Home CommentaryStudent Life Oh Canada… I’d Stand on Guard for Thee

Oh Canada… I’d Stand on Guard for Thee

by Archives April 7, 2009

It’s that time of year again, folks. A wave of relief is making its way around campuses across Canada. Professors are trying to find connections between course material and movies, while students are dropping both pens and their attention. The days are warmer, the nights are brighter, and I can literally smell summer in the air. This week not only marks the last week of classes, but also marks the end of my year here at Concordia. As The Concordian’s resident Australian, I felt it would be okay for my last ever article for them to be a little, well . . . self-indulgent. So humour me.
I’m not sure when the fascination started. Some friends from high school say it started around grade nine – during the first season of the new Degrassi (God I love drama!), which is probably about right. This fascination wasn’t with boys (don’t get me wrong, that one started earlier) or fashion (that one STILL hasn’t started), but with Canada. So when the chance popped up to take the 22 hour flight across the Pacific to the true north, and spend a year in Montreal as an exchange student, I jumped at it. My friends at home thought I was one crazy kid, arriving in Montreal knowing no-one in the entire Americas. That was 900 million friends I hadn’t made yet. Unfortunately, in my first couple of weeks here, I didn’t exactly see it like that. I had to find a home, get insurance, get books, sort out classes, make friends, as well as get used to this crazy culture and the cute quirks of the Québécois, while living in a blurry 14-hour-plus jet-lagged world.
But I wasn’t prepared to just turn around and go home. Not only would that have hurt my pride, my uni friends from Oz would have paid me out forever if I’d rocked up to class the next week. So I stayed, and I am sure glad I did. My first friends were two Scandinavian girls I met at an orientation session, and we’ve basically been inseparable since. You never realize how valuable friends are until you are alone in a city of four million people.
As the weeks rolled into months the lust I felt for this place turned into real blossoming young love. As summer dwindled away into autumn, my heart beat faster and my palms got sweaty. As turkeys were being carved on tabletops, I strolled down St. Catherine singing a happy song in my head. When pumpkins were being put out, I frolicked amongst the leaves. Our relationship was going so well, I would have taken it to the next level (Canada, are you listening?). But then, then came the deal breaker. Winter.
Winter in Canada is mean. Winter in Montreal is a bitch. I had never seen snow and never felt temperatures below zero. I’m from Australia. A really cold day in winter is a sunny 10 degree day. To be honest, I was really excited during my first snowfall. I danced my way home, thinking how nice snow is, and that everyone was making a mountain out of a molehill. Turns out I was wrong. And as one mate commented, “you fail at winter.” She was right. Turns out Australian winter clothes are actually Canadian summer clothes.
One of the worst moments in Canada was due to winter. I slipped on a piece of ice outside Lionel Groulx, before Christmas, blacked out and got a concussion. The worst (it gets worse) part of this was that my glasses broke during the fall, and I couldn’t see a thing. Whilst waiting for a replacement pair from home, I walked around New York City (seriously) with one half of a frame resting on my nose. I walked through diplomat lounges in the UN looking like a big douche bag (I won’t sugar coat it).
Since we are talking about experiences, the strangest was Igloofest – which was basically a massive dance party outside. When the snow started falling, I imagined the city would become dead, but in fact the opposite happened. It was still a vibrant city, and the fact that so many (crazy?) people attended an outdoor -16 degrees dance party. I still shake my head in confusion/wonder/amazement.
I’ve had so many great times here – snowboarding in jeans; a white Christmas; cabane

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