Weekends in Canada

Hi everybody,
I have been very slack with keeping this blog updated, but I have been very busy and having a great time in Regina.
There is so much to talk about, but for this post I will fill you in on my weekends, they have been the most exciting so far. Today kicks off my fifth weekend here, I am lucky enough to have a timetable that gives me Fridays off so every weekend is a long weekend for me!

I will try my hardest to keep this post as short as possible, and fill it with photos, as they are a lot more interesting


Weekend 1 – September 6 & 7

The start of the semester kicked off with the first home game for the Rams, the university’s Canadian football team. In Regina Canadian Football is like a religion, and everybody follows the football more than ice hockey.

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I don’t really follow much sport, but it was so much fun to be in that atmosphere, and experience the Canadian sport with a giant bucket of popcorn and churros.

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On Sunday we went for a walk to Wascana Lake, which was beautiful on such a sunny afternoon. A big group of us then went to the park for a barbecue for dinner, as people predicted it would be the last warm sunny day in Regina.

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Weekend 2 – September 13 & 14

This weekend we had a tour of Regina, run by volunteers from the international friends of Regina. We got to see the most famous places in the city; we were shown good places to shop; and we got a better idea of where everything in the city is.

Maria and I at the Saskatchewan Legislative Building

Weekend 3 – September 20 & 21

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The view in all directions in Saskatchewan

On Saturday, the university offered a free tour to Saskatoon, to the Wanuskewin Heritage Park. This is a site that is of great historical importance to the First Nation People of the area. It was about 3 hours away from Regina, and I was excited for the bus trip to see some of the scenery. I must admit, the Saskatchewan scenery is not something to get too excited about, as there are prairies in every direction and the landscape is totally flat.

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The park was interesting, we got to bake bannock (a bread) over a campfire and in the afternoon we did a walk around the park with a guide who told us about the traditional medical uses of the plants in the area

Weekend 4 – September 27 & 28 – Calgary and Banff

Last weekend was the most exciting weekend I have had so far. I went to Calgary and Banff National Park with three other exchange students, from Germany and France. On Friday night we flew to Calgary, Alberta is too far to travel by bus for one weekend. This gave us two full days for our mini vacation.

We took Saturday to explore Calgary, walking around the city in the morning, shopping in the afternoon and looking at the city lights in the evening.

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On Sunday we had a day tour through part of Banff National Park. We left at 7am and on the way to Calgary most of the scenery was blocked by fog and our guide warned us that the weather might have prevented us from seeing everything. We skipped some of the stops in the hope the fog would clear by the afternoon and by the time we got to the Columbia Icefields it was a gorgeous day. We chose to do the glacier ice walk tour, where we got to walk on the Athabasca Glacier, which was my first experience with real ice and snow. On the way back we were able to stop at all of the lakes we missed on the way, and the views were indescribably gorgeous. Photos do not even begin to compare to the view, and I would highly recommend the Rockies to anybody who might find themselves in this part of the world. My favourite part about the lakes is that each is such a beautiful but different shade of blue or green!

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This weekend is a bit quieter, with nothing much planned yet; last night I watched the Saskatchewan Roughriders play Canadian Football on TV with the girls from my quad. I have just looked out my window and it is snowing- this is the first time I have really seen snow, so I am quite excited now!

Bri

Getting to Regina…

Hi everyone

When was making decisions and plans about going on exchange, I read this blog, searching for any tips. When I started this blog I thought I would try and fill it with tips for people wanting to go on exchange. It has been a big couple of days, and as such I have 3 tips for you:

1. Check all of your flights with every airline you are travelling on

2. Have a set of clothes in your carry on luggage (and make sure they are season appropriate!)

3. Take a mobile you can use through your trip, don’t plan to organise one when you get to your host country

As you have probably guessed, I missed my connecting flight.

To explain my tips:

 

Check all of your flights with every airline you are travelling with

Before I left, I checked my flights on the Qantas website countless times, as the travel agent warned me that some of the airlines in America change their flights all the time.

My flight was due to arrive at LAX at 9:45am Saturday, with my connecting flight to Denver due to depart at 1pm, giving me about a 3 hour stopover. Our departure was over an hour late as we were waiting for passengers from a domestic flight, which made a lot of people nervous, but we were only about half an hour late arriving. When we got into LAX, express tickets through security were given to people catching connecting flights to a few cities, including Denver. I lined up to get my express ticket, but when they looked at my itinerary they told me I had time to get through the line at security. Once I was through, I checked my phone and there was a message from dad telling me that according to United’s website, my flight had been moved to 10:57… it was 11.15. I then went to check in my bag and was told I had missed my flight; I had to give my bag to the man with a red shirt; and I had to get to terminal 7 immediately. After handing over my suitcase and getting a little bit lost, I found an information desk in the United terminal, where I was told I had missed my connection flight and needed to rebook.

To summarise the next few hours, everyone I spoke to blamed someone else for the miscommunication and I eventually discovered that there were no seats left to Regina that night. United claimed that my travel agent should have informed me of the change but they didn’t know about the change themselves, and Qantas never made the change on their website, so from now on I will check flight times with every airlines website.

 

Have a set of clothes in your carry on luggage

So as I mentioned earlier, I was told to give my suitcase to “the man in the red shirt”… I haven’t seen it since! Luckily I had a spare set of clothes in my carry on, but I thought I was being clever by packing my heaviest clothes to save space in my suitcase – ignoring the fact that thick jeans and long sleeve tops are not appropriate for Summer in LA. (I also wore my heaviest boots, which had a heel. These were comfortable enough to wear on the flight, but I regretted the decision after all the walking I had to do at LAX) Nevertheless, I was very happy to be able to change out of the clothes I had been wearing for a very long time. I also had deodorant and a toothbrush in my carry on, which was very convenient.

 

Take a mobile you can use through your trip, don’t plan to organise one when you get to your host country

I know that there are ways around not having your mobile, there are payphones at the airport and wireless internet (that kept cutting out), but having a phone in the case of an emergency will make solving the emergency that much easier- even if you just turn international roaming on and only use it if you really have to. I was lucky enough that dad stayed up all night trying to come up with a plan B with the travel agent, while I tried to sort things out from LA. Having a phone to be able to easily keep each other updated was very handy, and if I didn’t have dad there to help, it would have been useful to have a number for the travel agent to contact me. (Also remember your charger cord and an adaptor for the country you will be in as chargers aren’t always easy to find.

 

But I am in Regina now, jetlagged and without a suitcase but I am glad to finally be here. It’s been a stressful few days, mainly because of my lack of sleep but things are starting to look up now! I’ve met a few girls who are really nice, but hopefully everyone will start to come out of their rooms more when everyone has settled in. I’ll check back in when classes have started!

Bri

Countdown to Canada!

For anyone reading this who might not know me, I’m Bri, a second year PR student, about to go on an adventure to Canada.

My exchange is to the University of Regina, in Saskatchewan, for about 4 months. I’ve never been away from home for that long- I’m a Bathurst girl studying at the Bathurst CSU campus- so it’s a little bit daunting to think I won’t be seeing my friends and family for that long, but I am sure taking up this amazing opportunity will be worth it!

I can’t wait to experience Canada. Whenever I tell somebody I am going there, they have a story about when they, or somebody they know, travelled or lived there. Unlike a lot of other countries, nobody seems to have a bad thing to say about Canada- except the Winter temperatures… which might be interesting considering how much I hate the cold. 

I am flying out on the 30th of August, which is only 38 days away- I am starting to get very excited, and a little bit nervous. There is plenty to do before I go and I am sure the next 5 weeks are going to fly by! I can’t even begin to imagine how one is supposed to pack for 4 months!

Once I leave, I will try to keep this blog up to date with little stories and pictures, until then I will be busy getting ready to go!