Things are quietening down a little around ...

Trip Start Jul 23, 2002
Trip End Jul 23, 2003

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Thursday, September 26, 2002

Things are quietening down a little around the Uni as people get this sudden load of work to get done. The realities of study are starting to hit again and the holiday mode is gradually disappearing for a little while - damn! I've ended up being enrolled in Ornithology, Herpetology, Environmental Physiology, Animal Behaviour and Social and Personality Development. They're all interesting subjects with decent lecturers which is always good. The only down side is that we've had a bit of room shuffling going on which has ended up with the lectures being spread out all over the campus which means it's a bit of a rush trying to get between some lectures. But we get plenty of exercise just walking between classes, and back to residence. Plus half of our suite has joined the gym and I'm also doing some Yoga and self defence classes. It's nice to have the spare time to be able to do these things.

The first practicals for Ornithology and Herpetology made me realize I've got a lot of species identification to learn. I walked into the lab and all the benches were covered with preserved and some live specimens of birds, reptiles and amphibians. The problem I had was that I didn't recognize any of them! (well I knew a few birds, but not a lot of them). So by the end of the fourth week here I need to be able to identify the local birds while doing spot counts in local parks, as well as mist netting and tagging, and I also need to know all the local reptiles and amphibians for our practical test. What I want to know is where are the Galahs, Magpies and other animals I'm familiar with! I'm kind of on the back foot with this one, but it means that the field trips are interesting as everything is new!

On the field trip front, we've spent a couple of mornings in the parks around the city doing bird counts and identifications (where we could!). Got to see some Canadian Geese, Blue Jays, Robins, Downy Woodpeckers, Chickadees and lots of sparrows, gulls, blackbirds, etc. Friday we are going to the Arboretum on the edge of the University and going mist netting and bird banding (and trying to work out what some more of these birds are). Last week we had a Herpetology field trip and I caught my first salamander (a little red eft) as well as some frogs and toads. None of us found any turtles, but a few snakes were caught, which unlike at home aren't venomous. There's only one venomous snake in Ontario, and it isn't found around here anyway. And there's also only one species of lizard, a five-lined skink, in the state.

On the weekend the University had a volunteer day called Project Serve in which students went out to different local organizations and helped out for the day. The group I was in were told we were going to the Conflict Resolution Centre, and so what do you think we ended up doing. Well we went out of the city to an Elk farm and bagged up compost (for sale to raise funds for the conflict resolution centre if you were wondering what the link was like we were). So after a couple of hours bagging compost we ended up having about 125 bags for sale and had a quick look around the farm at the elk and crushes, etc before having to catch the bus back to the Uni.

Being an international student has meant that we've had quite a few invites to different activities since we arrived. I went on a bus tour to Crawford Lake where we did a bit of walking in the park area and then had a look around a replica Indian village. A good chance to get out of the University area and to meet some of the other international students. We've also had several dinners/get togethers put on by different organizations - there's basically one every second day this week. When a lot of the international students get together it makes you realize just how many people there are from lots of different places - something like 60+ different countries. And Australia has a good representation with a dozen or so undergrads!

I've never been so conscious of being an Australian, probably because it isn't such a distinguishing feature back home because that's what the vast majority of people are! You end up talking to people just because they hear you saying something and pick you as being an Aussie. In our suite we are finding that we keep getting picked on for using different words and sayings although we've had our share of laughs at the others too. We're getting used of being introduced to visitors as Wendy and Peta the Australians.

I haven't really seen a lot of the area outside of the University district. Living on campus I'm finding that I don't have to travel very far as the main mall is 20 mins walk from the campus (5 mins on the bus) and downtown is also about a 10 min bus ride away and that covers most things that you need - especially when you are trying not to buy a lot of things as. The other major problem with seeing a lot of the area is the lack of having my own transport so I can go where I want to. This is when I'm missing having my bike.

Guelph itself is a nice quiet city with a lot of parks and common space, as well as some older historical buildings. Some of the University's buildings are some of the older ones in the area, but there are also quite a few new ones on campus too. I am enjoying it here and am glad that the University's do offer exchanges so we can have the chance to experience another country and University. The only downside with the study here is that they don't have mid semester holidays or swatvac which means we actually have to keep up to date with work as it is taught! I guess I'll survive though.

On that note I should finish this and go do some study now!
Love Wendy

PS - Paddles and Nomed have found some new friends (stuffed toys) in the suite with some other bears (which Nomed is trying to convert into his evil ways), rabbits, ducks (Paddles was very excited), sheep, dogs, butterflies, flying squirrels and more in the various rooms. It's sort of keeping them out of mischief - well at least out of my hair for a little while.

PPS - I've put a couple of photos up on earlier entries and will hopefully get some more up later.
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