Sorry it’s been so long since we updated you all, work and play have rather consumed our time and energy over the last 3 weeks – so here is a slightly longer entry than usual, in case they haven’t been long enough!
Well, it really has been a while since we posted, and so much done! I’ll leave telling you about Catrin, Rhys, and Morgan’s excursions mostly to Eurgain (as they’re her family!) but I will mention my highlights.
As you may have seen on Facebook, we went to a hockey game on 19th Feb – the Vancouver Canucks versus the Philadelphia Flyers. And whilst I didn’t pay much attention to the sport before then, I certainly do now. As you may know, I’m not that sporty, and don’t really follow any particular sport that closely. I’ve never really seen the point – and seeing football (soccer) live really isn’t that engaging for most of the game time. Hockey is something else; because of how small the rink is, and how fast one can move on skates, the game itself moves startlingly quickly. Players can get from their home goal to the opposition’s goal in less than 5 seconds; because of this so much can happen so quickly. And not only is the game thoroughly enjoyable because of the fast pace, not only do the players have (in my opinion) a higher level of skill than those who play football, for example, because of the skating prowess required to play well – but the atmosphere is incredible. The game requires a lot of stops and starts as they clear the ice and run adverts, and so the crowd take a far more active role during these timeouts. The sound engineers pump music into the stadium (the whole crowd singing Bohemian Rhapsody and Don’t Stop Believing was quite something), there’s a ridiculous amount of free giveaways by various companies – and everybody’s so nice, we really did just start speaking to people around us. Wonderful game, wonderful atmosphere, and I honestly didn’t even mind that the Canucks lost: it was so close the whole way, anything was possible.
The day after we went to see ‘Cavalia Odysseo’ – a Cirque de Soleil type show, but with the addition of horses. We saw adverts for it from the moment we got here in January, but thanks to Catrin and Rhys we finally got to actually go! I wasn’t quite sure what to expect; but as a summary, a lot of acrobatics (some equestrian some not). A real variety of tricks, and a really impressive level of skill from the riders. Not only in their riding ability, but the control of the horses. In the first ‘act’, one man was left to guide 8 stallions by himself – with clearly an incredible level of rehearsal and control over them. And, personally, the live music was a wonderful touch. The show had utilised two booths to the left and right of the main arena, and the instrumentalists they had performing (fiddler, guitarist, and double bassist) really lent to the atmosphere created by the performers and the technicians.
My last highlight from the 10 days Eurgain’s family spent with us was the trip to UBC – the Museum of Anthropology. Whilst not really my thing as much, it was a fascinating experience. The tour we got really lent to the whole museum (which is very much worth visiting if you’re in Vancouver) – and gave information and insight not apparent from the item descriptions. The gallery of European porcelain and earthenware was incredible, especially upon being informed that most of it came from one man fleeing Nazi persecution in the ’30s. The First Nations exhibits were also intriguing – with so many different tribes and cultures in BC there was a lot to get around, but I think this was enhanced massively by the fact that these tribes aren’t extinct. A few of the key exhibits – a canoe steamed into shape, a box sewn together, and a series of artworks telling creation myths – were done in the 1980s and 90s. Recent history, and part of a compelling narrative that these people’s traditions are far from disappearing. At one point there was a video shown of a ceremony using masks, it can’t have been more than 20 years old – and in the next room these masks were on display! A fascinating visit, and thoroughly enjoyable. And I’m sure Eurgain did too!
The last thing I wanted to mention was that my marks are also going well. I know not everyone wants to hear about academic stuff when someone’s talking about trips abroad, but I am really proud of mine. I’ve been getting all As, bar 1 quiz in which I got an A-, and it’s really comforting to know that our time out here will not have been wasted. Not only will we have friends to talk to, and places to come and revisit, but the academic work hasn’t suffered. The differences in attitudes to university between the UK and Canada really are fascinating, and will probably be one of the things I remember most about our time here – and has also given me insight into why American colleges are always portrayed like they are in films. Canada is a pleasant halfway house between Britain and the US – and I definitely want to come back again at some point!!
It’s going to be hard to add to what Rory’s already mentioned, as the hockey game, the Cavalia Odysseyo, and the Museum of Anthropology were all amazing experiences that I’m so glad we got to experience with my family. One of the highlights for me that hasn’t been mentioned is when we visited Granville Island. It’s an amazing place that’s covered in markets with all sorts of produce from handmade chocolates, to soup, meats, clothing, food, beer and so much more. There’s a lot of little arts and crafts shops on the island, with a few galleries, and of course…a great choice of pubs. After a few drinks at the Wicklow Pub, we headed over to the Sandbar for dinner. The Sandbar’s a seafood restaurant that had previously been recommended to us by a waiter at another restaurant, we tried to book a table for Valentine’s Day but the place was fully booked at the time so we thought we’d visit this time around. It was a wonderful place that we highly recommend visiting. The atmosphere itself was lovely, the restaurant was very busy but had a relaxed feel to it, with candles, soft lighting, and music playing in the background. Once again, the service was excellent – before you even realise that you’ve finished your glass, a waiter or waitress is already there refilling it and checking in. As to the food…amazing. If you’re a big fan of seafood, all I can say is put this place on your priority list.
Before my family came to visit, Rory and I went to see the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, also on the UBC campus. We were greeted by a humongous blue whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling, thought to have been killed by a passing ship a few years ago. We timed our visit well, as we got to go around the museum on the last tour of the day. Along with another couple, we walked around the museum with our tour guide who talked a lot about evolution, as it was Darwin Week at the University. This was especially great for me, as we’ve been doing a lot of work on evolution in my Introduction to Physical Anthropology class. I’m sure this extracurricular activity helped me with my midterm, which I managed to get 89% in – yay!
Another highlight was definitely the Quiz Night I helped host with my International Studies group. In order to fundraise for the Uganda Project, we’ve all been tasked with organising fundraiser nights. A silent auction was also hosted alongside the quiz, and I can honestly say it was a huge success. A lot of people turned up (including the mayor), the alcohol was flowing, plenty of snacks were provided, and I think it’s fair to say that everyone had a great time as participants and as helpers. The only complaints were related to the bar running out of alcohol by the end of the night. We haven’t been told how much we managed to raise overall just yet, but we know that the silent auction sold $2,988 worth of goods including ice hockey jerseys and 2x tickets to a Canucks game, weekends away at a few hotels, and plenty of hampers. The next upcoming fundraising event is a Pub Night, which I’ll keep you posted on!
Thanks for reading, if you’ve made it this far, and hopefully talk to you again this weekend!