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).




30 comments:

Dalam Dakapan Ibu said...

Wowie! You made THAT many friends ka? Cepatnya!

I truly am happy to see you coping well there, making LOTS of friends and having a blast!

Take care ok?

Pi Bani said...

Wah, looks like you're enjoying yourself over there! The international camp sounds great. How's your room-mate? Rajin cuci bilik tak? :)

Ms B said...

My uni in the Land Down Under served halal food too (we are talking like more than a decade ago!). Hence explained how I gained 8 kgs in 2 months! Yummy food.

Oh daph, is it just me but u actually gained some? :-)

have fun yeah!

mott said...

wah..enjoy your uni days. it's the most fun of them all!

am glad to see that you're fitting yourself in very nicely!

Akmal said...

Daph. Seriously 9 meters away from building to light up? Heaven!
But then again it is their maturity that matters kan? They have rules to be followed, but we have rules to be breached. Dilemma, dilemma.
Whatever it is Daph, I can see that you found a place where you can nicely fit, yeah?

Salt N Turmeric said...

Daph, glad ur having a blast. memang looks like ur having fun pun. so now dah gi disco yeah? hehe.

Zawi said...

Daph,
You are adapting to the life very well there. Such a potpouri of race and religion can only be enriching. How is it possible? Because English is the media of learning and communication. Why can't we have that back home? We used to have that during my days but we retrograde and they consider that progressive.
Daph you be our ambassador there.

wanshana said...

Glad to know that you've settled in well. And I agree with mott - enjoy uni life - best times ever! (Don't forget to study laaa, ok?!)

I had a shock in Uni, too, when I discovered that we had to share the residence with guys. Fortunately we had the thing called "the door" which we could lock when we had our shower :). If not, aiyooo...I tak mandi 3 tahun! Hahaha!

And the walls separating the rooms were not that thick, too. So many "interesting noises" at night coz' not many chose to abstain...Hahaha!

Nightwing said...

I knew u would make new friends fast...:)

Keep it up girl and keep on updating us...:)

Take care and God bless.

ruby ahmad said...

Hi Daphne,

Waduh waduh...I really enjoyed looking at the photos. What a rich life you're leading over there. I know you will be positively exposed to all the interesting goings on over there. You are blessed dear.

Makes me wanna migrate too. I don't think people like me are much appreciated here anymore..hu hu!

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Aunty Ja,

We had this unique thing called the International Camp, where they take this whole bunch of international students (first come, first serve basis) who just arrived and throw them head-on into a camp.

Everybody's new, and everybody's far away from home. Kinda like instant-made friends...

We don't remember everybody's name, but at least, the faces we can kinda recognise.

So not so alien lar...It was good idea, the camp!

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Kak Pi,

Yeap, enjoying myself here. More so when there are less rules here...Over in Malaysia, the rules in the hostel were sometimes bordering ridiculous...

Like no cooking in the kitchen?!?!? That was one rule I ignored completely. I mean, it's called a kitchen because???

Over here, there are strict rules on drugs/drinking and the like, but I've nothing to worry there. Don't plan on stashing anything illegal under my bed...

So, yes! Happy here...

As for the room, we're both so busy we haven't had much time to unpack...So it's messy-ish as we move things in-out-and-around, but livable!

Daphne Ling said...

Hey Ms B,

Haha! Yes, I gained weight...It's common knowledge ;)

As for halal food, I'm not surprised. But I was a little surprised that they actually make arrangements for the breakfast with menu's etc...

Daphne Ling said...

Hey Mott,

Sounds pretty much what you said...It is pretty nice!

Will try to let my hair down as much as I can. New place means new things to try! =)

Take care now...

Daphne Ling said...

Hey Akmal,

Yeap, the rules say you gotta be at least 9 metres/30 ft away from any building to smoke.

There are people who smoke directly outside a building anyway, but the wind here is pretty strong, that the smoke gets blown away quick...

Anyway, I'm happy that the insides are COMPLETELY smoke-free...I've never even seen a lighter or pack of ciggies...

People here drink alot though...

Daphne Ling said...

Hey Kak Farina,

Haha...It was an outdoor food+disco thingy...There were people singing and dancing, and that was pretty much it...No booze or smoke...!!=)!!

They close down the cafeteria's so that people are kinda forced to go for the party (unless you wanna leave campus, or cook)...

Where there's food, Daphne just might be there ;)*Wink*

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Pak Zawi,

You know, I asked myself that same question. Why can't we have this kind of thing/life back home?

Is it because we are so stuck with this whole 'We have Asian Values' thingy that we are so afraid that if we change, we might become bad?

I mean, take this whole 'give condoms to young people' issue. You know, if we practised this in Malaysia, there might be less unwanted pregnancies, and like another blogger whom I was chatting to said: "MarinaM would need to find a new course to champion"...

BUT...if we did this in Malaysia, there would be hue-and-cry that we're encouraging people to sleep around...

Would we, really?

So how come it's done here and nobody's complaining?

Are Malaysians really not ready?

Daphne Ling said...

Hey Kak Shana,

Haha...Tak mandi 3 tahun? Where can lidat? Smelly lar wei...;)

Anyway, I go to the bathroom all the time, from washing face to hands to bathing to seeing to my teeth (the retainer thingy very cerewet lar)...

And everybody's pretty civil. No peeking or anything...=)

Daphne Ling said...

Oh, by the way, Kak Shana, we have VERY thick walls...So thick that that the wireless system in the residence, DOES NOT WORK...

Seriously...

We all use plug-and-go in our rooms (means we have to connect a cable to our computer)...

Wireless only works on campus...

It's good, in a way...You don't have to fight for bandwidth with anybody else, and you don't get cut off all the time...

Just less convenient if you wanna move around and sit in the corridors of the room or something...

Daphne Ling said...

Hey NightWing,

Haha! You know, we didn't have that much choice...We were all thrown into the camp! So yeah, kinda like instant friends.

Which is cool, to see a face you recognise on campus...=)

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Kak Ruby,

A picture says a thousand words, eh? Hehe...That's as Canadian as I can get...The 'Eh?'!

But yes, I so agree that I am very blessed to get this opportunity...It's really amazing...

Oh, by the way, of course you're still appreciated there in Malaysia! *Hugs*

Puteri said...

Seems like you had a great time at camp, and moving to the residence hall.

Looks like you will have lots of fun time at uni judging by the people you have already befriended! :-)

zorro said...

Episode: The Re-education of Daphne Ling.'

Now you will relearn some valuable values.Take in everything good and enjoy this whilst it lasts. This should quip you when (if) you come back to a New Malaysia.

Am thinking of a post on that discriminating bit.

Stay well....and stop sobbing at night because mum and dad are not touchable.

kak yus said...

Daphne,
Good for you! I pun dah mula terkenang my university life ni. The bestest times of my life!
BTW Aunty Ja (Ibu) was actually my classmate.So, either you call her Kak Ja, or you call me Aunty Yus too. But we are just '24' you!!! hehehe..

Daphne Ling said...

Hey Kak Puteri,

Hehe...Yeap, it was a great camp, although I didn't like moving in...All the huffing and puffing carrying stuff up staircases ain't fun at all...Even with help, it was a lot of hard, tiring work!

But the rest was good...=)

Daphne Ling said...

Hey Uncle B,

Haha, no sobbing lar...Too tired at the end of the day to do any sobbing. Just plonk down on bed, and I'm snoozing away in a matter of minutes! Which is saying something because I usually take a very long time to doze off...

But you're right about the re-education. And I'm enjoying it. The international staff people did tell us that chances are, when we go back to our home countries, we will experience a lot of reverse culture shock...

;S

I'm pretty sure I will...

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Aunty Yus,

Ah...You asked for it man! I didn't know you were classmates, but since you 'bocor-ed' the rahsia out, you also become Aunty lar ;)

Haha...Wish you could go back to uni leh? Aiya, you're working at one lar...

yus said...

haahaha..
naughty you, daphne girl!

Ja, tengok budak ni!

Daphne Ling said...

What Aunty Yus?

*Innocent look*

;)

Water Lion said...
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