A little of this, a little of that

Today we met with our advisor at school to discuss what courses to take. Unlike IU, the only thing we have to do to register for classes is tell the department secretary what we want to take and she "takes care of it." It's already really different to be at a smaller institution.

John, inside the library.

While we were on campus, John got his student ID and I had a coffee in the Tim Horton's at the Univerity Community Center (the student union). They had a sign with the sandwich combos and I noticed that with a combo you got a sandwich, large pop (that's their word, too), and a donut on the side. No fries or chips, just a donut.

Our cable is still waiting to be hooked up so we've been taking advantage of promotions from our cell phone company. They also rent DVDs, and as a customer service gift they gave us several free rentals. I've also been watching the Paula Dean DVD that Sarah Gibson gave me last year. I miss her accent. Some Canadians have no accent, some have a pronounced Canadian accent, some sound like they're from French Canada, and others have a mysterious combination that's like a hybrid from all the British Isles. My dad told me that a lot of French Canadians are of Irish ancestory, and it occured to me that the Canadian accent for English speakers also sounds sort of Irish. Some people are so hard to understand that it literally sounds like they are speaking another language. Others are sort of Sarah Palin-esque, though what they are actually saying is not.

Out of the blue, one of my professors told me today that midwesterners from the U.S. often have trouble adjusting to London. I figured that any trouble adjusting was just my usual problem with transition and the loneliness of being in a new town. I've heard new grad students at IU describe the same thing. But apparently London is considered quite conservative by Canadians. That hadn't occurred to me. It seems pretty liberal, what with their extensive parks, abundant health care, and convenient public transportation. Our grad student association has more power than a lot of unions in the states - they can pressure the University to negotiate by threatening to sue, and the administration actually listens to their concerns.

I leave you with one last oddity for today: there's a store in the mall called Campus Crew that sells shirts and things with the names of American universities on them...but they aren't really affiliated with that school.

Wednesday and Thursday, I'll be state-side, in Kansas City. Tomorrow I'll actually be able to get my student ID, bus pass, and insurance card! We may also go to a museum, since we are running out of things to do. Thanks for reading!


Et Maintenant le Voyage au Supermarché

Our friend Jessica gave us a recommendation for the less expensive grocery store in town. Nothing makes me feel more like a foreigner than a trip to the Canadian grocery store.

This BBQ sauce is attached to a case of beer.

Most types of butter come in a big block, instead of 4 separate sticks, but you can find both.

Is Balkan yogurt Greek yogurt? I suppose...

The French labels are still novel to me.

I know it only means "strong," but I love the image of a Cheese Fort.

FROmidable! Like fromage! What a creative translation.

Lots of tea, Tetley in odd cannisters.

This sort of makes sense:

But wait, there's more! Inside this Superstore ("Real Canadian!"), which is sort of like a nicer version of Wal-mart, sans the screaming children, there is also a doctor's office,

and a fitness center.

We also went to a store called JYSK. I'm not sure how to pronounce it, but I think it has a soft J.

From what we observed, JSYK is basically the same as Bed Bath & Beyond, but without as much of the Beyond, or all the shelves in the middle of the store.

We also visited a store devoted to storage containers of all kinds, including closets.

"Let us design your closet!"

An entire aisle of chic, feminine lunch boxes.

Stay tuned for a post about next week's orientation activities and my trip - 36 hours in Kansas City (...maybe they'll have some St. Louis Ribs St. Louis).


The Cool, Cool River

Friday and Saturday we spent some time at Gibbons Park.

It's just about 3 minutes by car from our house and it has trails that follows the Thames.

John said he felt like he was on the set for Pride and Prejudice.

It's been so cool here, a real break from the heat and humidity of Indiana and Tennessee.

I know that means we'll have plenty of snow to play with in this park in just a short time.


International Student Orientation - "with Gourmet Pizza and Pop!"

On Friday we walked to campus for the International Student Orientation, with food mentioned above. A few members of the Society of Graduate Students special committee for international students gave Power Point presentations about Canada, London, and the history of Western. Here are a few of our favorite lines and highlight moments.

It took place in Middlesex College.

This guy, whose name escapes me, was from Iran and spoke about how Canadians don't prefer to think of themselves as a Melting Pot, as the Americans do.

The government (a constitutional monarchy) issued the Multiculturalism Act to help keep individual cultural heritages alive inside Canada, as long as they don't interfere with the federal government's goings on. They prefer to consider themselves a Fruit Basket of Immigrants, where all the fruits coexist happily without compromising the individuality of the others.

We learned that the Beaver is Canada's Favorite Animal ("Canada was famous for the fur of many beavers"). If you do a Google image search for "Canadian Beaver," I'm sure you'll see the same cartoon from the power point. He told us that hockey is their favorite sport, and that London is the 10th largest city, which all the Americans seemed to know from reading the Wiki article on London, Ontario.

Then they told us about Western in a segment called "Western: Gateway to the World."

The school motto is Veritas et Utilitas and the university was founded by Isaac Hellmuth, an Anglican Bishop, in 1878 (11 years after Canada became a country).

Like a lot of orientation activities, the last five minutes contained most of the useful information - where to get our ID, bus pass, and International Student ID ("discounts!") - so I was glad we went.


We go together like bread and nutella*

The weather is beautiful; it's cool and not humid, sunny but doesn't make you feel hot. It's cool enough to drink tea in the evenings and it really makes me feel like school is about to start.

John's been using the bread maker that my mom gave us, cranking out 2 loaves a day.

I think it cost my mom about $.50 USD and it's already payed for itself in bread for sandwiches.

He likes to wear the apron that his mom gave him. In this shot, John is opening a new bag of wheat flour.

This is one of the shorter loaves from a few days ago. Since then he's experimented with different types of flour, and they've gotten taller and fluffier. And - get this - he learned that Canadian all-purpose flour (and wheat flour in general) has a higher gluten content than American AP flour (who knew?!), so you can use less yeast. Since we only had American AP flour, John bought bread flour, which also allows you to cut back on the yeast. Today's second loaf was just right. Most of them don't make it to storage for future sandwiches because I eat several slices with peanut butter and/or Nutella.

*John says Nutella is gross.


You can find everything at Canadian Goodwill

Yesterday we went to one of the biggest Goodwill stores I've ever layed eyes on. It has multiple rooms and tons of skiing and hockey equipment (a Canadian trait, for sure). There's another one closer to our house that only sells books, but the one we went to today accepts furniture and we needed to donate my old, $7 Salvation Army coffee table (back from whence it came). While we were there, we walked around for a while, eyeing the winter goods. John came away with a long, winter pea coat for $10 (in really good shape, nice lining) and I found a pair of ice skates that fit me for $5!!

After I tried them on I made John promise to go skating with me somewhere outside this winter. It'll be part of his Northern Experience. Maybe we'll buy some cross-country skis at Goodwill later this year.


A Lesson in Bagged Milk

Canadians don't do milk in gallons. They sell it in quantities of 4 litres, divided into three separate bags. I was worried about getting used to this, but they sell a pitcher for just this amount of milk and the whole thing has worked out nicely. Here's a how-to.

First, obtain the bag of bags of milk.

Remove the smaller bag.

(PS - check out our awesome bird hanging in the background)

Make a small slit in the bag.

Pour it into the pitcher. Note, our pitcher is already in the sink. We've learned the hard way that it's easy to spray milk all over the kitchen. Putting the pitcher in the sink avoids the need to wipe milk off of every surface around it.

Make sure the bag is really empty. It takes a few seconds to drain all the way.

Apply the lid tightly. It keeps the milk surprisingly fresh and it doesn't leak milk everywhere when you pour it.

And voila! Milk from a bag. It's a small Canadian thing that affects my life on a daily basis.

Picture Highlights!

Greetings from London where we have a high of 70 degrees Fahrenheit!
John keeps saying, "Man...Yankee summers...This is great," and I keep saying, "These people aren't Yankees."

Our apartment is starting to seem like a place we actually live. So far we've hung pictures, collapsed boxes, and we even "finished" the spare bedroom. Here are some pics:

John and I sat in the room for a while after cleaning it up. It's the one really finished room in the house, so it's suddenly our favorite room to hang out in.

Here's John selecting a book to read,

and enjoying it in such abundant, natural light (unexpected in our basement apartment)!

Our philosophy with that room has been, "If it's cozy and inviting, they will come." I hope you feel the same way.

On another note, here are some photos of unusual Canadian things. First, The Beer Store.

It's basically a giant walk-in cooler, but they also have a can and bottle recycling center on site. Some locations even have a drive-through.

Next a couple of items in the Wal-Mart grocery section (note the measurement in grams).

Everybody knows the best potato salad comes from Kentucky, right? French labels sometimes make the grocery store a pain (for me, not John, he's too excited to care), but also an adventure in expanding my French vocabulary. For instance, I now know how to say "fat free."

Today we plan to walk to school and walk around the main library. Stay tuned for a post about our walking route and our pretty neighborhood.