On Beginnings

Purple Flower

Originally published in The Tab Montreal.

“All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning.” – Albert Camus

Starting is hard and beginnings are so often the most difficult part. So let’s allow it to be ridiculous.

Difficult and ridiculous is how it feels writing this column and that’s definitely how I felt coming to Canada. My name is Amy, I’m British, and I am your resident columnist at the brand-spanking-new Tab, hoping to bring to you works of heart-breaking beauty and earth-shattering wit; words that will stay with you for years to come. You will bookmark this page, tell your friends, and when your face is lined with sorrow and regret, you will look back through the vista of years to recall the Good Old Days of these humble pages. Trust me, you’re in for a treat.

I hail from London (the old one, not the new one) and am at McGill for the year on exchange, studying art history. We thought it would be fun to have a column by a British ex-pat, who can tell you tales of life in the New World and regale you with hi-larious cultural confusions. From foreign turns of phrase to the seemingly endless fascination with my accent, the undesirable c-word (colonialism, shhh) to perceptions of my home and yours, we will have oh so much fun.

Like beginnings, firsts are also tricky. Upon touching down at YUL I breathed a sigh of relief and self-congratulation at having managed to begin my study abroad experience, only to be thwarted by the series of firsts that I needed to overcome in order to continue. Phone contract, bank account, class schedule, the metro, inductions, Frosh, etc. etc. (Before we go on, Canada, why must banking cost? Why are phones and contracts SO expensive? WHY???) Each obstacle was manageable, but everything takes longer in a new country. Don’t get me wrong: firsts can be fun too, no question, but still daunting.

The firsts have delightfully persisted, and I am deep into the middle of this adventure, but before I know it, the finish will rear its bittersweet head. My Canadian firsts will grow less frequent and I will begin the journey home. This column is one of those delightful firsts and will hopefully accompany me like a new but faithful friend, as I come through the middle and begin the end.

Like the girl clothed in puppy fat, with heels too high and cheap lipstick on her teeth, out drinking for the first time, there will be growing pains, so do bear with. And never forget what our dear leader Liz the Second once said: “Let us not take ourselves too seriously.” This is for pleasure. A reprieve from our backbreaking workloads and a figurative recess from our often tepid existence.

Let us not question the daft editors who have entrusted me with a soapbox; just go with it. And just how everyone’s favourite intellectual (well, mine, at least) Ze Frank says, “Perfectionism may look good in his shiny shoes but he’s a little bit of an asshole and no one invites him to their pool parties.” Engage, ask questions, and be led by curiosity and not malice.

Let’s have some fun.

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