I'm in Queen's university; Canada. I've been here for just over a week, and already gleaned so much about the university and Canadians as an entity I feel as though I could write a book; however I'll pull it back to the category of irregular blog updates for the moment.
Blog writing tends to affix itself around central themes, and it appears as though I am destined to write a travel blog being so far from home. However, since I resent the idea of fate I will be endeavoring to break this pattern as often as possible. Expect long rants about the state of American Football, or Canadian beer; unpunctuated and clustered explosions on Quebecian politics and ironic but slightly longing drafts concerning cheerleaders and their ilk. Expect this blog to be weaving through the themes of Canadian university life like a drunken snake on rollerskates, whilst at the same time still remaining within my self-dictated subject.
The phrase for today is: School Spirit.
The Canadians refer to their universities as schools, which becomes initially quite puzzling. Most of the frosh (freshers) week I attended was to do with learning school chants - of which there are a seemingly infinite amount - getting to know our Gaels (fresher helpers) and watching american football. I was beginning to assume that the amount of cheers and responses we had to learn (almost always punctuated with pelvic thrusts, an oddity embraced far more by the girls on campus than the men) was some form of secondary test to check that the incoming students really were the best and the brightest, certainly the best at memorising little toccatas of language.
The community spirit is immensely different in Canada than it was in Warwick, which is not to say in any way that there was none in Warwick. If anything, I found it easier to fit in - but most of my time was dispersed to different cliques of the social scene. Thanks to the fact that my corridor was filled with some of my favourite people ever, and the corridor two stories below us was always goading us to come out; I was never without friends or a chance to go out. The clubs and societies I joined also led to a lot of time spent with parts of the university I wouldn't have otherwise met (social groups that almost universally spun around an axle of incredibly heavy drinking), and my course also provided me with an opportunity to meet some fantastic friends. The main difference here, though, is that I'm constantly in occasions where I find myself with the entire university. At talks and dances and football matches populated by thousands of students. There is much more of a coherent university spirit here, as opposed to sects of moons orbiting around bigger planets, again orbiting round a central star.
A hard question to ask myself is which one of these situations I prefer. I find myself, despite all the charms of Canada, erring towards the social circles found in Warwick. I still don't have sets of people to go out with, although I constantly have things to go out to; and I still don't know anyone with whom I could just walk into their room and talk to for hours on end. The community spirit, with all its cheers and school songs, does little to encourage the formulation of groups with similar interests; of groups of friends.
This being said, there is still plenty of time for the university to suprise me, and still plenty of fun to be had in the unified system of Queen's. We shall see whether I stick by this, my first blog post, by the time I have to leave Canada, or whether - like the engineers on campus - you're going to need teamwork, co-ordination and an awful lot of grease to get me out.
See you on the other side, guys