University Shopping

I flew to Ottawa and drove down to Kingston with Shannon on the weekend.  It wasn’t a planned trip, but WestJet had a really great sale on Friday flights. We stayed with our good friends, Rob and Carole Morrison, (who graciously gave us a super-comfortable bed, despite being busy ripping out half their kitchen ceiling on Saturday) on Friday night. Saturday, we visited the Queen’s campus, with son Liam as tour guide.  It is a beautiful campus, Kingston is a lovely town – lots of good restaurants and shopping, and, to my mind, a perfect size. Rob teaches in the English Department and is a great advocate for his university. Liam has been happy there; we met some of his roommates and Shannon spent the night with them in their house in the student “ghetto”.  There was some talk of beer pong…

Sunday, we drove back to Ottawa, toured the Byward Market, then had a campus tour of Carleton on Monday morning before flying back to Halifax.  I’m sure Carleton is a great school, our tour guide was excellent, the meal we had in the cafeteria was very good, the underground tunnel system sounds like it would be wonderful, especially in winter, but overall, it’s tough for a newer university to measure up to an older one like Queen’s.  The type of character and charm found in schools like Queen’s and Acadia can’t be built overnight, and I’m sure it’s a major factor when students are choosing their university.

It was a busy weekend, but Shannon had a good chance to form an impression of both schools, which was our goal for the weekend. I’m sure I don’t know what I would choose to study, or where I’d go, if I had to do it all over again.  A city has a certain appeal for young adults, but Carleton has 25,000 students, which seemed too big to me. Queen’s and Dal have about 15,000 which somehow seems a lot smaller. Hopefully, Shannon will be able make her decision after attending some open houses at Maritime universities in the next few weeks. Ahhh…to be young again…

Don Aker and the Writer’s Notebook

I attended a two-day summer institute for English Language Arts teachers during the last week of August (since I might be subbing in ELA classrooms this year).  Wow! I almost wish I’d stuck with pursuing an ELA teaching career, rather than staying home with my kids. The presentations were all great, but YA author, and AVRSB consultant, Don Aker, talked about using a writer’s notebook on the second day, and it was truly inspiring.  I often see or hear things while going about my life that I’m sure I’ll file away in my brain for future reference – guess what?  It never happens.  So, after seeing Don’s very funny power point, and hearing about some of the amazing things he’s recorded in his 17 writers’ notebooks over the years, I’ve actually started writing down some of the stuff I see/hear. CBC Radio is a great source and I heard several pretty interesting things on a series called The Hidden City by Nick Purdon (sp?) last week; food for thought.  My dad always carried a little notebook in his shirt pocket, although it was more to remember things he had to do each day, etc.  But I just may start carrying such a notebook in my purse since things have a way of disappearing from my head before I get to my writer’s notebook, which I’m keeping beside my bed. One of the pages on Don’s powerpoint showed a t-shirt a good friend had given him, with “Be careful – you might be in my next novel!” written on it.  So true…