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. 

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