Start of winter…

Winter has well and truly started in Quebec…

The temperature today is -4°C. Yesterday it was -6. It has snowed lightly a couple of times in the last month, but today the snow really started. At 1am this morning, I stood out on my balcony and marvelled at the view. The houses around here are mostly bungalows, and since I live on the second floor of my house, I can see the snow-covered roofs of all the houses in the neighbourhood. C’était vraiment belle.

Snow on the houses in my neighbourhood

I feel great today. A few days ago, I felt pretty ill. I guess I was just stressed with everything that’s going on right now. But I’ve put the work in, made those sacrifices, ok I didn’t eat or sleep well, but I can now. There’s a real sense of satisfaction from working hard in science.

I thought I’d tell you guys a little more about life in Quebec and how a 24 year old from Scotland ended up here. Quebec’s a beautiful city; there are loads of beautiful things to see here. I really like it, but it’s seriously francophone. It’s as francophone as you can probably get anywhere in the world. Trust me; since I arrived here in February, I’ve had countless awkward moments in banks, in supermarkets etc., when me and the clerk just weren’t on the same page. As an Anglophone, you have to try to speak French here but, on the whole, I feel like if you do try, you get appreciated for it. I have been quite daunted speaking in French at times, because I feel like I have so much on my mind, so much I want to say, but I can’t properly express myself in French.

I took French back in school (finished up 6 years ago). I still remember the rules and stuff, but I feel like if I could invest more time in learning French, I’d be happier. Some people in my lab never learned any French before coming here. I think one of those girls is pretty freaked out. I would be…

A few years ago, my chances of ending up in Quebec were about the same as me ending up in Brazil. One of my other posts called Life in Svalbard… tells you about how I got involved in Arctic science. A continuation of that story led me to Quebec. Last summer, I was invited back to Svalbard to participate on a cruise. The cruise leader was a Norwegian guy called Stig, and he’s made a pretty good life for himself in Arctic biology. One day we were in the canteen and Stig asked me; “Jordan, what’s the plan after your master?” One of my priorities last summer was to figure that out. I reasoned that if I wanted to continue in Arctic science (which I did), the best places for me to do that would be in the Arctic. Seems kinda obvious right? So then it was a choice between Canada, Alaska, Norway, Greenland or Russia. I wasn’t feeling the last two options at the time.

Stig told me that Louis Fortier’s team at Université Laval have unexamined chaetognath samples stretching back ten years in the Canadian Arctic. They were just waiting for me! I’d heard of Louis before – referenced his papers, of which there’s an incredible number of.

I got officially accepted at Laval, on the day of my master graduation, and the rest, as they say, is history…

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