Sunday, 28 September 2008

Some Colourful Friends, and Autumn is Here!



And again, what a week it was!


Workload is piling up nice and round, and I was just moaning good-naturedly "Ah, how glorious, more work!", when my professor overheard me, grinned and said "Ah, enthusiastic, are we?"...Oh well, she has a sense of humour ;)





AIDS walk...See the big guy in a red suit and a papier-mache at the back? Creepy, eh?



Anyway, I volunteered to marshal the AIDS walk in downtown Peterborough last weekend, and oh my, it was a great one! The crowd was small, but they managed to raise around CAN$ 20 000 in total! I was impressed alright...Dogs took part in the show too, so I had a nice time making friends with all of them...





Brother and Sister Cocker-Spaniels waiting at the traffic lights during the walk. One is Sky and one is Arayan. I can't remember which is which though =)




Street musicians are a part of city-life in Canada too...I saw them in Toronto, in Rama, in Niagara, and now in Peterborough. They play good music, you know...





And they pose too...=)




As some of you know, I love animals. I'm dearly missing my Hazel and Sheba doggies back home, and even my terrapins...So I paid a visit to the local store that sells animal products to say hello to their host-cat...See how gorgeous he is! And he's just a mix-breed...





Heavy little kitty...What do these cats eat???



And today, my new 80+ years-old friend took us to her house to have lunch. G.G Maddie (G.G means Great-Grandmother) lives in a quiant little cottage, and I loved it. Her walls were lavendar, and she had light violet-ish curtains, and pretty little butterfly and bird ornaments all around...Even her bathroom and towels were all in the purplish hue...

Being a big fan of all shades of purple, I adored her home...





Me, G.G Maddie, and Nika...



She has a dear little bird called Newbie, and he's a Jardine's Parrot, native to Africa. G.G Maddie told us Jardine's are very rare in this part of the world, and she has one of the first-bred-in-captivity Jardine's in the area.





Lookie! A muffin!



And I had the greatest honour of having almost-2-year-old Newbie on my shoulder. According to G.G., mine is the first shoulder he has ever sat on, besides hers...And he spent a good 15 minutes on it before he accidentally mistook my finger for a muffin...





There goes my lemonade...





Newbie enjoying baby carrot sticks...





And the best thing? Autumn is here!


I'm not thaaat excited about the cold, but oh dear, it's soooooo pretty. My campus, which has one of the most amazing grounds (I heard it has the biggest grounds in North America; a big part is made up of nature trails), is getting so beautiful.


The leaves are turning hues of all kinds of colours, and it's like someone went wild with the paintbrush overnight! Some leaves are falling too already...






One side of the river on campus. The tower in the distance (and surroundings) was a film-location for the movie Urban Legend: Final Cut...




Anyway, I've got to get down to work again. I've got 3 interviews next week for my volunteer-work placements, and I got to go through the forms!


Here's wishing everyone a very Happy Hari Raya, and a safe balik kampung...

By the way, does anybody know if Blue Hyppo made it home this Raya?




Friday, 26 September 2008

"For Here or to Go, Love?"...



At the Sandwich Bar on campus:-


Sweet Old Dear: "And what can I get you today, hon?"

Me: "Classic Club, please"

SOD: "Mayo, love?"

Me: "Yes, please!"

SOD: "What kind of bread, dear?"

Me: "Brown"

SOD: "And what vegetables would you like with that, sweets?"

Me: "Tomatoes".

SOD: "Just tomatoes, dear? Would you like more?"

Me: "It's ok, no thank you. My mouth can't stretch that big...;)"

SOD: "Oh, you dear. For here or to go, love?"

Me: "To go"

SOD: "Here you go sweetheart. See you again"

Me: "Thank you very much"

SOD: "You're welcome, hon".



At cashier:-


Another SOD: "Just the sandwich, hon?"

Me: "Uh-huh"

*Paid*

Me: "Thank you" (When taking back my card)

ASOD: "You're welcome, my dear"...




Awww...You can listen to them all day! And anytime of the day you go, there will be nice and 'hon', and 'love', and 'dear' you...


The line can be long but they will make their bread with all the love in the world, and nobody seems to really grumble...Not out loud, anyway ;)...


One lady even called me 'my little muffin' once! Hehe...


Saturday, 20 September 2008

Of Curry, Ice Cream and Red Jackets...



Hey Everyone! Sorry it's taken so long to update. I've been real busy the past week!


Classes are in full swing now, and I finally got into one class that I wanted to take, which was Biology of Human Anatomy and Physiology. The class was only open to Nursing and Forensic students, and I was neither, so was basically barred from taking the class. After some thought, I approached the Professor, and after some talking, she allowed me to take her class! I just thought it was cool, you know?

So, I'm in! Sitting among another 400 Nursing and Forensic students (labs are small groups or like 25)...


There was also abig Volunteer-Fair on campus the other day, where organisations in town who take volunteers come and open booths so people can find out more and take alot of forms to fill up...


And after eating nothing but pizza's, salads, soups and Chinese-ish (the Chinese people will not be happy if I said this was 'Chinese', because it's nothing like the real thing!) stir-fry's for a few weeks, my friends and I finally gave up and went into town searching for some real food...

And we found this place called 'Curry Village'...Although the biryani felt like it had been Westernised dramatically (tasted more like butter baked rice, with Indian-ish herbs), the rest was pretty darn good! We even found Vindaloo Curry...=) Needless to say, the food was expensive (if convert lar, otherwise not expensive), but Oh My! I feel so much better with good, spicy food inside me!





Can you find the Hidden Mickey? ;)



We then had ice cream/frozen-yoghurt at a nearby shop...It tastes like good ol' Baskin Robbins, and cost us $2 for two scoops...Not too bad, eh? (<== Can anyone tell I'm in Canada?)


And then we also had a book reception at the university. This year the uni started a program called 'Trent Reads', where students were asked to read a novel chosen by the uni, before uni started. The aim was so all students arriving would have something in common to talk about from the first day. Professors from all disciplines volunteered to do seminars with small groups of students to discuss the book and the different cultural, educational etc views on it...

A professor with a psychological background would lead the discussion from a different point of view than a professor who taught Literature or History or even Mathematics! So we had very diverse approaches to it...



The book chosen was called 'Three Day Road' by award-winning author Joseph Boyden.





From left: Joseph Boyden, his wife Amanda Boyden (also an author), me and my friend, Shirin...



I actually enjoyed the whole book discussions thingy...And so I went for the book reception with the author...



And my first shift with Walkhome started last night. Walkhome is a program which offers company to students who would like someone to walk them home late at night. The program offers accompanied-walks from anywhere within 25 minutes of campus (and its surroundings), and another team walks downtown...It's done completely on a voluntary basis, and we walk from 7pm to 1am...

It's a good effort, as sometimes, your class finishes late at night, and you don't feel comfortable walking alone back home. Well, just call Walkhome! You can call them immediately when you need them (all security/emergency posts and public phones on campus can be connected to Walkhome), or you could make a scheduled walk with them and they will meet you at the same place and time every week...



My friend Eva and I had our first shift last night...We had walkie-talkies which we needed to use to radio in walks. The Security office would call us every half an hour to check on our location (we were allowed to go and do whatever while we were 'on-call' and waited for walks) to make sure we were safe...And if we don't answer within some time, they would send a search party after us...





Call the Trent Walkhome at 742-FOOT!



TUEFRT (Trent University Emergency First Response Team) was also on call...It is the uni's equivalent of the paramedics, mended by students, again on a volunteer basis...So if you walked about campus, chances are you would see people in red jackets patrolling the campus...One was to walk you to safety, and one was to help you if you collapsed...

Interesting how people associate 'red' with help on campus. We were even stopped by a student who wanted to borrow a chair from campus.


He said: "You're wearing red. Always find the red jacket when you need help"...

We were like: "Yeah, if you needed help going home, not to borrow chairs!"...



The community is very involved with Walkhome too. The police come in to give safety talks and teach first-aid, and we found out last night that the Tim Hortons (it's a Canadian coffee outlet which people here are obsessed with) outside campus gives one free coffee/hot chocolate to people who are on-duty with Walkhome...Our walks go up till Tim Hortons, you see...


So, we whiled our time away at Timmie's sipping hot coffee and doing school-work while waiting for walks...


And now it's the weekend...Am gonna catch up on more work and some good sleeeeeeep....



Saturday, 13 September 2008

Where There's Free Food, There's Students...




Me and my friend Eva (also from Malaysia), at the barbeque...



I like university life! It's cool. Like today, the Trent International Students Association (TISA) had a barbeque, and the university provides funds for it...So basically, we got free food lar...And where there's free food, there's plenty of people lar ;)





The Riverview Park and Zoo where we had our barbeque...



Classes have started, and I'm enjoying it so far...My professors are quite goofy, but in a nice way...


Like I have one prof who walks backwards...You know how some people have a habit of pacing up-and-down? Well, that's basically what he does, but forwards-and-backwards...

And he even does it going down the stairs...And when he reaches the part where the steps part, he will wobble, and his eyes go big and round...





The totem pole...Canada has a lot of indigenious roots...



I have another professor who tells us she is bound to injure herself in class at least once during the semester. And she has an evil twin who emerges if she isn't happy. So for her first class, she started by presenting us with a slide titled: "How to keep me happy"...Coming to class is on top of the list...;)

I have another professor who feels that we need a social life besides studying, so she said she will introduce different restaurants every week...She's pretty cool and has quite a lot of energy during lectures...



And I have a professor who collects flies...He actually drove around the county for two years in his pick-up truck...Collecting flies...





Hehe...Who said university students can't use the slides? We all did!



Conclusion? I like my classes! Work is piling up, and the expectations of the professors are very high. There are assignments and tests almost every week, and some classes require you to sit for tests before the lecture of that chapter, to ensure that all students read the chapter before coming to class...

And if the deadline of an assignment is 8 am, and you hand in your assignment at 8.05 am, you're in big trouble...


I think some students were getting panic attacks looking at the amount of work there was to be done...


The weekends are of course much looked forward to...





Petting donkeys at the zoo!




And on the weekends, we go out in throngs on the Trent bus...And flood the town!

Till next time, folks...I have lab reports to write, chapters to read, an entire 'American Psychological Association' guideline to peruse, and a lot of other stuff I'm still trying to figure out...



Thursday, 11 September 2008

In Search of a Resume...



You know, in Malaysia, chances are, when you walk into an office offering to become a volunteer, people will gape at you.

Unless the office/organisation already has a volunteer program and/or is used to people walking in offering their services (for example, medical students who want extra credits and/or experience), there will be a flurry of activity trying to figure out what to do with this new volunteer. Some have barely ever heard of such a thing...

In Canada, no such thing...



Voluntary work is very much a part of their school curriculum and way of life. So much so that if you volunteer for something, chances are, you might get turned away.



Like the DayCare centre on my university grounds. I tried volunteering there with another friend, but were told that chances are, we won't get to. Why? Because they reserve places for all students majoring in nursing and education to do their placements and compulsory volunteer work. So UNLESS someone backs out, we don't have a place!


I also saw a sign asking for volunteers to work with children (organisation name held for privacy), somewhere in town. I emailed the contact number pinned on the board, and voila, I was given a whole bunch of forms to fill, including sample questions for me to answer, and was given a date and time for me to be interviewed by the board of directors or committee. And, was asked to bring a resume.

I'm like ???


I was prepared that the criteria would be strict, and brought a letter of reference along with contact information, but resume?



And if you're thinking the sample questions are easy and straight-forward, they're not.


Examples of questions asked (paraphrased, and in no particular order):-

1) What kind of discipline do you approve and disapprove of, and why?
2) How would you deal with a child who is not listening to you?
3) What kind of child would you best work with and why?
4) What is confidentiality?

And then this whole long list of questions is followed by possible scenarios of a particular child, and how I would react to it.



By the end of the document, I was already feeling like I wrote a thesis.


All this to volunteer!

How professional is that?!? It's really good though. I salute the professionalism. It just goes to show that it really is no nonsense at all, and that they are serious about the work they do.

Oh did I mentioned they run police-checks as well?


I also checked in with the Disability Services Office (DSO) on campus, and they also gave me a list of things expected of a volunteer, like calling in advance if I wasn't going to make it and deadlines were to be met if volunteering to take notes for the office.


My head is swarming at the moment. I didn't know to volunteer I needed a resume =(

Anyway, I asked around, and ended up signing up for a 'How to write a resume from scratch' workshop next week. The university knows how important resumes are, so they're opening workshops for all these dungus like me who are quite...blur...

Turns out, there are a lot of dungus around ;)



Oh well, at least there's help available!

Sunday, 7 September 2008

It's Beginning to Feel Like a Second Home...



And I survived my first week of university! Well, I survived the orientation, at least ;)

Things are beginning to settle down now, what with the weekend here...There's less partying, less noise, and less seniors blowing horns and beating drums to wake us up at 7 am for more activities...I'm cool with that!


We had Trent World Day just a few days back, where everybody got to know a little bit more about other cultures and traditions. There were African dances, Botswanian songs, fashion shows by different African-Caribbean nations, Latin Swings, and even a Bamboo dance performance by some students from South East Asia (namely, Malaysia and Thailand).

During Trent World Day, we also had a clown, 'Chuckles', I believe is his name, making balloon hats for us.





Chuckles and me...A very tanned me...





From left: Nejat (Ehtiopia), Kathleen (Canada), and me, with God-knows-whose-hat-which-was-stuffed-on-my-head-just-as-we-were-about-to-take-the-picture...



Anyway, it's beginning to feel a little more like a second home here. I finally got my room-internet to working condition, and my landline now works too.

I've also gotten a little less lost on campus, as I can now pretty much figure out which building is called what.



I've even found volunteer opportunities right inside campus, volunteering with the Disabilities Services Office!

The work is simple, like reading passages out to visually-impaired students, or help guide them to their classes until they're familiar with the grounds...



It's still pretty hot here (although we've had some pretty cold showers), and the Otonabee River (Otonabee is a word in the Native Ojibwa language), which runs right through the university grounds and has the campus buildings on either side of it, is a highly popular hangout, with students jumping in for a frolic and swim at all times of the day. There are also boating activities, and many people go fishing too. Needless to say, many also take the opportunity to get a tan (not me, I run away from it!)...


Hey, even the geese are at the river...





Some geese getting some cool water and breeze...



The city of Peterborough, where I'm staying, is primarily made up of students and senior citizens. My Canadian friend told me that Peterborough has the highest percentage of seniors in the whole of Ontario! So the buses are almost always either full of noisy students, or old people, who come with their knitting, walkers, wheelchairs and tongkats!


Hey, I even made a new friend, Mary, on our way to Wal-Mart...We were pretty lost, so she was the one who showed us the stops, and told us the bus schedule to-and-from Wal-Mart...





Mary and Me...She had a bag of knitting on the seat beside her...





And the noisy students, clockwise from left: Bilen (Kenya), Maliina (Greenland), Saman (Pakistan), Nejat (Ethiopia), Kathleen (Canada) and me...



And my room looks better too! We were so busy with all the orientation and getting-lost-in-the-campus that the room was a complete mess. I also finally had time to put up some photos of home, so that it's not sooooo far away...





Part of my side of the room...





Up-close of the (folded) elephant fleece-blanket on my bed...



I saw this cute elephant fleece-blanket in Ikea a couple weeks back, and just had to get it. It's something I would be using anyway, so I didn't feel too guilty about buying it.


I don't know...

It kinda reminds me of myself...You know, big, clumsy, goofy, and adored-and-loved by some, detested by some, peculiar to some and beyond-the-comprehension of some...

;)


Now, I'm hoping some of the elephant's famed good-memory will rub of on me...Hehe!





And the photos just about make it complete.



My cousin, Ee Lynn, even found an Anne Geddes poster (the babies with sunflowers one in picture above) in her room somewhere and immediately gave it to me. Cool, I adore the collection!





And part of my bookshelf...




I also got nearly all my books yesterday...Nearly fainted (figuratively lar) when I saw the cost of it. I paid CAN$ 675 (About RM 2200) for my books, a couple second-hand, for this semester! And I'm not even done yet...*Books not covered by scholarship*

Gosh...Why are they so horribly expensive? I thought the aim of education was to make it accessible?


Well, guess I'd take it as a good thing. If I wasn't forced to buy them, I never would have. And this would be good in the long term, since I'm majoring in the field of Psychology...



Tuesday, 2 September 2008

University is Pretty Cool!



Phew! What a week it has been!

The International Camp was a blast. I wasn’t all too excited about going initially (was paranoid about the toilets ;), among others), but boy, am sure glad I went.


I met the university representatives at the airport. When I introduced myself, I realised the lady in front of me was the person I had been corresponding with all this while regarding admission and procedures. I offered my hand. She shook it, than hugged me instead.





My Cabin Mates, in Algonquin Cabin...In picture is Eritrea, Greenland, Japan, China, Malaysia, Canada and Germany...




I met quite some interesting people. There were so many countries represented, that it felt like a little mini-world! Malaysia (12 students), Canada, Japan, Russia, China, Korea, Bhutan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan, France, Finland, Denmark, England, Australia, Ecuador, Columbia, Germany, Wales, Greenland, St. Lucia, Bahamas, Peru, Botswana, South Africa, Kenya is pretty much what I remember, but there are quite a few more. Phew!





Some people from Malaysia during Cultural Show. Some had yet to change...The tall girl in blue (next to me), has a Malaysian mum, and lives in Germany...



There was also a meeting for all the scholarship recipients; there were 10 of us, 9 of which are girls. From what I gathered, there’s only one from each country and we’re nicely spread out: Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Columbia, Germany, St. Lucia, Bahamas, Pakistan, Ethiopia, and Ecuador.





Among my closest friends so far: From left: Saman (Pakistan), Bilen (Eritrea-Kenya), Me (Malaysia), and Nejat (Ethiopia)...




We spoke about our backgrounds, and the work we’re involved in, and the director of the international program (he took notes as we spoke) promised to put us in touch with the people best suited to help us continue with our work back home.

For me, looks like (from the first chat with the staff) I can easily continue working with the riding program for special kids, there’s the police department victim’s unit (example: abused children), there’s YMCA, the Red Cross, and the regional health centre, and there is a stroke rehabilitation in the vicinity as well. On the university campus, there’s also a daycare which takes children as young as 6 weeks too *Yay!*!



And my scholarship covers my transportation in-and-around on the city-bus, which is really helpful, as each bus-ride costs CDN$ 2, one way. *University students pay a one-off lump sum for a season pass. I think it is like CDN$200 per season*



Anyway, the camp was full of information which proved really handy. The staff did a good job in assessing our needs. We met with the representatives of the First Nations (the Canadian Native people) who welcomed us with a native song and prayer. We were given briefings by the police and victim-units officer on our rights as international students, who to call when we needed help or felt threatened, as well as our rights to live without discrimination.


It is a crime here, and should we ever feel we’re being discriminated against because of race/religion/sexual orientation etc, we were given a hotline to call.


The camp also had sessions on visa, immigration, recreational activties, the weather, safe sex and our right to abstinence, health insurance, reading maps in the vicinity, banking, traffic rules, civil rules, legal ages for all ‘activities’ like drinking, having sex, driving, signing contracts etc. They also gave us a list of all the places (with contact information) in the area we can go to to practise our various forms of prayer and worship.



I also realised how accommodating Canadians are, as the university cafeterias even provide halal food as well as provide arrangements for the fasting month.





In Camp Kawartha...



We also got to do all the fun stuff. Like taking a guided-hike in the woods at night, getting acquianted with the wildlife, going canoeing, kayaking, swimming etc.





Camp-fire Marshmellows, with music sing-alongs...



Orientation has been pretty cool too, although these people have waaayyy too much energy. There are so many parties/BBQ's etc! Moving in wasn’t too much of a hassle as there were student volunteers to help cart our bags, and I had this big guy who brought my fridge in.

Morover, I had my aunts, uncle, cousins and grandma. Hehe...



At orientation, we were given a bag with some stuff that we might need, like student diaries, calendar, coupons, vouchers, stationery etc. What struck me was that, in that bag was also a safe-sex kit.




Outdoor disco-party on campus to welcome the first-years. In picture would be (in no particular order) students from Bahamas, Canada, Ethiopia, Malaysia, St.Lucia, Kenya, Bhutan, Greenland, Germany, Pakistan and China.




It’s actually a good idea. Instead of keep preaching that students shouldn’t be practising sex, give them the knowledge and empower them to protect themselves should they choose to not abstain. We were also given badges and info-pin-ups on our right to say no. The upper-year students also put up skits in the theatre on these ‘taboo’ subjects.

Less people smoke here too. Basically, it’s harder to smoke as there is a rule that you have to be at least 9 metres away from any building to light up. All indoor places are smoke free as well, including pubs and clubs.



Of course some people smoke directly outside buildings (nope, they're not at least 9 metres away), but at least the insides are all smoke-free. My nose, ears and eyes have been pretty happy, and I have yet to pop any meds to ease my breathing and itch.



You know, in my hostel in Malaysia, guys are not even allowed to step into the girls’ hostel. Here, we share bathrooms on residence! Seriously...

We shower, poop, and wash up in the same area. Some residences (not mine) actually have 3 cubicles for showering, and the only form of ‘protection’ is a shower-curtain!

And according to the staff and dons (upper-year student leaders), this has been a practice for a while now, and there have been no complaints of breach of privacy so far. They were saying that “if we treat young people like adults, they behave like civilised adults”.





My room door, and my neighbours...The seniors made those door-tags for us...



Hey, in fact, my immediate neighbours are guys...And I have no problem with that. Having someone who has enough energy to help me move my fridge and who sounds more capable of fixing it is pretty cool ;)



Anyway, I better catch up on some sleep. There’s a tour downtown tomorrow which I’m going for, and I have to meet with my don, and see my academic advisor and attend seminars and mock lectures for the courses I wish to take to see if I like them (this week is exclusive for first years in the university; that includes exchange and transfer students).