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I Don’t Want to Go

Eurgain’s gone to Uganda, as you’re probably aware, so it’s left to me to wrap this blog up. We may resurrect it at some point on our next adventure, but until then we shall leave it dormant – as a permanent record of our time here.

It’s genuinely weird (to me at least) that I still remember landing on January 1st. The day was long, and stressful, and almost felt like it had an epic quality to it. Now, 4 months later, I realise it’s the whole experience which has been epic. The distance travelled, the complete unknown of New Westminster, and the now even scarier reality of 2.5 months without Eurgain. But if the term has taught me this, it’s that distance is nothing if you really want to talk to someone. The internet is a truly wonderful thing, and has made the whole time here so much more bearable. As has this. Letting out our feelings in this way has, for me at least, really allowed me to streamline what I want to say about our time here. And we’re definitely going to miss it. It does feel like home.

What have we been doing the last two weeks? Well, exams. Eurgain had 2 finals (which I’m sure she aced!!) and I had 4 (which apparently I did do very well in). I’ve now had enough results back from my 4 courses to say that my final grades are A+, and 3 As. Eurgain has had 2 As already, but I’m sure will have got at least the straight flush of them. So the educational point of this trip has been proven – we learnt in a different way, and learnt things we wouldn’t have done at home. I, now, actually know Canadian history – which is truly fascinating. Far more so than American 😉 Eurgain has thoroughly embraced her physical anthropology course, and is, as far as I’m aware, now looking to take that to a Masters level after graduation of her BA. I’m certainly more focused on what I want to achieve, with a new timeline for my career path. Although, as von Moltke once said, the first casualty of battle is the plan.

Amongst all the work, we have had time to enjoy time with friends. During the great summer of last week we had two friends over for an afternoon/evening of drinking, laughing, and eating. And I’ve been out for several farewell lunches with classmates and friends. All in all, a fairly relaxed last fortnight – despite the intermittent panic as finals loomed. At least we both know how to revise!

And that’s that. I’m heading off to the airport in just over 2 hours. Eurgain has finally made it to the village she’ll be living in for her time in Uganda. The next chapter of 2017 is beginning.

Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star,
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green
And trees and hills they long have known.

Canadian Beach Party

Another two weeks have passed, which means another blog entry from us!

Eurgain

Today’s the day we said bon voyage to Jane, Peter, and Angus after spending a wonderful 11 days with them. It was so lovely to see them again after so long, and I hope we were able to show them the best features of our lives here in Vancouver.

One of the first things we did together was go on a tour around Downtown, Gastown, and Granville – of course it rained on both days, but it was great to see these parts of the city from a different perspective and to find out more about their histories. One of my favourite places that we visited on the tours was the Christ Church Cathedral in Waterfront. Surrounded by skyscrapers in every direction, this beautiful little Cathedral was built of stone and the inside looked spectacular – recently renovated with modern, wooden features and large, beautiful stained glass windows. The crowning jewel of the Cathedral was a huge organ that shined and looked glorious on a balcony at the back of the church. I also loved the wonderful lanterns that hung from the ceilings and gave the Cathedral a warm, comfy feeling to it.

Another of our many adventures took us up to Whistler. The drive up to the ski resort was magical; the views of the mountains, trees, and oceans were some of the best I’ve ever seen. When we arrived, we were greeted with a snowy landscape which the Butchers were very excited about since they hadn’t seen snow for quite some time. We made our way to the Cultural Centre and loved the tour that was guided by a First Nations’ lady, who taught us how to make rope! She talked about her personal experiences of growing up as a member of the First Nations community, and what it was like to fish for salmon with her father and other members of her family. The experience was sad at times as well, as we learned about the residential schools that the First Nations children were forced to attend and suffered horrendous abuse from their ‘educators’. It was good to realise that Canada has come a long way since those days, but it is only recently that the government has acknowledged the wrong doings of the past and begun to work closer with the First Nations people, to learn about and preserve their culture.

Although we experienced quite a lot of rain during the duration of the Butcher’s stay, we were very fortunate the day we decided to bike around the Sea Wall at Stanley Park. The sun finally made an appearance and we enjoyed a leisurely bike ride, stopping often to take photographs. Peter and Angus hired a tandem bike, which Rory and I had a go on and attempted to ride without crashing! Fortunately, after a few go’s, we got the hang of it, concentrating hard and still wobbling a bit. In the evening, we went up the Lookout tower to watch the sunset. It was magical to see the sun’s final rays glittering off the tall buildings of this beautiful city. I truly am going to miss it here.

Rory

Lots to talk about! Small academic update first, for those who still care. Got some more essays back, 2 As and 1 A+ – very happy with that! Still awaiting one, but if finals go well I’m looking at straight A’s for all my courses here! So not only has this been enjoyable, but the grades haven’t suffered 🙂

Onto the personal stuff now! Like we’ve said, my family (bar 1) made the trek over to us last Wednesday, and I think they thoroughly enjoyed themselves! We did so much, we have tried to reign it in – the one problem I had is that, like last time, work had to come first at times, so I had to sit out on a few excursions, such as my family and Eurgain’s trip to Queen Elizabeth Park to visit the biodome – but no matter!

There’ve been some great moments. Yesterday we made a trip to Lynn Canyon Park (basically like the Capilano Suspension Bridge, but slightly shorter and FREE!) and it was…well, wet. The photos betray it, but we did get truly drenched…although the tree cover appeared to shelter us at times from the worst of it. My dad’s idea of waterproof trousers really paid off, just this once! It also showed me that I have got a little fitter since being here, as I ascended the many stairs with very few problems, 6 months ago I would have struggled a little! We then headed up to Mount Seymour which was, they’ll all agree, surreal. Having come from driving rain, it was sunny within minutes as we headed above the clouds – the cameras were blinded, and us with them due to the glorious sunshine beaming off the enormous amount of snow on the ground and heaped everywhere. At times even opening our eyes to the spectacular views was painful. The surreal moment was being approached by a skier in a robot costume, to be told that there was a ‘slush cup’ around the corner. What greeted us was, for want of a better term, a Canadian Beach Party. Skiers and snowboarders took it in turns to go down a steep slope, and try to skim over a 30ft puddle – with sub-zero consequences for those who failed. It was…incredible – I’ll leave judgement to you, from the photos!

We have also made quite a few visits to the Old Spaghetti Factory while the ‘folks’ were here; an establishment I wish we had in the UK. With entrees costing no more than $20, one is given free bread, a starter of soup or salad, and ice cream with every meal. This deal is incredible, the service is always wonderful, AND they allow kids in. This is another small gripe I’m finding with North America – I understand that liquor laws have to be strict, but in the UK (as far as I’m aware) there’s no real age restriction on entering the pub. Here, many quite nice eateries are out of bounds because legally they are bars first, and so minors are not even allowed through the front door. One of those cultural things I hope do not catch on in Britain!

I also had the pleasure of cooking for my family one evening, and demonstrating that I am (in fact) getting quite grown up! Using a recipe I found on Facebook, I made (supposedly!) fajita pasta – with a mistake I made last time of using too much cayenne pepper. I did not realise this, but apparently the stuff scores 5x higher on the official spice rating than jalapenos! I think the food worked all the same, but Angus found it a little more taxing than usual! Nonetheless, I really think our time here has helped me grow up a bit more than I would have done at home – when you’re abroad you need to be more proactive, or you pay the consequences in time or money, and so this trip has done wonders for my confidence (not that I need any more of it, some would argue!).

Reaching the end of the trip, we’re both coming to see this place as home – and New West will be sorely missed upon our return to the familiar sights of Britain.

The Road Goes Ever On

Hello and welcome to another episode of Rory and Eurgain’s Antics! Kidding, we’re incredibly well behaved, honest…. The weather’s really picking up here so it’s been lovely and warm for the last week or so, as the pictures tell 🙂

Eurgain

It really feels like we’re on the home stretch now (which it isn’t really for me since I’ll be jetting off to another country soon, but you know what I mean). Our assignments are being ticked off one by one, and before we know it we’ll be sitting our final exams. Before I get into all the fun stuff we’ve been up to, I wanted to mention one of my proudest moments in terms of work – I received a 64/65 for my Introduction to Physical Anthropology midterm! I’ve enjoyed this class so much, and I’m seriously thinking of applying to do an MA in physical/biological anthropology, human behaviour and evolution, or primatology.

We’ve done a lot of walking over the past two weeks and have certainly done our fair share of sight-seeing. We both agreed that if we were to leave right now, we’d definitely be happy with the amount of places we’ve seen, and things we’ve done here in Vancouver – it’s great to feel like we’ve made the most of it! Anyways, our new adventures in the afternoon have thus far been to Deer Lake Park and Robert Burnaby Park. This evening we went to a Grimston Park which had wonderful views of Richmond. We also saw two raccoons right in front of us as they crossed our path on the way home! Usually we work at home during the mornings and early afternoon, and decide to get some fresh air by picking a nearby park and heading out to stretch our legs. We also organise last minute trips, like when we went for a walk around Downtown Vancouver with our friend Dai, and decided to go for a spur of the moment bike ride around the Sea Wall. In fact, that has got to be one of the best things we’ve done in my mind – the sun was going down, the weather was slightly warmer than usual, and the views were breathe taking.

Another adventure that we’ve gone on with Dai, and another friend called Eléonore, is to Chinatown. Unfortunately, Chinatown hasn’t received a lot of TLC over the years – it looks run down and quite poor. However, I can imagine that the place is bustling with people during events like the Chinese New Year and other festivals. From there, we walked to Gastown, went for a coffee, walked around some more, went for a pint, and lastly had a look around some of the shops – my favourite had to be the First Nations’ shop called Hills which was full of incredible art, carvings, paintings, drums, and all sorts of other creations made by First Nation artists.

Rory

Well, like Eurgain said we’ve been been doing a lot of walking, and the combination with a little bit of dieting means I’ve lost 3kgs in the last fortnight – very pleased. As much as anything else, it’s making the walk to college a little easier! Anyway…

Uni’s going well; the consistent As and A-s, with the occasional A+, has left me very confident of getting a first when we get home. I really am enjoying learning here, and part of me would love to stay another semester or 2 (I now know the lecturers who teach a few of the modules I was planning on taking!). Lots of friends here, and lots of people I’ll miss – but of course, I’m definitely missing Lampeter too. The one thing this trip has managed to help me cement is my intention to do a PhD, if at all possible. Being in a different learning environment has been wonderful, and I would love to be able to stay in this sort of environment if at all possible…of course that may involve moving back here for a few years!

The trip to Stanley Park, as Eurgain says, was amazing. The cycle ride wasn’t too challenging, although the saddle could have been a little softer(!), and the views were stunning. It’s a slightly eerie feeling looking out at the horizon knowing that once you pass one island, there’s no more land for thousands of miles. I’ve heard one gets similar feelings when at the top of mountains, and I’ve had those moments on the west coast of Scotland – the world’s a big place, and travelling and experiencing these moments I truly believe is one of the greatest lessons in humility one can learn. I think I’d definitely like to travel more because of this, and of course we all know it’s Eurgain’s passion!

The other thing we did that day, after the cycle ride, was go to an all-you-can-eat sushi place in Metrotown – incredible food, incredible portions, and all for the price of $15/£9. I was blown away, and definitely want to go back (apparently there’s a lot of good sushi in Vancouver because of the historically large numbers of eastern Asian immigrants). It’s amazing, to me at least, how so much culture can be replicated so well so far from home; and it’s certainly interesting that Vancouver in particular has been host to so many foreign visitors, who end up making it their home.

We’re reaching the end of our stay now, but we will endeavour to keep you updated – especially as Rory’s family (minus 1) are coming over in less than 48 hours! See you all soon!

Stress Relief

Hello again! Yet another fortnight’s flown by before we know it, and it’s absolutely crazy to think that we only have less than 7 weeks left of our time here in Vancouver. It’s strange for both of us to think that we also only have a few assessments left before our final exams, and then it’s jumping on a plane once again and our time in Canada will be over.

Eurgain

Tonight, we went for a wonderful walk to Queens Park, about half an hour’s walk away from our house. We hadn’t been there before, or around any of the suburbs in that area in fact. We had a lot of fun walking past houses, admiring many of them for their big porches and unusual designs. It’s one thing we both love to see around here – each house is unique so there’s plenty of ideas as to what sort of house we’d like to live in in the future. The suburbs on the way to Queens Park are particularly clean and looked after, with a safe atmosphere. For the third time, we’ve seen some areas conned off due to filming in and around the houses. It would be great if we were to watch TV and recognise this area of New West one day!

Friday night, of course, was St. Patrick’s Day! Before we headed out with a few friends, I made a big pot of curry for everyone and had a few drinks. It’s seems that bringing pie to our small diner party gatherings has become somewhat of a tradition, along with the whipped cream! After dinner, we headed to a pub called the Moose on Granville St, Downtown. If you love loud classic rock music blaring, then the Moose is the place for you. The food looked very yummy as well, I noticed that they served typical pub food like burgers that looked delicious. In fact, we might have to go back for a visit! After a couple of pints, we jumped on the Skytrain to Gastown. The streets were crawling with people, many in green, and queues sprawled out of every pub and club we could see. It ended up being a fun but rather quiet night, and we fell into bed around 2am.

Rory

Wow, time really is flying. I’m amazed at soon we’re coming home, despite only having been here 12 weeks. And I can’t believe I’m saying this but I’m really going to dislike going home (at first at least!). Vancouver, and New West particularly, really has become our home. It’s probably a little early to be reminiscing, but I’ve started to already. I didn’t think a semester would be going by so quickly.

Quick academic report for those interested: I’m maintaining my As, with 1 A-, so I’m happy with my grades, and hopefully that’ll translate well when we return to Lampeter. It’s just little things I’m noticing about the uni system over here which I’m not going to miss. My biggest peeve at the moment is that we keep being told how to write essays because, as some might be aware, even if you major in something you still take classes in every subject. So there are maths majors in my history classes. People who don’t know, and don’t care, how to write the perfect history essay because they don’t have to! So because of that not only are the majors in history far ahead, but half the class don’t participate because they’re only there to make up the credits. A system I will not be missing one bit!

We’re also into major paper season – and so at Eurgain’s request have been spending a lot of time in our local Starbucks. I didn’t realise how many books I use until we lugged nearly 20 the 3/4 mile distance to the coffee shop. It’s weird how dependent I can become when writing essays, but then if I can get the 2000 words done in 2-3 days I’m not complaining! It does mean spending a lot of time, and money, on hot chocolates and coffee to keep us going through these intense sessions!

The other big thing we did recently was go shooting! There are a number of indoor ranges in the local area, and Dai (our friend from Swansea here on the same exchange as us) found a place in Port Coquitlam which did 2-for-1 deals on Wednesdays. So after class us 4 (EUrgain, me, him, and Eleonore – a friend from Paris on exchange) went to the range. We didnt know what to exect, but when we finally got there (it was off the beaten track a little on an industrial estate) it was definitely worth it. We started with 3 magazines of 8 rounds on two 9mm handguns (the lightest calibre they did) to get a feel for them, and for firing a live gun. Having fired my musket blank, it was a different experience – the feeling of power you get is quite unique. Then we did 1 magazine of rifle ammunition (pistol calibre, I’m told because of the size of the range), and then 6 rounds with a pump action shotgun. it’s good to know we’re both good shots…Eurgain hit the target’s head with her first pistol round! I think we’re going back at some point 😉 See facebook for videos!

Just to let you know, because of work commitments we’ve decided to post the last few entries every fortnight. It’s crunch time at Douglas, so we’re writing for different assignments every day. Stay tuned for our next post!

The Beautiful Game

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!

Rory

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!!

Eurgain

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!

Polar Conditions & Parrots

Sunday’s come around again (or Monday for many of our readers) and time again for our weekly summaries. This week’s been quite busy – both inside and outside college, so we’ve plenty to talk about. Oh yes, and we had some days off! Enjoy!

Rory

This week’s been a little frustrating at college, quite frankly, for one simple reason. Snow days! There was a storm warning issued for Wednesday afternoon/Thursday, leading to the early closure of Douglas on Wednesday (and the early finish of my European history class!) and the complete closure of campus on Thursday. Not necessarily a bad thing; but it meant I couldn’t take the mid-term I was scheduled to take on Thursday, and so has been rescheduled. A mid-term I’d spent 4 days revising for. That was slightly annoying, but it couldn’t be helped. Douglas had organised a pub night for that evening, which was enjoyable and a great night out meeting new and not so new friends alike – but led to me taking a politics quiz slightly hungover. Quick lesson for students: don’t take quizzes hungover.

Otherwise, the week’s been lovely. I’ve been able to submit my first essay for my courses here at Douglas, which is great – and, if you’ve not seen, I received my last mark from last semester. A first is entirely achievable for this year, which is definitely a morale boost! More than that, I’m making more friends at Douglas – and if nothing else I’ll have an excuse to come back in a year or two to visit! The time spent laughing with people from different cultures is something I’ll never tire of, and is definitely making me want to travel more.

Lastly, this week has included some prep time for Eurgain’s birthday presents and events. We were debating going to a puzzle room type thing; you go to a room with a few others, and have to solve the puzzle to get out. I think we are still going to at some point, but that’s been put on hold in favour of the science museum and a restaurant with a fabulous view over the centre of downtown Vancouver (as you’ll see from pictures this and next week). We spent today exploring Queen Elizabeth park, which is where this restaurant is situated; and the biodome which sits a stone’s throw from it. I’ll let Eurgain tell you about that!

Eurgain

This week’s been really good – I handed in my proposal for my Introduction to Archaeology class, and my first test for Introduction to Physical Anthropology went well. Saying that, I can’t wait for a week off. As Rory said, we’ll be spending a lot of this next week studying for our mid-terms, but we’ll also get to sleep later in the mornings and go do more ‘touristy stuff’ during the week.

Our adventures these past few days have a lot to do with gardens. We visited the Van Dusen Botanical Garden, which was lovely to walk around even if all of the flowers were covered with a thick blanket of snow. We saw some more totem poles, some interesting statues including Captain Vancouver (I wonder what’s named after him..) and David Douglas (the Scottish naturalist the Douglas fir tree is named after!), and Rory beat me at a game of ‘race to the middle of the maze’. Today, we went to Queen Elizabeth Park for a walk and to our surprise, we came across the Bloedel Floral Conservatory – a small biodome with tropical trees, flowers, and exotic birds inside. It was so strange stepping out of the snow into a rainforest, but I loved the warmth and felt like I was in another world.

Tomorrow’s my 21st birthday! I never imagined I’d be spending it in Canada, but I’m so glad that I am and I’m really looking forward to Thursday – when my family are coming over. We’ve got a whole lot of things planned, we’re going to the Science Museum and to Seasons in the Park for a three course meal tomorrow evening. On Valentine’s Day, Rory and I are planning to go for a nice walk to one of the nearby parks, relax whilst watching a few films, eat pizza and plenty of chocolate. Thursday is when my family come over, I can’t wait to go see the Cavalia Odysseo, an amazing horse show, with them on Saturday and then to see the Vancouver Canucks face off the Calgary Flames during the ice hockey match on Sunday.

I can’t wait for the week ahead!

That’s all from us for this week. Until next time 🙂

 

The Great White North: Round 2

We seriously can’t believe it’s been a month since we arrived! It’s becoming more apparent every day how fast the time is flying. It was only yesterday we staggered off the plane, onto the skytrain, into our landlord’s car, and into bed, wasn’t it? This week we’ve been essaying a lot, as deadlines begin to loom and tests start to be taken. Nevertheless, here’s this week’s thoughts!

Rory: College is as we’ve come to expect – of course my US Politics class is getting ever more depressing; but despite that I’m really thoroughly enjoying all my subjects at the moment. And I don’t know if that’s because I’m doing something different, or because I’m abroad, but either way I really am enjoying studying everything I am at the moment! Anyway, my top 3 things…

I did a presentation in class this week – on James I’s essay on the Divine Right of Kings, and how it is God’s will that a monarchy be in charge, etc. Interesting essay, and an interesting presentation. I really felt in my element explaining this piece of work to the class – I even got some jokes out of them, with my reasonably dry British wit! There are times I think everyone has that feeling of truly enjoying what they’re doing – I have that with re-enactment, and I really think I have found an idea for my career…teaching! Maybe it was just the class, but that presentation was really fun, and I just hope I get to do as many as possible while I’m still at uni.

As you may have guessed, it snowed this week. A lot. And unlike last month, this was the first time I’ve been around falling snow (that settled!!) in quite literally years. Snowball fights, the snow-woman, and the views you get from inside as it falls – all with fresh snow – really put me back in my childhood a little. If there’s one thing I would consider moving to Canada for, it’s the chance to experience this every year. Mind you, I/we are definitely planning a Canadian road trip at some point, since Vancouver’s been so lovely, and so my question to any readers is: where would you recommend stopping for a look on a Canadian road trip?

And lastly, I made a bit of a discovery this week. As some of you readers may have been watching, Taboo is a BBC drama with Tom Hardy set in 1814; his character frequently clashes with the Prince Regent (a rather gluttonous Mark Gatiss) and the East India Company (led by a fiery Jonathan Pryce) over a piece of territory on Vancouver Island called ‘Nootka Sound’. Quite by chance, I was discussing it with some friends from my US politics class, and one of them mentions that he’s been there. It exists – and so I think at some point an excursion is in order!

Eurgain: I got some exciting news this week! First, I found out that I’m going to Uganda for 2 and a half months (instead of one month as planned originally) at the end of April until July, along with the Canadian students on my International Studies course. Second, I was told that my practicum will be with STEP (Support The Elderly Peoples) Uganda, which focuses on the physical, social and psychological well-being of elderly people in the Masaka community. I’m really looking forward and can’t wait to get to know more about the programme in the next few weeks.

Rory and I went for a lovely walk on Thursday to Central Park (yes, they have one here too!), a beautiful woodland park with a big pond in the middle. I still can’t get over how cute the squirrels are and how many of them there are! We saw a few quirky features in the park as well – a lovely little gazebo/band stand, and a horseshoe throwing pen where people can play in the summer. After that, we went to warm up with some hot chocolate in Tim Horton’s before I headed off to my 6.30pm lecture in Coquitlam.

As Rory’s already mentioned, we’ve had a tonne of new snow this weekend. The snowball fights have been fun (I win every time, of course), and I love taking photos of breathtakingly beautiful Vancouver in the snow. I wonder how long we’ll still love it when the snow turns to ice and we’re already running late walking to school in the mornings!

I have a test for my Introduction to Physical Anthropology class on Tuesday, and as I’ve been studying today like the hardworking student I am, we decided to go out for dinner and to the cinema this evening. For food, we went to Burger Heaven, and they really do meet a heavenly standard. Their menu is extensive with amazing burger options, from elk, and buffalo burgers, to the Insanity burger (a burger patty between two cheese toasties) and the collosal Ernie’s Mile High Club burger (8 patties topped with the works), which you can join the prestigious Hall of Fame for. We will certainly be taking some family members there when they visit!

Thanks for reading, all. Catch you on the flipside!

The Three Brits

So we’ve been here for a month, although we’re not sure how – it’s just flown by! We’ve been a little more active this week, so here are our reflections 🙂 We’ve even got a bit this week in Welsh.

Eurgain (Welsh)

Helo! Mond darn bach gen i tro ‘ma, gan fy mod i hefo digon o waith darllan a ‘sgwennu i’w wneud heno ar gyfer fy narlithoedd. Yn ystod yr wythnosau dwythaf, mi rydan ni wedi treulio rhan fwyaf o’n penwythnosau’n gweithio, gan ein bod ni yma i astudio ar ddiwedd y dydd. Ond, pan gawn ni siawns, awn ni allan am antur o amgylch Vancouver! Dydd Sadwrn yma, mi ddaru ni gyfarfod hefo’n ffrind newydd, Jemma. Symudodd hi yma 8 mlynedd yn ôl hefo’i theulu o Southampton, rhyfadd oedd clywad yr acen yn newid yn ôl a ‘mlaen o Saesneg i Canadian, dibynnu hefo pwy neu am be oedd hi’n siarad. Aeth y tri ohonom ni am dro i Deep Cove (ar Fynydd Seymour) – tua hanner awr o’r ddinas ei hun i gyfeiriad Whistler. Gathom ni lot o hwyl dod i ‘nabod Jemma wrth i ni yrru a cerdded drwy’r goedwig. Roedd y llwybr ei hun yn serth mewn llawer o rhana’, ond mi roedd y golygfeydd yn anghygoel pan gyrrhaeddom ni’r diwedd. Roedd sefyll ar carreg enfawr mewn rhan clir o’r goedwig gyda golygfeydd o’r Pasific, y ddinas, a’r mynyddoedd o’n cwmpas yn anghofiadwy. Ar ôl hynny, athom ni i nôl bwyd, ac wrth gwrs, pan welsom ni ‘The Three Brits’, roedd yn rhaid i ni chwerthin a mynd i fano. Cawsom ni beint a bwyd hyfryd cyn symud ymlaen i Stanley Park – parc enfawr ar ynys ei hun wrth ymyl y ddinas. Aethom ni i weld a tynnu llunia’ o’r totem poles Cenhedloedd Cyntaf, yna cawsom ni amser neis yn gyrru o un olygfan i’r llall. Mi rydan ni’n gobeithio mynd yn ôl yno cyn bo hir er mwyn medru teithio mewn ceffyll a throl o amgylch y parc, ac i weld yr aquarium. Cyn i’r haul fynd lawr, athom ni i fyny Mount Burnaby’n y car i weld y ddinas o olygfa arall. Anodd iawn ydi disgrifio faint o anghygoel oedd y golygfeydd o’n cwmpas. Roedd gweld y mynyddoedd yn lâs ac yn llonydd yn y pellter, a’r ddinas hefo’i goleuadau llachar yn rhywbeth na’i byth anghofio.  Dwi’n teimlo mor lwcus fy mod i wedi cael y siawns i weld ac i fyw mewn lle mor brydferth, tydw i’n sicr ddim yn barod i ddod adra!

Eurgain (English)

Hello! Only a small bit from me this time, as I have plenty of reading and writing to do tonight for my classes. During the past week, we’ve been spending most of our weekends working, since we’re here to study at the end of the day. But, when we get the chance, we’ll go for an adventure around Vancouver! This Saturday, we met with our new friend, Jemma. She moved here 8 years ago with her family from Southampton, it was strange hearing her accent change from an English to a Canadian one, depending on who with or what she was talking about. The three of us went to Deep Cove (on Mount Seymour) – about half an hour from the city itself towards Whistler. We had a great time getting to know Jemma as we drove and walked through the forest. The path itself was steep in a lot of places, but the views were amazing when we reached the end. Standing on a huge rock jutting out of the forest with a view of the Pacific, the city, and the mountains all around us was unforgettable. After that, we went for food, and of course, when we saw ‘The Three Brits’ we had to laugh and go there. We had a pint and some wonderful food before moving on to Stanley Park – an enormous park on its own island by the city. We went to see and take photos of the First Nation totem poles, then we had a nice time driving around from one viewing point to another. We’re hoping to go back there soon to travel around the park in a horse and carriage, and to see the aquarium. Before the sun went down, we went up Mount Burnaby in the car to see the city from a different view. It’s hard to describe how incredible the views were all around us. Seeing the mountains, all blue and still in the distant, and the shiny lights of the city was something I’ll never forget. I feel so lucky to have been given the chance to see and to live in such a beautiful place, I certainly don’t want to come home just yet!

Rory

Well, what can I say? A month. It really seems to be only a few days ago we were stumbling off the plane after our flight over. Despite that, we have been very busy this week – and I’ve therefore got some stuff to say!

Firstly, quick college update. I now have all my books, in ebook or physical form. Been such an ordeal – two of them got lost in the post, so I had to order some more (one of which I actually am still waiting for) but have now both been replaced. They are dense, and heavy, and the fact that I may well not get even half my money back on the couple I will be getting rid of post-finals is more than a little irritating. I certainly am learning to appreciate the UK system, where buying a £120 textbook doesn’t determine if you fail the module. I am also very much missing the NHS – friends will know I can be a little paranoid about health concerns, so basically being unable to go to the doctor is a little worrying. For our avid readers, my question this week is; if you’ve lived abroad, what have you most missed about British life?

Secondly, I definitely feel I’m fitting in here. On Friday I went for lunch with friends made at uni (if they’re reading, hi!) and it was a great experience being able to compare cultural norms. This is happening in my other classes – as all making friends requires is a little bit of confidence! Advice for future people studying abroad: just make the leap and say hi to someone. Ask about the culture you’re living in, or any good spots to eat. Be yourself, be confident, and friends will not be a worry. It also helps speaking the same language, so I’m glad I didn’t go to Spain to study!

My last thing this week is, as Eurgain has mentioned, that yesterday we went hiking/touring around scenic Vancouver with a new friend, Jemma. The morning was interesting – I normally quite like hikes, but since being here (and living on the side of a hill) gradients are beginning to fill me with dread. It even got to the point where my glasses were steaming up, so I had to take them off just to see! The view was lovely though, and it is weird being able to stand on the side of a mountain (Seymour I believe) and see a city which you’ve not technically left. It’s odd – and I had the same feeling at Mount Burnaby, where we caught our last glimpse of the city before the light faded. Standing on a mountain, with snow on the ground although we weren’t that high up, and being surrounded on all sides by the glimmering lights of a city that never sleeps is a surreal feeling, and one I will forever treasure about Vancouver.

Thanks for reading  – talk to you all next week!!

Knuckling Under

So this week’s been mostly about work, as illness beats a hasty retreat from our door – we’ve both now recovered from the stomach bug which rather incapacitated us last week/early this week. We have, however, still been enjoying life in what is truly now proving itself to be Rain-couver. We’ll be writing this together this week, so strap in for our highlights!

Rory’s been very happy to have finally made it to all his lectures this week, and is now simply struck by how much paperwork he’s accruing from only 4 classes. Thankfully the Centre for Disabilities at Douglas has been more than helpful regarding exam assistance (for those who don’t know, Rory’s dyspraxic – affecting his handwriting and planning), and the paperwork has now all been completed.

On that theme, his last piece of work for UWTSD’s Semester 1 (an exam) went smoothly, after several days of intense revision; and Eurgain’s last 2 essays for UWTSD modules are well on their way to completion. Panic is now almost completely over – and we can both begin to focus entirely on Douglas courses.

Eurgain has found a treasure cove, which has taken the form of a Thrift Store (charity shop for those from Europe) – a veritable cornucopia of clothes, shoes, crockery, furniture, electronics, and so much more; and it has already yielded fruit. A pair of boots (still being broken in, mind) were found when snow was still littering the pavements, and more recently even a set of bathroom scales was discovered. This last provided some much needed morale lifting this weekend when we discovered we had both lost weight! This must be due to the hills of New Westminster, and Eurgain’s superb and healthy cooking!

Eurgain went to a workshop for those making the trip to Uganda, where she met all those joining her for the excursion to yet another continent – this one will be taking place in May. She’s definitely made some friends, and is looking forward to getting to know them better whilst over here and in Africa.

Rory has been doing the same in classes, with a number of new friends. He even went to an event organised by the Douglas Students Union on Thursday – where he met more Douglas students, and learned that the accent never ceases to amaze some Canadians, along with making a new friend in Jemma. Having moved here with her family some years ago from England, she now studies at Douglas too – and has even offered to give us a tour of a nearby mountain, which should be an amazing experience. We’re both very much looking forward to seeing what Mount Cypress has to offer  us, and we’ll be sure to take the camera!

Until next week, toodles!