Bonne journée! (Have a good day!)
Today I was incredibly nervous – first day of school! In the morning I went and saw an appartment in my friend Thor’s building, and it was a winner. I paid a depôt on it, and am signing the papers tomorrow morning, assuming no catastrophe ensues overnight. I can’t wait to post pictures of it; it’s very cosy, and will be newly-renovated. The best part: it’s only a 15 minute walk from school! Great for the -40°C winter weather! I have a slightly queasy feeling about it falling through, because I am scared it is too good to be true: my first appartment to myself!
After that I embarked to the school and met the administration team -they are my saviours. They all spoke English with me, and helped me figure out where my classes were, which ones to take, how to deal with my student loan, and how much the courses will cost.
So my classes are to be:
Cours D’Analyses (Composition Analysis)
Allemand (German-YES I AM LEARNING GERMAN…..IN FRENCH!!!)
Histoire de L’Art (Art History)
Orchestra Residency / Quintette à Vents (Writing a score for wind quintet)
I had my first composition “lesson” (real ones begin next Monday). Wow. Serge welcomed me right into his giant studio -equipped with computers, huge speakers, a big screen projector, keyboards, mixers, and a huge writing desk. The hallway outside is so bright lime green it makes me dizzy, but this studio (luckily not green) is amazing. I am welcome to book it for two hours at a time, accessible with my own key card (every day if I like!). I can use anything on the public computer log in, including hundreds of scanned scores and recordings. We discussed my goals and writing assignments for each semester of my study, and then he showed me the library on the 4th floor. There are hundreds of music scores there too. Plus CD’s and computer with every software program you could ever want as a musician. I can’t wait to go hang out in the library tomorrow morning!
I had lunch at this bizarre “to-go bar-café.” I managed to get a soup, mini salad, giant salad, and drink for $10. The waiters were very nice and teased me quite a bit about my bad French.
After lunch I decided to explore the “Anglophone” (McGill) side of the mountain. I took the Metro for the first time to get there. It really reminded me of the San Francisco BART -so dilapidated it wobbles all over the place as it hurtles through dark dirty tunnels. I guess I am spoiled by Vancouver’s pretty and smooth skytrain lines. As soon as I got off the train at Bon Aventure station I was completely lost. “J’étais perdu quand j’y suis arrivée!”
I walked in a circle over several city blocs (blocks) and ended up recharging my phone at Café Starbucks so I could figure out where the heck I was. I finally managed to get to Rue Saint-Catherine-Ouest, and fait du shopping!! I found my winter coat, and it’s a beauty. -Good to minus 30, wind and water resistant, and washing machine-friendly. It is dark grey, knee-length, has a big furry hood, and makes me look like I really do live in Montréal. I had a great chat with the sales lady, who asked me what Vancouver was like. She had heard many bad things about it, such as the horrible Chinese influence, homeless population problems, rudeness, snobbery, and expensive lifestyle. This made me sad, and I tried to tell her about the ocean, the beautiful nature, the good ethnic food (and GOOD Chinese people!), and the open enjoyment of all ethnicities and healthy lifestyle. I heavily encouraged her to visit, and I hope she gets the chance.
I also found an interesting microbrewery I would like to try when my boyfriend visits, called “Les Trois Hommes Brassery.” (Three Guys Brewery) After that I took the bus the rest of the way around the mountain back to my auberge, and congratulated myself for finally making a 360 degree trip of Montréal.
I got Thai food on Côte-des-Neiges for dinner, a block from my auberge. It was nothing on Vancuver Thai food, but the waiter made up for it. He was an exceptionally nice Haitian man who humored me by ignoring my French errors until he actually couldn’t tell what I was saying. I noticed that in general the restaurants here are way over priced, so getting appetizers, soups, smoothies, or salads definitely seems the cheapest way to eat on the go. Luckily the Vieille Café at school is way cheaper.
Now spending the night in my boiling hot room, pouring over websites of exceedingly expensive Québec internet plans and Ikea furniture. Bon soir!