Moving In, Montreal, and Orientation
19.08.2010 - 24.08.2010
Hola!! Sorry it's been a while since I've updated, I've been very busy getting settled over the past week. Hmmm, so where to start?? SOOO much has happened in the last week, I'm going to have to give just a brief summary (and it'll probably still be super long!):
Well, my first couple of days here I spent most of my time walking around Montreal with mi padre. We walked my route to and from McGill about a zillion times - it's about a 20-30 min walk (uphill both ways!! seriously. lol) which is both good and bad - good because, without trying, I get at least an hour of walking in every day, and bad because soon I'm going to have to do that in the frigid cold! eek! Not to worry though, there is a bus that will cut about 10 mins off my walk should the need arise!) Aside from practicing that route, which my dad can attest took A LOT of practice (I'm a tad directionally challenged and for about the first 3 days I was here, I would consistently walk out of my apartment and turn in ABSOLUTELY the wrong direction..at which my dad would laugh and then re-direct me) I've got it down now though, don't worry!
We also spent some time exploring downtown Montreal (where McGill's campus is actually located). There's a very popular street just 2 blocks from McGill's campus called Rue Saint Catherine, which is known for its incredible shopping and nightlife. Just last night, myself, my roommate Karla, and some of her friends from Mexico went salsa dancing at a place on St Catherine. I'm not good at all, but it was a lot of fun! AND I just signed up for the salsa dancing club at McGill today (haha), so hopefully I'll get better!! You'll probably also notice that I've been using a little bit of spanish in this post too..go figure, lol..I'm in Montreal, le Paris du Canada, but I guess that's what happens when you spend the majority of your time with your Mexican roommate and her friends...and I only expect it to get worse as my 3 Spanish roommates start moving in this week! Nevertheless, yo estoy aprendiendo (I am learning)!!!
Let's see, dad and I also explored Vieux Montreal (Old Montreal) the last day he was here. It's a darling little area of Montreal full of old buildings and nice places to eat. Very reminiscent of Europe. I will post pictures of that too!
Montreal is an incredible city with an amazingly diverse population! There are people with the most amazing life stories here. There are students from all over the world! Literally. The number of bilingual and multilingual people here is actually making me feel a little bit inadequate! For example, most Montrealers are AT LEAST bi-lingual and can speak both French and English perfectly. But it does not stop there, because it seems that there are even more people who are tri-lingual or more!! The craziest thing, being around all these multi-lingual people, is that they can slip seamlessly back and forth from one language to the next, mid-sentence! It's definitely nice too, because it's not intimidating for me to try to speak french here. Unlike France, people here do not scoff at you for trying to speak french, even if it's horrible (which mine most certainly is!) They are either appreciative for the effort, or they are amused, and respond, smiling, in perfect english.
Today, I spent ALL day attending McGill's first-year orientation, which I was worried would be all 18-year old freshmen students. But as I said before, Montreal and McGill are incredibly diverse, and Montrealers actually attend 13 years of school (compared to our 12 years) and then attend university for a typical 3 or 4 years, depending on the program. SO, long story short, the first-year orientation included all manner of students ranging from 18 and 19 year-old freshmen, to older visiting (comme moi!), transfer, and exchange students.
The next few days consist of more orientation sessions and even more social events! I signed up for a science student-specific orientation called FROSH, which is apparently supposed to be a blast, and includes 3 days of social events and trips to the beach, etc. So this weekend I'll do my best to write a more exciting blog post about happenings during the next few days!
OH, ALSO, before I forget! I've only really had 2 major culture-shock experiences here. First, is the way Mexicans and Spaniards greet each other..it's not hugs, it's not hand shakes (at least not for girls).. the Mexicans greet by a kiss on 1 cheek and the Spanish greet by a kiss on both cheeks! Very interesting...very European...verrrrry unexpected the first time it happens!! lol The first time I met my roommate Karla, for example, I was totally taken aback. I was like, "Ohhh my goshhh, too close, too close!" But after that 1st time, I've actually acclimated quite quickly. It kind of makes me wish us Americans were a little more cultured in our greetings..Anyway, my second culture-shock experience is that a lot of Montrealers, like Europeans (to make a major generalization) smoke cigarettes...not my favorite aspect of the culture here...but as I'm more of the "to each their own" philosophy, I don't mind, as long as the smoke is not blown directly into my face...Oh, and thirdly McGill is like the POLAR OPPOSITE of St. Olaf so far. It's a wet campus; so not only is drinking allowed, but the campus has its own bar. Plus, at orientation today the student society officers showed a video to the whole undergraduate orientation that used the word F*#& several times. I think I was the only one looking around like, "Oh my gosh, can they say that??"
Anyway, that's more than long enough for now. I'll try to update again soon!