Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Whale Watching in Tadoussac & Quebec City

Last Friday morning 6am I left Ottawa for the first time in a month (can't believe I left Germany more than a month ago already....). We were a group of around 50 students and I believe only internationals. We made a long lunch break just outside of Quebec City and had time to visit the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré. It's a really beautiful church!

We continued to the bus ride and arrived at the ferry to take us to the hostel in Tadoussac at around 5pm. Before dinner the whole group went for a walk and had a beautiful view on the city and the St. Lawrence river.

We had a pretty Canadian dinner at the hostel and I went to bed early cause I was soooooo tired and we had the whale watching scheduled early on Saturday morning.
So the next morning we walked to the whale watching place where we got extra pants and jackets cause it gets really, really cold on the boats once they leave the coast. I think about 25 people fit on one boat so we several boats that took us out on the St. Lawrence River (which is huuuuuuge!!). The boat went soooo fast that I had to hold on to my hat so it wouldn't just fly away :) It took around 15-20 minutes until the boat stopped going that fast and we started looking out for the whales. It didn't take long until we saw one pretty close to our boat. We all got really excited :D You have to be patient cause the whales only appear for a short time and then go diving for 10 minutes until they show up again. At one point one whale was right next to our boat and stupid me had zoomed in with my camera earlier when the whale was further away so that I was not able to get a picture of the whale. I got way too nervous, the boat was shaking and my hands were kinda frozen so I didn't manage to zoom out in time to get a picture :( Fortunately my roomie Tonje got a few really good ones which I will steal from her :D After probably almost an hour our 'captain' took us to some pretty waterfalls and then back to the coast. After 2 hours on the boat we were really cold and wet but it was so amazing to see the whales that close. One of our groups even got to see the tail of the whale.

On the boat - with fancy clothes

We had lunch afterwards and then got back on the bus to go to Quebec City where we arrived around 6pm.
Before going out to dinner everybody took showers to wash off the salty water after the whale watching. Our group leader and guide Stephan had booked a nice dinner at a restaurant for the whole group. After the dinner we went to a pub to have some drinks and later to a club. It was a very fun night!!

We met an "interesting" guy (picture) at the bar who told us that he will go to Norway to work for an oil company soon, then go to Australia to work in the mines and then go to Germany to work for Audi (because you save the best for last ;) )! It was hilarious!!!

On Sunday morning we had a walking tour through Quebec City. Our guide told us lots of things about the history of the city and Canada. It's a very beautiful city and I really want to go back! After the tour we had some time to explore the city by ourselves and at 4.30pm we met up to go back on the bus and head towards Ottawa. Just outside of Quebec we stopped for another dinner (All you can eat!!!! yumm yumm!). We arrived in Ottawa at around 11.30pm - exhausted and really tired! It was an awesome trip and I'm so glad I worked hard the last year to save money for these kind of things!!

The view on the St. Lawrence river from Quebec City
La château Frontenac

The government of Quebec

Monday, September 17, 2012

What a lovely day

We went to yet another house warming party on Friday and had a rather lazy day on saturday (including free BBQ - once again) because we needed to rest for Sunday.
We got up early on Sunday morning to go hiking in Gatineau Park which is just across the Ottawa river on the Quebec side in Gatineau. We took a cab there and hiked for two hours through the beautiful forest until we reached the 'Pink Lake'. The weather was perfect and the view over the lake was amazing!! We enjoyed our lunch there, walked a little bit around the lake and took some pictures (my sunglasses fell down the rocks when I wanted to sit down :( ).
Some of us came to the park by bike and Sasha's chain broke so we had to get back to the info center to get her bike before going home. We devided our big group into smaller ones because some wanted to stay a little longer and some didn't have a bike to take home so my roomies ask people if they could give them a ride back to Ottawa and Sasha and me asked if someone could take us to the info point. And since Canadians are so nice it worked! :D Sasha and me still had to WALK all the way back from the park to our homes with her broken bike. It took us two hours :( I was kind of exhausting but the day was so nice it didn't really matter :) I feel these two hours today though .... my calves hurt like crazy - even when I sit.
This week I'm gonna be very busy reading for my classes and prepare for the whale watching trip next weekend.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Busy Busy Bee

I reaaaally wanted to post something earlier... I'm just soo busy!
Classes started last week on wednesday. All of my classes a pretty interesting and fun so far. I just dropped one (philosphy of language)....that one was boring as hell, is 3 hours on thursday evening, I'm not gonna get credit for it and I was planning to drop that one anyways ;)
The classes are a lot more work than in Bonn. I had a writing assignment in my first class already and they make sure that you read the texts :( no lazy semester for me. I also have a bunch of group presentations and papers during the semester plus finals.
Besides going to class we still hang out a lot and have fun :) We had the international meet and greet party last friday. Not everyone got tickets (they run out of tickets pretty early) so we thought we'd stay at our place and go to the after party at a nightclub right away. At 9.45pm we decided to go after all. The meet and greet was at the campus bar and quite a lot of people were there. We stayed for 30 minutes and then left with everyone to go daaaaaaaancing. It was a lot of fun although we didn't even stay until 2 ;) When we got back home we stayed up talking until 4.
On saturday we went to the gym!! Very sporty!! :D
In the evening I met up with my study buddy MJ, some of her friends and buddies and a few more people. We went to a nice restaurant and I had the most awesome salmon burger ever!!!! The food was soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood!!! I'm definitely coming back there!! After that we got some frozen yogurt and then to our place to hang out there.
MJ works at the museum of canadian civilization and was able to put us on the guest list so we went to Gatineau on sunday and visited the museum (we ended up being a group of almost 15). After the muesum we went down to the river on the Quebec side and took some pictures with the view on the parliament on the Ontario side. Later we walked back to Ottawa and finally tried the famous Beavertails. It's some kind of a long donut shaped like a beavertail and then you can put different toppings on it. I had apple and cinamon and it was very good but not easy to eat. Our table looked like a napkin battlefield when we were done eating ;)
I had class on monday around noon and later went to the mall and several dollar stores to get some cheap stuff for school and tried to find a jacket but only ended up with a pair of jeans and some shirts. Guess I have to go again ;)
Tuesday and wednesday I had class in the morning and then again from 5.30pm-8.30pm. These 3 hour classes are waaaaaay to long.
This morning at 8.30 was my last class for this week. YAY! AND I'm going to have free lunch once again today. My faculty has an information meeting for the exchange students and lunch is provided - so I'm going :)
I might go for a run later and this evening we have a preparation meeting for the whale watching trip next week.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Free Lunch, Laundry Day and Boat Cruise

"The Gang" (inofficial name of my roomies and me) went to the President's Brunch/ Lunch on campus on Sunday morning after a rather long night out (Canadian standards). It was an activity that's part of the welcome week for first year students and we just went there and had some burgers and hot dogs :) Just after we sat down a man came to our table and introduced himself. Tonje, Tamara and me didn't understand what he was saying and just shook his hands and said our names and then asked if he could take a picture of all of as. He was really nice and friendly and when he was gone I said "Who was that?" and the others at the table started laughing cause that was the president of the university....ooops :D
Later that day I went to Sasha's place and saw their house for the first time. They managed to furnish the whole house with stuff from the street. It's pretty nice! They needed some more stuff though so we went free furniture hunting once again :)

I slept in on monday and had a very lazy day. Xela, Tonje and me went to a laundry place to wash our clothes (we don't have a washing machine at our place). It turned out to be quite fun as we played phase 10 and had little weird encounter with a girl who was really desperate to become my friend... :D
In the evening a lot of international students went on a boat cruise party. There was a bar and a dancefloor on the boat. It was nice to party on a boat altough we were all veeeeery tired and we didn't get back before 3am and most of us had to be on campus at 8.30 for the Welcome Day.
I only slept for 3 hours which is why I was super tired today. I survived the extremely interesting and informative Welcome Day presentations and afterwards met Sasha, Cristian and some others who attended a different Welcome meeting. We were told about "the free store" where you can get all kinds of things for free (clothes, books, kitchen stuff) so we went there and found even more free things for Sasha etc's place. I scored a Cher CD :D
And once again, we got free lunch on campus..... just pretend to be a graduate student; they don't really check if you're telling the truth ;)

Tomorrow is my first class and I am prettttttyyyyy excited :) Kind of weird though to have to go to class again. I got so used to just haning out with the others and almost forgot that I came here to study :) Btw I'm here since two weeks already!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Unpacking never felt that good!

Wednesday evening we started cleaning the house and unpacking our things. The first night in my new room was pretty nice - especially not being woken up by somebody else climbing out of their hostel bed or switching the lights on at 7am. It was also quite awesome to be able to open my closet in the morning, see all my clothes wihtout having to look through my suitcase and just pick something to wear :D
On thursday some of us went to visit the parliament. We went up the peace tower first and had a great view over the city. Afterwards we had a guided tour through the parliament. It was pretty interesting to see everything but I would like to go back and see Canadian politicians in action ;)
In the evening our neighbors (also an international house) had a 'house-warming' party and the house was packed with people! It was fun and nice to meet even more students. They're everywhere....I don't know that many people in Ottawa yet but everywhere I go I see some of them :D
Friday was a rather lazy day. I slept in and met up with Georg to go to the Backpackers hostel and we had lunch with a few friends who couldn't move in until today. Later some of us walked around the neighborhood and picked up furniture for their place since their house is unfurnished (people throw a lot of stuff out at the moment since many are moving Sept 1).
Today we walked around Campus. The different departments were there to welcome the new students with way too loud music :D It was not very communicative and they didn't really bother to make people feel welcome as they had their little private parties and just danced around. They sell welcome packages for 80$ and then you get to participate in the activities. Strange. We decided to go to parliament hill and do some sightseeing. We went to the locks and stayed there for a while to see how the ships went up the Rideau Canal. After that we crossed the bridge over the Ottawa River and walked to Quebec. It's kinda fun to be able to live that close to another province. We had lunch there and thought we'd just get some beer there cause it's supposed to be cheaper over there. We found a 20 pack for $22 and were surprised that it is that cheap but it turned out that in Quebec the alcohol prices do not include tax so we actually paid $28. We guess it's still a little cheaper than in Ontario though :D Of course we had to carry it all the way back to our place (30 minute walk) so next time we'll just get it here again :D
We're going to another international house party tonight and probably to a student brunch tomorrow. So there's lots to do :)