Coming from Hamilton, Ont., a city of half a million, is more of a transition than I ever thought it would be. Hi, I’m Fehn Foss: first year student at McGill University and an enthusiastic, budding writer here to hopefully give an engaging and entertaining account on what it’s like to start on the next big journey in life.
I went to a high school called Westdale and after graduating I decided to take a gap year. Many friends, family, and especially peers thought I was crazy for doing so but in the end it was one of the most rewarding decisions I’ve made so far. Over the year, I worked a full-time job as a barista at a funky little cafe in downtown Hamilton called Mulberry Street Coffeehouse. I traveled as well, discovering the world and myself along the way. Regardless of the memories I made on my gap year however, I am eager to get back into the academic world and find the classes that really engage my intellect.
So here I am, barely into my first semester as an Arts and Science kid and ready to share some of my experiences with you. Let me start with my daily bike ride to McGill, which is a cultural as well as a physical event.
Regardless of how brisk the early mornings are going to get, I don’t think I’ll ever be chilled while riding on de Maisonneuve Boulevard. The pedal repeats its rotations in quick succession as I — albeit a little smugly — pass my fellow riders. The sun is still making its way onto centre stage and so for the time being, each looming skyscraper creates thick bars of shadows across my path. Biking to school is a great way to start the morning. The cafes, shops, vehicles, and most of all, the diverse assortment of style gurus as they saunter down the street all catch my eye as I speed past.
Coming from Hamilton, the Montreal streets electrify and overwhelm me. With all the bike lanes, I discover a new-found freedom in cycling. No longer do I have to hop on and off sidewalks as I zigzag through city streets to get to my destination. If I was half-asleep before I left my residence, Solin Hall, I’m sure awake now. I can feel the blood rushing through my veins as each muscle thrums with life.
Once on campus, I’m caught up in the endless stream of other students as we all weave in out of each other’s paths on the way to class. Finding a spot to lock up my bike is my next challenge. Even though it may take me a few minutes before I find a possible spot, this never frustrates me. Seeing all the other bikes makes me feel connected: part of a community of students who all love the thrill of the ride, the convenience, and the self-sufficiency.
As a resident of Solin Hall, my bike has become my most prized possession. Living off-campus in first year allows me the autonomy I crave, and having a bike saves me some money and time. Once my bike is secured into its home for the next few hours, I walk off to class having had some time to mentally prepare for the day. In the back of my head I remember that at the end of the day I get to ride downhill all the way home and I feel a grin spread across my face.