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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.