By Fiona Lee
Hi, everyone! I hope Galway isn’t getting too bitter and wet as we’re getting into the winter months. I had been wondering was I even going to see a pinch of snow during my time here, considering how mild it was on Halloween. I didn’t have the usual issue of a big fluffy coat hiding my costume, but my umbrella tied in perfectly with my Mary Poppins outfit. Ottawa generally gets the typical Canadian winter from January onwards, so I was just expecting bad and uncomfortable weather in December. However, this week the temperature felt like it plummeted 10 degrees and I woke up to snow! Not too much, maybe a bit more than the best we’d get in Galway, but it was there all the same and it’s only early November! In this kind of weather, premature Christmas celebrations don’t feel as unjustified as they do in Ireland, I’m trying out all the festive drinks in Starbucks and Second Cup (Canadian equivalent of Starbucks), and wearing my woolly hat and scarf happily.
In the last 2 weeks, I’ve had my first trip up to Montreal and my first ice-hockey game. Montreal really felt like a proper city, which all of my friends loved, but I think I still prefer Quebec City. Maybe I needed more time to absorb the life of the place, but the European style of Quebec City, it’s small(er)ness, and how the odd street would remind me of Galway or Paris, really made me feel like I could live there. It might be a place where a young person would eventually get bored, and that’s why Montreal would be more exciting, but to me, it was just a nicer place to be. My favourite spots in Montreal were Mont Royal, where there is an excellent view of the entire city, the cute cafés around the Notre Dame cathedral, and a really cool looking board game bar (which had a 45-minute wait in the cold so we did not go in, but I really, really wanted to). The mix of the old buildings and the new was both interesting and jarring, but it meant you were only sometimes caught in a completely grey-skyscraper street. I feel there were a lot of little gems that were easy to miss when I only had 3 days to see it, so I’ll hop on a bus again soon and try to absorb a bit more before I head back to Ireland.
Now, I didn’t expect to like ice-hockey as much as I do, but I really, really do. I played field hockey as a teenager so I have always had a blind love for the sport or anything related to it, and ice-hockey was no exception to this. It was fast-paced with an engaged crowd and the only dull moments were the frequent small breaks for adverts or for sweepers to come clear the ice (that happened way too often for my liking). I’m trying to refrain from buying merchandise as it’s all incredibly expensive, but the jerseys look really cool, but they’re expensive, but cool… I’ll try.
It feels very odd to think that this will be my last diary entry of the year. My time in Canada has felt very quick, but I’ve liked being able to write these because they have forced me to reflect on what I’ve been doing instead of the fun events and moments whizzing by. There is, of course, a lot that I haven’t mentioned, drafts in notebooks of stories I’ll never tell in SIN, but at least I have little snippets for myself. Four months is not a long time to be away, so, for anyone considering going abroad, or who is already abroad, whether for a year or half, make the absolute most of your time and of the rare opportunity that it is. It’s the best decision I’ve made to date, and I can’t wait to come back to Canada once it’s all over, as well as visit new friends I have made all over Europe. Thank you all for reading!