Monday, January 10, 2011

Chronicles of Ottawa

"Let me tell you something. It's my first time wearing long underwear, and I'm thrilled."

Mildly dazed from an abrupt change in timezone, I stepped onto Canadian soil at 11:59pm  EST. Various warbled thoughts scrolled across my mind, like the digital messages on Ottawa Airport's looming timetable billboard. Baggage, in French, is bagage.

"Yes, bagage. That's what I need to pick up."

Air Canada provided a fairly pleasant ride over. A small exception to the experience was a yapping chihuahua in a cage, about 3 rows down. I didn't know that you could bring dogs into the passenger area.

Well there you have it, you can.

The constant yapping though, was not a fair trade-off for the small amount of new knowledge gained from the ordeal. You're not allowed to bring nail clippers onto a plane, but you're allowed to bring a potentially well-trained killer terrorist chihuahua. Not to mention that the dog itself could be full of explosive liquids.

Where was I? Oh yes, bagage.

Ottawa's airport is fairly well designed, and I was able to locate my bagage by following the ample signage even though my brain's CPU was running at only 25% capacity.

An amiable PhD student called Bao came and picked me up. Heading into the suburbs of Ottawa, it struck me that Canada looks a lot like Australia, but covered with snow. The traffic lights are extremely similar, as are the wide open spaces and large numbers of caucasians walking around. Perhaps I've been in Korea a little too long. By the time the odometer in Bao's Hyundai Sonata had clicked up ten kilometres from the airport, I had formed my first conclusion about Canada.
Canada is quite similar to Australia. And I love Australia.

Long live the Commonwealth!

With that jubilant thought ringing in my mind, I soon fell fast asleep in the Land of Maple Leaves/Syrup. 

I'm here for a month of overseas research experience, funded by our department. My professor is based here and I'm going to be in his lab, shadowing some unfortunate PhD candidates and slowing them down with my Australian accent and learning speed.

During my time here, I hope to see a bit of Ottawa and learn a lot of new laboratory know-how.

Also high on my agenda is to see a muskox and a sundog.

These are muskoxen  (Ovibos moschatus).

Warm, wise and probably unfriendly.

This is what a sundog looks like.

And here's what Bao's street looks like. I haven't seen any muskoxen around these parts, but I have yet to check out his backyard.

This week I'm scheduled to get rid of my jetlag and learn more about this strange icy country and the lab protocols contained within.

Will report back soon. Stay warm and stay tuned.


Moa said...

Wow, it looks surprisingly a lot like Sweden. Even the cows! :D

JLR said...

Welcome to North America! I hope you enjoy your time here and that it isn't too hard being away from home for a month. At least it's snowy! (or too bad it's snowy, if you don't like snow)


Having come from Canada, you'll not find any of those things that you are looking for that far south in Ottawa! LOL

Might I recommend finding Chinatown and enjoying some real Cantonese style Chinese food instead.


Em said...

Hi Lee,
Over the past two weeks I have read the entirety of your blog, and I just wanted to let you know it is very entertaining and well written, and I hope you keep it up. My partner and I are hoping to move from NZ to teach in Korea next year, and your blog has helped convince me this is a good idea.

Thanks for sharing your experiences with us all :)


Lee Farrand said...

Thanks everyone.

Emma, that's a lot of reading! Hope your move to Korea turns out well.