Szeto Hiu Ching, Michelle
University of Ottawa, Canada
Now that the first week of the winter semester has finally come to an end. Amongst all the courses I am taking here, the most time-consuming one must be "Cookery 101". Having made the decision to have no meal plans in the campus has prompted me to dive heads into cooking with my fellow classmates who also live in Marchand hall. I am proud that we have managed to cook every meal for ourselves in week one! We nailed it, girls! #Riceforlife
Let me tell you what to expect if you are staying on campus at Marchand! There are two elevators in the hall residence, what surprised me is that neither of them stops on an odd-number floor, so you have to either walk up or down the stairs to take the lift. Also, common rooms are located on even-numbered floor and pantries are located on odd-number floor. What's good about it is that you will have every opportunity to mingle with residents from other levels.
A chill crept into the air, falling leaves were spinning onto the ground, and a ray of sunshine gently poured through the window. I still vividly remember the scene when I first got out of the bus at Laurier Street in front of the sign of the University of Ottawa. Indeed, Ottawa can be finger-numbing cold in the winter seasons. I can't wait to see the campus uncoated from the heavy snow!
In most of the courses that I am taking in the Telfer School of Management (University of Ottawa), students are required to place a name tag on the desk, so that you can be called out to answer questions. College students, and myself included, understand that making ourselves recognizable can be a two-edged sword to our grades, because we either leave a good or bad impression on the professors. Nevertheless, what inspired me the most is that students are very involved in class and are eager to speak up whenever they have questions and thoughts in mind. I look forward to seeing myself as an outspoken and confident person at the end of the semester!
If you ask a CityU student, "what are your favorite after-school activities?" His or her answer may be "shopping and skating at the Festival Walk." If you have a craving for that as well, the University of Ottawa will be perfect for you! The world's largest outdoor skating rink "Rideau Canal Skateway", which is close to the CF Rideau shopping center, is within walking distance from the University. It can definitely fix your cravings as you can continue pursuing your hobbies even if you are studying abroad. It is indeed "the same, but different" as nearly everything in Canada is magnified!
One day, one of our mentors from the hall residence designed a name tag for me and placed it on my door. Instead of putting my English name "Michelle", my Chinese first name was written on the tag. I never knew that "Hiu Ching" is so hard to pronounce until a floormate stood in front of the door and made a few attempts to pronounce it. It is pretty hilarious when I hear people mispronounced my name in the middle of the night and I was actually, in my room. I guess the best way of teaching them the correct pronunciation is to relate it to two of my idols "Hugh Grant" and "Hugh Jackman", because Hiu is pronounced as Hugh Grant's "Hugh"
I have always wanted to build a snowman at the front of Tabaret hall ever since I came. Thanks to the University of Ottawa for organizing the Snowman competition on a 24-hour basis during the Snow Festival so that we students could have every opportunity to let our creative juices flow. Unfortunately, I was having lesson when the competition started. Nevertheless, watching the contestants' artwork was as pleasant as being a part of it. Congratulations to the winning team who have won a trip down South that is worth $4,000, what a great offer!
What's better than having a friend who loves the Korean culture as much as you do? It’s having two "Koreaboo" friends. On the last Friday night, our buddy Martine drove us to a Korean restaurant at the Chinatown to have a sumptuous dinner together with her friend Kiana. To my surprise, Martine set 한국어 on her mobile phone and GPS so that she can learn everyday Korean apart from workplace Korean. I guess that's why she speaks better Korean than we do haha!
Snowshoe is a footwear that enables you to walk over heavy snow. We joined a guided tour to hike up to a mountain in the province of Quebec. With the help of these snowshoes, we made it through the entire journey of exploration in the Canadian woods. Our guide even taught us how to determine the age of a white pine tree without having to cut it down and counting the number of growth rings.
What comes in mind when you think of Canadian food? Beaver tails? Maple syrup? If you have a sweet tooth as well, "Maple Taffy" is certainly something you shouldn’t miss in the winter seasons. This chewy, mouth-watering delight is made of heated pure maple syrup and further cooled down by gently pouring it over the snow. Trust me, after your first taste of maple taffy, you will finally understand why people say, "It’s too good to be shared!"
What fascinates me is the local advertisements in Canada. In the advertising course, our professor always encourages in-class discussion on the key messages of the printed ads and the positioning of the brand. The deeper we dig into the details of the ads, the more hidden messages we discover. This has sparked off my interest in exploring different forms of persuasive communication on the streets and in the subway of Toronto during the reading week.
At the beginning of the semester, Alice and I were not so sure if we could handle the Strategic Management course which should be taken in our final year. I struggled and worried about dropping the course as I felt like I was lagging far behind the whole class, as the pace was going really quick. Through hard-work and determination, we made it through the first half of the semester. It's great to have someone whom you can work with in hard times!
Winter is fast-dissipating and snow is melting. In light of this, I went to the backyard of Ottawa—Gatineau park to go skiing for the first time in my life before the fluffy snow disappears. I took multiple attempts to find the right position and to lean forward, yet I failed and fell down on the skiing trail once and again. Nevertheless, I went for a longer and steeper trail. Eventually, I managed to control my pace and position!
Unlike usual traveling, you will be given plenty of time and opportunities to wander and to explore the hidden gems of the city if you go on exchange. I enjoy spending time at the museums in Ottawa to learn the national history, to appreciate the use of color in every piece of artwork and to observe the culture of the country without romping around from place to place. Visits to museums in Ottawa are very budget-friendly, they offer free admission on every Thursday night!
Tayla from New Zealand and I were assigned to be "cross-cultural experts" in a consultant team. We are working on a research project for university students who are planning to do an academic exchange in Hong Kong. To gain insight into the university life of local students, we invited friends from Hong Kong to discuss about the social norms and important things that international students must know when working with locals, for example how late is late and how multi-tasking is perceived in different cultures. Indeed, the answers we seek lie within us.
Return to the three-photo story on Apr 8
What's the best way to deal with homesickness? My answer is to indulge yourself with Asian-food. We invited Martine to dine with us at a Japanese restaurant which provides 'All-you-can-eat" meal plans. I find it interesting that teriyaki dishes and sushi are served in a very Canadian style. I hadn't expected to have Philadelphia cream cheese and avocado in my salmon roll. I missed the Japanese restaurants we have in Hong Kong. Besides, I felt even more nostalgic as traditional dims sums such as "Pork Siu Mai" and "Shrimp dumpling" are also available at the Sushi Village!
This photo may seem normal to you, yet it has never been easy for me to have a photo like this. Seriously, I have never been in such close proximity to any dogs, let alone petting one. Regular pet therapy sessions, which aim to promote mental health and wellness are provided at the student residence. Stepping out of my comfort zones is how I deal with academic stress. I said to myself, "Why don't you grasp this opportunity to face your fear?" Finally, I mustered all my courage and conquered my cynophobia. We had a great time petting the therapy dog. It is surprisingly gentle and friendly to strangers. I can't wait to meet other therapy Golden Retrievers soon!
Being in Canada, how could I not go and see wild animals that only exist in the north? To take a break from the hustle and bustle, I visited Parc Omega, where visitors are permitted to drive their own cars at their desired pace. During the visit, I encountered my one and only traffic jam in Canada, the so-called "Animal Jam"! We were stuck on the road, because a lovely white-tailed herd of deers were joyfully munching on carrots right beside the road. I also met a rather photogenic, yet picky, young deer while out on a walking trail. Sadly, she refused to take a selfie with me and the carrot that I accidentally dropped on the snowy ground. Still, I love animals with an attitude!
Here comes the long-awaited business simulation, Intopsim! This business game is never a piece of cake. Maintaining the profitability of our company will be challenging, as we are competing with 80 other teams. We have already met some potential buyers and entered into contracts with a few of them at the "Mixer Night" in the Draft Pub on campus. Thankfully, from the logo design to the home office of our company, we have gotten the finance society to back us up! It certainly will be an arduous journey over the upcoming weekend. Let's keep it up, team!
Unfortunately, the high demand for product X that we had anticipated, never materialized! As battery producers, we eventually lost bargaining power after Period 2. Inevitably, plants in North America and Europe had to be closed, due to an excess of batteries on the market. In light of this, we drastically lowered our prices to ensure that no inventories were left for the next period. If I had the chance to start all over again, I would be much more cautious in every decision we make. PS. If you need any tips to survive through Intopsim, let me know!
"You snooze, you lose!" Intopsim not only requires your undivided attention, but also the mutual trust and cooperation of your group, especially during the difficult times. Mere individual efforts are inadequate to put everything on the right track. Thanks to Gaelle and Bithanya for paying-off the line of credit, so that we could bring the dead back to life, even though we have almost come to the end of the line. One of the takeaways from this experience is that negotiation can be more efficient if you speak the first language of your counterpart. Being able to communicate in three languages was our team’s strength, and it gave us an advantage in expanding our potential customer-base. I could not speak a word of French, so Gaelle helped us in reaching out to the French-speaking buyers. The only word I did learn was "S'il vous plaît", which means "please". This is a magical word when negotiating with Francophones.
The University of Ottawa celebrates the French language and its culture for the entire month of March. The campus is finishing off Mois de la Francophonie in style with the Festival of Poutine. Poutine is a very traditional Canadian dish consisting of French fries, cheese curds, topped with brown gravy sauce. There are a lot of other fancy types of poutine, such as lobster and bacon, pulled pork, and pop-curd. My Québécois friend Emilie once said that they were very strict about the sauce. We tried a classic poutine at a chain store in the province of British Columbia. She told me that it was fake and that the sauce was terrible. Well, I guess I'll never know, unless I stay here for years.
I believe that adjusting their eating habits is one of the biggest challenges facing every outbound exchange student. After all, you can take the Hong Konger out of Hong Kong, but you can never take Hong Kong out of the Hong Konger. There are some unique practices that most Hong Kong university students understand. For example, eating cup noodles before bed, cooking two packs of Indomie (孖撈) for lunch, and heating every dish in the microwave. Thanks to all the Chinese supermarkets in Ottawa and Toronto, for comforting me during my exchange period and making me feel close to home.
**This post is not sponsored by any of the brands appearing in the image**
Have you ever thought about knowing the questions prior to an exam? To be honest, I have. I’ve watched a lot of movies where the students are far too desperate to pass the course. They usually sneak into the classroom and get the answers from inside the teacher's locker. Of course, I am too honest to do such a thing. On the cross-cultural management course, each team is required to submit two multiple-choice questions related to the research topic about a certain country. Meanwhile, 15 of those questions will be examined in the final exam. Our team would like to throw down a challenge to every one of you who reads this post!
Feel free to take 30 seconds and look at it to see if you get it!
According to Hofstede’s cultural dimensions for Hong Kong, society is group and relationship oriented. However, it was found that:
A. Hong Kong is a collectivist society
B. Hong Kong is an individualistic society
C. Hong Kong was once a collectivist society and is now an individualistic society
D. Hong Kong is a collectivist society, but it is increasingly individualistic among the younger generation.
Time's up! Let me know your answer in the comments below. The answer will be revealed on the 21th April, just after the exam is over.
A big thank you to Martine and her boyfriend for bringing us to the Ferme Proulx farm and ‘sugar shack’, which is close to her place. Farm animals are adorable and friendly, and they rarely give you attitude when you pet them. Their hunger for food is just like humans, the more treats and hay you hold, the more aggressive they become. The ‘sugar shack’ on the farm also gave us an appetite for the “Maple Fest” brunch. I found it really interesting that Canadians are so obsessed with maple syrup, they dip everything on their plates in it. Believe it or not, even people with diabetes can enjoy this sweet delight, as it is a kind of mineral. No wonder locals crave it so badly!
At a social networking event organized by Telfer International, we met students going to Hong Kong on exchange next semester. I came to realize that Hong Kong is actually quite a favorable destination for a the four-month program. First and foremost, the medium of instruction is English, which means that verbal communication won't be a big problem. Also, Hong Kong is one of the busiest aviation hubs in Asia; cheap air tickets can easily be found, which gives students every opportunity to travel. I am so grateful to be studying in such a vibrant and mesmerizing city. I can't wait to meet them all in Hong Kong!
Over the past three weeks, we embarked on an exciting journey to go global! And it was as fascinating as it sounds. I learned the differences in cultures, etiquette, and nonverbal communication of 18 countries, ranging from Mexico to Greece and from Japan to Nigeria. Every team did a 20-minute presentation, yet I never lost interest. Each story was so engrossing and sometimes jaw-dropping, that they always had my full and undivided attention. We come from all walks of life and have grown up with many different cultural backgrounds. I believe that diversity in cultures makes the world a better place. “Go global” is more than just a slogan!
In the following story, I will be sharing with you some of my observations about what it's like to be studying not only at the University of Ottawa but in Canada in general. For example, what the classes are like, how the students are graded, what's so good about doing group projects here, etc. This is based on the four courses I am taking, which are Cross-cultural Management, Strategic Management, Finance Theory, and Advertising and Sales Promotion Management. The first part of the story will be uploaded this week and the rest will be submitted next week.
What is it like studying in Canada? In most of the classes, students are given a substantial amount of time to express opinions and demonstrate unique insights. Our professor once said, “The school pays me to ask questions and the best compliment I have ever received was, well, that’s a good question!” Some lecturers may attach more importance to developing a student’s thoughts than simply imparting knowledge. Therefore, lecture slides can be quite sparse and simply reading from the slides is insufficient for truly understanding the topic. In a nutshell, you can expect a lot of thought-provoking discussions and be prepared to talk about your experiences and inner thoughts.
Having a 24/7 dining hall next to the residence complex is a dream come true for me! Apart from staying open all night, it offers an “all you can eat” meal option, specifically for college students like me who eat and sleep at odd times. For desert, I would fill up on crispy egg waffles. As you can see, after I’ve prepared the waffle batter, I pour it into the maker, cook according to the instructions, sprinkle on the toppings, and add a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. I don’t know about you, but my mouth is watering simply thinking about it.