Sunday, December 27, 2009

Day Forty One! Noel laa laa

Snow falling outside. Metres of it outside the kitchen door. Wire, christmas light covered deer. And the sound of the giant snow plow as it passes.
Am I dreaming of a White Christmas?

Well, it came and went and the remainders lie in a cake tin on the kitchen counter. Christmas sure was different this year! I spent it in La Baie, Saguenay, Quebec, where they end each sentence with "laa laa" and eat sandwiches on Christmas Eve - "le reveillon." It was a great experience spending Christmas with my ex-neighbour and her lively, bright, Canadian-French family! Although I am thousands of miles from home, it felt like I was even closer as so many of the rituals were the same. The eat eat eating and drink drink drinking; afternoon naps, laughing and singing and kitchen conversations; the coming together of a family, young and old. But there was one large twist...

Instead of doors and windows wide open in an attempt to catch any slight breeze as the hot sun shines through, they were kept closed as the heater worked its warm spell. Instead of the familiar summer day spent in between the pool and verandah table; Christmas was in a warm house as snow kept falling, adding to the large mounds it had already created outside. I was not dreaming of a white Christmas.

So, this is the forth Christmas I have not spent "normally" with family on a hot summer day and I learn more and more how much I love the South African Christmas and the people with whom I would usually share it.
Merry Christmas to all!
Home in 9 sleeps!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Day Twenty One. Let it snow!

At long last!!!! I sit looking out a window onto a snow-covered field and snow-covered trees, as yet more snow flurries fall from the grey, yet lit up, sky. Wow, were you worth the wait, Canadian snow!

Its funny how no matter how many times you see it, the first big snowfall always takes your breath away! Staring out at the bright white soft stuff causes more than a glare. It just forces you to smile. Well, it does me anyway (and I probably seemed like a crazy person walking out my exam this morning and staring around the place, eyes wide and face a huge grin). But, really the pure and simple beauty of it hits you every time...just in case you forgot what it was like the year before... And, the need to just run and jump in it; make snow angels and throw it into somebody's face is just way too overpowering to resist.

I was thinking about it the other day and realised how lucky I have been to see snow, each year for the last four years and now the first three days of 2010 will make it five (hee hee!). Having driven up towards the mountains I'd made a snowman and seen the little bit we get in South Africa, but my first real snowstorm was in Thoiry, France. Dribs and drabs of snow for a while, then all of a sudden the night I go out, the first real snow makes her grand entrance. On returning home "Shortey" decides against going up a freshly snow-covered hill and a friend and I are forced to park and walk. I got to learn how to ski that winter of 2006-2007. Then came 2008 and Colorado and wow what a different experience that was. Not the picture of snowmen and children running around, but rather being welcomed by endless snow blizzards plus a lack of jobs. Going door to door (and waiting hours for late buses), is that much more of a challenge with white stuff pelting down on you! But hey, what an experience...and once we were settled, we got to experience the real American rocky mountain ski resort! But now, Canadian snow has begun her introductions with me at Bishops University, Quebec - and wow, I have a feeling she is going to make a lasting impression...

My so-called "snow christening" Zermatt, Switzerland

and it came...Thoiry, France

I love snow pants...

Mont Jura...slide, slip, fall, stand...from the beginning now.



Snow in the middle of the summer?

I'm touching the top of France! Mont Blanc.

Colorado with a bang...frozen hair and the Fray in a BLIZZARD!

View skiing in Vail

View of the Ritz and Beaver Creek


Me, Mitch, Cate, Chrisna...the Ritz Bunny Hill, the place to be.

One two three... (Waiting at busstops 101)

Canadian Introductions!
From my window - last night!

Let it snow. Let it snow. (or make it snow!)

Bishops quad and Christmas tree!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Day Eighteen: World Cup Soccer Draws and a normal day for me.

Just a quick post today, as I have an exam tomorrow morning.

As with tradition, I write the first exam and of course its on a Saturday. It will be European Union Politics, so lots of dates, names and facts will be swirling around my head the next 24 hours. It does feel very weird beginning exams as they don't seem to be as big of a deal here as they are at home - or maybe its just my exchange student view on things. I just feel like I am far from how prepared I would be at home the day before the exam...and I am not really stressed about that acknowledgement.

I write again on Monday. This will be French. Then Wednesday is Microeconomics, for which I should do a bit of work! Then Economics of the Environment on the 14th and International Law on the 15th. Then all is over!

Last night myself, Ingrid, Caitlin and Marine went for dinner with Gwyn (who's farm we went to a couple weeks ago) in Sherbrooke. Was a really nice little pub called St.Malo and the food was pretty good too. Nice change from Deweys! Once home again, we ventured out to the Lion for some drinks and pool which was nice. Today its been difficult concentrating and as usual, I can't stop daydreaming, true piscean style! I went for a run (/frolick, Mr Saladfingers) with Marine along the riverside which felt good, but tiring as it had been a while since we had last run. But the feeling of just plain old satisfaction after is great and I really think there is no equivalent gym-wise. So, maybe te silverlining under the light "not filled with snow" clouds is the possibility of more running!

Anways, I better go and try and VASBYT already! Oh, one more thing, adverts for the 2010 world cup keep on flashing passed on the big screen in the dining hall and my friends sigh out again as I force them all to look! Back in Safaland, they have drawn groups and South Africa will play Mexico in the opening game. France is also in our group, which has created a lot of laughter with my frenchies here...Marine has already seen many fbook status's changing in France with their excitement of being put into such an "easy group..." Hmmm well, let's wait and see, Les Bleus. There might be more African magic in the air than the mosquito-like sound of the vuvuzela.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Day Sixteen: Goodbye. Au Revoir. Totsiens. Sala Kahle.

Why do we do it if we know at the end we are going to have to say goodbye? We share such a beautiful part of our lives, but then we have to part ways; close the chapter and move on.

Emotions are up, down, to the side, in the air, as days flash passed and the end comes closer. Today was the last day of classes for many and there was a sense of relief in the air but something else caught me unawares. Butterflies had stopped flying around my stomach, as my EU essay was handed back to me. My last class was over and it was time to go. And then, there, it hit me...
My last class. My last class at Bishops University. I was sad. Strange how I could be sad leaving a class of familar faces but mostly people who I never knew well. I would never see some of these people again, who I have seen twice a week for the last three months. We were each a few words in the pages filling eachother's storybooks but our stories are our own and they may never overlap again. But its closing this chapter, this chapter they had been a small part of, which is difficult and sad for me.

I have never liked saying goodbyes and it is something I have had to do a lot over the last six months. I always thought I would be the person who showed no emotion whilst the other when I burst into tears that first proper big goodbye I had to make, it came as a shock (especially because the other person was as calm as I thought I would be). It was difficult saying goodbye in Vancouver, in Calgary, in Edmonton...and there was always that desire to find some sort of distraction away from the present, or to focus on the next thing happening. Just that deep knowing that it will be a long time, before we reunite. My darling friend in Vancouver, Julie was taught to never say "goodbye" but rather "see you later." This is something she has passed on to me. Its a way of softening that miserable word, that difficult act and gives us hope. Its the type of hope which is not unattainable as I know that I will see the people, who mean a lot to me, again in the future. There is a rainbow after the rainstorm (unfortunately I can't say snowstorm here!).

But back to the familar faces in my EU class. It's just getting used to the idea of not seeing them in my every day life. The idea of not seeing, not experiencing, not eating with, not travelling with, not playing with, not celebrating special Bishops friends every day as I have the last three months. This is the reason for my sadness. It is this I will have to get used to. I know the chapter is coming to an end and there is no trying to stop it as we must let life take its course and we must follow that which is natural. So, as the first farewell parties begin and we share our last few weeks together, I must cherish the present time. I must keep the memories of the past deep within - that beauty of the things we shared and how we have effected eachothers' stories. But lastly, I must keep that hope. The hope that we shall meet again and the deep knowing that it will happen.