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Last Transmission

This is my final post on this blog. I made this blog to remember my SEP experience, kind of like a personal journal, as well as to let people who cared to read about how i was doing while i was away. Now that this blog has served its purpose, i am done with it. I will be happy to answer any questions that anyone may have about doing a Student Exchange Program in the University of Alberta, and also about what to do in California and in Canada.

Until then,

Ashwin

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End of my SEP

My SEP experience was initially fraught with uncertainty. I will summarise my experience here

  1. I wanted to travel a little in North America before returning to Singapore because I was already in the region.
  2. I was supposed to do the travelling bit with my friend but he pulled out after i had bought my ticket and was in Canada already.
  3. I was initially supposed to fly into Edmonton on the 29th but i rescheduled to go to Boston on the 28th so that I would not be spending the new year alone.
  4. I joined my lab partner for a pre-SEP trip to New York and Boston.
  5. I started my SEP thinking I was the only one from NUS but soon found that my neighbour was also from NUS. I had a lunch buddy!
  6. I found the modules and courses that I did on exchange to be very exciting.
  7. I met more Singaporeans studying in Edmonton (they were permanent students there)
  8. I met 4 NTU exchange students in the UofA as well.
  9. I went to Calgary and Banff with my SEP buddy (my neighbour) and a friend I met in New York and did a lot of skiing there.
  10. I did a lot of skating as well at the UofA ice arena as well as at the william hawrelak park lake.
  11. I went to East Canada (Toronto, Montreal, Quebec) with my SEP buddy and watched an NBA game in Toronto as well. We had to skip 2 days of school for this.
  12. I went to Jasper with 6 other Singaporeans and my SEP buddy a few weeks before the exams. We cycled there and visited many of the lakes.
  13. We had quite a few dinner gatherings.
  14. I went to California with the friend I met in New York.
  15. I managed to meet 2 groups of friends and travel with them at certain points of my California trip.

I think my trip was an eventful one and I am thankful that everything turned out alright. It was an unforgettable experience.

So this marks the end of my post Student Exchange Trip to California. It was quite and exciting experience travelling with someone whom i barely knew. I did not get to do all the things i wanted but all in all we managed to accomplish a lot of things and travelled to a lot of places.

I shall link all my Picasa Web Albums here because I was unable to add pictures to my posts. Sorry!

It was a long drive back to San Francisco from Yosemite. The highlight of the trip was to cross a super long bridge in the middle of the bay and the storm was lashing at the car on the open bridge and giving it essentially a car wash. The road-holding capabilities of the car was put to its limits on that bridge and i could feel the traction slip at certain points on the straight road (by the way it was a previous generation Corolla Altis).

After dropping the boys off at the airport, we returned the car and went back to the hotel in Nob Hill. Once again I was dragging a big luggage bag up eight blocks of uphill streets. Bad planning on my part. I was really tired at the end of that all, and it was past midnight too.

The next day, we went to the Golden Gate Park. It was really huge and I am so jealous that San Francisco has such a nice big park which is so much bigger than Singapore’s botanic gardens. it was really nice with many museums in the park and smaller gardens all around. We sat on the bench and observed people playing around, making music, and challenging each other to handstands… it was really cool! After a long while we made our way back to our hotel and got ready to leave San Francisco.

Yosemite

Ah of all the days it had to rain all day on the day we planned to go to Yosemite National Park. Nonetheless we pressed on because we had no choice. After a 3.5 hour drive we reached the park. It was interesting because we passed by a section of forest which was razed by fire not too long ago. It was really wet and we saw the landscape change from brown (tree bark) to green (moss on tree bark) to red and black (burnt open land).

Once we reached the park, we started taking pictures and I used a Banana republic plastic bag as a rain cover for my camera. It was a nice sight. It was really heavenly with the light rain and the mist coming from the top of the mountain. I thought i was in a chinese heavenly period scene. All i need to add to the scene was a pagoda and a monkey god and it would have been perfect. I felt that the scene was more special than a normal sunny day scene even though we had to put up with the wet weather, because this scene was even more special than the everyday dry weather sights that most people might see.

We visited two waterfalls, including the lower yosemite falls which was releasing alot of mist into the air, a meadow, and the mirror lake. It was really pretty.

At the end of the day, we tried to visit the Sequoia grove but unfortunately the track was still in winter conditions with slushy ice and it was near impassable. So I had to give it a miss. My nature-loving self would have to come back again to see the wonderful magnificent and grand old trees in future.

Sacramento

Sacramento is not that exciting, especially this time of the year. It was the gold rush country but perhaps because it was the weekend, so the town was quite dead. We went to Old Sacramento where we visited the old buildings and the old sacramento railroad. It was quite interesting to imagine the old town with the railroad and the small jetty where ferries would dock. After that, we went to the Nimbus Fish Hatchery but it was not the season for Salmon or Pike so we just watched the salmon in the runs. As they were fed they would jump in a frenzy. Finally we drove down to some farm country to Sutter Creek. It was an amazing place. They have a Foxes’ Inn which had a very nice smell and I bet that it will be great to stay there for a night.

Truth be told it will be interesting to go for wine tasting sessions and caving in the old gold mines and possibly i will do these activities if i come to Sacramento again.

Outlet Shopping

I did not have much time to do outlet shopping – only 4 hours. That is cruel. I wish i had more time to visit more of the shops. However, in that short time i managed to spend about $500 USD.

The factory outlet was called Vacaville Premium Outlets, and was on the route from San Francisco to Sacramento. Special thanks to Sarah for providing some discount coupons to me!