Introduction

All Over The Place: Travel Experiences at U of T

All Over The Place: Travel Experiences at U of T

It’s a new year and a new semester! I was lucky enough to make it home to Alberta for the holiday. Many students on campus also have family close to Toronto. Students who have to stay in the city away from their families in their home province or country are the toughest of us all. I can’t imagine being alone during the holidays!

Snow-covered roofs and houses in the foreground, with a Chinook arch in the clouds and bright orange sunlight coming over snow-covered mountains
A Chinook sunset over the Rockies from my backyard in Cochrane (Photo by Zachary Biech)

If your home is not Toronto, it can be hard to be away at school all semester. However, travelling home can also be difficult.

A view from the front passenger seat of a truck, on the highway heading west towards the Rockies, with snow and evergreens all around
Alberta is vast and beautiful, and it looks a lot different than downtown TO! (Photo by Zachary Biech)

My flight home in December is a good example. My flight was on the 12th which was the day of a huge snowstorm. That’s a perfect day for flying, right? I’m glad I left early for the airport because the roads were a nightmare. What normally is a 40-minute drive turned into a two-hour snail race. Commuters must have it rough!

Once I made it to Pearson airport, I had to quickly make it through security and find the gate my flight had been relocated to last-minute. When we got on the plane the real fun began…

 

From inside an airport terminal, looking outside at Westjet planes covered  by the heavy snowfall
The snow is so pretty, who would think it could be such a big issue? (Photo by Zachary Biech)

So we found our seats and the plane proceeded to sit there for four solid hours.  Pearson was so backed up there weren’t any ground crews available to put our luggage on the plane! The de-icing process took a long time as well because of the huge lineup of planes. My flight was very lucky though, because all the flights to Calgary from Toronto after ours were cancelled last minute.

After trying to stay sane watching TLC re-runs the whole time, I got my hopes up when we inched onto the runway. What happened next? You guessed it, the plane didn’t move. We sat on the runway for another fifteen minutes before we managed to take off. Nobody on the plane had any patience left though we were in store for a four-hour flight to Calgary.

I’ve actually heard worse stories from my friends about their travels this year and maybe you’ve even had a worse experience.

The holiday was very relaxing though returning home after an entire semester away can feel weird (especially when your home is so different from Toronto!) If you spend enough time at home, Toronto can feel just as weird when you come back as well.

Looking up at a massive wall of ice and stone, with a frozen waterfall trickling down the middle
More epicness from the Rockies, (Note the frozen waterfall!) (Photo by Zachary Biech)
Looking up at the dark-brick castle, with a great big mountain in the background of course!
Here’s a shot of the Banff Springs Hotel, a beautiful building and rich-peoples’ mountain fortress (Photo by Zachary Biech)

The flight back was also an adventure, which included huge turbulence, a last-minute landing abort to avoid hitting another plane and an hour-and-a-half delay waiting for the luggage. I also had to give the cab driver directions through downtown (I guess he was new to the job) and finally made it home at 1:30 a.m. on the first day of classes.

It’s important to anticipate the difficulties of travel, including airport madness and the weirdness of returning home after a long journey in this strange place. It’s also important to have a community like First Nations House to jump right into. It makes the transition so much easier when you have friendly faces to see!

A pot of minestrone, with a pot of noodles nearby and apples and cheese and other good looking stuff!
It’s nice to be given warm food during a cold day of classes, especially when it’s a hearty minestrone from FNH’s Friday lunch on Jan. 9th (Photo by Zachary Biech)

 

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