Exchange Trip to Canada
I was pretty excited, but also kind of sad. I knew I was going to miss my family, my friends, and my home.
Flight and arrival
August, 25th was finally the long awaited day. All exchange students met with their families at the airport. All of us were sad and happy at the same. It took us some time to say goodbye.
The flight to Toronto was about 8 hours. It didn’t feel that long because everyone was able to pick the movie they want to see. The view over Toronto with its tower was beautiful. The next plane was supposed to leave in one and a half hours, but it was even later. All in all we had to wait for three hours to fly for another two hours to Edmonton. The first impression of the American continent and Canada was fascinating. Everything seemed so different to Germany. All had more space there were huge parts of fields and areas where you weren’t able to see the next city not even from the plane. The whole country was wilder.
Our families were all already waiting in Edmonton. I had been looking forward to that for a long time. My host mum, dad, and my exchange partner picked me up. I was feeling comfortable right away.
I was the only one who was supposed to live out of Edmonton. After we said goodbye the adventure started. My host family and I drove one hour to Camrose, my new hometown.
After they showed me the house, we ate I just wanted to sleep. I was awake for almost 24 hours most of the time just sitting in the plane and watching movies.
The air is much dryer in Canada that was the reason why I woke up in the morning with my nose bleeding.
The next day we went to the school to get my schedule, books and locker. The Canadian school system is really relaxing compared to the German one. In Canada you only have four subjects a day and there are just two different schedules for every straight and odd day. The classes take one and a half hours except for Friday’s lessons they take one hour.Also the subjects are different e.g. the Phys Ed classes are gender separated, and they have ‘fun classes’ like Design Studies, Cosmetology or Stained Glass.
I chose Physical Education, English, Design Studies, Math and Drama.
On the first school day all new students were sitting in the commons area and the principal talked about the school. Then we had one hour to walk through the school and get to see everything and talk to all teachers. In the afternoon we had all classes we were supposed to have normally.
It was easy to find awesome friends. All teachers and students were kind even most of them did not even notice that I am from Germany until I told them.
First I was scared about writing the exams in English but they are quiet easy to do. First because they learn the things we did already learn some years ago. The second reason why it is easier than the German exams is that a big part is multiple choices.
The school in Canada is more like a community then the ones in Germany. Once in a while they have theme days like pajama days or purple Day where everybody is just wearing purple or pajamas and even the teachers participate in it.
I wasn’t the only exchange student in my school. There were all in all 28 exchanges. Most of them came from Japan but there were two others from Brazil, one from Mexico, some from china and Korea and one other from Turkey. I often played soccer with some of the guys and some other Canadians at lunch because we all missed playing soccer. I am glad I met all those people because now I have friends all over the world and we’re going to meet soon.
My Drama teacher went out several times with some of the internationals to look for a muse in one of the closest national park but we just saw beavers.
Every school in Canada has their own sport teams. Canadian football is not the same as American football; it has less running and more sets. The ‘Trojans’ (football team of my school) weren’t the best but nice to watch. There were other school teams as well e.g. Volleyball or Baseball. I joined the Cross Country Running team. At Cross Country you run across the country over hills as fast as you can. On my team we were 10 students, 4 girls and 6 guys. I was the only one just running three kilometers; one guy had to run 6 K’s. We all went to Zones the qualification for the Provincials. I didn’t make it but all said that I did a great job for the first time. I got 25th out of 79 and my time was 16 minutes and 15 seconds.
It took me almost two weeks to get myself used to the different time zone. But not just the time and the nature and lifestyles are different to Germany. In all three month there was just one day you could not see the sun except for those times when it snowed then you were barely able to see the tree in front of the window.
For the Canadians ice hockey is like soccer for us. Everybody has their favorite team and everybody has seen at least two games. My friends and I often went watching a game. Ice hockey is a really fast sport. If somebody tries to take pictures most will end up having fuzzy pictures. Every town has two ice rinks one for ice hockey and one for curling. Little villages even if they have just three hundred inhabitants have one of them and two villages share them. So one has a curling arena and the other village has a hockey rink.
Rodeo is a huge sport in Canada as well. Especially the annual finals are a big event. It takes place in a big hockey arena in Edmonton and takes five days. There are many different types of Rodeo most people just know the Bull Riding. There are such as Bareback Riding, Steer Wrestling, Team Roping, tie Down Roping, Saddle Bronc and Novice Saddle. For the young boys there is Boys Steer Riding. But the only kind that women are allowed to do is Ladies Barrel Racing.
I went to Edmonton twice. It is the capital city of Alberta, the second biggest in the province and the sixth biggest in Canada. The West Edmonton mall is the sixth biggest mall in the world and has its own ice field, swimming pool, Adventure Park….
The first time I was in Edmonton we went by the high level streetcar over the highest bridge over the North Saskatchewan River. We also went to the legislative assembly of Alberta. There was a book to write congratulation to the queen and also a 100 year old time box which was opened on the 100th anniversary of that building.
The other day I went with a friend to West Ed to go shopping and we met some others to celebrate a birthday in Galaxy Land.
All Germans met in Edmonton. We drove 4 hours to the Goldeye center. There we stayed for three days. It was nice to talk German again. There were also other exchanges that were doing the same exchange from Bavaria to Calgary. The Camp was near the Goldeye Lake which is really beautiful. We went canoeing, rock climbing (also blind folded), high level roping and hiking with just a compass and a map across the forest to another lake. On the last Day we went to a waterfall the color of the mountain water is indescribable light blue.
One time my exchange partner and her Dad who is working at the university in Camrose joined a group of Augustana University students on a trip to a farm. It was really interesting how little things can change big issues such as a special kind of trees on the other side of the river attract birds and other animals, which in turn influence the growth of the different plants.
It was funny to see all those pigs running around. I did like that trip because I liked the wilderness around the farm and when I am old I would love to have a farm like that.
At Thanksgiving my host family stayed at Jasper. It is one of the many beautiful national parks of Canada. The Elks are walking through the city. We went to a Canyon with many little waterfalls. On the other day we went mountain hiking and saw mountain sheep. On Thanksgiving Day we went to the hot springs. The water for those pools comes directly from a hot spring and is about 35 degrees and then we had the typical thanksgiving dinner. On the way back home we went to a glacier and you were able to see how fast it melts. They put signs on the edge of the glacier every five years. Last time they did that was 2010 and in just two years it melted almost 100 meters. We also went to two bigger Waterfalls. One changed the river running so you could walk through the old watercourse in the rock and see how the water rinsed it. The night we got home the father suddenly called us out to see an amazing event on the sky, Northern lights. Even if they had only one color it was one of the fascinating moments standing in the garden and watching these active lights in the dark sky.
The last week in Canada was definitely not my happiest one. My friends organized a surprise party for me to say goodbye and everybody was sad that I had to leave. It is so different from vacation to go and live in a country. You honestly first really get to know it if you stay there longer and live the daily life. All knew it all along that I would have to go back home after three month but it was still really hard. I am so glad I made the decision to go to Alberta. I am sure I am going to go there again soon. The people in Canada and the country will have a place in my heart forever.