Posted by: Steph | howtogirl.net | September 16, 2010

It’s that time again

This will definitely not be a photo heavy blog, as honestly I cannot be bothered going through the process of uploading them all again and most of you who are reading this will have seen it on my facebook anyway.

Went to Niagara on Saturday (wow why does that feel like so long ago)? It was absolutely incredible. The Maid of the Mist boat ride is by far one of the most mind-blowing experiences I’ve ever had, and I’ve been lucky enough to have some pretty fantastic ones to start with but that… I don’t even have words for that. Made me so grateful just to be here and be able to see the things I see and do the things I do. The town around Niagara is super super touristy mind you. If you’re not prepared for it the tackiness may offend, but Jordan had already warned me about it so honestly I just thought it was all kind of funny. There’s things like a Guinness World Records museum, Ripleys believe it or not museum, incredibly poor quality wax museums and goodness knows what else everywhere you look. Tourist shops are really big there too. I saw the coolest and most touristy jacket that was simply awesome – it was a zip up hoodie with “CANADA” plastered across the front, but it was actually ridiculously warm and comfortable. Definitely wish I’d bought it. Instead I bought a couple of other things to send to someone back home who specifically asked for it. Still on the look out for a few birthday presents for people. You guys really need to stop aging.

After Niagara we went to a town called Niagara-on-the-Lake. It’s kind of a tourist town but a far less tacky version. It kind of reminds me of Tanunda, but more upmarket and well manicured. It was absolutely beautiful. I adored all the houses we passed along the way – really old cottage style places covered in vines and greenery. Even the mansions just seemed kind of old world and tasteful to me. It was like looking at the house I always dreamed of having as a kid, rope swing and all. Wandering through the town was a lot of fun too. We avoided doing any shopping as it was all little boutique style places where the prices would make your eyes bug out of your head (frankly, the price of most things here will make your eyes bug out of your head anyway), but I did end up getting an ice cream from this place called Moo that boasts itself as being “Canada’s Best Ice Cream”. I have to admit, they had pretty fair claim to the title insomuch as I’ve seen anyway.

As to uni itself, the classes I’m taking are actually REALLY damned interesting. My history course is by far my favourite, which makes me mourn for not having chosen history as my major in the first place, but from what I understand the history courses offered at Adelaide Uni are nothing like this. The way they do their assessments seems to be far more balanced and fair too. It’s definitely a HUGE amount of work, but thus far it’s all stuff that really catches my attention. Even my English courses this semester are pretty heavily steeped in history. My US Latina/o course is absolutely fascinating to me, mostly because American (and I use the term to refer to the whole continent, not just the US) history is completely foreign to me, so it’s all brand new and fresh and exciting. Well, and depressing. But. Ya know. That’s history for you.
The history course is called Popular Culture and Punishment, and it covers the period from like 1500-1900ish around the United Kingdom and what sorts of crimes were prevalent and how they were punished etc. I am absolutely loving every minute of it. We’ve really only had the intro lecture so far, wherein they gave us a brief rundown of what was going on historically at certain points (and boy did I need it – they never did teach us anything but modern history, much to my chagrin) and it just immediately reminded me of 2005 when I was going around Europe listening to Mr. Murphy give me brief rundowns of the history of all these different places we went to. I love learning more about that period, and the subject matter, whilst gruesome, is downright fascinating. We’re actually going to be looking at serial killers and the witch hunt and so forth. It’s fantastic.
My last subject is called Literature in History, but it’s less history based than you would expect given the title. Essentially courses here are REALLY determined by the professors that run it. If you have a different lecturer (which, given the way the courses are structured here, is kinda the equivalent of having a different TUTOR in a class) your subject matter will be COMPLETELY different. You’ll have different books set and everything. My particular prof has chosen to focus on literature that came out of WWII and the holocaust, but with a broader focus than just books. We’re looking at plays, films, art works, songs etc. Honestly that’s usually enough to make me groan in despair because I am USELESS with anything but huge blocks of writing, but thus far it’s still pretty interesting. The prof has essentially based the course around Trauma theory, which is an entirely new aspect of literature for me to be looking at. Combined with my interest in and knowledge of psychology, it’s proving to kind of be right up my alley in a lot of ways. It’ll definitely be incredibly challenging, but it’s actually the kind of challenge I think I’ll enjoy for a change.
Yep I sound like a nerd. Sue me. Believe it or not I DID actually come here to STUDY 😉 the different courses were one of the MAJOR appeals to me in coming here at all.

Guelph itself is a lot like Adelaide, so honestly I don’t find myself overly home sick. I miss certain people and places but I’m finding it pretty easy to just slot right in here and just get on with things. My house mates are all very chilled, and bar a few minor ticks incredibly easy to get along with and live with. I really love nights where we all end up in the living room and actually have a real conversation and socialise properly with one another. It’s really easy in these townhouses to just end up locked in your room and not really interact with your house mates, so it’s kinda nice that we occasionally break that trend. We all sat down and played this RIDICULOUS game that Cassie bought from the dollar store. It was a DVD game based on a Japanese game show where you essentially watch clips of these stupid scenarios and place bets on the outcomes. Some are just hilariously stupid – a couple were downright unsettling. My favourite, and possibly the most disturbing, was one wherein there were two guys with a metal pole between their legs (hear me out), and each had to rub the pole for a certain amount of time. Whichever one managed to increase the temperature of the pole the most was the winner, and you had to bet on who you thought would win.
Yeah… that game was insane.
What was more hilarious was that Cassie won and she insisted that it was obvious that the guy who won looked lonelier bahaha.

I’ve encountered a few difficulties being here, but most of them are pretty minor. For example, because I’ve never had to shop or cook for myself, just figuring out what to buy and what not to buy and how much to cook etc has been something of a learning curve for me. People who have lived out of home for ages would probably laugh at that, but it’s actually more difficult than I anticipated. The major concern I have though is money. I feel like I’m burning through it incredibly quickly because things here are far more expensive than I was banking on. Just getting set up with things that I couldn’t pack feels like it cost an absolute fortune, and there were a few things I feel really stupid for not having sorted out back home. For example, by far my stupidest oversight was shoes. I threw a couple of pairs in my suitcase with very little consideration for the fact that I DO NOT HAVE A CAR over here thus WALK EVERYWHERE. This wouldn’t be a problem normally, but because my ankle still gives me a fair bit of grief (especially in the colder weather), I really needed shoes with proper support that would be able to go the distance. Ballet flats and converses simply weren’t cutting the mustard. I was absolutely kicking myself for not AT LEAST bringing my runners. I bought a really cheap pair of runners (from the Canadian equivalent of Spendless Shoes) but they were hardly appropriate to be worn with skirts and tights. I felt ridiculously conspicuous. After watching Hollie walk around in some awesome vintage combat boots and talking to a lot of different Canadians about what they get around in in Winter, I eventually realised I was going to have to bite the bullet and buy something decent. Shopping here is painful, because Guelph has very little competition so getting things cheap is not easy. I forked out the most I have ever paid for a pair of shoes in my life for a really sturdy pair of Dr. Martens. I gotta say, whilst the price left me absolutely reeling (and damn Canadian tax only being added on at the point of sale! It is KILLING me) I’m pretty much in love with them. The difference as soon as I put them on was amazing, and walking around is going to be so much more comfortable now. Whilst the price makes me want to cry a lot, I have to admit they’re a solid investment, and I picked a pair that literally goes with EVERYTHING I brought over here (I was incredibly tempted to buy this wicked pair of brown ones, but I eventually had to be honest with myself that forking out $150 Canadian plus tax for a pair of shoes that did not match EVERYTHING I owned was absolutely ridiculous).
Another rude shock money-wise was the printer. I don’t even know what the difference is any more, but in the end what I was expecting to cost me around $50 ended up being around $120. And once again, it was a solid investment because I’ve already made a lot of use of it and ALL my history readings are online so printing them out will save me a lot of hassle, but I was simply not prepared for it.

However, at the end of the day all those big things that made me cringe violently and die a little inside to hand over my VISA for are one-offs, and I’ve managed to sort out my weekly groceries pretty damned well now. The meal plan I bought with my school fees is proving to be an absolute godsend for making things easier and keeping lunch costs down. That said, I’ve realised I need to be a lot more careful with what I eat and buy as it’s far too easy to fall into my usual incredibly poor eating habits.

Only other relatively important thing to report is that it looks like a possibility that I’ll be traveling alone at the end of the school semester. Nothing is set in stone yet, but I’m having to alter my plans to account for the possibility. I’m actually pretty chilled with this idea. I’m feeling pretty confident that I’ll be able to make it work and get a real kick out of seeing whatever the heck I want and going wherever the heck I choose. I’ve also been looking into couchsurfing.org and I’m thinking I’ll make use of it. Not only as a way to keep costs down (accommodation is never cheap), but also because I think it sounds like a wicked way to meet people. Yes hostels are good for that too, but I think I might do better with the couchsurfing environment and being able to be a little selective about the types of people you pick out to stay with and befriend. I really think it seems like a great way to get to properly know some new people (something I admit I’ve been very very lazy about over here). I’ve messaged the ambassador for Guelph, so I think I’ll meet up with him and ask a few questions and see where it takes me. I’m pretty content to go with the flow for the present.

Well now that you’ve had a HUGE wall of text, have some photos (if you have me on facebook, you’ll have seen these already):

The best ice cream in Canada need not be wiped from your mouth when taking a photo! ... especially when you don't realise it's there -facepalm-

From the Maid of the Mist

The Canadian falls - FAR more impressive, but generally less photogenic because they kick up more mist

American Falls

Niagara-on-the-Lake. Can I live there?

Even the lamp posts are pretty there!

That’s it from me today. I have readings to do, sleep to catch up on, and classes to attend.
Take care of yourselves! Miss you all!

P.S. Squirrel count: 85

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Posted by: Steph | howtogirl.net | September 10, 2010

The Arboretum

Took a walk through the Guelph Arboretum today. However before I go onto that may I just say that no one is ever to complain to me about the cost of textbooks again. Over here they’re RIDICULOUSLY pricey. Blew my mind, seriously. $40 for a course reader that back home would have cost me $5-10. Ouch.

I digress.

Sir Wombat and I had a most wonderful time in the Arboretum. I increased my squirrel count to 28, encountered my first chipmunks and just generally enjoyed being outside. It was a beautiful day for it too. Keen to see how these pictures compare to when the snow sets in too.

General prettiness.

Sir Wombat likes to walk on the edge

I'm quite keen to just sit there for a while

We're not in Kansas any more...

Sir Wombat enjoying the Fauna

Sir Wombat is intrigued by the sign. As was I, 'cos it's not Winter and believe me that trail needed some maintenance

Getting pics of these guys is impossible. They are SO QUICK.

The Chipmunks were far more cooperative

He is displeased because he thinks I'm after his food

Sir Wombat checks him out

Until next time!

Posted by: Steph | howtogirl.net | September 9, 2010

A weekly update. Or something.

This is going to be a short on text update, as frankly I find myself slowly becoming comatose. I think jetlag is still getting to me a bit.
Settling in here fine. All my housemates are officially moved in and I know where all my classes are now (theoretically – I still need approval for one of my courses -shakes fist at the absent prof-). Classes officially start tomorrow, so I’ll be getting an early night tonight – although given my inability to stay awake most days that isn’t saying a lot. Sent off the first batch of postcards but still have another 10 or so to write out and send, so if others get theirs before you don’t be offended. I’ve had to break up the sending anyway because honestly it was going to cost me a fortune to send them all in one go.

Friday I’ll take a proper walk around the uni and through the arbortum so I’ll have more interesting pics to put up (not to mention more relevant). Saturday I have a Niagra Falls trip (excitement plus!) so I’ll have more to report then too. In the interim, here’s what I’ve snapped the past couple of days:

Pep rally - spot the Steph!

Pep rally

Duke Wilfred Huffington the Third says hello to Aries, our new fish

Sir Wombat (his shortened name) says hello to the other new kid, Athena

My latest batch of anti-drop-dead pills. The pill bottle made me laugh

My treat for the week ($5) to make the room feel more homey... taking bets on how long I keep it alive for

Our door in all its glory

The condom and candy jar! Why? Well actually there's a pretty good logic behind it.

This just appealed to my low humour threshold

Lego candy! I think I'd just play with it though

I found this decidedly creepy

Proof that I can occasionally cook for myself

In one of the theatre buildings. I thought it was cool

Random entryway. Also something I just thought was pretty

Toffee apple shop in the mall - INSANE

And with that, I must head to bed.

P.S. Squirrel count: 16

This is going to be a short on text update, as frankly I find myself slowly becoming comatose. I think jetlag is still getting to me a bit.
Settling in here fine. All my housemates are officially moved in and I know where all my classes are now (theoretically – I still need approval for one of my courses -shakes fist at the absent prof-). Classes officially start tomorrow, so I’ll be getting an early night tonight – although given my inability to stay awake most days that isn’t saying a lot. Sent off the first batch of postcards but still have another 10 or so to write out and send, so if others get theirs before you don’t be offended. I’ve had to break up the sending anyway because honestly it was going to cost me a fortune to send them all in one go.

Friday I’ll take a proper walk around the uni and through the arbortum so I’ll have more interesting pics to put up. Saturday I have a Niagra Falls trip (excitement plus!) so I’ll have more to report then too. In the interim, here’s what I’ve snapped the past couple of days:

Pep rally - spot the Steph!

Pep rally

Duke Wilfred Huffington the Third says hello to Aries, our new fish

Sir Wombat (his shortened name) says hello to the other new kid, Athena

My latest batch of anti-drop-dead pills. The pill bottle made me laugh

My treat for the week ($5) to make the room feel more homey... taking bets on how long I keep it alive for

Our door in all its glory

The condom and candy jar! Why? Well actually there's a pretty good logic behind it.

This just appealed to my low humour threshold

Lego candy! I think I'd just play with it though

I found this decidedly creepy

Proof that I can occasionally cook for myself

In one of the theatre buildings. I thought it was cool

Random entryway. Also something I just thought was pretty

Toffee apple shop in the mall - INSANE

Posted by: Steph | howtogirl.net | September 3, 2010

Hello Canada!

So after over 24 hours on planes and in airports (incidentally, a word of advice: when planning a trip that long, PACK A CHANGE OF CLOTHES IN YOUR CARRY-ON LUGGAGE. Man 24 hours without showering or changing clothes is unpleasant), I have finally arrived in Guelph. Things have been going AMAZINGLY smoothly oddly enough. In spite of all the issues I was worried about with my luggage, it all ended up going off without a hitch. Also, Canada Air served me maple syrup made in Australia. I found that a lot funnier than was necessary.
Right now I’m jetlagged as hell, and consequently ended up missing the second half of orientation (oops). Instead my housemate Cassie (who is also our RA) took us on a shopping trip, which proved to be far more epic than I’d anticipated. Walking shoes are ridiculously necessary ASAP.
Everyone here is lovely. Sam picked us up from the airport and ended up loaning me a pillow and Hollie all the bedding she needed. Cassie is really well set up, so I haven’t had to buy anything like crockery or cutlery, and there’s appliances galore. It’s all
SO helpful – I can’t even begin to express my relief or gratitude. Those two girls have made life so much easier already.

The room is huge, which is funny because mine is so bare. It’s truly comical when you compare it to Cassie’s which is delightfully full of homey touches.

I have started a tally of how many squirrels I see. I’m up to four. I’m hoping to reach a truly absurd number by the time I leave here.

Onward to photos:

My present from Hollie ❤ SO ADORABLE.

Cheap compared to Aus? Heck yes!

Dunkaroos gone insane!

4 of 4 haha

My little cupboard of win!

My housemate made these awesome stencils for decoration. These are my favs!

THEY BE AFTER ME LUCKY CHARMS

View from my room

Desk... exciting.

View when you walk in

Side view of desk

Bed 😀

My bookcase is so empty 😮

Wardrobe - I lack coathangers so temporary solution

My ingenious solution to needing so many adaptors

Too tired. That is all.

Keep safe
xx

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