20.09.2010 - 30.10.2010 65 °F
I am so sorry for being MIA (missing in action) for the past couple of weeks. Like anywhere you go the novelty wears off a bit and the day-to-day monotony (aka school) sets in. So, for the past few weeks I've been quite busy keeping up with classes and studying. For all those that know my study habits, I'm a MAJOR coffee shop studier, it's my absolute favorite, and most productive, setting to be in and the easy access to coffee certainly doesn't hurt! Anywho, I've been kind of rotating around different shops around Montreal, some close to my apartment and some nearer to McGill's campus. As of right now, my favorite coffee shop is called Second Cup - it's a chain, similar to Starbucks or Caribou in MN (similar, nothing can beat Caribou!) It's about 5 blocks away, or about a 7-8 minute walk, and the ambiance is just perfect! It plays music of the John Mayer/Matt Nathanson genre (my fav!), and is well-lit and quite spacious! I've discovered a couple of other coffee shops that are a little more unique, and while I love going to them for coffee-dates with friends or for an in-between-class cup of java, they tend to be a little more dimly-lit (not helpful when I'm trying to study!) and the music is more exciting/eclectic (which distracts me!). One such place is called π - yes, that is the symbol for pi - and is very reminiscent of Blue Mondays (for you Oles out there!)
Let's see, I had a minor check card snafu a while back; long story short, my U.S. check card expired before my new one arrived in the mail, and my Canadian account wasn't fully functional yet, sooo that was a somewhat hellish and stressful week that I don't need to bore you with. But it was certainly an experience! At one point, I went into Royal Bank Canada to figure out when my account would be functioning. I was practically in tears I was so stressed - keep in mind I had to buy textbooks this week - and the lady who was helping me felt so bad she gave me her private business card in case I had any other problems. Don't worry though, everything got worked out, I bought my books, the world didn't end and everything is perfectly fine now!
Another fun story, I bought a Bixi pass, which is basically the system of public bikes here - you know, where you pay money or swipe your pass to get a bike out of the bike rack, and then you can ride it anywhere in the city and just drop it off at anyone of the other millions of bike racks throughout Montreal. This system is GREAT! It's super convenient. Although, I do have to say that after my first Bixi experience, I did not feel this way at all. All of my roommates bought the same Bixi pass and had been raving about how it was the nicest way to get to campus (there's a bixi bike rack about 1 minute from our apartment, which is ultimately why I ended up buying the pass..So, my first time using one of the bixi bikes, I go over to the bike rack, swipe my pass, and attempt to get the bike out of the rack - I'm pulling and lifting and trying all kinds of combinations of these movements to get the bike out - no luck. People are walking by all around me, by the way. So, stressed and embarrassed, I swipe my pass again, repeat all of the movements and somehow managed to get the bike out of the rack (I learned later, after using this unreliable method to release bikes probably about 3-4 times, that all you have to do is squeeze the handle brake as you gently roll the bike backward out of the rack in order to realease it...) Anyway, I finally get this stupid bike out, adjust the seat (basically to it's lowest setting) and hop on the bike. Now, Montreal drivers are a tad crazy and terrifying and I am SO glad I don't have my car here; that said, bikers are expected to drive ON THE ROADS alongside these people...to be fair, bikers do have their own little lane, but really you need to keep your head on a constant swivel (watching for speeding cars, turning cars, car doors opening, pedestrians crossing the street, etc.) So anyway, I'm riding my bike down the road in the little bike path and all of the other people on bikes are pretty much zooming past me. I then realize that these bikes have gears - "ohhh, I'm on 3, no wonder this is so difficult, I'll switch to gear 2...nope, that didn't help. Gear 1? Nada. crap.." So, I keep biking (and I'm biking hard) just to attempt to keep up with these other Montreal-biking-savants and I'm feeling like a complete idiot, because now my speed has picked up by maybe an extra inch/minute, the other people on bikes are still zooming past me (with what looks like relative ease), and I'm totally out of breath (and I've only been biking for about 5 minutes!) By the time I got to my class about 10 minutes later, I was huffing and puffing like nobody's business. I had to go the bathroom to try to minimize the whole just-worked-out-in-jeans look that I was sporting. I remember saying to my roommates that night that they must've been crazy for thinking biking was so convenient, but as they reassured me, and as I later discovered, my first bixi bike was clearly a dud. They are actually incredibly easy to use, and while it's still a little nerve-wracking to bike through the city, it's one of the most common modes of transportation here, and one of the cheapest - which is a huge plus - and it turns out there's a fast learning curve to it, so now I'm the biking-savant I was once so envious of!
Well those were just some miscellaneous happenings of my last couple of weeks! I just went to Quebec City this past weekend with a big group of exchange students, so as soon as I get those pictures I'll add them to the gallery on this blog and write a nice, long blog post about the trip!
Until next time, à Bientôt !