I arrived in Ottawa tired and dirty after some flight confusion whereby it basically ended up taking me three days and four time zones of travel to get from Denali National Park, Alaska to here! Unfortunately (or perhaps not, depending on whether you're a glass half-full or half-empty person), I had to delay the urge to sleep so I could get my grrrroooove on whilst meeting all the other exchange students, inhabitants of my residence, and, of course, going to classes!
Ottawa, despite being the capital of Canada (don't feel guilty if you've never heard of it – even my own lovely parents keep misspelling it in their emails to me), is a smallish city and the university campus is tiny compared to Usyd! But I am not complaining – being able to get to all my classes in under 5 minutes is a definite bonus, if you ask me!
I am taking three politics and one french subject. The biggest difference so far is that none of my subjects have tutorials! My politics subjects are all delivered in what's called a 'seminar' format. Basically, it's exactly like a lecture where the Professor delivers one long speech and you take notes, except there are only about 40 people in the room. There are two lectures per week and they take a role at each one – no skipping the 8.30 lecture for me! The other big difference is that the lecturers don't put notes up online, so I am currently trying to get my note-taking skills up to Canadian standards!!
The University of Ottawa is a bilingual university in French and English. It's great for me because I study French, so I've been getting lots of speaking practice. Ottawa is balanced on the borders of Quebec and Ontario. Quebec is one of Canada's french-speaking provinces, whereas Ontario is primarily English-speaking. So Ottawa is a very multicultural place with a nice, chic, Frenchy feel!
The next great thing about OttawaU: there's a free gym for all students. And by free, I really truly mean free. So I've signed up for dance classes, aqua aerobics classes and yoga classes to fill in any possible spare moments of time! Canadians bring a whole new meaning to gym junkies. I'm not sure if they do it to ward off the cold, or if it's because their diet is nearly worse than those fast-food junkies down in the US, but they love the gym, and they all look amazing for it!
some poutine to warm your soul and clog your arteries!
To give you an idea of some of the local cuisine they might be attempting to burn off, I will list some of the foods I have seen pretty regularly since arriving:
1.Deep-fried Mars Bar – I have yet to try this one, but I believe it's simply Mars Bar, wrapped in filo pastry and deep-fried! McDonald's eat your heart out!
2.Poutine – this is a local delicacy in Quebec and it is basically just your typical fries and gravy with the added french twist of being topped in four different types of cheese. I tried it the other night and it is largely what motivated all gym visits since!
3.Beavers Tail – a large (like, half an arm length) flat, beaver's tail-shaped dough that you can top with anything, but is most typically eaten smothered in cinnamon and apples.
So far I am loving Ottawa, and I would like to end this week's blog by proposing a big challenge to some of the guide books I read before coming here: apparently, Ottawa is North America's dullest city. Well, I'm about to spend a whole semester here and I am taking it upon myself to prove this wrong :-)