New Beginnings in Ottawa!

By Rhiann Singh, University of Ottawa, Canada

The week before moving to Ottawa was such a hectic, overwhelming and emotional week filled with saying goodbyes and celebrating my 21st birthday early with my family and friends. If you don’t like celebrating your birthday like me, I definitely recommend doing a fake one. It’s all the fun of a birthday but without the actual ageing! Like always, I left all my packing and shopping till the last minute – definitely don’t recommend! – but I managed to be completely done the day before I left. I was so lucky that my Dad was able to come out with me to Ottawa, and I am forever grateful that I got to share the start of this new experience with him.

I have been here in Ottawa for a week and it’s been a very hectic time!

Before moving, I joked with my family and friends that the first week would be something out of a stereotypical American film where all the students are singing, chanting and dancing around campus in groups. To my surprise this was true. I actually don’t think my Dad and I have ever cringed this much, but safe to say it was absolutely hilarious. This welcome foreshadowed the energy for the events in the week to come.

Another HUGE culture shock was definitely having to share a room with someone for a full year! When finding out the only room on campus I could get was with a roommate, I was instantly against the idea, however it made sense to stay on campus. As someone who loves their own space I was a bit weary about it, but I finally came to terms that I would be sharing a room with someone, and so far so good! It has helped me to make an instant friend, which was one of my biggest worries, and it is definitely making me feel more settled. We are so similar but so different, which creates the perfect balance between us.

As an EXTREMELY FUSSY EATER, I was so scared about the food in the dining hall (my accommodation is catered). Thankfully, there are so many options here and the menu gets rotated every three weeks. The best part is that I can go in as many times as I like. It has been a lifesaver, especially during this 40 degree heatwave, as I have been eating so many ice creams. I also definitely don’t miss washing dishes and I am so glad that I’ll avoid doing food shopping in the infamous -40 degree winters here!

In terms of making friends in residence, I have found it a bit of an adjustment being a third year student living amongst first year students. It would be nice if the University made a group for all of the exchange students, so we could all meet up. My classes only started today so I am optimistic about making friends my own age too in the coming weeks.

The view of Parliament and the canal from my bedroom on the 15th floor.

I was a bit apprehensive about moving to Ottawa as I heard that it was a “quiet and boring city” and that “there was nothing to do”. However, after being here for a week, I can see this small capital city has so much to offer. Whilst my dad was here, we did some touristy activities, such as a river cruise down Ottawa River, seeing Parliament, visiting the Canadian Museum of History, going for food in Elgin Street, walking along the canal, and exploring Byward Market.

For my birthday, I decided I wanted to do a hike with my Dad and see the Pink Lake/Lac Pink in Gatineau Park. Unfortunately, the car park near the Lake was closed so we had to do a 14.5 km walk to and from the Lake! I enjoyed this scenic walk, however my Dad was unlucky and got attacked by mosquitos. The nearly 2 hour walk was absolutely worth it in the end. The views were so surreal and beautiful. One of the main reasons I chose to complete my exchange year in Canada was because of the nature. Later on in the evening we went to Byward Market for dinner. The atmosphere was so lovely and so was the pizza! This was definitely a birthday to remember!

I am so excited to see what will happen in the year ahead!

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