Monday, January 19, 2015

A new adventure has begun

Word count: 10 146
Time used: 19h

Happy New Year!!
...and greetings from Canada!!!

Flags in my room.
Some of you might already know, why I'm writing from this freezingly (auto-correct offers me refreshingly :D ) cold yet the most polite country in the world. But for the ones who don't, here's the story.

In  autumn 2013 I started my Master degree studies in Technical University of Denmark (DTU). The program was supposed to be 2 years and then you're ready to conquer the world. As I already went to study to Denmark, which is obviously not my home country, I had no plans what-so-ever to go abroad from abroad. But after half years, I caught myself thinking about living and studying oversees - that's something I haven't done yet!
So, in April, 2014 I went to International Office in DTU and asked, what are the options of going abroad. Unfortunately I had missed the chance applying for Tokyo or Singapore that would have been my top choices (the deadline for these countries was in October 2013, 2 months after starting DTU - khmm?!), but luckily there were still some options left such as Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada. So I applied for an exchange program in Australia or Canada, cancelled the elective courses I had been taking (but were super boring) and waited for the verdict. In June I got a positive reply that I had been selected for University of Waterloo (UW) in Canada!! But the application process was not over, far from that. After lots of paperwork for DTU, the final application for UW needed to be submitted by 1st of October and then max 2 months of waiting time was set as a processing time and giving the final answer. And obviously they used their maximum time - I was living in unconsciousness until 27th of November while the classes here start on 5th of January.
And then it happened - on 27th, the e-mail came - "Dear Jaana, Congratulations! I am pleased to inform you that you have been admitted to the University of Waterloo Faculty of Engineering for the Winter 2015"
Exciting!!! ...buuuut, I had only 3 days to buy the plane ticket - my credit card was to expire on 1.12 and the new one was waiting for me in the bank. In Estonia. Yeap, useless. Also, plenty of other arrangements to be done - accommodation, introduction week sign up, courses, visa/study permit(?) etc.

So, backwards planning mode on (lean manufacturing, I think I'm the master of JIT :D ), I quickly started to search for plane tickets - they were not the cheapest anymore, but what can you do. Bought the tickets and there was no way back! 29.12.2014-6.05.2015 TLL-YYZ-TLL! :)

I was going home for Christmas on 21st of December, so my plan was to spend a week back home and then come to Toronto for New Years Eve.

Going home for Christmas, there was a live musicians playing Christmas songs at CPH Airport.

Christmas at home
Christmas at home was wonderful, I could write another full post about it but I'll leave it for another time. But briefly - lots of good family-time, I met up with The Girls, Kata, Katu, Karra, Kissu, we haven't been all together since September 2012 due to our travelling, so at least one of us has been abroad every time we've met. So we all went together to Muhu island Chritmas/NYE party!! Wow, that was such a success, the best decision of the year! So positive emotions and such a good time.

7 hours after arrival we were already on the road to drive to the island. The roads were really snowy and slippery.
We have a tradition to go to the graveyard on Christmas Eve with the family and light the candles on graves. The moon, the candles, the peace - took the breath away.

Muhu was awesome as always. Some pictures that we took before going to islands party.
From left: Kissu, Karra, Katu, Kata. Complete reunion since September 2012.

And some pictures taken the day after at Katu's place. It had been snowing the whole night, so we were like little kids playing in the snow.

Katu's father is in Estonian Defense League, we found his truck... :D
Ok, I have to tell one longer story, the most radical one - I cut my hair!!! Me and my sister got to the island on 22nd, picked up our parents and went to the city for Christmas shopping. In the car I told them I wanna cut my hair (I wanted to see their expressions, that's why I waited til seeing them from face to face).  The thing is I haven't had short hair since I was 7 years old... My parents and my sister were shocked and saying no-no-no, but after 5 minutes they started to like the idea (or they were rather curious, how would it look like). So, the others went shopping and I went to the hairdresser. At first the hairdresser refused to cut my hair! I am their regular customer in this place and all the hairdressers know me (cause of my hair, hahaa) and previously they've always been making comments about the quantity of my hair and I shall make a wig etc, but as a joke. Anyways, this time I didn't have the hairdresser I normally have (cause I booked her 1h advance) and she said she doesn't know how to tell Marje (my regular hairdresser) that she has cut my hair. :D During the procedure, all the hairdressers, including the owner of the salon, stopped by and asked what on earth is going on, why am I cutting my hair. Also my sister and father paid a short visit. It really was my trademark. But you know, it'll grow back! :) Besides, it was the only right time to do it. I came to a new environment, nobody knew me, so they'd think that's how I look like! :D If I would have gone back to DK, everybody would have wondered, what on earth is going on, and maybe not recognized me either.. (hmm, now if I start thinking, maybe it would not have been such a bad idea after all this buddy-week, SESA stuff etc..? haha, kidding :D ). Wow, such a long story about my hair :D
Anyways, long story short - I have short hair now, that you already saw from previous pictures as well!! :)

Yep, that's my braid. As usually, they didn't obey to my orders when I tried to do something with them.
...but coming back to the main topic - me going on an exchange. Again.
So, I went to Tallinn on 28th to meet up with Roosi and Maile before the departure, we had some serious beer-tasting going on. I must say Estonian micro breweries are doing a great job, I might even start liking beer (oh God, did I just say that being sober?? )
War of Independence Victory Column in nightly Tallinn. So pretty. :)
Tallinn Christmas Market. Much pretty, such wow. :D
On 29th I purchased my last bottles of Vana Tallinn, Viru Valge, some bars of Kalev chocolate and zipped my luggage. Surprisingly my luggage was really light!!! For the first time in my life (after 106 flights) my luggage was lighter than allowed - only 18 kg instead of 24! Really, I was so concerned about the weight before packing. After all, it's Canada, the coldest 4 months, you need to take many warm clothes etc. But in the end I left everything to Denmark and took only essentials with me. I think I have the smallest amount of clothes with me (ok, excluding RTW trip times), but so far it seems to be fine. Also, before leaving home, I just threw in some extra pairs of woolen socks and gloves. And one big woolen cardigan (as Maile said, I look like a hipster with it, but I promise, it's unintentional), but I'm afraid I need to send it back to Estonia, my coat is so warm I actually don't need it.. :)

The Trip
Maile sent me to the airport and waved me when I went through the security check (and also laughed at me). As always, they needed to search me cause I was peeping as hell - yeap, I forgot I had put my phone to my hip pocket and couldn't remember it after third time walking through the metal detector. After successfully passing the check, I got myself some crosswords and Sudoku and went to wait wait for my flight to Warsaw. For the first time in my life I was flying with Polish LOT. The first leg was fine, short flight, only a bit longer than to Copenhagen, nice service, on-time flight.
Gate 5 at Tallinn Airport. Pretty cool way to introduce Estonian swamps and moors.
Gate 4 introducing our oil shale mines instead.
Flying with Polish LOT for the first time.
In Warsaw I quickly checked tax-free, but didn't find anything appealing (probably cause the alcohol limit was already exceeded, hahaa - it's allowed to bring 1.14 liters of strong liquor to Canada). So I went to wait for my next flight, I was supposed to have only 1h20m between the flights. But that's not how it went.
The plane was supposed to take off at 17:00 and arrive to Toronto at 20:25, 9.5h flight. But in reality we took off at 19:00 and arrived at 23:15ish.

So what happened?
Category: Possible only in Poland!
Around 16:50 it seemed that the boarding was completed - the plane was full, everybody seated and we could start moving towards the runaway. But nothing as such happened. Instead a list of nice Christmas songs were playing and the flight personnel was really calm  (except one stewardess). No sign of somebody giving us the safety instructions or anything. So we were just sitting there and trying to get to know the people around us which is quite nice for a long flight as such. I was sitting exactly in the middle - middle row, middle seat.
On one side there was a Polish lady who seemed to be very talk-active at the beginning, she kept talking (in Polish) until she didn't get any reply from me except a smile. At the beginning I tried to reply (in English), but apparently that was not clear sign enough. When she eventually realized I really am not Polish or half Polish or Polish born in Canada she said few sentences in English and took out her book. I did do the same. It was in Estonian. She stared at it for a while (hopefully it confirmed that I was not just being rude, I really didn't understand) and read her book.
On the other side there was an older Polish man, also very talk-active. In Polish. As well as the lady, he kept talking for a while, even though he also saw I didn't understand. Later on (he wanted to know the time quite often), we somehow managed to communicate in German (cause unlike the woman, he didn't speak a word in English, so I had to brush up my German I had studied for 3-years, but never practiced). Fun.
Behind me there was an Estonian guy (I'd assume a bit younger than me), who was also very talk-active. I felt so sorry for the girls who was siting next to him, as I understood from their conversation (or should I say monologue, cause the girl nearly could have a word..) she was from Slovenia or Slovakia, but been living in Canada for last 8 years. The guy tattled so much that I think everybody from our section knew the story of his life. Once the girl made a remark that she shall call the steward and ask her seat to be changed cause a man next to her is talking too much (as a joke), they both laughed at it, but I can only guess, how much truth there was in this one...
The company was colorful.
Coming back to the departure - one hour had passed and nothing had still happened. The only thing annoying (next to the guy behind me) was the playlist, that was on it's 3rd round (of course he had also noticed it and had quite some comments to make...).
We were siting there quietly for a long time, before somebody finally asked, what's going on and why have we not taken off yet. The steward then told us that there was a guy who was too intoxicated to be on the flight so they had to kick him out. And now they're searching his luggage from the trunk. Ok, sh*t happens, but at least we knew what was going on. I tried to read, but there was a voice in my head that really disturbed my concentration and it was impossible to ignore. Oh, sorry, it was not in my head, it was siting behind me!
I suspect the guy was a member of this team...?
Two hours later the captain was speaking. He announced we're having some special issues and due to that the whole aircraft's boot needs to be unloaded, all the luggage needs to be taken back in, checked in again and taken through security check. The flight is delayed for an unknown time. Nice! The guy behind me thought we should start a revolution (???) and the Polish man next to me demanded some vodka from stewardess as a compensation. Cool. One guys is removed from the aircraft due to having too much alcohol and another one insist alcohol as a compensation. Couldn't help myself laughing.
Instead of vodka, the staff provided us a bottle of water and started serving dinner. We were sitting on ground, looking at the terminal and eating dinner. Awesome. The Christmas songs were on its 4th round.
Guess he has a great story to tell to his grandchildren.
Three hours later after finishing the dinner, we could finally take off. By this time, I had heard "Driving home for Christmas" for at least 5 times, the irony was that I was not driving home, I was driving pretty far from home!!
Anyways, we could finally take off and now we knew, it's gonna be 9.5h left. The flight was good, was watching a movie and got some sleep. We arrived to Toronto at 23:15. Which would have been fine, unless...
...unless I would not have arranged a meeting with Jen in the airport at 23. Jen is a Canadian girl who studies together with me in Denmark and she was home for Christmas and New Years so she was extremely kind and helpful letting me to stay at her place til I came to Waterloo. She and her family were just coming back from holidays in Chicago and they were supposed to arrive at 23ish, so I was supposed to wait them there until they arrive and we were supposed to go together to her place. But as my plane was delayed 3 hours, it was Jen who had to wait me instead...

First contact with a Canadian in Canada - immigration. The man in the counter was so nice!! "So, you're an exchange student?", "Are you excited?", "What are you studying?", "Looking forward to start your classes?" etc, smiling and wishing me a good semester in Canada! No visa or study permit needed. :)

Before coming to Canada all my friends were sending me different pictures and GIFs about Canada, now I have an opportunity to expose them here. And I must say, that's how most of the Canadians so fare have been! :)

Polite Canada

I've been doing it myself as well. Kind of fit in! :D
Collecting my luggage and coming through the customs I finally met Jen! She was waiting me in arrivals and directed me to the most important sight (coffee shop) in Canada - Tim Hortons. :D  Her family had left home already, but she had arranged her brother Chris to come back and pick us up, super-sweet, cause I was tired as hell from this trip.
Getting back to her place, I fell asleep at the very moment my head touched the pillow.

My first coffee at Tim Hortons, Canadian Starbucks. 
In the morning I couldn't sleep too long, being a bit jet-lagged (I wish I still would be, it would be so much easier to go to classes). Her mom made the most delicious blueberry pancakes and we had them with ...maple syrup of course! Yummy! :)
After breakfast, we headed to Niagara Falls. 2 hours drive from her place and there we were - in front of the mot powerful waterfall in North America and the waterfall that has the highest flow rate of any waterfalls in the whole world. It was awesome and powerful indeed! We took some pictures, walked around and bought the "Wonder Pass" that allowed us on a tour behind the Falls which was really nice, though a bit wet, gave an entrance to the butterfly conservatory, it was cool, 2000 butterflies from 60 different spices in a huge greenhouse and a movie 4D movie about Niagara Falls evolving "Niagara's Fury". We got rain jackets before the beginning of the movie (we actually expected them before going behind the Falls, and if they gave out the jackets, we thought it's a pair of glasses, but no, it was the other way around.. but ok). It was really awesome, moving platform, rainfall, sound effects etc. I'm not that young anymore, but it was really awesome, I screamed together with 8-year-old's.

Niagara Falls
Maarja told me it looks like Keila waterfall :D

Me and Jen at Niagara Falls.
Butterfly conservatory.
 In the evening before the departure, we saw the Falls lighted up - beautiful! As well as we saw the city in it's whole Christmas glory - really American, decorations everywhere, all lighted up.
In the evening we had nice dinner at Jen's place. Her brother also had a friend over so we played some board-games in the evening and relaxed.

For NYE day we had planned a sightseeing tour in Toronto and evening at Jen's friends place.
Around noon four of us headed to the city - Chris and his friend (college-time housemate) went to their friends (housemate reunion) and me and Jen went to walk around in the city. Saw the CN tower, payed a visit to the distillery district, a historic area where there used to be a former Gooderham and Worts Distillery and got some amazing cheese and berries from Farmers Market.
CN Tower
Barrels in distillery district.
Gooderham & Worts.
For dinner, we met up with Chris and his friends again in a pub, where we were watching an ice-hockey game, US-Canada. You can guess, who won. The atmosphere in the pub was really cool, people were dressed in leaves jerseys and were cheering for every goal.

So within my first 48 hours in Canada I completed already majority from my to-do list:
1. Visit Niagara Falls
2. Eat maple leaf syrup
3. Watch ice-hockey

So from this point forward, I could be relaxed in Canada! :D

New Year's Eve
After some games at Chris's friends place, me and Jen went to the city to her friend's place in the center. The setting was very American - an apartment house with it's receptionist to whom you're supposed to tell who are you visiting, which apartment are you going to.
The party we were joining consisted of Jen's friends from college time, the girls she lived together with and some of their boyfriends. They were all so nice and friendly and attentive I didn't feel for a moment I was coming to a company where I didn't know anybody. We played again some games, ate a lot and drank. I had a bottle of Vana Tallinn with me, bringing some Estonian flavor into the evening which was well received.

Before the mid-night we wanted to go to the roof, but unfortunately they roof was closed at 23:00. So we went back to the apartment's balcony and had the countdown there - champagne, party whistles, etc. The New 2015 Year had begun in a completely new continent in a completely new atmosphere. Exciting!
After 24, we got into talking, played beer-bong ("it's not about winning, it's about learning something from the game" yes, Jaana, yes, that's surely the game where the focus is on learning...) and had lots of fun.

At one point, the doorbell rang and we got some surprise guests - our hostess's mom and dad with their 2 other friends stopped by to wish us Happy New Year. They also got some Old Tallinn and all of the sudden one of them told me, that she's actually Finnish. Meaning, her parents were, so she didn't speak much Finnish, but knew few words, which was super-cool. In general all the people were really cool and into the fact that, firstly, I'm from Europe, secondly, I'm from Estonia. So I had lots of explaining and introducing to do, which I didn't mind. :)

Anyways, me and Jen were supposed to come home around 2ish, but as we had so much fun, we took an Uber (taxi, but not a taxi, ) around 3-4 am. Paying a bit more than fair price, but on the other hand - we got home safe, in an UberLUX, on NYE, having an essential stop-over in McD, we were not sad about it. It was too good evening to complain about this little thingy.
Getting into the driveway, Jen sat down to search for keys, when suddenly her mom came on the door - she had heard some giggling! So we got in, wished her Happy New Year and went to the basement to summarize the evening and enjoy our fabulous meal. We had a ball.
Originally I was supposed to departure to Waterloo on 1st of January, but as we got back so late, we decided, I'll stay one extra day and will leave on 2nd of January instead.
Me and Jen wishing Happy New Year to all continents. Epic. :D
... was a very quiet day. We went out for lunch and had some tasty, super-spicy Asian food with some Jen's friends.
An interesting fact - the girl was quarter Estonian, one of her grandparents was Estonian. Unfortunately (but not surprisingly) she didn't more Estonian as "neli" (four). But anyways, they were really nice and we had a good time. Getting back to the house we watched a movie and soon went back to bed.

On Friday it was time to get to Waterloo, my new home for next four months.
Had my last breakfast at Jen's place, her mom was so sweet, making sure I have all the supplies to survive in Waterloo, giving me her number, so I could call her if I need anything etc. Amazing hospitality!!!
After breakfast we rushed to the GO Bus station. Got there exactly on time and found the right bus, the driver after seeing my luggage, came out and said: "Sorry, from this year on we have a new policy, only one piece of luggage per passenger allowed." It was 1 minute before the departure and such news?! I was shocked! ...and then he started to laugh, he was just kidding, he came out to open the trunk and helped my luggage in. Huuuh, he really got me.
Well, that was the time to say goodbye to Jen and move on to a place where I didn't have anybody waiting and greeting me and making me feel like home.
Actually, I must say that since the departure from Tallinn til this point, I was really relaxed and I really didn't have a feeling I'm going somewhere abroad. I even didn't worry whether I can withdraw money from the airport (of course I could) or how would I find my way to Waterloo. Probably it was half due to a fact that I knew Jen was greeting me at the airport and the other half due to a fact I've been in these situations before. But now departing towards Waterloo, I felt minor tension rising.
I got to the bus and bought a ticket to Waterloo. I had a stop-over at Square One station and I knew that my bus will get there 5 minutes after my Waterloo bus has departures, so I had to wait 55 minutes. But as I obviously was an exchange student asking all the questions, the driver told me that if he's a bit ahead of schedule, he can call the other driver at Square One and ask him to wait for few minutes so I could jump from one bus to another, cause I already had a ticket and everything. So I made it to another bus and arrived to Waterloo 1 hour prior to my planned schedule, which I didn't mind at all! :)
Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.
Arriving to the city I kept my eyes (and iPad) open and tried to figure, where is my station and new home. When approaching the station, I discovered we were passing my new home, so I knew what to search for. The station was in front of my new University and I just had to go over the parking lot to get to my residence.
I collected my keys from the Accommodation Office and went to search for my new room. Exciting!
Found the building! Got in! ...and had to clime to third floor. Luckily a nice handyman came and offered his help carrying my luggage to the third floor and finding my unit and room.

The unit
In one floor there's 5 units. One unit contains from 2-5 rooms of 1 or 2 people that share a common bathroom and washroom. My unit has 5 girls - Estonian, Dutch, Polish and 2 Canadians (one of them a descents of Indians and the other one Russians but both Canadian citizens).
Originally we were supposed to be 4, but then Marlot didn't like her building, it was too quiet, but our floor had so much fun, so she decided to move in with us. :)
The sign on our Unit's door after day 4. Life happens. :)
The room.
As we are exchange students, we were supposed to have double-room. So, 2 beds, 2 chairs, 2 tables and a mirror. And that was it. No pillows or duvets, lamps (neither table- nor floor lamp) and the worst - NO INTERNET!!! I dropped my things and moved forward to the common room - kitchen. Whooao. The first thought that came to my head was that I'm in old Tinbjerg! Except it was a bit worse. No tableware, pans, pots, nothing. It was dirty and messy. Yes, Tinbjerg was as close as it gets.
So, I went back to the Accommodation Office, which is luckily 50 m away, and asked about the pillows-blankets, kitchen equipment and internet.
We were supposed to buy our own pillows and duvet, so I took an address for the closest Walmart. As I didn't have internet, I couldn't check it out myself. Got an old-fashioned map and some bus numbers and voilà. About the internet - we're supposed to make a contract with one of the service providers ourselves. In order to get it with lower cost they advised us to share it within the unit, if everybody (or somebody) are up for it. But there was nobody in my unit so far, so I had no clue, what was the status... And the kitchen - we're supposed to buy our own equipment. The previous semester they had given the dishes and stuff for common use but as the residents misused them, they decided to stop it and now everybody have to bring their own stuff.
Ok then. I took my map went to Walmart. I didn't dare to take the bus - I had no clue which stop to come off and as I didn't have internet I couldn't spot so quickly, which street am I. Besides, I didn't have my student ID yet, which provides free transportation in Waterloo. So I decided to walk. Found my bedding and kitchen essentials from Walmart, I went back to WCRI (home), made my bed and unpacked my luggage. Within this time I didn't hear a single sound from the floor, seemed as I was all alone not only in my unit but also on the whole floor.
I also payed a visit to University Shops Plaza which is only 100 m away from WCRI. It is an American food court/limited shopping area. I tried to find some essential food products, but I was astonished. Now I finally understood what Jen and Chris meant by saying it's Waterwoo not Waterloo. All 3 shops I visited looked pretty much the same - as one proper Asian shop. Lots of items, colorful, packed... I felt lightheaded after entering, overwhelming, but going through all the aisles, there was noting to buy!
Anyways, getting back home, I went to the kitchen and started to clean the shelves and counters - I really couldn't place anything there before I had cleaned it myself. Aaaand finally, after some time, there was a first person entering the kitchen! Yay! I was not alone anymore.
That's how I met Natasha, a girl from the Netherlands, also doing her Winter term in uWaterloo. She also had just arrived and felt it was really quiet on the floor. As there was no internet, there was not much entertainment available either. And the kitchen was disgusting and the shops didn't have any proper food products, we decided to go out for dinner. Plaza it was. We went to an Italian pizzeria, where they advertised to have internet. We just wanted to get connected and tell our families we're fine and arrived alive to Waterloo, but the internet was really poor...

I woke up in my new home for the first time. The room was still quite empty and spooky. In order to change that I took another trip to Walmart. As Natasha was facing the same problem we joined the forces and decided to improve the situation in our little Tinbjerg.
Shopping in Walmart is crazy, the store is way too big, they have everything and at the same time there's nothing to buy. Luckily we found quite agreeable floor lamp and some candles that could do the job. And also some hangers and other things we needed. I think we spent more than 3 hours in the shop, cause it's just so overwhelming if you go to a new place for the first time and you just have to inspect everything (obviously we couldn't do that, but you know what I mean). You even don't know what kind of a milk to buy and how does the milk look like. Nope, it's not like a regular carton, it's a big bag containing 3x1 l milk bags. And if you look at the packaging, you wouldn't spot it at the first time, that it's milk. And that's just one of the examples...
Anyways, getting back home (after terrible bus chasing and massive bags) we cooked some dinner and had a quiet evening in. Still no new people on the floor. But Natasha knew there was another Dutch girl living in another building, just 5 meters away (we're in A1, she was in A2).

4.01. Introduction Day
On Sunday morning we met with Marlot, the girl living in A2, and went all together to the Introduction Day. The meeting place was just 300 meters away from our home, so it was not too long walk. We received a bad with some uWaterloo goodies and were directed to the meeting hall.
The first thing - internet! Eduroam! And then the disappointment came - I couldn't get connected, but it seemed everyone else could... 
Anyways, about the day - I must say that unfortunately the day was a bit boring and poorly organized. Maybe it's me, having had too many of these and heard the same things over and over again from different entities but it's really exactly the same thing just in a different place. We were all siting in a big auditorium and listening for presentations. At one point we were supposed to do an exercise getting to know people next to us. Mmm, could have been organized better. The other thing that leaped immediately to the eye - most of the exchange students were Asian origin. Anyways, moving forward, we had lunch together. It was ok, but too long and not proper and comfortable environment for networking...
Afterwards we were separated by Undergraduates and Graduates. As I'm Grad student in DK and enrolled as and Undergrad in here I was not sure, which group shall I join. I asked the advisor and she recommended me to stay in Grad auditorium (cause their age* matched a bit more with mine). After these hours I figured why I was not enrolled as a Grad student here - they'r Graduate studies are almost like European PhD studies. They are working on a research, giving lectures, having their own offices and working their asses off. So obviously I'm not a Grad student. :D Nevertheless, it was a good wake up call and I'll not complain about my enrollment status anymore.
In the end we had some networking game again, "Bingo" which was quite cool. The best part was that I could almost fill out the whole paper, meaning I had been doing so many things from these option, no challenge left. I could just not juggle, too bad. But all three Austrians could, so they had lots of signing to do there. After that, the official part of the day was over. During the day we saw how many the same cultural group representatives merged (meaning Asians, Middle-East, Australians). So in the end it was only us, Europeans left scattered. And naturally, we got together and decided to go for a dinner in the evening all together.
But before that we, WCRI people had to fix our internet issues, cause one of the internet provides sales man (Sunny from Rogers) had come to Accommodations Office.
Auditorium from intro day, not so many people for this term (sorry for poor quality)
Can you see anything strange/different on the picture?
So, this Sunny-guy. I'm getting goose-pumps when I think about him (something similar as I'd think about my beloved former housemate mr Amir "I'm-da-man"). Anyways, we got back to WCRI and went to the Weavers Arm where the guy was supposed to be (Weavers Arm - a former bar downstairs from Accommodation Office, now just a common space where they hold big meetings or that can be rented out for events).
Sunny, an Indian-looking salesman was there, busy with his iPhone. We went to the table and asked about the possibilities of having an internet. What are the options and what is the price. He started talking very fast and very unclear with slight accent. If we asked detailed questions about a specific package and the final price, he never replied clearly. It was all about "taking original price (which was like a million), excluding this fee, multiplying with this amount and waving this fee".
Me: "So, what's the final price?"
He: "Madam, it's all written here - take x, wave this fee, only for you today, only in here, cause-I'm-so-nice-to-you, you'll have internet within 48 hours, no problem, no worries..."
So we actually never got him saying the final price.
Ok, as the Accommodation Office also recommended them, it can't be too bad. Let's sign up!
As we (me, Natasha, Marlot) were all living in different units and buildings we all needed our own router/contract. I was planning to share mine (350 GB for 70$?) with my unit, hoping they (whom I'd never seen yet) don't have anything arranged yet and they'd be up for sharing.
...and then Sunny goes nuts, "You don't have Canadian number? Why?? What???"
"We've been here only for 2 days.."
"How can we arrange the set up and everything?!"
As a compromise we agree, that he sends a text to Natasha with the time slot we shall be at home waiting downstairs to be ready to open a door for the technician. It doesn't sound like to most efficient plan, but doesn't matter, we're desperate and we want internet! So we agree with this plan.
As a final thing we're trying to figure out how are we gonna pay or how is the bill coming etc and we again, we didn't get an answer. Not because he's speaking fast or with accent or that we don't follow him. No, it's because he's just talking about everything else except the thing that we were asking about.
We left from Weavers Arm with strange feelings - the guys was so weird and impolite and really not a pleasant man to do business with (and this was not only my opinion), but we needed internet!!

Basic human needs.

In the evening we went to the Plaza with most of the Europeans, some Australians and one Chinese girl and had dinner at Chinese restaurant. It was a feast, so much and so good!! It was essential to have an expert with us, she made the ordering easy (meaning, she ordered for everybody) and we shared the food as common in China. Delicious and cheap for that amount of food! :) Also the evening was a good continuity for the started conversations at the daytime. And an excellent way of getting to know each other better in an informal and relaxed atmosphere.

First International Dinner at Chinese place. Germany, Holland, France, Australia, Estonia.
In conclusion for the intro day I was trying to compare the Introduction program DTU has and this one in here and there's no way of collating those two. DTU buddy-week is the best and fulfills it's purpose at it's highest while the one in here seems to be a formal and not so deep-laid event. Let's say there's still some room for improvement.

On Monday I was not supposed to have any classes. But as a part of Intro week, we were having a Campus Tour. It was -23°C outside (according to the forecast it felt like -30 with the wind) and we were literally freezing, but the tour was good and informative.
Afterwards I was just wondering around in Faculty of Engineering, trying to figure out, where do I have the classes the day after. I must say, that our faculty is super-awesome. Engineering lounge "Poets" is the most awesome I've seen so far, our own cafeteria, the labs, buildings - (Y). Definitely the most modern part of the University!
I also got my Eduroam problem fixed, so I now had an internet at Uni and I optained my WatCard, a student ID which gives you free bus rides and where you can put money on and pay in various places.
Cool finding from one of the doors in Engineering buildings. :)
During the tour we had received a message from Sunny, that tomorrow between 10-12 the technician shall come, can we be home waiting this time.
The technician was supposed to get into each room so we needed to collect the keys and give them to one person, even though it is forbidden to give your keys to anybody else and you could get a fine of few hundred dollars when ignoring this rule. But again - we wanted internet, so we didn't care that much. So we matched the times so that Marlot was waiting from 10-10:30 and I took over from 10:30-12:00.
After finishing the job, the last person (me) was supposed to drop the keys to Accommodation Office (cause you can say you found them, so the actual owner can collect them with their ID with a photo) and the others could collect them from there afterwards.

6.01 First Classes & Long awaited Internet Day
On Tuesday I had my first class from 9:00-10:20.
After the class I ran back home and took over the internet-shift so Marlot could go to Uni. When approaching the building, I saw 2 Rogers cars in from of the building and thought that most likely we already have the internet. Yay! But then Marlot told, she had been asking from these guys, and they were not there for us. Damn. After a minute a 3rd Rogers car arrived. Me and Marlot were standing 1 meter away from the car discussing, whether we shall go and ask if he'd the one, but then the guy in the car started to eat and type something into his GPS and seemed to be super busy. So we didn't feel like interfering his (deceptive) break and decided to wait. So Marlot went to Uni and I staid outdoors. I must say it was the day with -19°C, so it was not the warmest day. After 5 minutes, the Rogers car left and I figured, he must have had a break for sure! So I kept waiting and asking from every Rogers car that arrived, whether they're here for us. The answer was always no, in the end one guy was just running away from me, saying he knows nothing.
Around 12, when nobody had arrived, I ran over the highway to use Uni's internet (still keeping an eye on the parking lot), to get Sunny's number from Natasha. Coming back, I luckily saw a Swedish girl Louise from our floor, Natasha's unit and borrowed her phone. I called Sunny and inquired about our agreement. Sunny, sounding super busy, answered, that the technician will be there between 10 and 12, he will be there! I told him that it's 12:03, and he is not here. So he kept repeating his sentence for 3 times as I'd be stupid, while I kept saying, that it's past 12!! Finally he awoke and said that maybe he'll be a bit late then, let me wait few more minutes. Ok.
In 15 min he called back and told that the technician has been in our place at 10:35 and 10:41, but nobody was here. Oh my, I got so pissed, cause I realized it was the guy who was sitting in the car eating! So I, doing my best to control myself, asked whether it was the same guy who was sitting in the car, eating, not coming out, not looking around at all, giving no hint what-so-ever that he's looking for somebody? I might have also told him that we had an agreement I'm gonna open the door, but I though I was supposed to open the building and my room door, not the door of his car! Aaargh, I was so angry, waiting in the cold for 2 hours and then being stood up like this.
Sunny promised to see what he can do. Ok. I told him I only have time til 14, cause then I have to go back to the lecture. The other girls came back around 15. It was 12:45 already.
So in 15 min the technician was back, yay! I let him in, he installed the router into my room and we moved froward to A2, where Marlot's room was. But the problem was that his order number (room number) and Marlot's room number didn't match! We went in there (cause I was not 100% sure in Marlot's room, so we started to look for it. We stood behind the door, what he had in his order and and all of the sudden some Chinese guy opened the door. Yep, he had ordered internet too. Great.
I ran back to Louise to get the phone (poor her, she actually wanted to sleep, she was exhausted from previous night, I felt so bad about it, but still, we needed the internet, it was not enough that I got mine fixed, we had a deal for all 3!!)
So alled Sunny again and asked what's that about?! Gave over the phone to the tech. who had a hassle with Sunny and as a conclusion he hung up the phone saying he doesn't have the order so he's not gonna do anything. Sunny calls back, starting with his Indian-salesman stories, "Madam, madam, .. we're working for you, .. try to understand, ...blaaa"
Ok, I tried, I tried really hard. But I just had one "yes" or "no" question. I told him, it's a yes or no question, can you please, please just  answer "yes" OR "no", nothing else? Of course not, "madaaam, madaaaam" F**k, I was so pissed. I haven't felt like this for a long time.
My first week of lectures and I'm already supposed to miss a class? Ok, I said I'll wait, cause the guy was already there and I didn't wanna go through the same mess again, I just decided to be angry one day only.
The technician was sitting in his car and "waiting for the order to come through". I was standing outside, my bag ready for school, but couldn't leave, cause I had to open the doors.
It was 13:55, when Greg (a nice Polish guy) passed by. Even though I didn't know him much, I figured he's my only chance, I threw him all the keys and ran to Uni asking him to drop the keys to Accommodation Office afterwards.
I was late for the class, and of course I also couldn't find the classroom. As I entered the classroom of ca 20 people I was immediately the center of attention. The Professor then greeted me "warmly" saying, "I don't know you. Are you an exchange student?", "Yes". Cool, that's exactly how an exchange student's reputations are created. The Professor seemed to be very strict lady, she wore a hijab and seemed to be very organized.
I sat down and tried to be as small as possible
... and then I started to get messages from Natasha asking where are their keys. She was at Accommodation Office asking for keys and they didn't have them. I thought they'd be there. Or are they still not done with the job? So I managed to send a text Greg has them, and was supposed to take them to the office
...and from that moment the Professor severely told, that using mobile phones in this classroom is prohibited. Except when playing the Flow Free game that we are supposed to program. Cool, there's 2 girls freezing to death outdoors, and I can't even tell them where are their keys!!!
...and then Marlot got to Accommodation Office, the same thing occurred, where are my keys?? I tried to reply with some short words.

Getting back home around 16, I got up and saw everybody in their rooms, having their keys and INTERNET!!!
Greg had figured, that it's illegal to have somebody's keys and didn't take them to the office, he left a note downstairs to Natasha, she had seen it, got in, got her keys, got Marlot's keys, went to return them to the office as agreed and pumped into Marlot, who was searching them there. So, everybody were happy (and the office was also ok, cause it was a happy ending, hahaa).
So, in conclusion, we had an internet!! Finally! So we went out for dinner to celebrate it!
Thank you, internet.
On Wednesday I had my first tutorial, given by a wonderful Canadian TA Cynthia, she's so sweet. She used to live nearby to some Estonians, when a kid, so she has 2 Estonian friends. And her background is in Environmental Engineering though she's rather interested in Management. We figured it was the same reason why we didn't take Management as our major :)
She's awesome! :)

After the lecture I ran to Walmart, cause I wanted to get a pillow and blanket to Kasia, who was supposed to arrive on Friday. I didn't want her to go through the same as I did when I arrived. Also returned my lamp, which was cull. Of course I took some wrong buses and ended up walking most of the way. Coming back I had to make hast to make it to the Conrad Grebel building on time, because I had an audition for the University choir. The teacher (again Chinese, but very nice) was astonished whe I said I'm from Estonia. He knew almost all Estonian composers and he loved Estonian music. In the last semester they even had some Estonian songs in their repertory such as "Ilus maa". How awesome is that?! As I said I haven't been singing for a while (I was so nervous), he told me that it's not a problem, cause I'm an Estonian, and it's obvious that every Estonian can sing. He also mentioned that one of his singers went to the Estonian Song Festival this summer and in 5 years (it occurs every 5 years, the previous one was last summer) he would like to take the whole choir there. !!!
Estonian Singing Festival with ca 30 000 singers.
After the audition I had one course left, which we can also view online. In this lecture I'm together with Louise, so after an hour we decided to go for a social event, where all the other international students were.
The Bomber. Location: Student Life Center (SLC). It's a bar/pub/club/restaurant. Whatever you need it to be. The biggest events are the first and the last events of the term, so this was the first one, meaning, the line was huge. Our friends were waiting in the line since for more than half an hour and it was only 19ish. The other friends of ours were waiting in the line for more than 1.5 hours and eventually they gave up, cause it was too much.
Anyways, we had dinner and some drinks. I didn't stay too long as I had an early class the day after.
Strange things I haven't noticed in any bar before - in the middle of a dance floor, a guy just takes out his comb and starts combing his hair. Short hair.
Another thing - massive amount of Asians. And the way half of them are dressing (let's make clear, it was at least -25°C outdoors) - no comments.
And some other strange things I was not too amused about, but ok, maybe there's something to do with me being too sober or me getting too old.

Me, Sanne, Marlot, Mohamed in the Bomber.
8.01. First time in LCBO
So I had been in Canada for more than 10 days and I had not been in LCBO yet. LCBO - Liquor Control Board of Ontario, one out of two shops you can buy alcohol in Ontario. Something like Vinmonopolet in Norway, but at least in Norway you can have beer or cider from a normal shop, but in here, no-no. So you need to go to a special store for that. I did. And spent heaps (greetings for Aussies :D ) of money. I must say alcohol is quite expensive in here.
A bottle of wine starting from ca 10$ (all prices before tax), average wine being ca 16$. 0.7 l Baileys ca 35$, 0.7 l rum 30$. Of course there prices are just examples, but so that you know.
And when going out, then a beer is ca 5$ In the Bomber it was 3$ during the student offer.

9.01. The basement party
As we're living in a big building, we have a very nice basement for common events. So every now and then there are small gatherings, parties, movie-nights etc.
There was also supposed to be a small house party in CLV.
Friday was also a day when Kasia finally arrived. As her flight was delayed due to these horrible events in Paris (additional security checks and passport controls) she arrived quite late and we stayed in our basement party. Around 1:00 we went to the Molleys, an Irish pub in Plaza, ca 150 m away from our building. They had live band, that was fun! But then 1 hour later, they closed - the thing is that everything in Waterloo closes down at 2:00. Yeap, I know!

On Saturday we went to uptown for dinner and Sunday was the day for studying. Some assignments needed to be handed in on next week.

Dinner in uptown
Picture from Mathias.
The next week was full of studying.

Keg party
On Friday we attended our first official kegger in a frat house.
According to the Urban Dictionary, a kegger is...
... a wild party where beer is served (usually in red disposable plastic cups) from a keg. Keggers are usually associated with high school and college students, but anybody can throw one if they've got a lot of friends and at least one keg of beer.
Keg stand is...
... a common party activity in which two people hold another person's feet while the person's hands hold onto the keg. Another person holds the tap in their mouth until they give the signal to stop, and everyone else counts. The object of this activity is to chug beer from the keg upside down for as long as possible.
Frat house (fraternity house ) according to Urban Dictionary is...
...a place to party and they have Greek letters on the front of the house some frat houses are big some are small some are medium most frat house order kegs and get DRUNK ASS HELL.

So we had some pre-drinks in the basement and took the taxi to the frat house.  Ok, it's not that bad as described above, but almost. And yes, it's very American thing to have.. But let's be honest, again I felt was too old for this. It was fun (to see how kids have fun) and definitely a new experience, but I think I enjoy a bit different setting these days.
A keg stand.
In Denmark we learned a lot about teamwork....
Newcastle CA Wedding Keg Stand
Wedding keg stand. Why not?
And that was our version of the party - nope, no keg stand this time.
The courses
I'm taking 3 courses in here, 1 Graduate course and 2 Undergraduate courses.
- MSCI 602 Strategic Management of Technology and Innovation (Graduate course)
- MSCI 454 Technical Entrepreneurship (Undergraduate course)
- MSCI 433 Applications of Management Engineering (Undergraduate course)

Strategic Management of Technology and Innovation (2 x 1h20m per week)
My only Grad course, meaning it shall be really tough and only Grad-students are taking it. I can actually see the difference in people's age, they are older than in my other lectures, which is quite good.
But the course itself doesn't seem to be so difficult (maybe I'm cheering too early), maybe because I've had something similar previously in my Bachelor's which also was a prerequisite. Anyways, the lectures are good, reading material as well. The professor really tries to engage everybody, but maybe he's a bit too young. So, some room for improvement.
But looking at the workload - it for sure is a Grad course. Our final grade consists of 12 essays (1 per week), 3 quizzes, in-class participation, and final exam. I'd say it's quite time-consuming, but on the other hand, I think it's not something very difficult such as Loads, Aerodynamics and Controls in DTU...

Technical Entrepreneurship (1 x 3h per week)
In this course we have to submit several assignments, where we're always working for one project. In the end we're supposed to submit our own business plan. In theory it sounds really cool, so I'm excited, but I need some extra time to figure out how is the course.

Applications of Management Engineering (3 x 1:20 per week)
This is a final year Undergrad course which I think is gonna be the most effort-taking. I somehow misread that it's gonna be programming! Sweet baby Jesus, I was not prepared for this one!!! But doesn't matter, I can do something difficult, at least I'll be learning something new, cause in other courses I think it's rather revising and maybe some small additional things.

MSCI 602 and 433 are really small courses, ca 25 enrolled, 15-20 attending lectures, so it's quite intense. 454 is a big auditorium of 100 people. If looking around in the auditorium, then you can clearly see, that most of the people are either Asian or Indian. Interesting, cause in Denmark we do have a good mixture of different people but I've never been thinking about it as such, that I'm the only one (yeah, I was the only Estonian, but...)

As a side-note: I might have been too serious when choosing my courses here (actually no, we had a given framework, we had to choose our courses from Faculty of Engineering). But as an example, we have a punch of Australian guys who are taking very interesting courses such as Rock 'n' Roll History or courses from Women's Studies... Just for fun I'd like to drop in for one of these.

What can I say, the supermarkets are like in American movies. I guess there's no need for me to say anything more.
Except to confirm the fact that it's very much of a consumer society and you can see it everywhere! Terrible. You'd like to buy a normal bottle of shampoo, but you can't buy anything that is less than 1 liter. Or a shower gel of 2 liters. Of course people will not use them til the end, they get bored before that, so they throw away a lot. You are forced to buy more, because it's cheaper, but you actually don't need it AT ALL! I'm sorry, but it really disgusts me. This kind of a thing should be illegal.
Oh yes, and everything goes into the plastic bag. No question at all. And if I refused from it saying I have my own, they look at me like I'm insane...
Another thing is about healthy and non-healthy food and it's price. If you wanna eat healthy, you're gonna pay excessively more than if you'd eat fast food. Going out and having a pizza or burger&fries is really cheap. Also, every meal comes with fries... No greens.
And the same applies in the supermarket - if you buy processed food in cans, it's pretty cheap, but at the moment you start looking at raw products, veggies, greens, full-grain bread (not that it exists..), it get's more expensive! So I haven't figured out yet, what to eat... :D
Walmart - everything must go into a plastic bag.
Okay guys, last but not least, I have to tell a bit about my age. Yeap, you hear me right. Even though I still think myself I'm in my first youth, some events/surrounding people prove the opposite. I found that a week ago I wrote about this situation to one of my friends, here it is:
For the first time after my travels and studies and exchanges, I feel I'm getting too old for that kind of an exchange! I've done so many of these exchanges, they've all been so much fun (I'm sure this one will be as well), but now I feel I'm full (palled?). People are getting younger, they do it for the first time, they're excited, scared, insecure but happy, ...
I am too, yes, but it rather becomes a routine, it's actually all the same. So if I wanna do something like this again, the format should change - either this kind of changes shall happen in work environment (graduate programs in a company) or something else. We'll see about that. But I'm sure I'm done with student exchanges (and actually it is my last change to do it, I'll do my thesis from September this year and then I shall be done )

Yeap, I still agree with this paragraph. I'm gonna have fun, but I'm done with this kind of exchanges. :)

OK, it seems it's time to finish up with this post, it's taken me only 2 days (19 h) to write it. :D
For those who bore with me til the end - congratulations, thank you and sorry.
Congratulations, you must have some patience!
Thank you for taking the time.
And sorry for me yarning so long.

The next one will be shorter cause I'm hoping to write weekly (or biweekly) updates which will not be that extensive.

Stay tuned! ;)

Hugs and kisses and lots of love,

P.S. Maile has a new time-zone. :D
Maile's new time. :D

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