By: Eva Kristinova (University of Regina, Canada, Mitacs Research Internship Scheme 21-22)
For those of you who have been following my study abroad journey in France, it might be a little confusing to start reading about yet another trip without a proper closing. Two quick things on that: 1. saying goodbye is always difficult, and so I have been kind of avoiding it, even having left Toulouse behind; 2. who says it’s over?! Oh no, I am not done with France yet!
So yes, I hope that inadequate explanation provided at least some closure. Moving on…
Summer is well underway, and so it is only reasonable, I think, to start a new adventure. And why not fly half-way across the world to Canada for this one? So, after a long flight, a struggle at the border (more on that later) and an exhausting and confused trip from the airport, I could begin to settle into my new ‘home’ for the next three months: Regina, Saskatchewan.
Let’s get the most tedious topic out of the way, shall we? Arriving in Canada is… scary. You need to make sure you have all the necessary documents, don’t make mistakes when answering the lengthy questions of border agents. Oh yes, and don’t forget to ask for a visitor’s record (which I did. Would not recommend that.). While this is listed as “recommended but optional” on the instructions by Mitacs, you find out quite soon after getting into the country, that it is actually necessary. If you want to open a bank account or apply for a social insurance number (both mandatory upon arrival), you won’t get anywhere without it. Make sure to ask for this at the first port of entry (the first airport where you arrive into Canada), because it is not possible after internal flights. If you don’t, the only way of obtaining it later is by leaving the country and re-entering again, which you will most certainly not have time for.
Once I got through all of that (and my first grant installment arrived), life became a lot easier. University of Regina provides accommodation for pretty much any Mitacs intern that asks for it, and it is located directly on campus. My next step when settling into a new place is always to figure out a new routine. This was actually easier than I thought – there are buses to almost anywhere in town (a rarity for North America), plenty of places to find great food and drinks, and a beautiful lake five minutes north of campus. I was also fortunate enough to have a great mentor at the university, who pointed out loads of great things to do after work and organised activities for us to meet other Mitacs interns.
The most important thing about the exchange is of course the research project. As an intern, you sign a contract with Mitacs that sets your working hours to 40/week. That is a full 8-hour/day working week. Luckily, there is no better time to be working on research on a university campus than in the summer. With most students and staff gone for the holidays, you can make sure that you find a calm and quiet place to work almost anywhere on campus. Depending on your project, you might also work with the professor in a specific office or a lab, all of which provides a bit of needed structure. After that… well, time to get to work!