Flora Scott, Chemistry, University of British Columbia, Canada
After a month of dragged out December exams, my first semester at UBC had finally come to an end. Despite being stressful and overwhelming and even lonely at times, it has all been an amazing experience. Having a whole Christmas holiday off and being able to relax without the worry of revision and upcoming exams was a real novelty. Despite the fact it was the longest I had spent away from home I had no desire to head back to rainy old England and decided to spend my holidays up in the Rocky Mountains. The bus, which ended up taking close to 16 hours, eventually pulled up in the town of Banff, which in the peak of winter has views similar to that of a real life Narnia.
The picturesque views of the winter wonderland even made the -20°C weather almost bearable. Almost. Luckily, although small and cramped, our hostel room was at least warm. However when outside even 4 or 5 layers of thermals wasn’t quite enough to protect against the cold.
We spent Christmas day snow tubing. This is basically sliding down a steep hill in a big rubber ring- not your traditional Christmas day! Although it was strange missing out on the usual Christmas dinner and family bickering, it was very festive in the snow. Our Christmas meal at a local restaurant was delicious and although it lacked the familiar home cooked touch this was made up for by the extreme friendliness of our waiter. This kind of friendliness is typical of all Canadians (whether they’re hoping for a tip or not).
After a few days of buying tatty gift shop presents and exploring the local mountains and frozen lakes, I managed to persuade my friend to go skiing. Considering she had never skied before I was glad that she agreed to spend 3 days of our holiday on the slopes. This seemed like a great idea until we got stuck halfway down the mountain amongst numerous tourists while my friend sat down having a complete meltdown. She spent several minutes shouting at me that she couldn’t do it until eventually she decided to walk down while I carried her skis the rest of the way down the mountain. Not the most relaxing of days but (eventually) we made it back to the village. All in all the holiday was a great end to my first semester in Canada.
The only complaint I had was that the two-week break we had was over all too quickly. Going back to classes seemed like a more difficult task than normal. The upside is that while all my friends back in Manchester are revising for January exams I’m feeling much more relaxed. So far I’ve managed to spend my free weekends skiing and hiking up to St. Marks summit. This was quite honestly one of the most spectacular views I’ve ever seen and home to some very friendly wildlife.