I’m back home in Leicestershire and (to absolutely no-one’s surprise) have brought a metric ton of conflicting feelings about the holidays back up the M5 with me.
I miss Exeter already, just as I knew I would. More pressingly, I miss student life; the independence, the freedom, the dodgy meal times and the little second family that was made up of my second year housemates. I miss my basketball team, I miss being 20 minutes from the coast, and I miss high-speed wifi. Obviously I’m glad to be spending time with family (and the dog <3), especially in light of my impending departure, but I’ll admit there’s not a whole lot else here for me. I haven’t done a brilliant job of maintaining close school friends (10/10 there Tess), and the friends I do have are mostly busy with jobs, still at uni or off on holidays.
It’s hard, being back to rattling around in the family home alone all day, but I knew this was coming. Tess Does Not Deal Well Being Alone is a fun fact I had already discovered about myself. The appalling and tragic massacre in Orlando yesterday has also done little to improve my mood. The news can really make me lose my faith in humanity sometimes.
Fortunately, in the build up to the holidays I’ve had time to prepare and think about what I’d like to reasonably achieve this summer (and what will keep me busy.)
My three aims for this summer are as follows:
- Plan and prepare for Canada
- (This includes tracking down and meeting friends and family to say a proper hi/goodbye to.)
- Earn some money via means of any job you can get your hands on
- Find a team or club to play basketball with to keep up fitness and skillz and so you don’t ‘completely embarrass myself and let down British Basketball as entire institution in front of the Canadians’ (that’s basically a quote from my captain back in Exeter.)
Thus far, one full week into the holidays, I am pleased to report I have ensured Point 3 (Leicester Riders WBBL side have agreed to let me train with them which is mildly terrifying – but more on that later) and made a decent stab at Point 1. Point 2 remains a job-hunt in progress.
The planning for Canada is non-surprisingly a big motivator for me to keep positive and busy, and has been going pretty well. Following my confirmation from uOttawa I submitted my registration form, which, a week and a follow-up email from yours truly later (they’re going to love me in the International office by the end of this), I had confirmed by the faculty of Arts. Plus!! All my modules were confirmed too, and are now officially on my very official timetable on the online student zone (the uoZone, which every time I see just reminds me of climate change.)
Getting onto said-uoZone was an Entertaining Experience, mainly because first attempt with my student ID and password provided in my registration confirmation email simply refused to work. Cue me trying and failing to call through multiple times to the IT helpline (I don’t understand international telephone codes), and then trying and failing to get the automated man speaking weirdly accented French to speak English instead (as it turns out, if you so much as breathe loudly while they’re doing their welcoming spiel, they assume you’re French.) All was well though in the end as I got through to a truly lovely lady who gave me a fancy new keysmash-esque password, which worked like a dream.
Now armed with an account (and therefore an official uOttawa email address) and my confirmed timetable, things were feeling Very Much Happening, so in the spirit of it all Mum and I booked my flights. Come the 23rd August, I’ll be flying from Manchester to Toronto, for a very reasonable deal of £270 something (flights direct to Ottawa? Starting at £1,300. Yeah, I think that’ll be a no.) Fortunately for me I seem to have struck gold with an incredibly kind flatmate who has offered to give me a lift from Toronto to Ottawa, so chances are I won’t even need a connecting flight. I’ve also submitted my student visa application, which estimated a turnaround time of 2 weeks, so hopefully that all goes swimmingly and with minimal drama.
Also in the spirit of Planning for Canada I’ve found myself googling potential shops for winter boots and coats (I’m already paranoid about frostbite) and writing a scary looking to do list which has things like ‘Banking’ and ‘Insurance’ and ‘Phone Contract’ on. All of which I’ll be looking into properly over the next few weeks.
Our group chat of Exeter folk heading to Ottawa (all four of us) has been buzzing with notifications on a near-daily basis as we started to hear back from our respective faculties about modules and then collectively had issues logging on to the student system, which has all been very comforting. It’s also been a discussion point for accommodation, and how to go about applying for that through uOttawa’s student housing portal. I can’t help but feel grateful I’m saved that additional stress by knowing I’m already set up with a place (I Facetimed my future flatmate and she was lovely and definitely not a serial killer so I’ve essentially confirmed that.) The flat is not the most beautiful in the world but it’s clean and practical and within 15 minutes walk of campus, and to be honest the reassurance of knowing in all likelihood I’m going to be getting on well with the other occupant is a huge selling point. The thought of going into a student house with a complete 50/50 hit or miss chance of liking the other people I’m sentenced to live with is something that scares me enough in the UK, but would be terrifying on another continent.
All in all then, I’m feeling quite on the ball about everything (and wishing a little bit I was going sooner!). I still have days when the enormity of it hits and I start to angst about making friends and being homesick and cold, but 9 times out of 10 I can’t wait to get stuck in. It’s going to be a formative year in the making of Me I feel, and if it doesn’t work out the way I’d like it to at first, I’m going to damned well work my hardest until it does. Make your own happiness, and all that :’)
N.B: To any Canadians reading this; do you have any advice in terms of banks to go with or the best SIM-only phone contracts to look into? I’ve been told Telus is a rip off and Wind is good value but not great coverage (though that may be different in Ottawa itself.) Tripadvisor and Google maps is all well and good in preparing me for the fun side of living in the capital, but the nitty gritty stuff isn’t really covered.