Phase 4

Hi all!

Wow – it’s November already!? Time flies etc etc…

I’m just gonna be up front with you: since my last post, the workload has been coming thick and fast. Last week I had a deadline or an exam every single day (hence why I am just getting around to writing this blog now!) I’ve become all too familiar with the word “mid-term”. However, I can now breathe a sigh of relief that we have officially crossed the half-way point of this semester, which means (you guessed it) NO MORE MID-TERMS (until next term).

So far, I have tried to focus my blogs on different “phases” that I have been going through whilst studying abroad: the pre-departure phase, the OMG I’m actually here phase, and last time was the adjustment phase. I can safely say that right now, I am experiencing the get-your-head-down-and-work-your-ass-off phase. Juggling five 3000 level English Lit modules comes with a LOT of reading and a LOT of writing (funnily enough!) However, I want to share this potentially daunting experience with anyone who is considering study abroad as being a positive one: after each week I feel like I have just conquered a mountain that I didn’t think I would ever be able to reach the top of, and – to cut my horrendous metaphor short – I feel like I am responding to my work with less stress, and more focus. So there’s a nice silver lining for you to ponder over.

Here’s another one! Every time I do get stressed, homesick or hungover, the Atlantic Ocean is just around the corner – there’s no better place to go and clear your head, take a breather, and remind yourself of where you are and that the experience you are having is what you’ve been looking forward to for months and months:

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Of course, there are also a lot of nice, smiley people in Canada to cheer you up on a bad day 🙂

So far, I have not had to ask for an extension in any of my classes, but I have definitely considered doing so. I would never dream of asking my tutors at Glasgow Uni for an extension because of a heavy workload, but nearly all of my “profs” (they’re not your “tutors” here!) have been extremely understanding and approachable when it comes to coping with deadlines. This is perhaps because the assessment at Dal is more continuous than Glasgow, therefore they take a more flexible approach to the system – or maybe it’s just because they are super chill and friendly. I’m not sure what the reason is. But I like it.

While I have been keeping my head down, I have simultaneously managed to make several more Canadian/Halifax/Dal observations:

  1. “Fall” is bloody lovely – embrace the clichés of the bright red leaves and the pumpkin spice lattes. (N.B you needn’t really do the latter: I’ve only had one since I’ve been here and it was pretty mediocre. In fact it was a fairly traumatising experience in Tim Horton’s which involved me being given a pumpkin muffin because the server misunderstood my (quite subtle) Scottish accent. Beware: Latte is pronounced “law-tay” in Canada. Still – “latte” vs “muffin” – SERIOUSLY?!)
Photo credit to Laura :)

Photo credit to Laura 🙂

  1. Also – perhaps this isn’t worthy of being its own observation – but, I am a big coffee fan (note: fan, not snob) and I am yet to find a satisfactory flat white in Halifax. The hunt continues.
  2. If you don’t like beer, then it’s time to start. Keggers, brewery tours and huge celebrations for Alexander Keith’s birthday (you’ll learn) are just a sample of the beer-related activities that have taken place thus far.
Micro-brewery tour aka unlimited beer

Micro-brewery tour aka unlimited beer

  1. I still don’t know what the difference is between American and Canadian Thanksgiving. However, I am thankful that I got to experience not one, but TWO separate Thanksgiving dinners in Halifax – one of which was cooked for me by a REAL LIFE Canadian, and the other was a pot-luck dinner organised by some of the other exchange students – both of which were equally satisfying! (made my mama proud with some homemade stuffing!)
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Thanksgiving #1: lots of food

Thanksgiving #2: food coma

Thanksgiving #2: food coma

  1. Canadians LOVE Halloween – aside from all the parties, there is more of a “Halloween atmosphere” around campus than I would feel at home (e.g. people randomly handing out free “candy” in various locations – can’t complain) Also, it is still (weirdly?) socially acceptable to go trick or treating as a 20 year old (and if it’s not, then my flat mate got away lightly…)

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  1. I should also say that the International Department at Dal are really welcoming and communicative with all of the incoming exchange students. Although I’ve not really been in to talk with any of them one-to-one since my first week here, they always update the Facebook page and send emails with details of different activities they have organised, or just to “check in” with everyone. In short, you never feel isolated as an exchange student because they are so inclusive of everybody on the programme and encourage you to get involved with the “Dal community”. If you were to have any uni related or personal problems, these are the people that you would most likely get in touch with – if anything, it’s just nice to know they are there!

Well, November is set up with some pretty big deadlines again but somehow I’m not feeling as daunted as I did this time last month – which must be a good sign. Of course, that could all change tomorrow. In which case: to the ocean!

As always, any queries or questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch via email/Facebook 🙂

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