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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

Wait a minute....

This is just a short thought as my finals are in the next two days, but once done I shall fill you in on all the Canadian deets - some good, some bad, some WHAT WERE YOU THINKING YOU IDIOTS?!?!?

Anyway, I am aware that I ended my last post saying that I was happy here..but I have just fully realised that my final exam on wednesday on French Literature is from 7pm-10pm. To say this is immoral is an understatement. Get me out of here!

On a lighter note - HAPPY BIRTHDAY BIG J MORGZ!


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The bigger and smaller things in life


A wise man once said : "So this is Christmas and what have you done, Another year over, a new one just begun."


And so this wise man made me wonder to myself...what have I done? Classes are over for the semester and I have been living the Canadian dream for 3 months now, but I haven't really thought to much about what I have done or what I have learned. The whole point of the study abroad experience is that you take something from it. Before I came here everyone would ask me "Why would you go to Canada to study English Literature??" So, to show the world that I did not travel 13 hours (thanks to the delightful stop off in Detroit) across the Atlantic in vain I have compiled a list of things I have achieved and learned during Semester 1 of The Year that I Rode Polar Bears. 


- Europeans, especially the British, were evil colonisers; however, we have accents (THIS IS THE LAST TIME I SHALL TELL THEE CANADIANS, YOU ALSO HAVE ACCENTS. EVERYONE HAS AN ACCENT. EVERYONE.) we also make good novelty items. One girl squealed at me that I was the "first real live british person" that she had met. I don't know what she expected from me, but I doubt I gave it to her as I had to break off the conversation when I received an urgent phone call from the queen inviting me over for tea and crumpets, so I had to put on my top hat and tail coat and make a hasty exit from the classroom.


- Toads become slightly lethargic when stepped upon and when they have to drink their water from a plastic frisbee.


- You cannot buy a wedding card without a message which almost threateningly tells the couple how sacred the vows of marriage are and how vital it is that they don't break them.


- Everywhere I go, I always take the weather with me. Seriously. Where is the snow? 


- Though the seasons are failing to change in the way I had hoped, there has been a noticeable change in the air. In November Ottawa's scent becomes marijuana, and cinnamon. I think the cinnamon think is just me though. I'm addicted. Weed doesn't take my fancy though. Someone once told me if I started smoking people would think I was cool, but I sleep with a toy broccoli at night and I have a shirt with Owl on the Prowl written on it - I really don't think I need any more cool points. 


- Speiling is ovureighted in Cannada. This is a joke about the fact that spelling is overrated in Canada.  This isn't to say that being Canadian means that you can't spell, but here I have seen some horrendous spelling mistakes, and the general attitude of the profs tends to be pretty blasé. Spelling isn't everything, but I think if you are in your second year of University doing a degree in English literature the profs should at least encourage you to give correct spelling a go. My American lit professor told us that we are allowed to make horrendous spelling mistakes in our exam as long as he can still work out what the word is. It will be hard to resist the temptation to call his bluff in the exam and try to make as many horrendous spelling mistakes as possible. 


- Adding tax on at the till is immoral. Not only does it mean that everything is more expensive than it seems, but it also means that I do not know how much my basket will cost before I get to the till and as Canadian money still confuses me at times, instead of counting out change I tend to thrust a note into the hand of the cashier and end up with an irritating amount of change which I then tend to lose. I am very aware that this second reason is basically only a problem for me, but I am also aware that I am probably the most important person in the world. 


- People here probably do think that I think that I am the most important in the world because of my irremediably dry and sarcastic nature, but I also think that I don't mind too much. Who needs a social life when you have got 7 series of Peep Show and a heart full of hatred. 


- I can't pull off American English, or Canadian English, or North American English or whatever the term is that will keep everyone happy. I can't say 'Candy', I can't say 'Side-walk', I can't call every damn biscuit under the sun a cookie dammit! There is a difference between a biscuit and a cookie and it is time that everyone understood that because it would probably solve all the world's problems. The greatest tragedy though is the word 'tomato'. I can't say 'tomaydo'. I wish I could, but when I speak this word I feel like an imposter and a fraud. Everytime I go to Subway I can but stare wistfully at the tomatoes and curse my tongue for it's British upbringing as I regretfully say 'Lettuce. Green peppers. Onions. Nothing else, thank you....nothing else.' 


- I will probably get rickets this winter from walking to my classes through the underground tunnels. 


- I will probably also get scurvy as most of the oranges I take from the cafeteria seem to come to an untimely end as they are pounded into the ground. 


- It is unacceptable to go the Canada Gift Shop every time I am in the shopping centre. Becoming a regular in a gift shop to laugh at beaver and moose related puns, is as shameful as becoming a regular at a brothel simply because I enjoy the décor. The latter hasn't happened though. The décor of Ottawa brothels is simply ghastly. 


- When you live in a Campus University a trip to the shopping centre feels like a 'big day out'. 


- Actual big days out should be planned but never acted upon. It is better to plan and live a life of regret then to do something with your days and make memories that will last a life time. Hm. I think I may have got this a little bit mixed up. 


- Canada is really big.
- Canada is REALLY big.


- Crisp sandwiches have not yet reached North America - soon to be rectified on my next 'big day out' to the shopping centre. 


- There is no rule about the number of items you can take to the self-service checkout at the supermarket. There is also no age limit. This leads to 15 minutes of impatiently waiting behind the 50 something year old couple who try to put their discounted slab of meat over the scanner as it lightly drips with blood. 


- Weirdly even though I haven't really done that much here, and I have exams coming up, and I would have liked lots of things to go differently this term - I am, on the whole, happy to be here. 




Oh dear. I just said something vaguely positive. Looks like I'll have to start throwing bricks at children again to cancel that one out.


I may update soon. I may not. With exams on the horizon it is unlikely that anything exciting will occur in my life..but we are going out tomorrow for Jess's birthday..so who knows. Will we play the Minister's Cat, and if so will we find an adjective beginning with X that isn't xenophobic? Will we actually all make it into a bar? Will there be irrational crying around acquaintances or on public transport? It's all coming up in the (probably being over-optimistic here) exciting  adventures of Kate in Canada. 




This picture is irrelevant. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Cheer

Oh. I also forgot to mention that being in Canada has made me feel old and superior and therefore I have purchased a pack of rather splendid Christmas cards. So if you want some Canadian Christmas Cheer from the source itself then send me your name, address, age and your favourite animal.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Giving into peer pressure.

Oh hey there, I'm just taking a break from working on my William Brown shrine to write a few things about the mysterious land of dreams - occasionally nightmares - better known as Canadia.


I would like to greet all the people reading this in Russia...and also ask the question..why are people reading this in Russia? What possible interest could this have to anybody apart from me and the procrastinators I like to call acquaintances (I don't want to come on too strong). But each to their own I suppose..pour yourself a glass of Wodka and let's begin.


A wise man once said to me "I want to read more about Canada. UPDATE FAGGOT " and these words were so sweet and heartfelt that I decided to oblige as best I could. Although if he hopes to learn more about Canada..he has certainly come to the wrong place.


The last few weeks have been a mixture of essay writing, procrastination and intense napping with a few things worthy of being called 'events' happening inbetween.


The most memorable (I'm currently watching some confusing Japanese film that has turned my brain to mush and made me doubt my own memories) event was Nancy's visit. Everything was going pretty swell apart from the obvious and grotesque jokes made by some of the guys on the floor...I'm pretty sure I heard the word 'scissoring' more times in the 5 days she was here than I have heard in my life time. Things turned from socially awkward to wholly unpleasant though on the thursday night where she was attacked by mystery pains. Jess awoke me at 8 o clock in the morning which my body confused with 4am as I cleverly picked no morning classes this term. I didn't know what to do so I helpfully suggested things that would help ease the pain if we had them...which we didn't. In my morning daze I returned to my slumber, but I was punished for my lack of helpful suggestions as I found myself trapped in a horrible dream cycle (SEE TOM! You are really going to learn NOTHING about Canada here) in which I knew I was dreaming and kept waking up and finding myself in another dream etc etc This happened about 10 times in my dream before I woke up for real and found myself doubting what was real and what was a dream. Nancy was writhing in pain in the next room and my understanding of the world was being destroyed - it wasn't a great start to the day. Luckily the campus health people came over to check Nancy out (her injuries, nothing untoward. It would have been inappropriate). Unluckily they lacked the medical knowledge/qualifications to do anything, so after asking her on a scale of 1-10 how bad was the pain they decided to call the ambulance. They meant well but their methods reminded me of this: 


- Comical when on television, but in real life it was a bit tedious I've got to say.
Anyway, we got to the hospital in the end and Canada decided it was going to rival the NHS by seeing just how slow they could be. The emergency room was a highly ironic term. A highlight of the day was when a taxi driver brought in a man in the back of his taxi who was slowly turning blue and breathing lightly through a paper bag. The staff were pretty blasé about the whole affair and just wheeled him on in and left him on his own against a wall for a while. The hospital lacked good bedside manner...but I suppose that is because very few people got a bad. I think you would have to have a bullet in your head to actually get seen to within 3 years of arrival. But ho-hum it all worked out ok in the end and Nancy even snagged a free vomibag! Swings and roundabouts...swings and roundabouts.


Life hasn't been all doom, gloom and vomibags though. On thursday it was the Illumination ceremony at Parliament Hill. If you don't know Parliament Hill - it is a small elevated area where Parliament is. It wasn't REALLY exciting like a room full of kittens wearing party hats, but it was still pleasant. There were singing children, beaver tails and Montreal Jazz sensation Nadja!! I'd never heard of Nadja before..and having heard her sing I find it unlikely that I'll ever want to hear of her again. She wasn't bad like a room full of dead kittens wearing party hats, but I could still probably cope without her the rest of my life - which right now, as exams draw near, I can feel it passing by. Minute by minute, nyan cat game by nyan cat game. Anyway, yeah the lights. My favourite part was the candles in little cups things. As the lights were switched on and Nadja was belting out her smooth Montreal tones everyone waved their candles in unison and just for a second I thought I was starring in Love Actually and that Hugh Grant was going to start doing a cheesy, but damn heartfelt voice over. Unfortunately this wasn't the case and instead we got a pleasant fireworks display...although the fireworks made the actual lights fairly anticlimactic. They announced that Ottawa would light up when they hit the button  - then came the awkward moment where they hit the button and everyone's head turned only to see that it looked exactly the blooming same. There were some lights. Some normal, cheap looking fairy lights on leafless trees. The lights were supposed to represent the holiday and togetherness and love and family, but all they actually seemed to say was "We really couldn't be bothered to put too much effort into this."


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It was all a bit too much for Will though whose nose began to bleed in a state of unquestionable joy. I assume. 


We decided to afterwards lower the tone of what had until then been a reasonably pleasant evening by checking out the hen party section in one of the shops in the shopping centre. I've  never really needed slippers that look like breasts, but now that I've seen them, I feel that my life would be incomplete without them. There was also a book of sex coupons that you could out to people, but I thought it would be unfair to purchase them as there are more guys waiting for a piece of Kate action then there were coupons in the book. I bought a tshirt with lots of cats which pretty much sealed the deal and secured my spot as the most desirable babe this side of the Atlantic. 


Apart from that life has lacked a little bit of...life. I've written possibly some of the worst essays of my life as I decided to finish the year on a low..but as there are people here who can't spell words like 'horse' or know how to go one whole class without playing solitaire I'm not too concerned. And even if I do fuck up it should snow more soon..swings and roundabouts (say it enough and it means nothing). Anyway, I should probably go and attend to my ever exciting social life. It's just me, broccoli and a one legged vegetable. 


Not long until this term is all over though and I can go to Miami and ride dolphins around every day - although I get the feeling I may have set my disappointment once again. Note to self - riding animals around everyday isn't going to happen. Ever. Except maybe a horse, but horses are rubbish. 


Well, I've rambled enough for the time being so I'm going to make like a banana and do nothing.




Oh, and if you are free at 12.30 on monday, I advise you not to go to the Architecture Pit as the power of my amazing acting skills will probably melt your eyes and ears. 


Peace, love and polar bears
Katharine