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).