from forests and oceans inside of you

Greek Garlic

It was a few weeks ago that I began a lonely journey into town to get my old phone fixed – since my new one had been stolen (most of the friendly and encouraging Canadians around at the time went out of there way to assure that “of course you’ll get it back. This isn’t South Africa, you know” and even proceeded to help me in finding it). Old habits – and expectations – die hard, and I knew my phone, although not very sleek or sexy, was making some little person very happy, and, with any luck, a little guilty.

Anyway, this is a happy story. I knew my phone was gone the second I was forced to leave myself a voicemail of profane realization. But these types of things seem like water of the back of any good old South African duck. SO I made a merry mission into town to get my old iPhone fixed.

Now Apple doesn’t house the most forthcoming of helpers. Especially if you have an old version of a phone that was never meant to be unblocked and brought into SA on the sneaky sneak. Bastards. So they sent me away under the “official word of Apple”. Rogers were a lot more helpful and happily directed me to a character more willing to do the undocumented dirty work I needed done – a simple removal of a jammed sim card.

“You know where Stepho’s is, right?”
“I’m from out of town?”
“So you don’t know where Stepho’s is?”
“I’m from South Africa.”
“Everybody knows where Stepho’s is. Davie and Thurlow. Everybody likes Stepho’s.”

Feeling nice and warm inside – I was obviously fitting in – I made my way up Davie St, looking for Stepho’s which was supposed to be next to my cell phone’s savior. I walked for a good while before deciding it was best to at least make sure I was in fact walking up the right street, and that it was in fact the direction of “up” and not “down” that I should be headed in.

“Excuse me, am I going in the right direction for Thurlow Street?”
“Don’t you know where Stepho’s is?”
Silence followed on my part, possibly amplified by the widening of my eyes.
“Well,” he followed, “ You can’t miss it, it’s on the left. Everybody likes Stepho’s. There’ll be a line outside.”

There was a line outside. But I was not a part of such a line last night. I had made a booking.

Stepho’s is really is gorgeous. Great Greek restaurant. Perfect for students. No entrée for over $10.95 (I had garlic prawns), but really, it’s all mostly under that.

All my friends still reek of garlic, I’ve become our mascot.

But anyway, the moral of the story is, you should know where Stepho’s is. Everybody likes Stepho’s.

October 8, 2008   No Comments

a walk on the wild side

Whoa man!

These past few days have just been, well, insane. I can’t believe I am finally starting classes tomorrow! I must admit, it had started to feel like I had some idea of how things work here, sort of thought I had the lay of the land down to some sort of sketchy scribble in my head. I even thought I might just be… “on top of things”. Well, add 45 thousand students to a campus, and, as you can imagine, things tend to change – drastically. Swarms of students now fill a once rather peaceful and serene campus. Bike bells try to warn you of the oncoming steel horns rapidly approaching your butt – you may think yourself lucky at receiving the heads up, however, it’s not like you have anywhere to go, unless you’ve already mastered the art of student “management”.

We were all wearing colors specific to our chosen faculties, so the masses looked particularly vibrant. Purple is the color us Arts students love to adorn. Red, green, blue, yellow and white were all doing their thing there too. We were all divided into MUG groups (My Undergraduate Groups) and shown around campus with sporadic, distressing getting-to-know-one-another games. I just can’t seem to keep up. I can’t for the life of me figure out how attaching my elbow to someone else’s ear is going to “smooth” things along!? Free pizza, however, now that keeps people happy. All everyone can do is smile and nod and “mmmm” – a series of movements we all understand and find a little less threatening, particularly when in comparison to a knee suddenly happening upon your lower arm. Anyway, I had a lovely little group, we kept things nice and international. Oh, and it’s been so lovely to meet some CANADIANS! I have hardly met any since arriving on campus!

So I guess it’s time to get started with school. I can definitely see how time management is something to keep your eye on here. There is ALWAYS something going on. Yesterday a few of us went to the PNE fair in East Hastings. It’s quite the mission to make it down town, but definitely worth the trip – whipped butter, honey and raspberry scones, apple, cinnamon and cream crepes.. you know, the usual evil carbohydrates 🙂 There were some great rides and fluffy things to win, tarot cards to be read… lots, lots, lots to do and see. But, what’s left ringing in my head, has undoubtedly left me without a smile on my face.

Some of the Jump Start coordinators had tried to warn us of the East Hastings “situation”, but nothing could have prepared me for just how terrible it is. Now, I’m from Africa people. I’ve seen my fair share – if there is such a thing – of people in shocking situations. This was something else though. Maybe it was the broad daylight. Maybe it was because I thought Vancouver would be a little better. Maybe it was the fact that only a few roads west you’re able to see beautiful buildings bordered by swept streets and shiny high heels.

I remember, a few days into Jump Start, we were introduced to this amazing organization that is doing there very best to provide food that is culturally suitable to the homeless in Vancouver. So many people couldn’t understand why an organization would focus on the problems Vancouver has when there are entire starving countries!!! And to worry about food being culturally SUITABLE? I know I’ve certainly come from a country with some serious problems. But when you have such devastation right here, a few doors down from your pretty little Vancouverite doorstep, it wouldn’t take much much to convince me of that lovely little cliche, charity starts at home.

Now, there are so many factors, many of which I’m almost definitely not even aware of, that are being affected by and effecting the homeless, but nobody can tell me there isn’t a problem. Anyway, it wasn’t my plan to get all morbid. There are so many opportunities to be seized in tackling this problem. “Get involved!” everyone keeps saying!

Well there’s no shortage of options – or freebies if you look enthusiastic enough! An outright shortage of time, though. I really haven’t been able to establish what to choose, or even what to choose to choose from. Definitely have to learn to ski…

Mmm, I can see I’m starting to blab now. So I’ll see you all when I’m feeling constructive again!

September 2, 2008   3 Comments

debut intro

I woke up this morning in my new room! It is finally beginning to resemble something like what I feel it should have to begin with. I still don’t have sheets though. I think I also missed the bit trying to tell us to provide our own duvet. It’s been an interesting few nights, my one and only saviour being my lumo orange sleeping bag. Oh, but not to worry, it is truly amazing what a few scented candles, pretty plants and photos and posters from home can do, well what they can literally TRANSFORM your room into. I’m actually rather happy to be here.

Well I would be a lot happier if tomorrow wasn’t my brother’s birthday. Actually, that’s not right, I want my brother to have his birthday (it’s only fair), what I’d really like, though, is to just BE with him! My lovely beautiful brother! ABout 14 610km away in a roughly South Easterly direction.

So I guess now is a great time for an introduction since you already know two very important things about me, 1) South Africa (Cape Town) is my good home and 2)  I have a lovely brother, Jared (turning 19 tomorrow). I have always been sure to make it known that I am in fact a year AND a half older than Jared. Only now, that that means I am actually 20… and a HALF…. I don’t think it will be a major point of focus anymore…

I’m not too sure what would be of great interest to any of you so I’ll just spill a few basics. I was born in Johannesburg, and lived there for a fair amount of time – only, at sporadic intervals. My family has moved around a LOT. All over South Africa with a brief stint in the UK when I was about 10. My entire high school career, however, was spent in Cape Town – in various different towns and schools, but CT nevertheless. I loved it there, but when I matriculated, my gypsy blood took over and I spent the next ±2 years traveling to some of the most charming places on the planet. I have definite scars and amusing traces of the mania associated with being bitten by the travel bug – it’s possible that my very own dad is in fact the travel bug… but I won’t get into that.

I came to realize though, that now was as good a time as ever to give myself a quick pep talk and start studying. Some people find moving and change scary – perhaps situations to avoid – but change (in my mind) is one of the most incredible and progressive aspects of life. Change is when I learn the most about myself. It’s when I am challenged to question myself and my decisions the most, with real honesty, and make new and better and somewhat more informed choices… and mistakes.

Though, I don’t think being here is a mistake. I am registered (finally) in Phil, Engl 120, CrWr, Psyc and Relg, however, I can already see that there is much to be learned outside of our lecture rooms – in the smiles of new friends, in the surrounding forests, in the mountains, in the ocean and in the unexpected joys in discovering faint nuances and stark juxtapositions in this beautiful city, Vancouver.

But I’m off for now. The Gala BBQ awaits.

Wish you all safe travels and smooth moves. x

August 29, 2008   4 Comments

August 21, 2008

Well, here we are at the beginning!

I wasn’t too sure what would be the best way to launch my blog, but since I’m already at UBC, I figured I’d save an introduction for a little later, as there is just so much going on here already!

I’m lucky enough to have been able to be a part of JumpStart this fall, so my first day on Campus was the 12th August. About 180 of us international students have been housed on Campus, Walter Gage Towers,  with some amazing facilitators doing their utmost best to make this transition a smooth and stimulating one.

I had definitely, without a doubt, underestimated the scope of the diverse ethnicities and cultures I’d be coming into contact with. It’s really difficult to compare anyone here to anyone I’ve ever met before. I have never in my life been surrounded by such an incredible eclectic mix of cultures and ethnicities. We have somehow managed to represent all continents, most states in america, MANY parts of Asia, a much greater chunk of Africa than expected, Europe is up there and let’s not even get into the Scandinavians! I was all prepared to be the lone South African Representative, but no, I am happy to report we’ve sent a few of our best!

My home for the next week or so goes by the name of Gage Towers. It has a sort of sozzled-student-esque type of feel to it. You know, the oddball elevator that only works after an ever changing nonsenseical “sequence” of pokes and huffs and puffs, carpets that have taken on a dark grey “hue” over the years etc. Anyway. I managed to fit exactly half of my bags in the elevator and made my way through the maze of rooms to my very own roomie by the very personal name of, N17C4. Now some may find this an easy code to remember. Some might have made sure they had their little welcome-this-is-your-room packet on them on their second trip up. However, some might also not have had 6 separate pieces of luggage.

I’ll leave you to imagine me stopping on an undisclosed number of floors and knocking on an unimportant number of doors that at the time I truly thought were my very own floors and doors.

But it’s all worked out wonderfully, our suit is clean and stocked with all the basics. The view from my room is unbelievable – if you’re hardcore enough lean out of the window, twist right and stay their long enough to appreciate it… But for those of you staying in Gage, hopefully you’ll be one of the lucky ones, because some of the views are “phenomenally breathtaking”, putting whatever words attempting to describe them to shame.

Seriously though, I really have met a few compelling breeds of human. Like 1/2 Japanese, 1/4 Irish, 1/4 Afro. People that were born in New York, lived in New Zealand but now call Sweden home. You can’t even begin to imagine the strange clicks and licks I here coming from my fellow classmate’s mouths. I can only imagine what my warped South African accent sounds like to most of them!

Of course, by now I’ve been a part of all sorts of mortifying getting-to know-you activities. I’ve helped a group of students across a river made of real life ground and filled with blue rubber pirrahnas. I’ve come up with all sorts of alliterations for my name like Tasty Tamryn, Terrific Tamryn, Tender Tamryn. (Any help on these would be greatly appreciated as I never know when the next happy name circle might be sprung upon me). I find myself breaking an awkward moment with, “Oh, you’re Jumping Jeffery, right?”

But not too worry folks, it’s not all kindergarten inspired. We’ve had some really informative lectures and super helpful tours around campus. Some of our RAs – older student helper people – are pretty cool and we’ve dragged them out with us into downtown Vancouver. I hadn’t really experienced the nightlife of Vancouver except for a few lovely restaurants and Jazz clubs with my dad (I’ve been in and around Vancouver and Vancouver Island for about a month beforehand), so the past few nights have been rather entertaining – we’re all extremely foreign, so we usually end up asking people to help us out with places to go. Once we had a tall man in pink suit with a red scarf and hat show us around. His name was Douglas. But for those of you who are interested, Vancouver in the dark is seriously competent in comparison to my previous experiences traveling, and I’m sure with a little looking around it’ll only get better.

A few of us went to the “clothing optional” beach neighbouring my new rez (Place Vanier) – ya I know – and had one of the most amazing evenings I’ve had in a while. We all packed little bags of fruits and biscuits and cheese and spent a few hours on the beach watching the sunset to the sound of African drums and people cheering the sun in it’s last few moments shining! It was so gorgeous! Then we danced in the sea until the fun-loving cops asked us to “Please clear the beach”.

I must say, so far, it really has been a case of serious information overload. I am desperately hoping everything will just happens to sink in one rainy day. There are just so many new concepts to grasp, new names to remember, different ways of doing things, contrasting things to be expected form different lecturers and/or faculties. In fact, first prize would actually just be remembering who and where to go for help, as it has become very obvious that there is no shortage help and guidance – perhaps, only a fear or reluctance or -more common – unawareness of how to ask for it.

I guess this all for now… I had a really late night last night and really need to catch up on some sleep. We have such a rich and demanding schedule and I really don’t want to miss out anything!

I’ll do my best to fill you all in on some of the important info I’ve managed to soak up from all the of the super-informed around campus next time round.

I look forward to meeting all of you!

August 29, 2008   No Comments