Postcards form Abroad: Hamilton, Canada

Kit is a Civil and Structural Engineering student currently on an international year abroad at McMaster University in Canada. Based in Hamilton, about an hour from Toronto, she is looking forward to exploring the picturesque Canadian scenery in contrast with the skyscrapers that are a key feature of North American cities. She has a bizarre passion for bridges and is known for taken a bridge selfie – something she will definitely be continuing in Canada and the U.S. As this is her first time out of Europe she is keen to discover what life is like across the pond and whether those stereotypes are actually true…

As it is dauntingly nearing the end of term in Canada (how is this already happening?!) I’ve already began to get nostalgic about this year. Spending a year abroad has been amazing and is something that I would recommend to anyone without a doubt. It doesn’t have to be Canada but they are pretty friendly here (just saying…).

This semester I attempted some classic winter sports, and for anyone who knows me they would automatically say that this was a bad idea. First off was ice skating on the public rink downtown on Hamilton’s waterfront. As soon as it gets cold, rinks spring up on lakes, patches of land and maintained public rinks too. Having skated before this wasn’t too bad and I thought that I could apply the same mentality and footwork to skiing…

1 - skating

The majority of the British group opted to go on a Canada wide ski trip organised partially through McMaster University, with the promise of good slopes (such as Mont Tremblant in Quebec), a party atmosphere and discounted nights out so I thought I might as well give it a go. I loved the après and going out aspects just like I knew that I would. However, skiing was not something I particularly enjoyed. I didn’t like not being in control and the thought of injuring myself severely on the side of a mountain in French speaking Canada made it much worse.

Once I’d decided this, I ditched my skis and spent the following day just hanging out and enjoying the cute village and views from the mountain top.

2 - tremblant

Not wanting to give up over reading week in February I went with two Canadian friends to try and learn to snowboard. This time we opted for a proper lesson (maybe that was where I went wrong with skiing?) and so we were taught how to get up, stop and pick up speed. Chair lifts with a board attached to one foot can be interesting… Someone ended up lifting me off the lift as I freaked  out. We made it down the green slope with only a few minor hitches and our instructor left us to attempt it again. Brimming with confidence with our new found abilities we started our descent. I was happily going down backwards when suddenly I span too quickly and ended up slamming my knees on the snow, and ended up being put on a snowmobile down the hill – thanks snow patrol!! So, snowboarding is also not for me – although the snowmobile was so fun!

Finally for leap day there was a university arranged trip to go tubing. Tubing is where you sit in giant tire like inflatable rings, like the ones you see at the seaside, and go down snowy slopes picking up speed before coming into crash barriers at the bottom. This was fun, mildly terrifying when you came close to the edge but exhilarating and full of adrenaline. There was a decent sized group so we attempted going down in a 5 which made us spin lots. Overall I discovered that snow sports where I am stood up are not for me – I’m much better when sat down!

3 - tubing

Other than snow sports I’ve been making the most of Hamilton’s proximity to America and the travel options available…

I was very lucky to spend New Year’s in New York and spent New Year’s Eve on Brooklyn bridge (Times Square was a nightmare…). The beginning of my reading week was spent in Chicago and Wisconsin, as I was visiting a friend who is abroad there, and we were able to walk across the frozen lakes and I got to see one of the other universities that had been on my list. Last weekend I revisited New York and made a trip to Philadelphia as my Leeds friend was over for the beginning of Easter so we decided that we should make the most of it and became typical tourists in New York for the day.

Being on a year abroad is really giving me the opportunity to see and explore places that I’ve always wanted to see and more. I’m looking forward to the home comforts of the U.K. In June but I’m not ready to leave North America yet!!


Kit x

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