Sandal goes Canada

2 years ago I went to Canada for the first time - but entering the plane on my way back home I thought to myself that this stay shouldn't be the last one. This August the promise I gave myself, the dream I wanted to live once more, is going to come true, again. However, I'm changing places. This time it's going to be Montréal instead of Calgary and the Rocky Mountains. The background of this 11-months stay is the obligation for males in Germany to either do a military or a social community service. I chose the latter one and decided to do it abroad. So, to put it in a nutshell, this blog is going to be about the hopefully wonderful time I'm going to spend working at l'École Rudolf Steiner de Montréal.

Sun

05

Oct

2008

update - I feel good, nananana ...

Goooooooooooooood eeeeeeeeeeeveniiiiiiiiing everyone!!!!! This is Sandal FM with the hottest news all the way from Montréal. So get your speakers & stay tuned while being rocked!!!

man @ work

There was (and there still is) a lot of renovation going on @ the Waldorf School of Montréal - paint jobs en masse, moving stuff heavy as hell, filling estimated millions of fu**ing holes in just too many walls and, as coronation, building up IKEA-shelves. No I'm not angry ;-) - actually I'm just more than happy that my team, consisting of teachers, parents, children and me, made it!!! The school became really beautiful... here some pics of me @ work^^

So for those who are curious what my work environment looks like, here some more impressions...

As you see Waldorf Schools aren't that bad - at least not there outer appearance :-). Concerning the quality of teaching I'm not able yet to give a clear statement, still have to observe. Anyway, school finally started on September 9th with an assembly in the morning where the children of all grades, their parents and the newcomers were present. Welcome speeches were given, teachers introduced and prospects given about the coming school year.

All in all I have to say that it was much nicer than the beginning at my school used to be after every single summer holiday.

Meanwhile a kind of routine found its way into the daily life. So let me show you what my typical day looks like at the moment...

 

06:15 getting up & dressed, having breakfast
07:10 heading towards school via metro & bus / by car
08:30 starting to work: atm still little renovations
10:25 overseeing the kids during the first break (actually I play basketball with them^^)
10:45 back to work
12:00 lunch time
13:00 overseeing the kids during their big break right after lunch
13:30 back to work
15:25 leaving school with Etienne
16:30 preparing the lunch for the next school day, playing with Clara, washing the dishes, helping to prepare dinner, doing homework with Etienne, ...
18:30 taking the metro to "Centre Sportif Claude-Robillard" to do some workout / going to the "Bibliothèque Nationale de Québec" in order ro read the latest "ZEIT" or the "SPIEGEL", a German magazine
23:00 sleeping like a baby :-)

 

So what the hell is he doing on weekends and on evenings he doesn't use to do workout or to read? Believe it or not, but he's going clubbing, following invitations, doing some lil' trips or just sightseeing...

Two weeks ago I went to the town of Québec - but not by bus or train, no, I did car-sharing via "AmigoExpress", the Canadian "Mitfahrzentrale". Furthermore I didn't sleep @ some hostel, couchsurfing is just so much better!!! And I can only tell you that much: it was really great!!! I got to know lots of nice & interesting people. Besides, I saved a lot of money.

C the pics of my trip below...

Yesterday I went to the swimming pool with Etienne - we, that is to say the host family and I, decided, that Wednesday's kid's day...which means that I undertake something with Etienne or we have a games night. Besides I help Nathalie with the household & else: washing dishes, preparing dinner as well as the lunch box for the next day, playing with Clara, helping Etienne with his homework and accompanying him to diverse activities such as tennis lessons. So, as you c, after school the work continues at my host family till about 6 or 7 pm. On weekends I just have to vacuum the house and help preparing dinner on Sunday - besides I can more or less do what I want. All in all my host family's really great. However, there were and there still are some severe difficulties, though, about those shouldn't be written in a blog - just wanted to let you guys know that not every day the sun is shining here, it's definitely no holiday!!! Nonetheless I'm happy do be with them; I try to help the family as good as possible.

Here some pictures of my life with them...

Last weekend my parents visited me in Montréal - so now it was me showing them what life's like (in Canada) ;-). One evening we went to an exposition in the Botanical Garden. It was just awesome, as exposition in this case meant the annual lampion festival!!! C what it was like..

Besides, I also took them (for example) to the already mentioned "Centre Sportif Claude-Robillard" where I'm doing some workout during about 3 sessions a week à 2,5h.

There was a lot going on on that day, take a look (in a few weeks the World Championship in Fencing for the youngsters will take place there):

So what now? Let's talk about life in Montréal as well as in North America in general &  Canada in detail...

 

 

1.) Montreal has Canada's biggest metro system; there are 4 lines.
At every station you'll find musicians playing there very best like elsewhere. People spend there time travelling mostly reading or listening to music. Concerning the reading people: they don't only read in the metro but also on there way out on the escalators or just while they are walking. A few weeks ago, I even saw a woman doing some workout while reading the Canadian equivalent to the German "Brigitte"... I wonder how much time it took her to read one page. To come back to the people listening to music... it's crazy; you'll c nothing but iPods and iPhones. Those people are really maniacs!!! Is there any antidote for Apple-addicts?
Next... there are big screens at the metro stations showing the latest news. Little versions of those screens can also be found in each waggon, informing about events coming up, about which buses are leaving from the next metro station or simply showing advertisement.
By the way, a few days ago they had a prob with the orange metro line... you'll c a picture of the result below.

2.) Big, bigger, North America... The streets are nearly twice as big as in Germany - well, the cars are twice as big as in Europe^^ Lots of people do have even two of them. One of the most popular brands here is Toyota, well, let's say Japanese cars in general. However, the upper class tends to buy European cars such as BMW or Mercedes.

But c here some stereotype-pictures...

3.) In some towns buses have ramps for wheelchairs - there's even enough space inside so that disabled persons can just roll in and don't have to get out of there wheelchair. Great!!!

4.) People are much more open and seem to be friendlier than in Europe. It's pretty easy to get in touch with locals. Some would even let you drive their car though knowing you just for a few days. And there's still this "tradition" to leave the doors unlocked, however, meanwhile, people tend to lock them.

5.) Mangos, papayas and pineapples are just too cheap to be true... well, Mexico's not far away. To be honest... I'm an mango addict. Till today I think I bought about 50 - just to eat them like that, to prepare mango ice or the Indian drink Mango Lassi. And even for breakfast mango mush goes great with yogurt and cereals as well as with crepes.

6.) There's a great network of people trying to eat just bio-dynamic food. Especially the people at the Waldorf School swear on those products. That's also the reason why there's a market at the school every two weeks with products from a bio-dynamic farm & a bio-bakery. The farm has also so called "points de chutte" in Montréal. That's like a fixed meeting point at some street corner where they sell their products. However, most people order, as a part of a contract, for each week a green box where all the vegetables for the coming 2 weeks are inside. Like that, the farmer knows that he'll have a stable income for the coming months and can produce according to the demand.

C below what our trip to the farm was like...

7.) There are crossing guards at every big street in order to guarantee pupils to be able to cross the street safely. Those people are mostly retired people, that it is to say volunteers, however, with a moderate income. Might be an idea for Germany, huh? Besides there are still those funny yellow school buses, yeeeeeeeeha ;-)

8.) Because of the big temperature differences, the streets are in a very bad condition. There are more holes than in a Swiss cheese... And also the bridges look as if they would brake down every second.

9.) Waiters are very strict concerning the 15% tip - I guarantee that you won't leave the restaurant without having payed it (at least here in Montréal).

10.) Here some Québec vocabulary:
       le chum = boyfriend
       la blonde = girlfriend, regardless what colour her hair has

       
11.) SHOUTS
       Malika:  Sry, but there was a Moroccan coiffure who just cut my curls off -
                      however, everybody here likes the new look better ;-)

                      ... et je ne parle plus comme une vache espagnol^^
       Damian:  My six-pack's growing^^
       Lena:      Your "Linzertorte" was awesome!!!
       Jingfan:  Get your ass here so that we can have a cup of coffee or else at Cafe Pi ;-)
       Jens:       ... du va****!!! When are you coming to Montréal?
       Der Hof: ... macht was er will!!! Hope you guys have a good time, too, where ever
                      you are!!!

 

 

Last but not least, I want to thank my parents for their extraordinary support, Mister Sommerlatt for his kind gift, Euro Sprachreisen, the Badische Beamtenbank & the Deggendorfer Werft for their financial support, as well as the BNN for their great article about my social community service abroad - and, last but not least, all the people from "Der Hof".


That's it for now, take care guys!!! I'll leave you with some more impressions...

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Mon

25

Aug

2008

1st signs of life

Ottawa. On August 7th I arrived with Air Canada at Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport (long name^^) & managed to get everything straight at the immigration office. At the exit I was welcomed by the first host family I would stay with during my social community service here in Canada. During the next two days a got to know Ottawa a least a little bit, before I had to take a Greyhound bus on Sunday August 10th to Montréal. So basically I visited downtown Ottawa, that is to say the Rideau Canal, Byward Market, Château Laurier (meanwhile a 5-star hotel), the Rideau Centre as well as Parliament Hill, that is to say the place where the Candian government is situated. Therefore lots of politicians and ambassadors live in this 800000-people city. In fact, Ottawa is Canada's capital and the only official bilingual town, with French & English spoken. Besides just mentioned sights I also went up to the top of the so called Peace Tower (part of the Canadian parliament), where one has a spectacular view over Ottawa and Gatineau.

 

For more information about Ottawa take a look here & here.

 

In the evening my host family invited quite a lot relatives & friends to have dinner and to play cards - in the end I got to know 2 new card games the Canadians love to play. 

The next day, we went to my host family's chalet directly situated at one of the many Canadian lakes. The car you see below, was the one I drove with - well, I got a ride from Jerry, the father within my host family. And the only thing I can say about this car, is, fantastic!!! It's just awesome how it speeds up with more than 200 horsepower. Anyway, at the chalet I did a bit of cayaking, had a photo shooting with some frogs, swam a little bit in the lake and later prepared "Spätzle" for my host family. 

 

On the next morning it was already time to say goodbye to one of the most lovely families I ever lived with!!! Thanks a lot to Margo, Jerry and Catherine for this wonderful time - cya soon...

 

P.S.: The son of my 1st host family is a musician and composed already quite a bit; when he was 18, he made his first demo CD with 5 quite melancholic but great songs - melancholic as his relationship with his girlfriend just broke up. Anybody who would like to listen to some of his songs, please send me an e-mail or leave a comment with your e-mail addy and I'll try to make it possible!!!

 

Here's a link to a competition which is called "Canada's Hockey Anthem Challenge". The winning theme will be broadcast as a key part of CBC's program during the 2008-9 hockey season, and potentially beyond.

 

http://anthemchallenge.cbc.ca/home

 

Samuel Bisson, the son of my first host family takes part in this competition; to listen to his theme, click on the link below:

 

http://anthemchallenge.cbc.ca/mediadetail/299474?sort=upload+DESC&uid=101955&moderationstatus=1&offset=0

Montréal. I arrived at about noon on Sunday 10th at some odd bus station somewhere in this huge city and was picked up by my present host family. But instead of going home directly, we did some shopping and went for lunch at a Lebanese restaurant - it was the first time in my life I ate food from that country. While we were eating, we started a conversation and I was told that Nathalie, my new "mom", had lived for several years in Morocco; actually she started swarming about this wonderful country. Suddenly a woman on the table next to us started talking to us as she had listened to our conversation whose subject was indeed her home country. And that's a superb example of what's special about Montréal. Here, all cultures within the world build a giant melting pot - and that, however, is not a myth. On the streets you see people of each existing colour of skin, talking as many languages as you can imagine and eating food from all over the world - but mostly no cheese as that's something which is very very expensive here in Canada because he has to be imported.

Till now I'm very happy here. My host family is excellent as well as the people at school I have met till today - school hasn't started yet. By the way, it takes me about one hour by bus + subway to get to the school, quite a long way each morning. That's why I have to get up at about 06:40 am.

Meanwhile I registered myself at the Complexe Sportif Claude-Robillard which is an impressive sport facility which was built for the Olympics in Montréal in 1976. There I started to do some workout at the gym room according to my training schedule I created together with one of the centre's kinesiologists. Besides the work at school (which starts at 8:30 and ends at 15:00/15:30 o'clock) I have to help in the household of my host family, that is to say doing the washing or going with their son Etienne to the park where he plays soccer with other kids. However there's enough free time for me - at least on weekends. Till today I managed to go to Jean-Talon market which is an awesome place to buy fruits and all kinds of vegetables. Besides I visited an art exhibition, went for a walk in the Chinese quarter, took an elevator to the top of the Olympic stadium's tower, listened to an organ concert at Saint Joseph's Oratory on top of the Mount Royal (that's where the city's name derives from), watched U2 3D at some IMAX cinema nearby the harbour and did a lot more... even some cooking. Well, I prepared an apple cake, mango mush as well as mango ice cream. Worked out very well ;-)

On one evening I went to some free concert at the rather new big Apple Store on Montréal's 5th Avenue, Rue St. Catherine where Simple Plan was playing - to make their store well-known, there's like a concert every three days and also DJs rock the turntables; it's pretty cool there and cheaper than in Germany!! Who wants some iPods??????????

Well, what else... oh yeah, there's like an underground city in Montréal so that in winter times the people don't have to shop outside; it's pretty easy to get lost.

Concerning the odd blue sign below... that's kind of funny because it exists in order to tell street musicians when and where they are allowed to play in the tunnels of the subway stations...

More crazy stuff: at Costco, a kind of giant supermarket chain, there's always a woman at the exit who has nothing to do but to check whether everything in your shopping cart is also written down on one's sales slip. Well, one way to create jobs^^... 

 

That's it for now, keep in touch, salut!!!

 

More information about Montréal:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montreal

http://ville.montreal.qc.ca

 

If you want to know something in particular or you want to remind me to continue writing articles as promised for my blog, just leave a comment below or in the guestbook.

62 Comments

Sat

02

Aug

2008

boot camp ;-)

On July 14th my social community service started with an obligatory BOOT CAMP in Frankfurt on the Main ;-) - well, it was more like a seminar in order to prepare each of us for his work abroad at the respective instution, in my case l'École Rudolf Steiner de Montréal. As the name already reveals, it's a Waldorf school I'm going to work for. That is to say a school which is based on famous Rudolf Steiner's anthroposophy. Giving me as well as the other 20 young men at least a basic knowledge of this philosophy was an important part of the seminar. Besides, we focused on the work with handicapped persons and children as well as on how to handle a possible cultural shock, how to find one's way in different surroundings. In addition, we had a session discussing the work a caretaker has to deal with as some of us are going to operate as one during their civil service abroad.

All in all we, I, had a really great time. Now, I'm looking forward to get started. On August 7th I'm leaving, on a jet plane...   

20 Comments