Je ne sais parle vous francais???????

G’day peeps,

Lots to say, here we go.

The French side of Canada is VERY French. This is not just something they advertise to the world, so if your headed this way learn how to pronounce that title and then just start speaking English… That’s what I did anyway. As you might have guessed we ventured to Quebec, Toronto, Montréal, Ottawa, Tadoussac, Piedmont, St Felicine and many more. Some of those are probably spelt wrong. All fantastic places.

We had a great time over there. We explored the capital of Canada in Ottawa which boarders the Province of Quebec. I competed in an international Karate tournament which was great and I managed to get 2nd place in 2 divisions for Australia. =)

Shortly after exploring the east coast of Canada we were west again but in the United States of America! We have done all the cool things in Las Angels including exploring Hollywood, Venice, Santa Monica, Disney Land, Lagoona Beach, Universal Studios and spent lots of time with some family that we have this side of the world. We have also been to Las Vegas and kinda the Grand Canyon. I say kinda… I’ll explain a little further down.

I also have a little news for those of you thinking about exchange. If your not completely sold reading through these blogs then if your still around start of session 2 at Bathurst campus, you can ask the global office for when some previous exchangers including myself will be giving a presentation about our own experiences and you’ll also have the chance to ask us any questions you want as well.

Check out some pics from our adventures below =)

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So I forgot to mention that we went to Niagra Falls. I don’t know how, it was so amazing. If you get the opportunity to see this and you have the choice, definitely see them from the Canadian side, not the New York side. The view is way better from Canada. And also go on the boat not the helicopter. Its no fun if you don’t get really wet =P

We also got to visit a really cool wild life park as you can see. All very open and well trained staff helping to protect and grow different species of animals and stuff.

That random photo of me with a bunch of fog is the best view we had of our only chance to see the Grand Canyon =( Could not see a thing and it was poring with rain in the middle of the desert people!!! Like the only day in its entire history it decides to do that. Anywho we’ll try to get back in 10 years and see it lol.

Anyway guys we have about 3 weeks until we return. I will do one more post at the end of our trip and then remember I will do a presentation at Bathurst CSU for perspective exchangers. You can comment on this post if you like or contact me via email. Please ask CSU Global staff for it, I don’t want to post it up in case I get heaps of junk from somebody with nothing better to do =/

Thanks for reading guys.

Grant.

Shuckabuck

Hello again everyone!

So it has been quite a while since my last post which, with the glass half full gives me lots to update you all on.

Our latest adventure took us Vancouver Island to the city of Victoria and right up to the peak of the Island to a small town called Tofino. Victoria had a great parliament building to show us that the locals call the castle. I’ve thrown in picture below. We had some great sea food and then moved on all the way to the top to Tofino. Its a great little beach town that reminds of Byron Bay in a lot of ways. We even met someone working in pub there who was from Byron Bay! The beaches here although very beautiful do give an appreciation for Australian beaches. We duly do have the best in the world and the most amazing sand that I haven’t been able to find anywhere else in the parts of the world that I have explored.

The weather in Tofino was definitely something to write home about. We experienced 4 seasons in one day with heavy rain pouring on us one minute and then sunshine beaming down the next. We explored some of the docks and beaches but it was definitely too cold to jump in the water, although there were some die hard surfers who were braving the weather for their passion.

We got to have this great little holiday during the Easter break from uni and it was great to experience that part of Canada. My time at TRU has almost come to a close now however. I have 1 lecture left and 1 exam to go. All my results have been really good so I am looking forward to getting my international transcript. I have made a lot more friends here though than I thought I would so I am not so keen to leave just yet even though I don’t really have a choice. I am excited however to start some more traveling which is going to take me to some very exciting places such as Montréal, New York and Los Angels. I feel that have grown a lot for doing this exchange and I believe for the better. I honestly hope I get the chance to do this again before I finish my degree. I am looking forward though to seeing my friends and family again and I know Kody is as well.

Anyway as promised here are some happy snaps from our latest adventures. Enjoy!

IMG_0261 IMG_0257Beautiful Old Trees at The Cathedral Forest IMG_0256 IMG_0254 IMG_0252 IMG_0250 IMG_0251 IMG_0225 IMG_0226

As you can see we also went though quite an amazing forest. The moss all over the tress was quite a sight. I also visited a beer brewery in Tofino and picked up some great beer that enjoyed a lot =) Heres a few more pics!

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We took our hire car on a ferry to get to the Island. That was great experience as well. The ship went through a bunch of really small Islands just off of the Vancouver Island that people had built houses on and small towns and stuff. One day it would be great to go to one of them to have a look. There’s a picture with a mural of some First Nations on a wall above. We went through a town where loads of the buildings had these murals all over them. The town is actually quite famous for them. To explain the coffee a bit better, we visited a market that claimed they had goats hanging out on their roof. Kody really wanted to check it out so we went but our disappointment no goats. There was a lot of grass on the roofs though so there was the potential for goats. They had memorabilia that had goats on a roof taking a dump so we thought that was at least funny =)

Anyway that’s all I got for now guys. Don’t worry though, this isn’t my last post. I will at least make a few more on our travels on the other side of Canada and through the USA. So please stay tuned, more to come =D

Bye for now!

Deep Fried Mars Bar

Hi guys,

Time for another update =D Look at the excitement!

So last week I had a week off from uni for a mid-session break. Kody and I took advantage of this time to see a bit more of Canada which took us to the next province (state) of Alberta. We stayed in Calgary, Banff and on top of Lake Louise for 1 night in one of the most amazing hotels I have ever experienced!

Banff is the go to tourist destination for explorers in Alberta. There are so many restaurants (good and bad) and heaps of little knick-knack shops for picking up cool stuff to take home. We bought a really cool terracotta pot with some Inuit art on it, that we are really happy with and some souvenirs for the family. Afterwards was Calgary which is a destination that I really recommend for anyone who is considering the west coast of Canada in future. We went to the Calgary Tower, a roughly 600 floor building that overlooks the entire city. There is a little electronic guide thing they give you which explains all the buildings you want (which is quite a lot) and there is some really interesting history that we got caught up in that happened in the area as well. That brings me to our visit to the Fort Calgary museum. Here we learnt heaps about the Mounted Police unit that was established in the area and a lot about what happened between the Colonists and First Nations people in Canada along with the extinction of the Buffalo from the area. We also visited a 4 story museum in the downtown area that had fantastic works in it. We were so tired after a trip through there both mentally and physically because we had no idea that it was so huge when we went in.

After almost a week in those great places we finished off with a night in the Fairmont Château on Lake Louise. We had great food, ice skated on the frozen lake and relaxed in a great room with a fantastic view (picture below).

As you can imagine I had a rough day on Monday going back to uni after such a great week off, but there were exams to focus on light at the end of the tunnel for the end of session! The focus now is on the group work projects that I have due soon which some of you may remember me stressing about in my early posts.. I am a little more relaxed about them now but its definitely under the pump time for me for the next 5 weeks =/

Anyway fun time now =) Here are the lasted photos for you guys to check out. I’ll try not be too long before my next post. Again thanks for the support everyone and keep the comments coming =D

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And loving it!

Hi everyone,

It has been busy as the bus that comes by on Monday morning at 7:00am round here (fullest bus in the world)! So I’ve been studying at TRU for about 5 weeks now, midterm exams are a week away. Midterms are exams that they have here half way through a semester that account for huge portion of your subjects overall mark. On top of that, I have been assigned huge group projects for all of my subjects that are due pretty soon after I have to sit the midterms!

Organising groups for these projects really freaked me out at the start of the year but it has been easier to get together than I thought it would be… so happy =D
Preparing groups for the projects has actually been a great way to speak and get to know my peers here at TRU. When you have a few people you know and chat to about uni life it can make the university experience a lot better, especially when you are on exchange overseas.

It hasn’t all been uni study though, last weekend Kody and I got away to the Silver Star ski resort. This is Kody’s favourite place in Canada, she has been here a few times but it was all new experiences for me. Apparently there’s a rule in Silver Star that all the buildings have to have at least 5 colours! It makes for a colourful town lol. I’ve thrown in a few photos for guys below…

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While we were there we tried night skiing for the first time. The conditions were a bit icy which made for a few funny falls. We both wished that we had more time to stay because just as we were leaving they started getting a lot of new snow which would have made it nice and powdery again, we had a great time anyway though =)

Here’s a slightly older pic of me in front of the international building when I first started classes at TRU..

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As you guys can see the uni is always covered in snow as well =)

Not too long ago we also went to a local wildlife park that rescues animals that have been injured and aren’t able to return to the wild. We saw a bear and some massive birds and also a tarantula (big spider)! Got a few photos of that for you guys too..

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They had some wolves and a few different types of bears as well but they hibernate at this time of year.

Anyway that just about sums up the latest happenings! I’ll write again soon people. =)

Get amongst it

Hi everyone!

So much to update you all on. Uni has started and I have completed my orientation and first week of classes! Very cool stuff, all is good.
Orientation was pretty crazy, I met more people from all over the world then I have ever met in my life! There were thousands of exchange students from every corner of the globe!! I met Russians, Indians, Italians, Spanish, Americans, and heaps more.. Orientation lasted 3 days and pretty much made sure that all incoming international students were organised with paperwork, login details for computer and net, students cards, accommodation and everything that people may have been having trouble with. This uni really has it’s organisation of people down which can make life a lot less stressful for many 🙂

I have 2 different lecturers who both have an obvious love for their profession which makes learning motivation flow a lot better as you all should have experienced. I have a few nerves now that I have the course outlines for my subjects though… This uni hands out about double the amount of assessment items that CSU does and a lot more group work!!! I’m slightly freaking about that because I want to get good marks to represent Australia and CSU well, so I’ll be working in the books pretty hard for a while.
On top of that I am slowly trying to improve my social skills.. I am not the best when it comes to making new friends and getting amongst the people and stuff, it just comes a little harder to me I think :/ I have been trying to improve this aspect of myself by getting into the uni culture here and also life outside of uni in different social settings.

Another great thing about the international student section of Thompson River University is that every 3 weeks..ish they get a few buses down and take us to do some kind of activity that’s usually pretty special to Canadian culture. On the 3rd day of orientation we went on a tubing trip at night on this small and freezing mountain.. I had a bit of a blast 🙂 I talked to everybody around me and had some great laughs with people from all over the world. Check out a few of my terrible pics…

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As well as the tubing trip I’m going to go on a ice fishing trip, a crazy bridge walk, ice skating, a hockey game, learning hockey on a frozen lake and maybe a logging day =) They are great adventures to go on that get you a little bit amongst the culture and break the ice =)

In addition to these I have joined a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu club here in Kamloops with a great group of people to continue my training with a bit of international experience.

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So that’s it for the last couple of weeks guys. As always you can shoot me questions or whatever. Hope all is well back home. I’ll write again soon 🙂

White Christmas

Hi everyone,

So we are a little over 3 weeks in now. I have had my first white Christmas although its only starting to get really white now. It’s been hard being away from the family during Christmas but awesome at the same time to have the opportunity to see first hand what its like in a different country. Snow is really falling hard now which is really exciting. There’s some awesome snowboarding to be done soon =)

My orientation at Thompson River University starts soon. I’m nervous about meeting people but this is what its all about I guess. I should have told you guys by now that Kody and I are living together off campus about a 20 minute walk away. Buses are really convenient from here to go to the uni when I get sick of walking which is something we factored in when choosing our accommodation. So if not all of you want to stay on campus for whatever reason you now know that’s its possible if you didn’t before. We have taken out a 4 month lease on a apartment in a building that is mostly rented by uni students. I’m 24 and married so the on campus life style is a bit too much for me these days lol.

Another really crazy piece of information I have found out lately after speaking with my exchange supervisor is that students studying for less than 6 months in Canada do not require a student permit/visa!!!! This is a crazy good thing if you have decided to exchange last minute and your really worried getting a visa or permit on time. I have the paperwork now to back it up if anyone asks me about why I still don’t have my permit yet. Most customs officers I believe aren’t all that privy to this information as I wasn’t.

So we are really comfortable in our little town here just outside of the uni. We have definitely settled into life here in Canada. People are nice and there’s a few things to adjust to but we are having a blast. Another little bit of advice that I have been thinking about adding lately is that when it comes to Centrelink payments (really important to try to get as it helps heaps to have income while your away), it doesn’t pay to go into Centrelink and ask for help. Because of the abilities of there website now, people who work there have become really lazy and unhelpful. They will give incorrect information to save themselves time! Try to get as familiar as possible with the website and only go in when you need to hand in forms etc. One lady gave me a huge run around and had me thinking that I couldn’t get student benefits while in Canada due to me being deferred before I went on exchange. She was an idiot and as soon as I decided she was wrong and went through the site normally, I went to give my exchange uni’s confirmation letter to them as soon as I got it and I got approved in no time. Just FYI in case anyone is having trouble with them.

Here’s a photo of the great snow we have just started to get =) The photo isn’t doing it a lot of justice but you get the idea lol. The second one is our apartment building.

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Well that’s it for now guys. Thanks for reading =)

Avoid some stress

Hi everyone!

I have almost finished my first week here in Canada. It still hasn’t sunk in yet what I’m actually doing living overseas.. I wanted to throw in this post a few thing that Kody and I have experienced in our organisation of this trip that have caused us a bit of stress so you guys might be able to avoid it, check these out:

– Study/holiday/working permits or visa’s. This has been the most major stress for us. We have been in Canada for a week now and we still haven’t received our permits. I have applied for a student permit obviously and Kody a working holiday. We applied for these permits under the one application and still don’t have them 7 weeks later. We had a bit of trouble coming through customs without them. The customs officer who was processing us was pretty good though. As long we promised that we weren’t going to study or work without first having the permits confirmed by Canadian customs. weWwere okay once we told him we had plenty of funds saved to look after us in Canada for a period of 6 months without working. I plan to meet with my designated international student advisor to explain my situation to him. The customs officer has told us that once we receive the permits we have to leave the country and re-enter through customs to have the permits approved. I’m hoping to find a way around that. Kody and I are also planning to enter and re-enter the United States during our trip. We also have had to organise holiday visa’s to enter the United States more than once. The reason we have had to do this is because if we do have to leave and re-enter Canada once we receive our permits we will need to enter USA twice. Its a really long and complicated situation and one which I recommend heavily you be really well versed with during your planning to exchange overseas. Apply the second you are able to!!! Once you receive your acceptance letter from your host university, get on it! It takes ages and you may need medicals, interviews and other really stressful hoops to jump through. =/ Try not to rely on others to assist you with your permit/visa applications, study the information for yourself, a great website is smartraveller.gov. There are lots of websites out there and it can become totally overwhelming, but take your time & follow the steps.

– Have your home lifeline. This is your mum, dad, sister, brother or close family friend who is really supportive of your adventure and someone you trust a lot. Have your means of direct and instant communication with them and keep your lifeline updated every step of your way. Your lifeline will come to your rescue when you have a stress attack, somehow run out or loose your money, miss your flight, get denied entry to your host country through customs and every other unimaginable nightmare that will plague your thoughts until you arrive safely at your new home. Leave some money with them and have a good way to communicate. Kody and I have her mum and we used Skype primarily once we crossed into Canada. Luckily we had no major hiccups yet but we knew and know that she is there for us to help come up with a contingency plan if anything goes wrong.

– The more electronics the better. I love my tablets, smart phones, iPods and all that stuff. When your good on your electronics they can save you a lot of stress. Airports will have always have free WiFi and well as cafés and Maccas etc. Take advantage of these and if you can have WiFi in the hotels your going to stay in all the better. Most of us control a lot of our money online and its a great resource you can use for communication that won’t give you outrageous roaming charges. Because I have a bit money on my Skype and WiFi everywhere I go I still haven’t needed to get a phone. Eventually I will buy a sim to put in my phone when I get to uni but that just convenience to contact Kody and others here in Canada. In addition to that it always helps to have the greatest library in the world at your fingertips when you need it most. A powerful tablet  can replace your laptop, uni books and stacks of other paperwork you really don’t need to take with you to the other side of the world.

That’s it for Grants moving oversea tips but I’m happy for anyone to contact me and ask about advise to help solve problems you might be having or concerns you can’t get out of your head. One to grow on would be to double whatever amount of money you think you need for your trip but I’m sure you all know that =)

Here’s a few photos from this weeks adventures on the snow fields =)

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Never mind how weird we look in snow gear, you get really red after a long day skiing and stuff lol =)

Here’s a great photo of our lifeline lady haha!

IMG_0022 and Olaf lol.

That’s it for today guys, stay fly =)