Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Y'a d'la neige! (and other stories)



Hey, look, I know it's still November. But I finished my novel early! How cool is that?! A post specifically about my experience with that is in the pipeline.

So, apart from that, what else has been going on this month?

As tough as it is to admit here, I've spent most of November gripped by an ugly combination of anxiety and culture shock. Or something really negative, anyway. It has made life very difficult. I had a couple of Skype dates to people from home where I basically just whined and got very upset. I listened to more UK music than usual (not that I never listen to it usually, just that most of my favourites seem to be American or Canadian), which I think was a sign of a subconscious yearning to hear accents that sounded more like mine and references to stuff I grew up with that's specific to where I grew up. So yeah, in a way I am still trying to haul myself out of that. It's difficult, but keeping positive, grateful and busy is key. I have faith that I will be doing well again once the Christmas holidays roll around.

It might sound shallow but I also feel down because my skin sucks right now, and it has done so pretty much ever since the moment I stepped off the plane. It must be down to the change in environment and routine, but I've been doing some research and found something called "face mapping"; if your spots are concentrated in a certain part of your face, there's something lacking in your diet or lifestyle. Mine are almost exclusively on my chin, which allegedly indicates a hormonal imbalance, so I can't really do anything about it. Just great. However, I'm currently trying to make a transition by avoiding dairy at all costs, eating more iron-rich vegetables, and not popping the spots (don't act like you've never done it). Also, I've heard Omega 3 is good, but it can be quite hard to find in a non-fish format; the girl who lived in my apartment before left me some chia seeds, though, which I've heard are good for that. Just want to be a babe while I'm here, you know? I'll keep results updated here.

Oh, and as you can see from the photo at the top, the snow has officially arrived in Rimouski! We got a bit in early November, but it soon melted after a couple of days. Then on the 23rd November we got our first load of proper snow, and I guess that's how life is going to be for the next few months! I'm sure the novelty will wear off at some point, but for now it's making me excited for all the stuff you can do in Quebec in the winter. The only thing I'm not looking forward to is the extreme temperatures. The coldest I've experienced in my life so far was about -15°C in Latvia in December. That was horrific, so I wonder what's in store over here...?

Well, here's a selection of cultural stuff I've done since I last checked in:

  • I checked out an improv night. It's a very Québécois thing, I'm told; it's almost a sport. There are two teams of about five people, and they're given a topic that one member of each team has to represent in a sort of comedy sketch for, say, three minutes. Some of it was funny in a way that transcends language barriers, but in other parts the humour verged on politically incorrect (I hate that phrase, by the way; as if it's not "correct" to treat minorities like people?). At any rate, it's probably not something I would go out of my way to attend again...
  • A friend and I walked 5.5km to the Maison Lamontagne (it wasn't as close as we thought...). It's a historically significant house - built back in the days of New France - and one of the oldest in Quebec. I found it really interesting to read about how the face of architecture here has evolved over the past few hundred years.
  • I went to the training session in Quebec City, which was basically a big reunion of the British, German and Mexican assistants, and we met the anglophone Canadian assistants for the first time (well, not all of them - there are around 70!). I'm not sure how much information I actually absorbed as it was all crammed in very tightly, and I just found the whole thing incredibly exhausting. But there were some really cool moments, such as the evening when we all had to dress up in plaid shirts and were transported by yellow school buses to a cabane à sucre on the Île d'Orléans. There were music and sketches from different teams of assistants, which was a lot of fun! We also had tire d'érable which is maple syrup dripped onto snow and you dip a stick in to make a lolly! I had planned to stay in the city after the training for a few more days, but I got ill and had a bit of a bank crisis so I decided it would be better for me to go home. There will be other opportunities to re-explore, though!
  • Us Rimouski girls made a day trip to Rivière-du-Loup, a city about one hour west of here, where we met up with the assistants there and visited Noël au Château, Canada's largest Christmas market! We didn't stay in RDL too long but it seemed like a cool place.
  • My responsable plays hockey, and I got to tag along to one of his games all the way in Dalhousie, New Brunswick. It was actually my first hockey game, which was very exciting. It's weird to have to wear a coat while you're watching a sport indoors! I loved how it seemed to be a real weekly community drawing in everyone from Dalhousie, as well as members of the nearby Eel River Bar First Nation.
  • I attended a slam poetry night, where I met a couple of new people. I understood quite a lot of the poetry, which I felt pretty proud of myself for. It was a fun night.
  • Also, dubiously "cultural", but Target opened in Rimouski at last! It's just opened its first bunch of stores all over the province. It's another one of those stores that, like Walmart, I always hear about on TV and stuff and so when you see it in real life it's kind of surreal. My friend from British Columbia thought it was pretty small, but I found it huge! I came to buy a few things that I needed, but it was hard not to get distracted by everything else in there (and I mean it has everything). It also contains a Starbucks, which I'm pretty ambivalent about, but I guess that's exciting news for people who don't want to travel four hours for Starbucks.

I realise that literally no-one but me cares about this, but I've been taking a different lunch to school... was getting a bit bored of the hummus and bean sandwiches. There's a whole foods store in town and I found this vegan cream cheese there that is so addictive. I've been putting that on bagels. It's absolute bliss. That, an oatmeal bar and a banana make up my lunch. Makes me feel pretty healthy, and feeling healthy makes a remarkable difference in my mood.



I think these are meant to be for people going on hikes and stuff but WHATEVER, EVERY DAY IS AN EMOTIONAL HIKE

As a treat for winning NaNoWriMo, and also because I missed out on it the last time (see earlier on in the post), I'm off on a solo trip to Quebec City this weekend. It's going to look so pretty in the snow. I will, of course, produce photos.