Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Rideau Centre

Hi everyone!

As I'm typing this, I'm enjoying my *second* slice of a mousse-cake-log that the students in the Superior Level Pastry class brought home from school today. I just realized I should have taken a picture to show you all, but I found one on the internet that is pretty close:

It is very good :) I hope I'll be able to make something like this one day - just so I can eat it again!

Today was a good day and a big improvement from yesterday :) The Basic Level Pastry students had the day off today, so I took the day to do a bit of exploring and a lot of laundry!

In the afternoon, I took a walk down to the big shopping center here called the Rideau Centre. It's this HUGE shopping mall on Rideau Street (which as far as I can tell is one of the "main" streets in Ottawa) with practically every store you can think of! I've been here once before with some friends, but we had driven and didn't stay very long. It wasn't a bad walk at all (about 20 minutes or so) and the weather was nice - chilly and autumny - but very pleasant! A random observation: One thing I've noticed in Ottawa is that street signs (and most signs in general) are in both English and French. Ottawa is very close to Montreal (the French-speaking providence of Canada), so that makes sense I guess, but I just found it interesting! Also, it seems like the city in general is soooo multi-cultural. Just from the little bit of walking around I did in the mall today, I heard probably about 10 different languages! Anyway, here are some pictures of some pretty fall trees I took on my walk and at the mall:

This is the house I'm living in - 476 Wilbrod Street :) - it's actually an old convent

This is kinda hard to see, but if you look to the left of that hole in the tree, you can see a bushy black tail. There are these animals here that look like squirrels, but they are all black! I've never seen a black squirrel before Ottawa, but I think that's what they are!

Fall on Wilbrod Street :)

I thought this tree was so pretty!

On an elevated sidewalk connecting one part of the mall to another - this is Rideau Street.

The clouds were so crazy - I couldn't tell if it would rain or not! Ps. In the distance on the right, can you see the buildings with the green roofs? Those are the Parliament buildings!

I needed to pick up a few items for class (an extra spatula, some dish towels, etc.), so I was able to get all that done at the mall and then just explore a little bit before coming back home. Before I left for home, though, I did stop at the food court for something from Tim Hortons, which I've been wanting to try because everyone has been telling me it's "the place to go" in Canada for coffee! I'm not a coffee-drinker, though, so I got some hot tea, which was still *very* good!

I have class at 8am tomorrow :( so my plans for this evening just include some laundry, Lolita reading (I finally have a copy of the book - I've been wanting to read it since sophomore year of college!), and hanging out with people in the house so I can get to bed at a good time :)

Before I go though, here is a quote from my calendar today that inspired me to try to follow my passions in life as much as I can: "The biggest mistake people make in life is not trying to make a living at doing what they most enjoy" (Malcolm S. Forbes). I don't necessarily think I can just through all caution to the wind and follow each one of my passions to the fullest and make a stable career out of all of them (because there are financial constraints, etc. that can be a bit hindering). *However* I do believe that even with the constraints, it is still possible for me to, excuse the cliche, "follow my heart" and find a career that is personally fulfilling and which I can truly enjoy. It might not be the most well-paid career, but at the end of the day, if I am happy about what I am doing, that is what most matters to me. I might sound naive, but right now, my 23-year-old self truly believes that and believes it is possible to do that. As many of you know, starting in middle school and up until my sophomore year at Cornell, I was on a "pre-med" track. However, it got to the point where I wasn't even keeping my mind open to other careers or passions, but was simply allowing myself to become "stuck" on this track. (Don't get me wrong, being a doctor is such an admirable profession, and I have a tremendous respect for doctors, but that career choice wasn't necessarily the right one for me.)

My sophomore year of college, I finally allowed myself to become open to other possibilities, but was afraid because I felt it was "too late" to change my mind. I felt like I had already chosen my path in life, and I would just have to see it through, and maybe explore my other passions during retirement. I was only 20 years old! It was scary at the time, but I just took a leap of faith, ignored the negative thinking, and decided to follow my "academic" heart and became an English major. This was one of the best decisions I've ever made because, this might sound funny, but I actually used my brain! I got off the "track" and used my brain to critically think about what I wanted to do. I was talking with one of my Cornell professors when I visited Cornell last month, and he told me that the biggest problem with Americans is that we are not critical thinkers. We live our lives and follow our tracks without ever questioning them or questioning ourselves. Now, I'm not saying that you should question every little thing you do, but every now and then I think it's a good idea to question where you are in life in terms of your relationships with the "bigger" things in your life: your family, your friends, your career,... If you are not happy with how you are spending the majority of your time, maybe something should change. I realize that not everyone can feasibly just up and quit their careers, but I do think it is a good idea to at least be honest with yourself about what it is you really enjoy and care about and try - just try - to make that a bigger part of your life. This might just mean a mental change, but that's important too!

I think being in culinary school has really made me see that it is never really "too late" to make a change in your life. There are students here who are in their 40s and 50s who have been working in other careers, but realized that their true heart was in the kitchen, so they decided to switch careers. I don't know if my future career lies in the culinary arts, but I can't believe I was ready to "settle" into being a doctor at 20 years of age because I thought it was too late to change my mind! I really believe that it is never too late to change your way of thinking. Because of financial considerations, etc., you might not be able to just switch careers in a flash, but I think one of the biggest mistakes someone can make (and one which I made) is in not even being honest with yourself about where you are in your life and whether or not you are happy with what you are doing and how you are spending your time. I remember the night before I made my official decision to "drop" my biology major and switch to English, I made a list of what I cared about the most in my life. My family was the first on the list and my friends were next. Being a doctor wasn't even on the list, but finding a career that would allow me to be an active member of my family and be active in my friendships definitely was. So was a career that would allow me to read lots and lots of books. So maybe I'll be a chef or maybe I'll be a teacher or maybe I'll be something else I haven't even thought of yet, but I believe that if I can keep critically thinking and remembering my priorities, I will live a happy life and can help to make others around me happy too.


  1. The mousse cake looks delicious.

    Did you know they have a Tim Horton's in Ithaca at the TOPS near the mall? I have relatives in Canada and they go crazy over Tim Hortons. I don't really like coffee...unless its got a ton of sugar and cream...but their donuts are pretty good. But, I still don't understand all the hype.

    I read Lolita a couple years back. I liked it. Let me know how you find it. I remember you got me the sequel to Ender's game for my birthday or something. I loved it. I considered reading them all, but I feel like Orson Scott Card had a one hit book and then just milked it for all it was worth by writing books off of that one. I also started Xenocide but didn't like it that much. I got mostly through another sci-fi book, Stranger in a Strange Land over summer...but haven't finished it yet. I should work on that...especially since its way overdue from my local library. :/

    You're definitely right about it never being too late. There are people in my class that are 40+ years old. In fact, the average age of my class is 24. Most people take time off to do something else or figure out what they want to do or try something else before finding what they want.

    I love your pictures. It looks beautiful up there. It probably looks pretty here too...but I just cant see it because I think Philly is a butt ugly city.

    I noticed one of the blogs you are following is of a med student. Is he from Cornell?

    Can't wait for your next update!

  2. I'm so happy you finally got to try some Timmy Ho's! It's very popular here in buff lol.

  3. Your text was very inspirational, but I didn't know you had started with biology. I'm surprised :) I had to fight for my degree in Catalan Philology before to apply to my university because it was seen as sth without opportunities, easy and underpaid. Now I'm very happy I followed this way and I continued studying literature. I don't know what I'll do when I finish my PhD, I open to loads of things, and it seems that everybody is surprised when I tell them that maybe I don't do a research career, just I don't know, I like a lot of differents things, I want to try some of them, I want to live abroad again (but with Jordi), I want to write...

    Regarding the French and English issue, my friend who went to Canada chose it because is the perfect place for a sociolinguist like her.