A Trip to ‘Berta

Saturday, January 12, 2019 - By: Lindsey P, Allard ‘19

Brentwood is full of international students who might not have anywhere to go for the short midterm breaks. This poses the question of “Who will I ambush, and how do I convince them to let me go home with them?”

Luckily for me, I trapped Hannah C, Alex ‘19 in my little bubble of friends last year, and the two of us planned a trip to Las Vegas. We would have flown to Vegas with Hannah’s mom for Grad dress shopping. However the idea was quickly ixnayed by my parents and replaced by the “less feared journey to Fort McMurray, Alberta” as they put it.

As an international student from Saudi Arabia, I was ill-prepared for the shock of -15oC weather. I felt the warmth leave my body as soon as we approached the revolving doors of the Fort McMurray International Airport and I hesitantly stepped out into the bone-chilling air. 

This was, however, the first time I had the pleasant experienced of the magical comfort of a heated blanket and flannel sheets. My advice: when staying in a basement bedroom where the windows have not been shut since the summer, it is crucial that while sleeping, you are curled up into a tight ball. Dozing among the excess fabric of a sweatshirt and sweatpants is a must. Lastly, do not dare fall asleep without ensuring that the clothing you wish to wear in the morning has spent the night cozily at your side, sandwiched between the heating pads. 

Each day I was there I experienced something new and my days were well spent; from cozy days at Granny’s, to grad dress shopping, to late night Monopoly games and movie marathons. My trip to the Arctic, however, would not have been complete without visiting the ‘giants of mining’ near the acres of oil refineries. These retired goliaths lived up to their name. There are over a dozen old bucket excavators and trucks of unimaginable sizes “on display for anyone crazy enough to to be a tourist to Fort McMurray” said Matthew R, who had been our ‘chauffeur’ for the trip. 

I had the chance to experience two very similar oil-producing cities, one a vast sandbox, and the other, a snowy playground. I greatly enjoyed the experience of a November midterm in a ‘foreign’ place, and highly recommend that other international students take advantage of the many opportunities offered at Brentwood - be they the school-offered trips or one with a friend living in Canada. 

Lindsey P, Allard ‘19

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