[09/26/15-10/03/15] Encounters with Canada is a youth forum that brings together students from across the country to the capital city of Ottawa, with a set of different theme weeks including Arts & Culture, Democracy & Youth, International Relations, Journalism, Science & Technology, just to name a few. It’s a great program that helps students explore their career field of interest, while learning more about the history of Canada and meeting like-minded individuals. I chose the Medicine & Health week, and here I’ll be sharing with you my experience.
The Flight (09/26)
I left to the Vancouver Airport for my afternoon flight to Ottawa. I arrived early, but slowly, more and more students gathered. I knew 4 other participating students from my school, but we recognized each other as Encounters participants since we were all by ourselves without parents, looking ever so confused. Eventually, we formed a huge crowd in the airport, lots of BC kids this week!
The flight was at 4pm, and it was midnight when we arrived in Ottawa due to the time zones. After everyone gathered, our group was brought to the Terry Fox Youth Center, our home for the next week.
There were 4 rooms- 3 for girls and one for guys. Each room accommodated about 40 girls. By the time we went to bed, it was well past 3am!
I’m a early riser so I avoided most of the morning fuss. But consider mornings, 8 showers, 2 toilets, 3 sinks, 40 girls… it’s rather scary right? xD
(I made sure no one else was in the bathroom to take this pic.. I’m not a creep, this is for educational purposes yenno.)
Breakfast this morning were just the snacks set out last night.
I went for an egg salad sandwich, croissant, apple, and blueberry muffin.
Students from other areas of the country were still coming in, so most of the day was free time. I quickly formed a squad with 2 other girls (from BC), Juliet and Banana. (That’s not their actual names, btw. Inside jokes haha. :P) We hung out in the rec room playing air hockey and ping pong.
And for our first proper meal..! Meals here are served cafeteria style, which was an interesting experience I’ve only seen on TV before.
I got vegetarian meals for the week. Today’s lunch had rice and beans, potato wedges, vegetable soup and canned fruits. There’s also a salad bar so I helped myself to some lettuce, cucumbers and carrots.
We had two presentations that day- Nursing and Healthy Living, and a Career Panel where students from University of Ottawa came in to talk about their areas of study and had a Q&A session.
After lunch, we had a sign up for the evening’s activities, then we left for a tour of the Parliament. It was a super rainy day!
Library of Parliament, aka the most beautiful library I’ve ever seen.
House of Commons
We also took our first large group photo here.
Yup.. that’s me hidden in the back. Well, half of my face at least, and a giant hood LOL.
Here’s a better pictures I took with my friends haha..
Pizza was served for dinner. However, we were permitted visits with family and friends on Monday evening so my cousin Chris and her hubby Leon took me out.
We went to Chez Lucien. This spot is popular for their burgers!
The adults had some beer, I stuck with water of course. 😛
We started off with some Nachos ($11).
I got a Tofu Burger ($14). The texture was actually quite nice, it wasn’t gummy like other veggie burgers I’ve tried.
We finished off the night chilling at their house, then I was driven back to the center at 10. Lights were off at 10:30.
Lets just say the scrambled eggs were extremely watery… ><
We had different visit options that covers specific topics in Medicine & Health. Juliet and I went to the Canadian Agricultural Museum to learn about Genetics & Research. Banana went to the Paramedic center, other choices were hospitals and nursing simulation labs.
It wasn’t how we expected.. it was mainly a tour of the farm (which saddened me a bit to be completely honest. /: ) and very little on science.
The afternoon consisted of more presentations. The first was on Cancer Genomics, and the second was a Peace Module, when a veteran came in and talked about war. We later went the Beechwood Cemetery to light candles and commemorate the soldiers that fought for in WWII.
Dinner: spaghetti, tofu & veggies, pasta salad, salad, blueberry cheesecake
ABollywood-style band called Galitcha came in sing and dance for us that evening!
After the meal, we had a discussion on Linguistics and Medical Ethics within our small groups.
This week, our group participated in a Terry Fox “Walk” to fundraise to the Terry Fox foundation. It was a 8k route, leading us to the Canadian Museum of History.
We separated into groups in the museum to explore, then went back to the center for dinner.
It was a thoughtful surprise when a cake came out and we sang “Happy Birthday” to the participants who had their birthday this week. Check out those awesome candles!
We had a guided tour of the city today! I challenged myself and went on the French tour, understanding probably less than a quarter what the tour guide was saying. 😛 But I didn’t mind because it was my third time exploring the city so I knew what to expect already haha.
The entree was probably the best out of everything this week!
After lunch that day, there were guest speakers that came into the center and we attended two workshops of our choice. The first one I went to was on Art Therapy. It was really cool because we were told to do different drawings and the art therapist revealed how the elements of each piece was symbolic to our feelings and personalities. The second workshop was on Midwifery. We had a Q&A session where we got to learn about the career, and the midwife also showed us some equipment.
Some outings were planned for that night. Between attending a NFL game, Haunted Walk of Ottawa, a theater play and a Jazz orchestra, I chose the orchestra.
The Ottawa Jazz Orchestra performance took place in the National Arts Center. The place was absolutely stunning! The music was lovely, but I won’t lie, I kinda fell asleep during the first half… it was just so dark and I was drained haha…. ._. The second half was more upbeat so I listened and enjoyed through it until the end!
And then the time has come.. the last day. ):
Breakfast: watery scrambled eggs again, toasts with cream cheese, blueberry muffin, peach yogurt, apple
The bus picked us all up for our free time in Downtown! We explored the Byward Market, then my friends went totally crazy at the Rideau Center. We packed our own lunches back at the center, I just grabbed an egg salad sandwich, some rice crispy treats, cheese and a banana. Ate it when everyone was in Pink LOL.
Are you all ready for Halloween? :3
We passed by a bakery called Michel’s. I bought a broccoli & cheddar croissant which was so gooey and flakey and delicious!
When we got back, there was an evaluation and another meeting. Then, we got some time to get ready for the night’s banquet. Guess what, I had a mishap of wardrobe malfunction! The zipper of my brand new dress spontaneously broke and I was totally panicking. However, the staff at the center were so caring and after an unsuccessful attempt in fixing the dress for me, they drove me to a nearby seamstress. I made it back right on time for the dinner. (:
Dinner: corn, stir-fry and beans, potato wedges, salad
We took our last group photo with our smaller groups.. then there was a talent show. A “talking stick ceremony” followed, where everyone formed a circle (yes, all 150 of us) and we went around expressing our thoughts and feelings for the week.
Before the dance party began (at midnight!), we had to do some tedious packing.. Unfortunately, I caught a cold and it got pretty bad that night, so I didn’t make it to the dance floor. Not that I’m that huge of a party animal to begin with ahah.. I just stayed out, but it was still fun chilling and chatting with my (sleepy) squad though.
There was a pizza and snacks sale, so we ordered some cheese garlic bread and onion rings.
Depending on the region, groups of us left at different time. My flight was at 7, but we departed the center at 3:40.. Yup, no one really slept.
Breakfast from Timmy’s: egg & cheese English muffin
Our final picture together.. /: Banana, Juliet and I are all from Vancouver but Oksana lives higher up in the province, so we had different flights. Gonna miss you lots, Oksana!
Wowie, what a long post, but that concludes my trip to Ottawa at Encounters with Canada! It was an amazing experience and I’m so thankful for the opportunity. The food as you can see, was mediocre and not very nutritious at all, the beds were uncomfortable.. but I got to meet lots of new, awesome people and formed some valuable connections. I’ve visited Ottawa before, but the tours were still fun and would be especially exciting for those who have never been to the capital before. With that said,I would definitely encourage you to participate in the program as well. 😀 PS- #dreamcatchersquad
Anyways, I’m having a chaotic time catching up with what I had miss (and what I will miss during my camping trip this week) so I’m sorry for the inactivity here. I’ll be done catching up in school by next week.. therefore, be sure to stay tuned for more. And of course, Happy Thanksgiving!