There are no kangaroos in Austria

Over the last few days, life in Canada has actually begun.  I am no longer an Australian tourist excited about squirrels (ok, well I still am but I am more now too).  I am a student at McMaster University (or Mac as the cool kids seem to call it).  I have a Canadian phone, a local town center, I know how to catch the buses and even have Canadian assignments.

This is King Street West in Westdale… it’s the place to be with lovely cafés, bookstores an old school cinema.
A black squirrel in a tree is about as common as an indian minor back home, just to give you some perspective.

University is really quite different to back home. First of all, there seems to be no distinction between lectures and tutorials here.  I have a class full of 90 people and the professor (yes, not a lecturer or tutor here but a professor, and you can’t address them by their first names), asks questions just like in a tute!  People are also a lot more enthusiastic to answer questions (which I actually like).  The actual content they teach is so different too.  I am taking two art history subjects: Renaissance art and Art and Visual Culture in East Asia.  In Wollongong, we mention established schools, techniques and traditions and then smash them with the post-modernist hammer.  Here, we’re actually supposed to believe what people in positions of authority said! This is going to take some getting used to.  And then there are TEXTBOOKS! Every subject of mine has at least one (yes, even the art subjects), and some have as many as 3!  Although the subjects I am doing are pretty damn cool (add Television and Society and Media Audiences and Effects to the aforementioned two) and I want to learn about them… I am up for some serious reading.  I also have a whole lot of assignments, 2 of which are due next week!  Mac seems like a really good school though… I don’t think it is going to be all that easy, but it will be interesting.

Everything at Mac is just enthusiastic.  Their version of O-Week is Welcome week… and it is similar to Wollongong’s, but about 1000 times bigger.  I got so much free stuff at the stalls and joined so many clubs.  I got two free slices of (North American sized) pizza, a free kitkat, cupcake, shower gel, hot sauce, two packs of free chewing gum and so many mini free samples of Booster Juice (like our Boost) it nearly added up to a large.  It. Was. Awesome.

The gym here is really cool too.  Mark and I are actually doing Karate twice a week.  We have signed, paid in full and I am very excited and nervous.

There is an actual running track in the gym, and we have full access. Not sure if I will use it, but I like that I can.

So uni (or school as they call it) aside, Mark and I have had a real Canadian experience.  We bought bagged milk.  Basically it’s awesome.  I had it on cereal, I actually think it tastes better that bottled milk.  Well, maybe not… but it’s a lot of fun to use.

This was our first bag of milk. Luckily we found a milk jug left in the kitchen from the previous owner (their loss!) and are getting our calcium… Canadian style.

Last night we went out to a really café on campus called Bridges.  It is a vegetarian café by day… and many other things by night.  We had some talented international people showcasing their stuff.  It was a really great night and afterwards we went to the campus bar, The Phoenix.  It was a $4 minimum per seat, which we all thought was a bit strange, but some of us really got our moneys worth.  Our new Australian friend, for example, engineered several towers out of sauce and menus.

International audience at Bridges Café

At our post-music pub experience we learnt some pretty interesting things from some lovely French and Austrian people.  One of particular note, was the fact that the Austrians continually get asked if there are kangaroos in Austria (there are not).  It is not a one-off thing, if fact they actually have a racing team named TANKIA (for There Are No Kangaroos In Austria).

Today we headed into downtown to see the Locke Street markets.  They were heaps of fun and I got even more free samples!  Mark and I found a Toonie sale (two-dollar sale, but as I think I mentioned their $2 is called a Toonie) and bought books, frames and a nice cup for my tea.  I even found a place that makes Montreal style bagels!  I am so so happy, because they are absolutely fantastic.  I cannot express how great these are, I may need to learn to make them so I can bring them to Australia.

The Locke Street Markets were a lot of fun… I love free stuff
Tim Horton’s is absolutely everywhere here… it makes sense they would have a ship.

Anyway, we are about to head out to the Supercrawl, which is a festival on Locke Street where all the art galleries come out onto the streets and there is live music and art everywhere! I am very excited (as you might have expected).  Then tomorrow we are going to Niagara Falls!  Having a great weekend, just need to find time for assignments!

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