Hello again, hello again!
I can't believe I've already been here for a week. I've been super busy every day - which is good for staving off homesicknesss and learning to love the city - which is why there has been no update. I hope to post smaller chunks throughout the weeks, but if things stay at this pace it might end up being a weekly epic.
So it all began last Thursday. After getting my visa and packing and hanging out with my family and such - I had an excellent last night attending, with my family, a panel on Canadian Democracy with the Sunday Edition and Michael Enright, who sounds like Sunday Breakfast - I was more than ready to come. The fam all came to the airport with my mother and I shedding a tear (how could i not, she is so cute!), and with them waiting next to the line until I went through the final doors before security. All of that went off without a hitch, and then, whilst waiting for my flight, I ran into Jordyn who, with Emily, is going to be in France this year. Hopefully I will be going down to visit them (who doesn't like a free night in Dijon?) and we will also hopefully go down to visit Julian in Spain in second semester. The flight was uneventful, though I wasn't able to sleep, and getting from Heathrow to Bristol also was no pain at all, this time sleeping the whole way.
The coach took us straight to our accommodation. I am in Unite House, which though isn't the lovliest of student hovels, is at least filled with some wonderful people. I met Brendan just as I arrived which made the ordeal much less scary. He, also from Canada, saw my CBC pin and then my Canadian flag sewed onto my MEC backpack, and was equally excited to meet another Canadian. I'm sure that the only way I can keep my accent is to hang out with all the other Canadians that I have met, so we've got a mutual support thing going on. And we can also reminisce about open spaces, Sam Roberts, maple syrup, and poutine. But yes, quite. I was shown my room, met one of my roommates (or 'flatmates'), and then met some more people in the courtyard that the building has. That night I went out with Louise (who I met in the courtyard), Nikki (her flatmate), and our other friend Katie. I caught myself rounding out my a's and dropping my r's after hanging out for quite a while so I must be sure to stay vigiliant.
That same day, Brendan also showed me a bit of the surrounding areas, and can I tell you! Everywhere around here is gorgeous. Even their workingclass-cum-student living row houses are more than you could dream of at home. I live right across the street from the oldest pub in Bristol (The Hachet Inn,1606), up a set of stairs and across the street from the College Green (anyone who watches Skins will recognize it), and about a 15 minute walk from the Clifton Suspension Bridge, the Avon Gorge, and the Downs (a huge park). I've done a few of the touristy things, and will do more today with Ariana and Marika, but even just walking to class one has to stop and take pictures and block up the sidewalk. I just have my mouth open all the time, it's abject tomfoolery I tell you, but this is what I came for so I'm ever so pleased.
Right! Chronology. K, so, first day there was frosh stuff ('fresher's' they call it here) and I think on the second day I did one more fresher's event: going to the Bristol Zoo. I haven't been to a zoo since I was a little kid, excluding the Biodome of course which isn't really a zoo, it's a Biodome, so this was great good fun. I don't know how much the animals enjoy the nippy English weather, but atleast they aren't in cement cages. I saw lots of lovely animals like lemurs, fruit bats, gorillas, flamingos, seals, and okapis, and the gals and I were definitely the last of the group to remain.
The rest of the week has been spent attending orientations, running errands (like getting a bank account and a phone), and trying to find a pub we can call our own. I've been mainly hanging out with a group of Study Abroad students (ie all from Canada, America, New Zealand, and Australia), milling about the place playing the tourist, shopping, and cider game. Can I tell you about cider? It's the best. I believe we only recently started getting cider in Canada, and of the stuff I've had there, yeuch, it does not even compare to the product here. The southwest of England is where cider originally came from ("Wisdom and Cheap Cider" - The Rural Buddha). It's not really like North American cider in that here it is clear, definiately apple-y but not too sweet, and you can't really taste the alcohol. They also have it in varying amounts, so depending on the brand or the strength you may only need half-a-pint to a pint to be nicely toasted. Even with the strong stuff you can't taste the alcohol - only the delicious, delicious history of it all. Two nights ago we found what is so far my favourite place: The Apple. The Apple is a pub on a boat down by the water (of course) that is known for its cider. It has tonnes of different varieties (pear, strawberry, etc), a charming atmosphere (seafoam walls and leather couches but with pin-up girls on their fliers), and plays a variety of music that could only come from my cottage (ie Queens of the Stone Age followed by doo-wop). The crowd was youngish and hipish, so I'm hoping that this can be a contender in the great finding-a-pub challenge.
The other highlight of this week was my super British tourist day yesterday. After running some errands with Brendan in the morning, including getting my first really British food in the form of a Cornish Pasty, we spent the afternoon walking over to the Clifton Suspension Bridge and the surrounding environs (although don't environs always surround?). It's no Golden Gate, but I don't go in for grandeur anyway. I think the whole local hero/landmark vibe of the area makes it all the better. Isambaugh Kingdom Brunel was a famous industrialist from my favourite time period, and he designed this bridge, spanning the Avon Gorge. There was barely any water in the gorge, but that didn't really matter cause the view one had was astouding. The rolling hills behind red-brick roofs made 'Jerusalem' spring into my mind, I do not deny. It really made me so happy; it was all I hoped for from an English vista, and I got it. I'm going back today with a different group of people, and hopefully on many more weekends as well. To add to the Britishness of it all the weather finally became what I was expecting (cold, rainy, windy), rather than what we've had all week (warm, sunny, calm). I know I shouldn't get too excited about it for I will rue it soon enough I'm sure, but it just made the red phone boxes, red post boxes, and old stone wells all the better.
So there's my first week. Conclusion: excellent. I'll tell you if that stays the same after I start classes this week, though I suppose it will (even though my classes will be very hard and I'll soon be a basket case I'm sure).
Your friend Lina