The Leidener

A Blog by International Students at Leiden University

Part Seven: In Between M.Sc. and Ph.D.

Last night in Montreal was with these lovely faces. Their turn to visit me in Europe.

Last night in Montreal was with these lovely faces. Their turn to visit me in Europe.

Last Friday, my alarm goes off at 5:00 — EEK-EEK-EEK — I quickly fumble with my phone as if my life depends on it, turn off the alarm, roll over, and go back to sleep. The sun wasn’t up, so why should I be? I vaguely recall thinking about a bus… 5:30 rolls around and my strategic second alarm goes off. Oh right, the bus to Toronto leaves in 1 hour… 1 hour!? That’s too soon.

I pack my things as fast as possible, eat a quick cereal, wake up Ainsley and Andrew to say goodbye, and  run to the metro. I have 30 minutes to get to the bus station, check in, and get on the bus. Every second on the underground passes agonizingly slowly. The metro is off schedule, and I’m not going to make it! I sprint to the bus station, not exactly knowing where it is, carrying 20kg on my back. I can’t find the bus, and the realization sets in that I’m doomed. Fortune shines and I’m able to transfer my ticket to the next bus, and I breath easily again. This places me in Toronto at 13:30, theoretically.

DSC_9240The bus is trundling down the highway, and I’m sitting beside an attractive member of the opposite sex chatting amiably about this and that, when the bus starts to shudder and squeak. We grind to a halt, and the driver says we’ve broken down. Perfect, I’ll probably miss my connection with my dad in Toronto now… We spill out of the bus, and wait for help in the sweltering heat.

A working bus arrives to collect us, and eventually we roll into Toronto at the peak of rush hour. I hop on the subway and go to our meeting place, Yorkdale Mall, a gigantic mall where I am to meet my dad at Starbucks. Yorkdale Mall is only the size of a small town. There are several starbucks, and I must have circumnavigated the place three times before I finally found him. Alas, we finally get on the road with over a million other vehicles all heading north for the weekend, and we start the long journey to our cottage. Luckily, the view is spectacular. Canada is in full glory; beauty shines where ever you go!

pano

My dad, Montana, and I out fishing last night. Montana is a First Nations boy who lives near camp.

Today, my dreams fade like an echoing cascade of soft whispers. A ukulele starts playing and then Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s silky voice begins,

“Oohh Oohh Oooh… Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high, and the dreams that you dreamed of, once in a lullabye, ahhh ooohh…”

My alarm is much different now. I’m finally reaching peak relaxation, a goal I’ve had since leaving on this summer adventure. It’s just me and my dad at our camp in McGregor Bay in northern Ontario. In northern Ontario they call a cottage a camp in their funny little dialect. That means no internet, no sounds of traffic or crowds of people, no pollution, puffs of cigarettes, squeals of tires, or sidewalks. Just chirping birds, wind in the trees, the sounds of my guitar, the crash of waves, the occasional boat, and my cat’s purr. (I’m only able to post this blog post by having my dad shell out money on his cell 3G, so I can tether.)

The company where my cousin Scott works, and where I may do some work.

The office of the company I was checking out for possible future work. My cousin Scott is right there, busy.

Rue Saint-Denis is lovely at night in the summer.

Rue Saint-Denis is lovely at night in the summer.

How did I get here? It was quite the ordeal. My last two days in Montreal were hasty, as I tried to see everyone before I left. Wednesday night I went out swing dancing with a friend, and then later met up with my cousin and his friends at la Salon Daome, a subtle little lounge tucked away on Mont Royal, where DJ Manoo gave a 5 hour set (check out his Soundcloud here). Most people were tripping with big eyes, and dancing some sick beats. Shots were $2 before midnight!

My friend is in the midst of a drum solo.

My friend is in the midst of a drum solo.

Thursday was pretty sweet too! I made my last visit to a company, where I made a proposal for future work with them, which is pretty exciting. Ainsley and I had dinner and we watched Oblivion, a movie with Tom Cruise that I really liked. You’d like it too if you liked Blade Runner, Interstellar, or the Matrix. Later I went to a friend’s show at l’Exit Bar on Saint-Denis, where I met a few of his friends and family. Saint-Denis was awash in a festival, and the streets were full of happy people.

This sort of panorama is pretty hard to do, especially when you're trying to do nothing.

This sort of panorama is pretty hard to do, especially when you’re trying to do nothing. 😛 But seriously it’s difficult not to move while in a hammock.

Throughout all these blogs I wonder, do I give them a long detailed story of my adventure, which goes into far less detail than a good conversation could give, or do I equivocate that it has merely been “good”. It’s a little bit of a shame to start a story and stop it unfinished. I’ve been trying to provide just enough detail to keep it interesting. I’ll probably go dark now for a while, whilst I work hard at relaxing.

About Jalbert

I share my travels and experiences. Follow me as I do my Ph.D. in astronomy at Leiden University.

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This entry was posted on July 13, 2015 by in Student Life, Travel and tagged , .
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