone.

Since the last post the level of pep has somewhat subsided as the academic year draws closer. It obviously still exists in Raven sized pockets though. The night after Pep-gate we were woken up at 8.30 by vigorous knocking and shouting. The guy outside my door was shouting 'I know you're in there, Kate. We're not going anywhere, Kate'. In any other circumstances this might be viewed as a little bit rapey, but here apparently it is the norm. Clearly dissatisfied with my reluctance to leave my bed, he decided that the next best thing to do was to kick my door. He may have knocked the books off my shelf and left a large footprint on my door, but I like to think that I won the war and didn't surrender my British cynicism for even a second.

On the same day we had Exchange Student orientation. I think Exchange Orientation is where the phrase 'a barrel of laughs' was originally formed. The highlight of the afternoon were the chairs that swung when you sat on them. Although I think about three hours in the novelty started to wear off a little. Most of the stuff was fairly boring, but also somewhat surprising. You would think that because we are in Canada that they would try to promote the Canadian way of life and their demeanour. Apparently not the case. After a quick lesson in how to 'Just say no' and to make sure we don't accidentally think we are dating people because we are international students are all sexual deviants, we were shown the correct distance to stand away from a Canadian person when talking to them. I'd like to think this is all a joke, but the fact they include it in their guide book and that the demonstration was done without a hint of irony made me fear the worst. Apparently unless you stand an arms length away from a person they will either think that you are going sexually assault them or that you want nothing to do with them. I don't think this rule is strictly followed here though. The man on the bus in to town definitely had no issues about boundaries as he leaned extremely close until he found a good opening line - 'It is like a can of sardines in here.' I thought a smile and a nod would suffice, but no apparently not. He wanted to know why Canadians have to pay to put the Queen on their money. I regretted to inform him that I actually have very little political power in either the UK or Canada so I could not help it. I sympathised with him less when he said his issue wasn't so much with having a UK figure on their money, but that the Queen wasn't 'hot' enough. As he didn't find Elizabeth much of a QILF he suggested  Princess Diana or Kate Middleton. I haven't had a chance to talk to the Canadian parliament as of yet, but I'm sure the Diana dimes will be in circulation by December. Unfortunately, we had to part in downtown Ottawa and as he told me that he still loved his ex-wife I did a mental awkward turtle.

We also saw a light show at the parliament (videos/photos on facebook) which was really good. Unless you were Jess. If you were Jess you were probably trying to shake off an over friendly International student. We thought Jess might be living in a 3 person room for the rest of the year for a while.

Yesterday we had convocation in the morning. We went for the free t-shirts and ended up with 2 hours of sitting in a room and listening to such classics as 'Time after Time' and 'Crazy Frog'. Never heard them in the same playlist before I have to say. After the first hour or so even the pep rallyers could keep up their inflatable clappers, and if they had failed..what hope was there for the rest of us. When it finally started there was a bagpipe lead procession which caused a certain degree of culture shock. We were informed of the emergency exits in case the shit kicked off and then we were good to go. An hour of speeches followed which I dipped in and out of. The strange part came when we had to pledge our life to Carleton. 'Will you promise to practice  academic integrity? I will.'  'Will you promise to love your time at Carleton? I might if you let he have a lie in past 8.30am you robots.' With this done I felt an eerie sort of feeling as if I had just sold my soul to the devil.

After an afternoon nap was the evening 'entertainment'. First off - Carleton's got Talent. Before I came to Canada I was worried that they didn't have a sense of irony, but tonight I was proved wrong. After an improv story about Pogs and a radio, an ok dance troop, a poem about passion and a band singing terrifying songs about how we are all warriors and need to save the children the judges had the 'difficult' decision of picking a winner. The dance troop got their cheque and we all tried to forget the atrocities we had just witnessed. Next was 'The Buried Life' - a group of guys who go around helping others and crossing things off their Bucket List. It was an 'inspirational talk'. Usually that kind of thing makes me want to vomit my soul, but I actually thought this was really good to listen to. It hasn't made me feel like I have the power to change the world, or to ride a bull for 8 seconds, but it still made for interesting listening. The evening did take a somewhat interesting turn though when they opened the floor for people to say what they want to do before they die. Some things were pretty mundane/attention seeking/excuses for hugs from the guys on stage, but some were extremely serious. This was DEFINITELY culture shock. I could never imagine in England people standing up in front of masses of people talking about their abandonment, incest, traumas etc. It was both fascinating and surreal. I did feel for these people, but I also felt myself slipping into a sort of twilight zone. And for a moment there I thought I was actually starring in the real life version of Mean Girls:


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