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CanadaDeparture from Canada

On 4 May 2001 from Portland, Oregon, USA | comments closed

On sunday April 29 I rented car and drove into BC with Wayne, one of the guys that went on the Seagull Expedition to Vancouver Island as well. We both had only a few days in BC left and wanted to see more than the city, so we decided to rent a car and drive to Kamloops and Penticton.
We took the Trans Canada to Kamloops, which leads completely through the Fraser Canyon. Picture-postcard views! We stopped at Hell’s Gate, where an airtram leads down to the narrowest point in the Fraser Canyon, where there are some shops to exploit this fact. In Kamloops we stayed in the old courthouse hostel, where we had dinner in the old courtroom.

On monday April 30 we drove from Kamloops to Penticton along the Okanagan Lake. But we made a visit to the wildlife park outside Kamloops first. We made a few short stops in Vernon and Kelowna as well.

On tuesday May 1 we drove back to Vancouver via Manning Provincial Park. Another really beautiful drive, but we got all the weather conditions: sun, rain, light snow, along with some deer on the road, that we almost hit. In Vancouver we drove to Lynn Canyon first, a Provincial Park with a nice suspension bridge over the Lynn River. The tour through mainland BC ended when we got back to the hostel via the Lion’s Gate Bridge, where the traffic went really disciplined from 4 lanes to 1 lane.

After I had dropped off the rental car at the Budget office, I waited for Caitlin (the girl I went to the hot springs with in Tofino) in downtown Vancouver. We went for a really great Japanese dinner, a walk along the beach at English Bay, and some Starbucks coffee. Definitely the best way to spend my last evening in Canada.

In the morning of tuesday May 2 I took the shuttle bus to the Greyhound bus terminal, from where my bus to Portland was going to leave. The bus ride was pretty smooth, but customs was highly annoying, we had to carry all our luggage through customs ourselves, and since I was pretty overpacked that was not really convenient. But it was no problem for me to get into the USA (I guess because I look so reliable and thrustworthy).

After a nice bus ride (I was talking all the time with a Dutch and English girl) I arrived in Portland in the evening, where Thomas picked me up from the bus station. He was a perfect Portland guide and host until friday May 4, when I had to leave to Los Angeles. But that is another story.

This is where my Canada story ends. I would like to thank you for reading all of this, although I doubt if anybody actually read all of it. 🙂

CanadaVancouver Island Experiences

On 29 April 2001 from Vancouver, Canada | comments closed

On tuesday April 24 at 7 am Dwane picked me up at the hostel, together with Eric from Québec and Yuni (that was her English nickname) from South-Korea. Before getting to the ferry, we picked Karen from Austria (but working as a stewardess at British Airways) and Wayne from England up as well. We took the ferry from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island. The view was amazing because the ferry had to go around some of the Gulf Islands.
On Vancouver Island Yuni and I went to Butchart Gardens, really beautiful gardens, but really commercial as well, and we had the bad luck in the beginning that we got off the ferry the same time as a couple of buses with Asian tourists. But those left before us, so we had some time to quietly look at the gardens. Then we took a a bus to Victoria, the capital of British Columbia. We checked in at the hostel and enjoyed the sun around downtown and the harbour. In the evening we went to the Irish Pub in the Strathcona Hotel for a couple of beers.

On wednesday April 25 the others of the tour went whale watching (unfortunately they didn’t see any whales), and I went to the Royal British Columbia Museum. There were a lot of displays about the First Nation people (native Canadians), about the wildlife in BC, and about life in the beginning of the century, pretty much like in the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature. Then I walked down to the coast through the Beacon Hill Park. The city parks in BC are really good, the perfect place to relax in the sun. From the coast I could see the mountains in the state of Washington. Victoria seemed much more relaxed than Vancouver, but it could have been the good weather as well.
We left Victoria at 2 pm to drive north to Nanaimo. Along the way we stopped at Chemainus first, where they had large murals painted on almost every wall. We made a second stop at Bungy Zone, the only legal bungy jump bridge in North-America, where Wayne did a swing (swinging down from the bridge), but the bridge seemed to low for me to do a bungy jump. In Nanaimo we walked around the harbour and got a couple of beers at the bar underneath the hostel. So yes, we could hear the music perfectly in our room.

On thursday April 26 we drove from Nanaimo to Tofino. We stopped at the waterfalls in Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park, and looked at native carvings in the rocks at Sproat Lake. In the Pacific Rim National Park we made a 2-hour walk on Long Beach, a beach completely enclosed by forest and rocks, because it is not allowed to build houses in a National Park. It was almost possible to see Asia on the other side of the ocean… NOT. Afterwards we did a short trail through the rainforest, before getting to the information center to watch (or actually falling asleep during) a documentary about seaotters. In the evening we arrived at the hostel in Tofino, probably the best hostel in Canada, but it was newly built 2 years ago, so that might explain why.

On friday April 27 I met Anna from Ireland and Caitlin from Vancouver (both were studying at the University of Victoria) at the hostel. We were all planning to go to the hot springs, but not really sure if they would be hot and if they would actually go there that day. So in the morning Anna, Caitlin and I went to a small beach south of Tofino. It was a short drive and a short walk through the forest, but the beach was really cosy with seastars on the rocks. Luckily Remote Passages did go to the hot springs that day, so we went with 5 people (Anna, Caitlin, an English couple on a RTW-trip, and I) in a Zodiac (one of these Baywatch boats). It took us two hours to get there, but mainly because we stopped to see grey whales, seals, sealions, and seaotters in their natural environment. It definitely was not my natural environment, though, I got pretty seasick. So we arrived at this remote dock in the middle of nowhere, there was only a small native village on the other side of the shore. Then it was a 30-minute boardwalk through the forest to get to the hot springs, where there was only a tiny cabin to change. But the hot springs are amazing. It is basically a natural waterfall of 45 degrees that flows into four pools in the rocks, and descend into the ocean. So from the pools there is a view on the ocean. The place was really magical, completely in the middle of nowhere, and almost completely private as well, there were only six people there in total. Understandably, we arrived a little bit late at the Zodiac. We went returned through the Clayoquot Sound, a preserved rainforest, really beautiful.

On saturday April 28 we headed back from Tofino to Vancouver. Along the way we stopped at Cathedral Grove, were the huge Douglas Fir and Western Cedar trees are, and at Coombs, where it is legal to build anything you want. We had some lunch at Qualicum Beach, before catching the ferry from Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay, and driving back to Vancouver.

CanadaAdventures in Vancouver

On 24 April 2001 from Victoria, Vancouver Island, Canada | comments closed

WestJet brought me safely to Vancouver. These guys are the best: cheap, and a lot more fun than Air Canada, the crew is telling jokes and singing for people with a birthday.

After I checked in at the hostel and put away my stuff, I went down to the beach, and walked to English Bay. It was so relaxed, the weather was sunny and the view over the sea and the mountains is the best, now I know why so many people love Vancouver. Anyway, I got a hotdog at the beach, watched a show of a street artist, and saw the sunset.

Later on Saturday evening I went for a Saturday night drag on Robson street and to the Roxy, where the door policies were highly annoying, I’m talking 2.5 hours in line here. But there were enough people to watch in the streets, all the Saturday night going out crowds. The atmosphere in the Roxy was really good, and they had one of the best live bands.

On sunday April 22 I went with Rob, my English roommate in the hostel, to Gastown. Somehow we ended up outside of the tourist area and got stopped by a heroine junkie that tried to mug us. So we decided to get the hell out of there, and went to Canada Place, where the large cruise ships to Alaska dock. Along the way, we found the official entrance to the historical Gastown as well and checked it out. Then we had to cross through some streets with heroine junkies (there are a lot of them in Vancouver) to get to Chinatown, we surely were at our guard this time. The Chinatown in Vancouver is the largest in Canada, and mainly features a lot of Chinese grocery shops. We had a Chinese fastfood lunch in a small mall, really nice. After that, I got my bus tickets to Los Angeles at the bus terminal, from where we took the Skytrain (which was for free thanks to the bus strike) to downtown, making the walk to the hostel a bit shorter and less dangerous.

Since I had not biked in 4 months, I decided to rent a bike on monday April 23. Unfortunately it was raining, but Vancouver definitely felt like Eindhoven in that regard; there is almost nothing more typically Dutch than biking in the rain. So I biked to Stanley Park, North-America’s largest city park, on three sides enclosed by water and on one side by the city. There is a seawall that leads almost entirely around the park and is perfect to bike on. I would have biked it within the hour if it had not been for all the interesting stops along the way, since the Vancouver skyline is most beautifully seen from Stanley Park, and there is a collection of totem poles on the east side. On the north side an episode of the TV-series ‘7 Days’ was being shot. Quite interesting to see how many people and how much equipment is involved for just one shot. I was watching for about half an hour and I do not think they got more than 5 seconds on film, it was just rehearsals or “CUT”. So I continued biking on the trails within the park, which is actually a rainforest with huge trees. Because of the rain there were almost no people in the park, at least that was an advantage…
For lunch I got some sushi at this Japanese place near the hostel; Vancouver is the best city in North-America to get sushi, since there are so many Asian immigrants. After lunch I biked over the bridge to Granville Island. Bikers are definitely discriminated in North-America, I had to yield to pedestrians near English Bay, and I had to bike on the highway to get across the bridge, not particularly safe. Granville Island is mainly a collection of some artists’ shops near the river. I went to a small model trains and ships museum, I have always liked model trains in a miniature landscape. Afterwards I biked to Gastown to complete my collection of shirts with ‘Canada’ on it, and went to sleep early, since the bus to Vancouver Island was leaving at 7 am.

CanadaApril: -8 to 27 °C

On 22 April 2001 from Vancouver, Canada | comments closed

The last 3 weeks in Winnipeg and still so much to see and to do. I still hadn’t been to a hockey game, so on Wednesday April 4th we (Reds, Rodrigo, Eli, Charles, Pablo and I)decided to go to a Moose game in the Winnipeg Arena. The Manitoba Moose won with 3-1 from the Cyclone (Cincinnati), and it was quite interesting to see. Hockey games are really commercial, they play for 3 times 20 minutes with 15 minute breaks in between and commercials on every whistle. But it was a lot of fun to go there, and experience one of Canada’s most cultural events.

The term is definitely getting to an end, I have now finished 4 of my 5 courses and I have 10 days for two assignments and an exam of my last course, International Marketing. But I’ve also done a lot of sightseeing last weekend, that’s for sure.

Friday April 6 had the best weather so far, sunny with 12 degrees, enough to walk outside in a sweater. After my last class I took a bus downtown, checked out the Provincial Legislative Building and walked down Broadway to The Forks. There I saw that the water levels of the river were indeed pretty high, people are fearing a flood this year. Then I walked to Portage and Main and did some shopping. In the evening there was an Hawaiian Party at The Gallery. They had placed a hot tub outside (downtown Winnipeg), so Sylvain and I enjoyed the water of 45 degrees, while people on the street were walking by, quite a lot of fun. And the party was a lot better when we got back inside, completely relaxed.

On Saturday April 7 Karen (who studied in Eindhoven in 1999) picked me up and we went to see Winnipeg and area. First we drove to Fort Whyte, a nature reservation area just outside the city, with a lot of geese and a herd of buffalos/bisons, Manitoba’s provincial animal. Then we drove north and passed by Lower Fort Garry, the first fort of the Hudson’s Bay Company in the area. Unfortunately it was closed. Further north we drove through an area with summer cottages, next to Lake Winnipeg, which was completely covered with ice. Karen said the area is really nice and relaxed in the summer, but even now it gave a good impression of Winnipeg summer culture. The most north we got was Gimli, a fisherman’s town at the lake. A lot of people from Iceland immigrated here, so there were icelandic signs in the shop and a lot of icelandic art in the Gimli Art Gallery. We had a drink with some icelandic cake in the (really) local diner, before we headed back. On the way back we crossed the dam at the end of the Red River Floodway and made a stop at the World’s Largest Catfish in Selkirk. Back in Winnipeg the Ralph Lauren factory outlet was already closed, I do have to go there another time. So we went back to have supper at residence, where I showed Karen around (can you believe that, having studied in Winnipeg for more than 5 years and hadn’t even been to residence).

In the evening of Sunday April 8, there was a Farewell Dinner at Buccanino’s, a new italian restaurant on Osborne. Nicole had organized it really well, the food was good and there were some presents that were given away. Almost everybody was there and making a lot of photos, since it was probably the last time that everybody was going to be together.

Only 5 full days left… and still a research report, a book review and an exam to do…

The last couple of days I spent mainly studying and working. But on Thursday April 12 I went shopping in the afternoon, first to a Ralph Lauren factory outlet (which was closing down, need I say more), then to Polo Park to get a haircut and finally downtown, to get some more clothing (I do need a raincoat in BC) and souvenirs. After that I went to Sylvain’s apartment, where we talked for quite some time and went to eat in Eaton Place with Philip and Cristine.

On Sunday April 15 I went to have Easter dinner with Karen and her family (including aunt with kids and grandparents). The dinner was really good and a lot of fun, I even got a couple of travel tips for in BC!

I spent the last 5 days in Winnipeg mainly studying for International Marketing, and preparing to leave (laundry, packing etc.).
On thursday April 19, I went to the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature, some of the Winnipeg highlights I still had to go and see. It was pretty nice, I could easily spend a few hours just walking around and getting into Manitoba’s history.
On saturday April 21 I wrote my last exam (don’t ask more), and Karen brought me to the airport, from where WestJet toke me out of Winnipeg.

CanadaMarch: -20 to 5 °C

On 1 April 2001 from Winnipeg, Canada | comments closed

I guess this will be the least interesting part of the story, since I mainly have to study the rest of March, since these are the last 4 weeks of the term and all the assigments are due in this period.

On Friday March 9th there was a party in 8trax, downtown, where one section of the Communications course had sold tickets for. Almost every exchange student was there, so it was a lot of fun.

On Saturday March 10th there was a basketball game between the University of Manitoba and the Brandon University team in Brandon. Brandon is the second largest city in Manitoba with about 40,000 people and is located 2 hours West of Winnipeg. That means 2 hours on a straight highway with snowy fields on both sides of the road as far as you can look, it’s almost unbelievable how flat Manitoba is. Anyway, I went there in a bus with about 40 Canadians. Don’t forget the alcohol was the most important advice for this trip, since most of us were already pissed when we got to Brandon. Unfortunately the U of M team lost the game, but it was still a very funny trip. We went to Wise Guys afterwards, but after half an hour the fire alarm went off and everybody had to get out; that really destroyed the atmosphere.

March was pretty much devoted to studying and my Internet Addiction. I did go to the St. Vital mall on Friday March 16th. It was the first time I noticed that all the malls in Canada have exactly the same stores. I saw these really cool Caterpillar sandals (too f**king expensive, $136) at exactly the same place in the store as the store in Calgary. I also noticed a drive-thru ATM for the first time.

On Wednesday March 21st we had a group presentation for our Communications class. It was in the Club Regent casino, Winnipeg’s largest casino. They had this aquarium with a tunnel through it, a 3 story waterfall and a pirate ship with a talking skeleton. Oh well, I heard it’s even more extreme in Las Vegas. But above all, there were all these slotmachines and gambling tables with old people spending their time and their kids’ inheritance. Our presentation went really good, and the whole thing was pretty well organised, we got dinner and even $5 to gamble, which I, of course, lost in 5 seconds at the Black Jack table.

On Monday March 26th we had another presentation, for Consumer Behaviour. This one went really good as well, we had made a really funny video of different exchange students explaining their culture (for example a Russian with vodka, a Mexican with tequila and a Dutch guy with a joint).

So what else happened in March? Well, on Thursday the 29th there was a BBQ with everybody from 2nd Speechly (my floor). Somehow people in northern countries still seem to like BBQ-ing at low temperatures. So far I’ve BBQ’d in temperatures under 5 degrees in Russia, Finland and Canada now. At least the food is good (hey, maybe that’s the reason…).

Janine (one of the Winnipeg exchange students in Eindhoven) had invited us a couple of times to come over to her parents’ house for dinner and something typical Canadian. So we finally took her up on that on Friday the 30th. Janine’s entire nuclear (it’s not as dangerous as it sounds, just look up the word) family was there, together with Scott’s (Janine’s brother) girlfriend, Mart and I. First we had a great dinner and then we curling, somewhere north of the city. Curling is this typical Canadian sport, somewhere in between bowling and jeu de boule, and it’s a lot harder than it looks on TV, most of my rocks either went too fast or too slow. Basically, the goal is to get as many of your teams’ rocks as close to the center of the house as possible, but I’m not going to explain all the rules here. It was a lot of fun for sure.

Less fun was the fact that my notebook died Friday morning, I don’t know what happened, but it suddenly died and I couldn’t get it back on. Still in the process of getting warranty and service over here…

Just when I thought the snow was melting and the weather was going to be better, it snowed 20 cm on Saturday the 31st. But this snow didn’t last long and melted completely within 4 days, the weather is getting better.

I’m not exactly sure how I ended March. I do know that there was a social on Saturday the 31st and that I had some vodka-orange juice and tequila before the social, and some more vodka at the social. But my memories are a bit blurry, too pissed, I guess. ‘nough said.

CanadaSkiing in the Rockies

On 8 March 2001 from Winnipeg, Canada | comments closed

The ski trip story started with Eli and Belen’s plan to go skiing in Banff the first week of March. Since I didn’t go skiing during spring break and I wanted to ski in Canada, I decided to come along, together with Reds and Sylvain.

On Thursday March 1st Reds, Sylvain and I took a bus to the airport in Winnipeg and got on our Air Canada flight to Calgary. Eli and Belen took a later flight because they had an exam in the afternoon. In Calgary we got in a taxi to the hostel, checked in and walked downtown to get dinner and do some shopping. When we got back Eli and Belen had arrived to the hostel. We changed and went to The Palace, a nightclub in downtown Calgary. The Palace was really good, all of us felt like we were in a European nightclub and it was definitely better than any place in Winnipeg because of the atmosphere, music, Finlandia vodka and REV!

On Friday March 2nd the car rental company picked Sylvain and me up to get the car at the Rent-a-Wreck office. We got a blue Ford Taurus Wagon, complete with cruise control. So we picked up the others at the hostel and parked downtown. The first thing we visited was the Calgary Tower. From this 190m high tower we got a perfect view of Calgary and the Canadian Rockies in the distance. When we got down, we walked around the city for a while and got lunch in a huge mall. Since we got used to Winnipeg temperatures, Calgary felt really warm and we could walk in our sweater, even though it was only about 5 degrees. Before leaving Calgary we visited l’Eau Claire Market, a mall with a lot of small boutiques, kinda like the Forks in Winnipeg. Then we drove off to Banff.

We were afraid there wouldn’t be any mountains in Canada, because the terrain was completely flat when we were flying more than 1200km from Winnipeg to Calgary. But about 50km West of Calgary the Rocky Mountains start. It took us about 1.5 hours to drive to Banff on the Trans Canada Highway 1. When we got to Banff we visited the Banff Springs Hotel first, the most beautiful and expensive hotel in Banff. Too bad we couldn’t stay there and had to check in at the hostel. After our dinner there we drove downtown to hire a snowboard for Sylvain and skis for the rest of us. Back in the hostel we went to sleep early.

On Saturday March 3rd we drove to Lake Louise, about 50km from Banff. Lake Louise is most likely the best ski resort in the world, it’s certainly one of the largest in Canada. Since this was my third day of skiing I took a lesson in the afternoon. A pretty good idea, since I already gently crashed into a few snowboarders in the morning (weird boarders, always sitting down in the snow…). After closing time we drove to Chateau Lake Louise, which is actually located on the shore of the lake. We had a drink in the lounge bar and drove back to Banff. After dinner in the hostel we went to the Aurora club and partied with the locals and other tourists…

On Sunday March 4th we drove to Sunshine Village, a ski resort 10km from Banff. We left pretty late and therefore had to park at least a kilometer from the entrance, since almost the entire parking lot was filled up. Almost everybody in Canada drives to the ski areas by car. Luckily there was a tractor with trailer that gave us a lift to the base station of the gondola, which brought us almost all the way to the top. Sunshine is a bit smaller than Lake Louise, but still larger than for example Pra Loup in France, and there were a few really nice runs.

In the evening we brought back Sylvain’s snowboard and took a bath at the Hot Springs in Banff, where the water has a natural temperature of 37 degrees. Really relaxing after a day of skiing.

On Monday March 5th we drove to Lake Louise again for our last day of skiing. Since Sylvain was going to back to Winnipeg this day, we brought Tom along, who was staying in our room in the hostel as well. Although it had been sunny so far, it was snowing a little bit this day. The skiing was still great though, especially since I was getting more experienced and Lake Louise offered more challenges. In the evening we made dinner in the hostel and brought back our skis. After that Eli, Belen and Reds went to Aurora again and I spend the evening talking with John and Tamara who wanted to work in Banff during the summer. It seems a lot of young people have this plan for the summer and why not; the Banff National Park is one of the most beautiful parks in the world and Banff is an interesting town for sure. They almost talked me into it as well, if it weren’t for the fact that the jobs available are absolutely not study related and pay less than I get now.

On Tuesday March 6th we drove to Jasper, about 300km North of Banff. The Icefields Parkway from Lake Louise to Jasper is definitely one of the most spectacular stretches of asphalt in Canada. We got amazed by the views of the Canadian Rockies after every turn. The road conditions were pretty good and the snow in the middle of the road only made the trip more scenic. We thought we could take a snocoach at the Columbia Icefield, about halfway, but everything along the Parkway is closed during the winter. Therefore we arrived in Jasper in the afternoon. We walked around town for a while and had lunch at the KFC, but there was not so much to do as in Banff, so we decided to drive back to Banff. We arrived in the evening after having driven for more than 6 hours through the Rocky Mountains that day.

On Wednesday March 7th we checked out of the hostel in the morning and drove back to Calgary. We walked around a few shops and a mall before returning the car and getting a ride to the airport. Air Canada brought us back safely to Winnipeg and we got back to the U of M by taxi.

Altogether it was a great week of skiing and sightseeing in the Canadian Rockies.

CanadaFebruary: -35 to -3 °C

On 28 February 2001 from Winnipeg, Canada | comments closed

This week we had 2 birthday’s to celebrate, on Monday (January 29) it was Rodrigo’s birthday and on Wednesday (February 1) it was Gil’s birthday. So we went to Wise Guys on Monday and on Tuesday we held a surprise party for both Rodrigo and Gil on the 5th floor of Speechly.

I had my first real midterm this week as well. The first 8 chapters of Consumer Behaviour. I’ve really aced the test because most questions the teacher used where derived from the internet site of the book. Cable internet is already starting to pay off…

Furthermore, I spent a lot of time studying this week. But on Saturday I went cross-country skiing with my host family in Bird’s Hill Park. It was really great, Canadian nature and everything, but I can still feel the 9 kilometers I skied in my muscles. 🙁

On the evening of Saturday February 3 we (Mart, Reds, Hena, Silvain, Xavier, Eli, Belen and I) went to 8trax, a bar downtown. We didn’t want to spend every Saturday night in Wise Guys, although it’s really good there on Saturdays. 8trax had better music though and even some familiar faces: we met Monica and her friend, two girls we met in line at Monty’s the first week in Canada. It’s a small world after all…

This week was the last week before spring break. For school I only had a quiz on Wednesday, but the week after spring break I’ve got two midterms, a presentation and a few assignments.

Since there were no more tests after Wednesday, I went to Wise Guys on Wednesday and on Thursday as well, but we went to Monty’s first, for the ladies’ and gentlemen’ night out in Monty’s. After classes on Friday we (Mart, Reds, Xavier and I) went to Polo Park to get a haircut and do some shopping and in the evening we went to a bar called ‘The Connection’ on Pembina. It was a local bar for sure, however it was too cold inside and there were not that many people, so that’s going to be a one time visit.

On Saturday February 10th the food services in Pembina Hall were closed for the first time since my arrival. They’re assuming everybody leaves residence in spring break, so we’ll have to figure out what and where to eat for a week. That’s a little bit harder around here than at home, since there are almost no kitchen facilities in residence and the nearest supermarket is a half hour walk. Nevertheless, Lindsey and I decided to go to Safeway to get some microwave and other instant food for this week. We got dinner at the KFC on Pembina, so at least we didn’t have to make dinner for this evening. The way back was another challenge because the temperature had dropped to -30 by then and we had to walk back for over half an hour. But we figured that as long as we kept talking and smiling our cheeks wouldn’t freeze. As you might have figured out by now, we survived.

On Monday February 12th we’re going to Shingwak Resort on Lake of the Woods in Ontario, about 3 hours from here. We’ve rented two cars and a cabin on the lake, which is frozen, so we can go snowmobiling, cross-country skiing etc. We’re going with 8 friends (Mart, Reds, Hena, Gil, Rodrigo, Xavier, Charles and I) for 4 days, it should be a lot of fun for sure.

As you might have guessed already, I didn’t go to Canada just to study, I want to see something of the country as well and have a lot of fun. So we (Eli, Belen, Reds and I for a week, Sylvain for five days) are going to ski in Banff for a few days. We’re flying to Calgary on March 1st and driving to Banff on the 2nd, I’ve heard it’s a spectacular drive through the Canadian Rockies. Banff is the number one ski resort in the world, so skiing shouldn’t be a problem either.

CanadaSpring Break at a Frozen Lake

On 25 February 2001 from Winnipeg, Canada | comments closed

On Monday February 12th we first went to pick up our cars at Discount; we got a Chevrolet Cavalier and a Chrysler Cirrus, not bad at all for compact cars. The first place we (Mart, Reds, Hena, Rodrigo, Gil, Xavier, Charles and I) went was the Superstore and the liquor store for the necessary grocery and liquor shopping. After lunch at the Burger King we left Winnipeg on the Trans Canada Highway 1. It was a 3 hour drive to Sioux Narrows; in my opinion it’s the best way to see Canada. Manitoba for example is almost completely flat, but there are some hills and rock formations in Ontario. The last hour from Kenora to Sioux Narrows we drove along the Lake of the Woods, giving magnificent views over the snowy lake. We arrived at our cabin in the early evening and spent the evening playing games and drinking.

On Tuesday we rented a snowmobile for the day. It’s really cool to ride over a snowy frozen lake with a 110 km per hour! It’s also pretty cold; I was glad I brought my skipants and snowboots. While snowmobiling over the lake we noticed how isolated the area is; there are mainly other vacation resorts on the lake shore and a lot of small unhabited islands. During the day Mart and Gil filled up the snowmobile at the gas station from the guy we rented it (and the cabin) from, assuming we would pay for the snowmobile and gas afterwards. When we got the snowmobile back in the evening it didn’t start anymore; the guy said it ran out of oil and the damage might be $2400. Apparently snowmobiles have to be filled up with oil every time they’re filled up with gas, something he didn’t mention when we rented it. We spent the evening watching movies, drinking and going to the sauna. It’s a really cool experience to heat up in the sauna and roll over in the snow to cool down, I think the Finnish call it ‘snowangels’.

On Wednesday we drove into town to call some people about the snowmobile damage. Legal advisors at the U of M said we shouldn’t pay, since we weren’t informed of the fact that the oil needed to be refilled with the gas. The town consists of a few houses along the road, I don’t think more than 500 people live in Sioux Narrows and it’s the only town within 50 km. I’d never seen a more isolated town, but it’s pretty normal in Canada. When we got back to the cabin the guy had a damage estimate of $540 from the snowmobile shop in Kenora. In the afternoon Hena went cross-country skiing, a few guys ice fished on the lake (no catch) and I went for a walk, hoping to spot some deer (didn’t happen). In the evening we went to the local bar. There were about twenty people, a pooltable and a DJ, pretty much the typical North-American local bar. Enough fun to stay for a while, but not too long, since we still had drinks in the cabin.

On Thursday we packed all our stuff first and went to pay for the cabin, but not the damage. When we told the guy we wouldn’t pay for the damage he called the OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) accusing us of stealing gas. Since we didn’t steal it (we were going to pay for it) we waited for the OPP officer to arrive from Kenora. It was a very friendly officer who figured out pretty quick the guy didn’t have a case, but he said it would be nice to pay a part of the damage. So that’s what we did, although we noticed afterwards the guy had screwed us with the bill.

We made a stop for lunch at McDonalds in Kenora, one of the largest towns within 200 km, population 16,500. On the way back to Winnipeg it snowed a bit, but it was still pretty safe to drive on the wide roads. Since we still had the cars we went to the Tijuana Yacht Club in the evening. It’s one of the hottest clubs in Winnipeg, so we had to wait for about 45 minutes to get in. But the music and atmosphere was good. Most curious thing: they were playing Coyote Ugly and American Pie on a large screen in the club.

Friday morning Hena and I brought the cars back to Discount and I got some sleep afterwards to be able to catch up with studying all weekend.

When you have read most stories here, you must have gotten the opinion that all I do here is party (at least that’s what some people have been telling me…). This is not the reality however, I’m studying more here than I ever have in the Netherlands. Besides a lot of assignments for Communications, I had a presentation on the 19th of February for Communications. One midterm on the 20th for International Marketing, and on the 26th I had one midterm for Consumer Behaviour and one for Systems Analysis and Design, plus I had an assignment due for Seminar in Administration. Lots of work, but besides Systems Analysis I did my midterms pretty well.

But besides studying I also take time to relax. Sylvain held an apartment warming party on Friday the 23rd, which was a lot of fun. On Saturday it was Colour Night. Everybody got completely dressed up (suits, long dresses etc.) for a dinner in Pembina Hall, I almost couldn’t recognize the place, but although the food was better than usually, I had expected more of it. Afterwards most people continued drinking (the Canadians were really happy with the wine at dinner…), so most people at the social afterwards were already drunk when they arrived. Since almost everybody dressed down for the social, it was a pretty normal social, but fun nevertheless.

CanadaJanuary: -25 to 0 °C

On 1 February 2001 from Winnipeg, Canada | comments closed

On January 5th (Friday) we were invited by Janine to a basketballgame in the University of Winnipeg, downtown. Afterwards we picked up Marina en Reds and checked out a few bars. Wise Guys’ cover was too high, so we decided to go to Scandals, also on Pembina highway. We had our second ID policy experience here, they couldn’t read our driver’s licenses, they only accepted them in English, not even French, although that’s an official language in Canada. How annoying can you be? So we went to Monty’s again, at least they didn’t give us a hard time.

On Saturday January 6th we met all the other exchange students who arrived in January, mainly Chinese students. We got some information in the morning and a bus tour in the afternoon. In the evening there was a big social in Rez and we went there with this group of students from Canada, Mexico, Australia, Brazil, England etc. (For intimi: Canadian socials beat LAW parties in the Hollywood…)

I spent the 7th of January working and unpacking all my stuff. I’ve decided to stay in Speechly, on a floor with only Canadian students, who are pretty cool. At first I wanted to move to the international floor in Tache, but it’s too quiet over there and they don’t have this lounge with TV on every floor, like in Speechly.

After a few days of just studying, there was a bowling evening organized by AIMS (Association of International Management Students) on Wednesday the 10th of January. It was a really nice opportunity to meet a lot of other international students and Canadians who go or have been abroad. The bowling was kinda weird though, with small balls and only 5 pins. Afterwards we went to Wise Guys on campus to party, one of the best parties so far, mainly because we knew almost everybody and there were a lot of people (from Germany, Canada etc.) for some sort of international marketing competition. We went to Wise Guys on Thursday on Friday as well, it’s kinda becoming our second room now.

Saturday the 13th of January I went to the bar “Gallery” downtown, together with two Spanish girls, one Brazilian girl and two French guys. At the club we met up with some Germans and surprisingly there were even a few familiar Canadians we met at the AIMS bowling on Wednesday. A lot of fun, we almost missed our bus back to campus.
Sunday has become the day to rest, study, work and watch TV in the evening, before getting back to university on Monday.

Damn, after 3 weeks I’m already completely in a routine here. You know, the same things you get for lunch and dinner, the same times you eat and usually the same people too. Home far away from home, in a way. I think I can make any place my home, as long as there’s internet, friends and some other basic stuff.

I decided not to go out 4 times a week like in the first two weeks, but nevertheless got wasted on 2 days this week. On Thursday Ingo (a German) had a roomwarming party and most of the exchange students were there. On Friday it was time for Speechly Destination Unknown, one of the best parties so far. We went with 3 buses to Carmal, about 45 minutes South of the university. There we invaded a local bar, got drunk and had a lot of fun. Canadian partying rules. Anyway, one of the Canadians told me that they started this a few years ago, not telling the bar they were coming with more than 100 people and trying to drink all their liquor, what actually worked at some places. Good old times…

In the 4th week of January all the groups got finally formed. I’m taking 5 courses, each of which has a group component and I’ve got completely different groups in each course. That’s gonna be fun.
Anyway, I’ve been to Wise Guys another 3 times this week, on Thursday because there was a goodbye party for some girl I didn’t know, on Friday because more people from my floor were going and on Saturday because it was Rez Night.

CanadaArrival in Canada

On 6 January 2001 from Winnipeg, Canada | comments closed

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?