Life has been a bit of a whirlwind lately. First of all, I have news: I'm going to be working in a different school next term. I did have a few good times and learnt some valuable lessons in the other school, but I had to finally accept that overall, I just wasn't happy. I am extremely grateful that I was able to transfer rather than have to quit the programme altogether, which would have been upsetting. To new beginnings!
Also, it got cold. Like, really effing cold. Let me introduce you to the concept of wind chill: even if the thermometer says it's "only" -18, say, it can feel like around -30 because of the wind. It truly is hellish trying to walk to places. Needless to say, I have taken out my puffy winter coat and I don't think there's any going back until about March now. It's also snowing nearly every day, and there's a lot of it. It's not so much the snow itself that stops you from getting around, as there's an efficient déneigement (snow-clearing) system; it's more the whole package that makes you want to hibernate.
Last weekend, I went for a walk at the Parc du Bic just outside Rimouski with another assistant and a new Québécois friend. I wrapped up, but I was still really cold! The trail was "hikier" than I'd expected, but I really enjoyed it. It was the loveliest winter wonderland adventure I could have asked for. My hat and scarf froze, as well as my hair and eyelashes... I don't think I'm going to bother wearing mascara for the next few months! And my snot froze too, which was quite a peculiar sensation. I took so many pictures of the extraordinary winter scenery, but I'll just put a few here.
This walk, followed by a lovely warm meal at Le Bercail - a restaurant/café/venue in Rimouski - really reminded me why I applied to come here.
Winter break begins tomorrow! First I'm off to Mont-Tremblant, one of the most famous ski resorts in Canada. I'll be spending Christmas there with 15 other British assistants. It'll be my first Christmas away from home and I am looking forward to the experience immensely! However, right now this has been taken over by worrying about the logistics of getting to the chalet, as it seems a bit in the middle of nowhere.
After that, I'm visiting friends in both Chicago and Minneapolis over New Year. How exciting is all this? The thought of it is truly what's been keeping me going over the past month in particular.
To finish off, here are some phrases to help you survive winter in Quebec:
- It's freezing: "Ça caille!"
- A standard greeting: "Fait pas chaud, hein?"
- When asked if it's cold where you come from: "Le plus froid que j'aie ressenti en Angleterre était -10. Il neige une fois par année. C'est comme ça -" [make gap of about two inches between your index finger and thumb] "- pis les écoles sont toutes fermées."