Anglophone Adventures

An anglophone from the west. A francophone town. Hoo boy.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

An anglophone in hispanophone land.

I've moved again. Seeing as my life will be between two different places for the time being, it makes sense to me to split my writing between two different blogs.

So wander on over and take a look.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

adventure awaits

In just over 24 hours from now, I'm off on another "adventure".

Yes, plans have finally been more or less finalized (I say more or less because I still don't really know what I'll be doing once I get there -- at the very least I have a place to stay and a ride from the airport) and my flight leaves tomorrow around noon. I'll be down south for four months, and then back in Québec for the winter. I know, I know: winter in Québec. Next year I'll try to work it for winter in Panama.

For the first time ever in my life I'm all packed and ready to go. It's quite strange to not be running around last minute putting things together. On the plus side, I'm much less stressed than usual. But then again, it also gives me a lot more time to consider what happens when I get off the plane.

I've got an orientation first thing in the morning after I arrive and then for the first month I'll be doing a course in tropical biology. After that, my supervisor will be there and I'll be playing in the lab. And reading like mad. And enjoying Panama.

I'm sure I'll have many more interesting things to write once I get down there!

Friday, July 10, 2009

chez le dentiste

In the never ending list of things to do before I leave the country I went to the dentist. I have nothing against going to the dentist, but it's not really on my list of favorite things to do. And after all of my orthodontic work, I feel like I've spent more than enough time in the chair with people playing in my mouth. But you know, it's a good thing to do before you leave the country for months at a time. So I went.

And lo and behold, what did they find on my x-rays? Another wisdom tooth (or en français -- une dent de sagesse)! I've already had them out, and here my body is, producing new ones. So that brings my total up to three -- two removed, and one grown in the last two years. I'm sure they would have mentioned something about that at my last check*.

It must be because I just keep getting wiser.

* Because dentists like to take them out. I was glad that the dentist here wasn't too excited about it though. Yes, he said I could have it taken out, but the choice is mine. And if it's not causing problems it's not such a big deal.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Grandescunt Aucta Labore*

And now I can say it officially. Congratulations and welcome to McGill. The official letters came in the mail yesterday, and now all that rests is some minor administrative hoops to jump through (registration, etc.). And the rest of that getting ready to go to Panama stuff.

For those of you who follow this blog that aren't in the loop, I'll be starting my doctorate in biology at McGill in September (actually in August), with a concentration in the Neotropical Environment Option (NEO) which is run through the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama. What does that mean exactly? Well, I'll be getting a PhD from McGill, but the bulk of my research will take place in Panama with my primary supervisor. Other coursework will take place in Montreal with my co-supervisor.

So yeah.

I'm both excited and slightly terrified by it all, to be honest. Exciting things: new opportunities, new experiences, new contacts, new country, new language, and best of all -- doing something that interests me. Sorry English teaching. Terrifiying things: see exciting things. Except for that last one. Doing something I'm interested in is pretty exciting.

So, as of August 3rd I'll be in Panama, starting my first course in the program and getting my feet wet in Panama. I'll be staying down south until December, and then I'll be in Montreal. I know -- it would be nicer to be in Panama during Québec winter, but this makes more sense logistically (not to mention financially). Besides, like my Montreal based supervisor said to me -- I'm a Canadian girl. I can take it.

* For those whose Latin is rusty: By work, all things increase and grow.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

back in the TR

And we're back.

Back in stinky (literally) TR. Things here are as always, only muggier and rainier. I keep trying to banish the rains to the west of the country, but my powers must be on the fritz. Other than that, things are pretty quiet around here. The cats (and boy) are glad to have me back. I'm glad to be back too, but I think I'm experiencing withdrawal or something. We had a barbecue on the back patio the other night, but it was just with us. What's that about? No people, no playing cards, only one bottle of wine? I'm sure once I get deeper into my planning and lists I'll get over it, but it seems I miss spending time with family types.

For Canada Day yesterday we hid out from the rain in our fave local cafe with a few books, enjoyed a pint at our fave local pub, and sangria at a place near us -- it has our fave patio and okay sangria, but the food isn't too good and the service has been crap lately. The patio was full unfortunately. The crappy service made me cranky.

We did have a fabulous fireworks display, which the city has now moved so that we can see it perfectly from our balconies. Excellent. I'm told that these fireworks were much more intense than the fireworks for St-Jean Baptiste, but not as well attended. Does that mean some federal funding body is pumping money into Canada Day fireworks in Québec? I have to wonder, especially as they are cutting money everywhere else (cultural capital of Canada, festivals, etc.). Who knows. But there were a lot of Canada flags on the streets that I don't remember seeing last year...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Third time's the charm... almost

What with all the changes in schedules that have been going on around here recently*, we decided to get out of Dodge for a few days. Somewhere not to far, preferably with something interesting to do. We thought about going back to Ottawa, but we were there last summer. The idea of pubs and British-ness held sway though, and we ended up in Kingston. And yes, I was just there last month. And in January as well. But neither of those trips count, because the one in January was to move my sister out of storage, and the other was as a chaperone. So it was like I had never really been after all.

So we booked a place to sleep, hopped in the car, and drove to Canada's first capital city. We ended up in a lovely little B&B near Queen's University, not far from the waterfront.

We ended up spending our first evening in a walk-in clinic. Nothing serious, and I found it excessively funny that somehow I always end up doing something similar whenever I visit Kingston. I swear I've spent more time in the Shoppers Drug Mart there than anywhere else in Kingston.

We had a very relaxed mini-vacation: we spent the morning touring Fort Henry, and the afternoon touring used bookstores and local pubs**.

The next day we were back home again. Short and sweet.

* Me heading off to distant corners of the globe mostly.
** Katie -- you were right. The Toucan really is the best pub in town.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

quatre flashers

Every day, I am amazed by the new driving skills that I have acquired by living in Québec. When we first got our car, I was criticized for driving "too safely". I was a danger to those around me. Crazy moves like coming to a complete stop at a stop sign, shoulder checking, using my turn signals, obeying the speed limit, and leaving 2 seconds of space between myself and the cars in front of me -- all of these caused no end of trouble for the drivers around me.

But experience on Québec roads has taught me the error of my ways. Besides learning the correct way to drive (eliminating all those pesky old bad habits) I've also learned the correct way to park. And I certainly don't mean parallel parking. Maybe people do that in Montréal*, where space is at a premium, thanks to all those scary foreigners with their strange ways and customs. And food**.

No, here in la région, it's much easier to just stop your car wherever you are and turn on your quatre flashers. The four-way flashers. Hazard lights. Need to stop in the middle of a busy street? No problem. Quatre flashers. Double parked? No problem -- quatre flashers. Just stopping for a minute and don't feel like feeding the parking meter? You guessed it -- quatre flashers.

Based on a highly scientific study of parking habits in downtown T-R, conducted from our balcony, people in these parts have serious problems with parking. The spaces may be big enough to accomodate a tank, but it's still problematic. And that's not even counting having to figure out how to use the parking meter... True story: we were once stopped by a young woman who had apparently NEVER SEEN A PARKING METER and asked us how to use it. Not a question of what are the hours or something similar, but she actually wanted to know HOW to work the machine. So apparently, it's not just me who is learning things about how to drive in Québec.

* Where it is illegal to turn right on a red light.

** I'm dying for restaurant options that don't include bad Italian (overcooked spaghetti) or pub grub (variations on burgers, fries, poutine, and club sandwiches). Hello Indian? Thai? Chinese???