Second Year, here I come!

Hello! I’ve decided to return to the blogging world with a clean slate, a fresh start all in an ambitious attempt to capture each and every day of my second year at Carleton. You’d think it would be easier now since classes aren’t in full swing until Sept. 9, but here I am already two days behind! Let’s get caught up.

Day 1 (Sept. 4): Move-in day

It’s a five-hour drive from Toronto to Ottawa. Mom and I decided to get going as early as possible, meaning I was up and at ’em at the ungodly hour of 6 a.m. The sun wasn’t even up yet! Luckily, Mom and I were on the ball this year. We had loaded all my worldly possessions into the car the day before. All that was left to do was gather up the last-minute items and scoot on out the door.

Much easier said than done.

We were aiming to leave at 7 a.m. sharp, but we settled for 7:23 a.m. Whoever thought last-minute packing could be done in a few last minutes was sorely mistaken. Nevertheless, we were off! With about 350 km ahead of endless highway, a bag full of CDs and only four hours of sleep, we buckled down for our road trip.

The drive went smoothly. We made one stop at a service station in Kingston where just about every other family in Ontario seemed to have stopped for a Timmy’s run. There were a few Americans passing through and I heard one of them say, “Would you look at that! They really like Tim Hortons around here.” Yessir, Yankeedoodle, a road trip just isn’t a road trip in Canada without a Timbit or an Iced Capp. That being said, the line was insanely long. Mom and I didn’t get out of that service station for nearly half and hour!

By 12: 30 p.m., we were pulling into the Carleton campus. It was a lot easier than last year. No more unexpected detours thanks to a poorly scheduled bike marathon. No more obscure alleyways doubling as drop off parking lots. This time, I actually knew where we were going and what the move-in procedure was. We were in and out of there in less than an hour – and that includes waiting for the elevator about six times. (That’s right! My building has an elevator! We probably had one last year too, but I lived on the first floor then and didn’t really care if we had one or not. Not so this year! I’ve been upgraded to fourth floor.)

BREAK: All this will be continued in about 15 minutes. I’m off to find the laundry room and do a quick load of towels.

10:20 a.m. I’m back! The laundry room is so nice! It’s well lit and they have the dryers that stack vertically so it looks like a wall of microwaves. It’s very exciting. We were spoiled last year by living on the same floor as the laundry room. This year I’ll actually have to take stairs. The horror! Fortunately it’s on the third floor, not the first so it won’t be that bad. It’ll give me a chance to work those leg muscles!

But enough about the splendours of Frontenac (the name of my res). Let’s get back to Move-in Day!

With our car light and empty once more, Mom and I made a trip to the South Keys shopping centre (with a minor detour to a South Keys daycare centre, thanks to our lovely GPS). After a quick stop for lunch (which wasn’t as quick as we had hoped, thanks to the snail’s-pace service), we hurried on to get some groceries and kitchen appliances. We thought we could save some space in our car by buying bulky items – like a magnificent toaster oven – when we got to Ottawa.

Little did we know what we saved in space, we’d make up for in waiting time at Wal-Mart! There were people everywhere! It was almost impossible to move around in there, much less find what we were looking for. I’m not saying it was like opening time at the Expo, but it was definitely running a close second! There were frazzled university students and families bustling around left, right and centre. We spent over an hour tracking everything down. (One old lady took it upon herself to recommend a toaster oven that had a convection feature. I don’t know what her hobbies are, but my goodness! I’ve never seen anyone so passionate about a toaster oven!)

If we thought looking for our purchases was difficult, it was nothing compared to the lines! There were hundreds of people with their overflowing shopping carts, all jostling their way into the shortest line. Mom and I were sent on wild goose chases again and again by the oh-so-helpful Wal-Mart employees. They kept pointing us to a different cashier, the express line, and even the customer service desk! And every time, we would fight our way through the crowds to get there, only to find that not only was there no shorter line, but we also gave up our place in the previous line.

In the end, Mom and I ignored the Wal-Mart staff and just plunked ourselves at the back of a line. We inched our way forward until finally we emerged victorious! Then we proceeded to Loblaws for groceries.

Loblaws was significantly less crowded than Wal-Mart. We were in and out of there in about 30 minutes. It was about 3 p.m. when we returned to school. Then came the less-than-lovely task of unpacking.

There was so much to do! Mom helped with the larger, two-person jobs – like laying out the heavy mattress topper (ahh, Memory Foam). But before we knew it, it was nearing 4:30 p.m. and Mom had to start heading back to Toronto if she wanted to make it before dark.

There were no tears, but I was not looking forward to that goodbye. Mom and I had been practically joined at the hip for the past three weeks, ever since I returned from my nearly two-month-long trip to China. And now I’m on my own again. I miss my Mommy, and I don’t care who knows it!

We had a floor meeting at 5:30 p.m. where our res fellow went over all the rules (the usual blah blah) and we caught a rare glimpse of all (well, most of) the people on our floor together at the same time. We all talked a little about ourselves – names, where we’re from, programs interests – all of which I promptly forgot as soon as I heard it.

After the meeting, we all went to dinner together at the cafeteria. Ahh yes, the cafeteria. We meet again. I signed up for fewer meals this year since I’m living suite style now (a.k.a. kitchen space!) so hopefully I won’t be stuck in the caf all the time. It was nice getting to know everyone. One guy who lives across the hall from me is from the Dominican Republic and his friend is from Nigeria. How very diverse.

I spent the rest of the night unpacking. There was some serious dedication going on. I surprised myself! There’s a lot more space than we had last year. I’m really enjoying the feeling of having my own room. Having a roommate is nice, but sometimes you just need to be a hermit and have someplace that’s all your own. I guess this is home away from home for the next eight months! Looking good!

Day 2: Breaking in my U-Pass

I survived the first night in res and rolled out of bed at around 9 a.m. I decided to give our toaster a test run . . . and failed miserably. Two slices of bread went into the toaster and stayed cold for a good 20 minutes. I kept setting and resetting the toaster settings, trying to get the thing to heat up! When you’re a toaster oven, you only have one purpose in life: heat things! And this toaster oven didn’t look like it wanted to fulfill its destiny. Finally I gave up and whipped out the instructions manual. Everything seemed to be in order . . . except for the tiny detail of turning up the temperature. I had been trying to make toast at room temperature. Oops.

Well I finally got the toaster up and running. It made a satisfying ding sound when it was done and I opened the oven door eagerly to reap the fruits of my labour. On the bright side, it certainly wasn’t room temperature bread anymore. It closely resembled something you might find crusty and smoking on the side of a recently erupted volcano. There was a definite crunch to it. I’m proud to announce: our toaster oven is open for business! I just have to fiddle around a bit with the settings.

For those of you kind souls who are wondering what poor Veronica ate for breakfast after the toast failure, don’t you worry. I had leftover Timbits from the drive up from Toronto. See? What did I tell you? Tim Hortons saves the day!

First on my agenda for the day was to pick up my U-Pass. It’s new this year. All Carleton students have the price of the U-Pass built into their tuition. With this magical card, we can take any mode of OC Transpo (Ottawa’s transit service) as many times as we want without having to fumble for loose change or stocking up on bus tickets. I took a bit of a detour trying to find the pick-up place for the pass, but let’s just call that a welcome-back tour of the campus grounds. The important part is I got my U-Pass – very valuable ($25 to replace the first time and $290 the second time). I will be taking very good care of it.

It was time to take the U-Pass out for a test drive. I took the O-Train to South Keys (yet again) to pick up some items I’d forgotten yesterday. Mostly they were small purchases – a radio for my room and plenty of towels. That didn’t stop me from spending a good 45 minutes running up and down the Wal-Mart aisles. It was poorly organized and everything was in disarray. I guess it’s understandable considering the hoards of people that have been and will continue to come tromping through there for the rest of the weekend.

I made several stops at just about every store in South Keys (Loblaws, Future Shop, Michaels, Chapters, even Bouclair!), trying to get everything I needed. I returned to Carleton at about 1:30 p.m. with armfuls of those reusable, environmentally friendly bags, all bursting at the seams. It was no picnic, but it felt good to get all that out of the way. The little cherry on top of all this? It occurred to me that I’ll never again have to run to the O-Train platform again! Never again will I have to worry about my transfer expiring! My U-Pass and I are going to be great friends.

After dropping off everything in my room, I repacked my bags, this time with a book and an empty coffee thermos. All that hard work deserves some down time! I decided to head back to South Keys (Why not? It’s not like I have to pay for it again!), get a drink at Starbucks and lounge around with a good book before perusing the shelves at Chapters. Just as I was heading out, I ran into Kitty (my roommate) and her family coming back from what was apparently a very successful trip to Costco. I politely bowed out as quickly as possible while they debated over where to put their jumbo pack of paper towels.

My second trip to South Keys was much more relaxing. I got a sandwich at Starbucks (a tomato and mozzarella panini as recommended by my mom) and a piping hot Toffee Mocha to get into the mood for fall. It actually just tastes like pure melted caramel, which we all know is a good thing. I sat around until about 4 p.m. and started heading back to Carleton.

On the way, I received a text from a girl, Jasmine, who lives on our floor. I met her yesterday at dinner. We were talking about churches near school and I was going to tag along with her for a 5 p.m. service at Celebration! Church (the exclamation mark is part of the name, also known as C!C). She was wondering if I was still up for it, which of course I was. (I had merely forgotten about it until then) She then sent me a cryptic message: Meet me at ve cup asap. So there I was rushing back to school as fast as the O-Train would let me with no idea what or where I could find a “ve cup.”

I texted Jasmine back but I didn’t get a reply even as I was pulling into the Carleton stop. I decided to just head back to res and see if she was still in her room. But before I could get off the O-Train platform, I saw a girl running towards me yelling, “VERONICA!” Sure enough, it was Jasmine. Talk about good timing. Her hair was completely drenched. “I lost track of the time,” she gasped as she caught her breath, “and ran out of the shower just now.”

COMMENT REPLY: Oh yes, I almost forgot to explain what a “ve cup stop” is. It turns out Jasmine wanted to write “the bus stop.” It’s amazing what speedy texting can do to your spelling.

It was 4:30 p.m. and we still had to catch two buses to get there by 5 p.m. We ran all the way to bus stop on the other side of campus (construction had blocked off the closer one), only to find that the bus was a good 10 minutes late. We hopped on the next bus and reached our stop . . . just as our transfer bus was pulling away from the intersection. The best part? It was Sunday, meaning the buses come every 30 minutes. Super.

“So,” said Jasmine extra-cheerily, “how do you feel about walking?” It was a 20 to 25-minute walk, giving us a lot of bonding time. You can’t help getting to know someone after chasing down bus after bus with someone. It was a little bit funny since Jasmine already had a crisis earlier that day. A one-litre bottle of olive oil exploded in her purse. Isn’t life just full of surprises?

We managed to get to church only 10 minutes late. It’s a pretty small group – about 30 people gathered in a school lecture hall. This was the kind of small church where everyone knows everyone, meaning I was instantly recognized as the newcomer. Everyone was very friendly, and a few of them recognized me from a C4C (Campus for Christ) trip last year (we stayed overnight at a camp about an hour north of Ottawa). I think I might go back there next week.

It was nearly 7:30 p.m. by the time we got back to school. One of the guys I met at C!C, David, was taking the bus and O-Train with us (we took quite a lot of transfers and chased after more than a few buses, yet again). He’s an engineer student definitely acts like it. While we were figuring out our route back to school, he kept spewing out numbers, calculating how much time we’d save if we took two buses and the O-Train versus three buses straight to Carleton. If it were up to me, I would just take the next bus that arrived, but David went through every single possibility, factoring in waiting time and walking time before settling on a route. And he did all this in a jumpsuit (the kind that mechanics wear with the patches and the zipper up the front) with “Carleton Engineer” printed boldly on the back – the proper engineer attire for frosh week. Oh engineers make me chuckle.

When I finally got back to res, Kitty told me we were having a potluck with our other friends who lived down the hall, Natalie and Lindsay. Natalie and Lindsay made pasta and garlic bread, Kitty made a salad, and I made room in my stomach. I’ll make up for it at the next one. Who says university students have to live on Kraft Dinner? I was pleasantly surprised at their cooking skills. We won’t starve after all!

We spent the rest of the night in Natalie and Lindsay’s room being loud and crazy as usual. It’s nice to be back to school when school’s not actually in session. All four of us felt like we had been in Carleton for a really long time already . . . and it was only Day 2.


4 thoughts on “Second Year, here I come!

  1. Reading your blog early in the morning, finally get to know what’s going on in your life. Since we’d moved away, we only heard bits and pieces from your mom or Auntie Nancie once in a blue moon. But everything we heard was good. Please accept our belated congrats on your academic achievement. Reading your blog makes me reminisce on the good old college life. No one should miss college, not just for academics but for the life experience! You have independence, freedom and fun without the big responsibilities in life. That comes when you get out of college. Most of all, you make life long friendship.

    1. Thank you! And I fully agree – I wouldn’t miss university for anything (even though it’s probably giving me more white hairs everyday). It’s so much fun! Everyday is an adventure, some more than others.

      I’m glad you’re reading!

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