My journey started in the Netherlands, December 28th of 2000. I planned to arrive at the airport 2 hours before the departure of my flight. Big mistake! In Roermond there was already a problem with the train before ours (my parents were travelling to the airport with me), causing us to go (with all my luggage) from one platform to the other. In Eindhoven, however, the NS (Dutch railways) decided after 10 minutes not to go further with our train. They decided to do this because of a few bomb reports on major train stations in the centre of the country. This made us take another route and everything went quite well, until we were almost at the airport. There was a stranded train in front of ours and we (the train, that is) had to push it out of the way. So I arrived at the airport half an hour before my flight, giving me no time for tax-free shopping (bummer!). But hey, the flight with KLM was nice and took even an hour shorter because of the winds above the Atlantic.
In Toronto customs weren’t any problem, although I was almost kicked out of the country immediately because of filming there. My flight was sheduled for 5 hours later, but there was another flight leaving in 3 hours and I was put on standby for that one. There were enough seats left, so I arrived with Air Canada in Winnipeg at 21.15. My host family was already waiting at the airport and we went to their house. I slept for about 12 hours the first night.
On December 29th we went Cross-Country Skiing in a Park North of Winnipeg. More than 10 Chinese exchange students were present, so it was quite some fun.
A few people have asked me how cold it is here. Well, at the moment it’s about -15 degrees Celsius during the day and -25 at night. This is a little bit warmer than usual for this time of the year. The great thing, however, is the fact that’s it’s sunny during the day. The dry air also makes it less cold, I think you can compare a temperature of 0 in the Netherlands with -10 in Winnipeg. But we’ve been lucky, there’s not much wind now, the windchill can easily make it feel 10 degrees colder.
On December 30th we (my host family and me) went shopping in the morning. I bought some snowboots, really important over here. In the afternoon we visited The Forks, an indoor market with exotic shops in the centre of the city. I spend the evening with Mart de Visser (the other exchange student from the TU/e) at his host family’s house.
On December 31st of 2000 we had lunch with a few friends of my host family. Afterwards we went for a drive along the frozen river and had supper at the house of those friends. We went back to The Forks in the evening, watching all the activity within the Market Place and at 21.00 the fireworks above the Red River. Then we made a tour along some houses extremely decorated with Christmas lights.
On January 1st of 2001 we visited Assiniboine Park before my host family dropped me off at Residence, on the campus of the University of Manitoba. I have a room on the second floor of the Mary Speechly building. Mart’s room is situated on the 5th floor.
January 2nd was my first day of classes. Luckily on Tuesdays and Thursdays my first class is at 13.00 hours. So I had some time this morning to get a lot of things arranged, like my student ID card, university and health insurance fees and books, which cost about as much here in dollars without tax as they cost in the Netherlands in guilders with tax included. The classes I had today went pretty well, they only explained what the class was going to be like. International Marketing had a cool teacher, that helps. Systems Analysis and Design started off pretty well with a class of 10 minutes.
Then it was time for supper/dinner (whatever), I’ve heard some pretty bad stories about the food, but it was actually pretty good (maybe because it was the first day, they didn’t have any leftovers from yesterday).
In the evening of January 2nd I still didn’t have an alarm clock, so we (Mart and I) decided to go to a mall. We took a bus (besides the university, nothing is in walking distance here) to St. Vital Centre, one of the large shopping malls (140 shops) in the city. It is open until 21.00 hours, which makes it really convenient to go shopping in the evening.
On January 3rd my first class, Introduction to Communications, started at 10.30 and it promised to be a lot of work, assignments were due for every class, 3 times a week. Afterwards I had brunch (could have been dinner as well, I’m definitely not going to be starving here) and I got ISIC card and some more books. The class Consumer Behaviour in the afternoon sounded better, a pretty funny teacher, that helps. For the class Seminar in Administration we have to work in teams and analyse team behaviour, pretty interesting, although the first class only lasted for 15 minutes.
On the 4th of January I needed to get a Zipdrive for my laptop computer, so I went to the Futureshop by bus. Since I also needed something to drink in Rez, I went to the Safeway, one of Canada’s largest supermarket chains. I got all my drinks in 2 liter bottles, which is about the smallest bottle you can get here. However, I couldn’t find the bus stop afterwards, so I decided to walk back to Rez. Bad idea, it took me something like 40 minutes and that was the nearest supermarket!
That evening we decided to go to Monty’s, a bar on Pembina highway near the U of M campus. There was some sort of student night. So Mart, Marina, Reds and I took a cab to Monty’s. Then we had our first experience with Canadian ID policy, we needed some official ID like passport or driver’s license just to get in the bar. Of course we’d forgotten those and since we had to go back by bus or something, in the end only Mart and I went to the bar and played some pool. So what’s new?