“A double-double please!” / Canada

On 3rd of September, after three flights which totalled 24 hours and 40 minutes of travelling, I arrived in Regina, Saskatchewan, a town nobody back home seemed to have heard of in a province more or less foreign. Before arriving, I had looked up this city and after extensive research, quickly came to the conclusion that there was not much offered in Regina on the internet or in any of the Lonely Planet travel books. Intuitively, I accepted the fact that all I should expect from this place were fields of empty land (I had even been told it was the Orange of New South Wales)… But alas, don’t let this unbeknown town fool you, because after touching down in the smallest international airport I had ever been to, I discovered there was more to this tiny city than I had (not)expected! Here are three comparisons I’ve come up with: 

1. Downtown Regina
Yes, in comparison to Sydney, it is a lot smaller, but Regina is a city nonetheless, and much to my surprise, there aren’t any tumbleweeds rolling around empty land. Juxtaposing Sydney’s CBD which is filled with a lot of commotion and thousands of people hustling and bustling daily, Regina’s downtown is definitely more quiet, which is actually a rather relaxing and delightful change to the fast paced city back home. 

2. Fall Temperatures
Although the terms ‘fall’ and ‘autumn’ are used almost interchangeably, the temperatures from opposing hemispheres of the world are not remotely the same! Having just come out of Sydney’s winter period, I expected Regina’s fall to be on the semi cool stage like Sydney’s Autumn… What an inaccurate presumption! It is flat out cold! Regina’s fall should not be compared to Sydney’s autumn, but rather, Sydney’s winter… So picture me with three layers of clothing on in 9°C weather amongst people here wearing shorts and t-shirts! It’s absolutely bizarre! And from what I’ve been told, I should be expecting snow and a -20°C average in the remaining months of the year. 

3. Friendliness
I’m not sure about you, but I’ve heard a lot of people comment on how friendly Australians are. All I can say is, we aren’t. Canadians are friendly. Without a doubt, they (albeit New Zealanders as well) are the friendliest people I’ve encountered… And friendliness should be contagious because when moving into a new country, a smile or greeting from a stranger goes a long way. It would be rather difficult not to fall in love with the country when locals are not only welcoming, but go out of their way to help you find your way around town in the pouring rain.   

The University of Regina
The University of Regina
The view from our dorm
The view from our dorm
Regina Rams vs Alberta Golden Bears
Regina Rams vs Alberta Golden Bears
Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan
Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan
Wascana Lake
Wascana Lake

So to students thinking about going on an exchange, I say, do it! I’m only three weeks into studying abroad and all I can say is that there isn’t going to ever be a time when you feel ready enough to leave home (take it from a girl who has been sheltered by her family, and has lived in Sydney her entire 21 years). It’s okay to not know how to cook, to not know anybody in a new country, or to break electricity fuses because you’ve plugged in too many 240v appliances into 110v outlets… When push comes to shove, you will learn how to cook, you will open yourself up to making new friends and you will learn how to fix your own electricity from the switchboards outside.

Exchange has been a wonderful experience thus far, and I cannot wait to see what adventures hold for me in the remaining few months! 

Jemilla Vu, 11693785

P.S: A ‘double-double’ is a very popular coffee order for Canadians consisting of two creams and two sugars, and like all the other coffee in the Northern Hemisphere, is horrible.

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