Thursday, September 20, 2012

Toto, I Don't Think We're In Iowa Anymore!

Every month, my internship site puts out a newsletter.  This is the article I wrote for the October issue, but with pictures!

photo courtesy of Wikipedia

In the 1939 movie adaption of the book The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, Dorothy utters a similar phrase to her pet dog, Toto. Dorothy had just emerged from her tornado devastated house to see the wonderful, yet strange, land of Oz. Dorothy, who had spent her entire childhood on a farm in Kansas, found things in Oz to be similar to her home, but always with an unexpected twist. Things look slightly different, which is emphasized in the movie as the scenes in Oz were filmed with color film and the Kansas scenes were filmed in black and white. People also talk slightly different in Oz, as the people are prone to speak in rhymes. And the vegetation is also slightly different. One of my favorite scenes is when Dorothy meets Oz apple trees. As she travels down the yellow brick road to see the wizard in Emerald City, she becomes hungry and sees some apple trees on the side of the road. But instead of being able to just pick the apples, the trees start to talk to her, asking her how she would feel if someone just came up to her and pulled on her hair. Everything is familiar to Dorothy, but also slightly different. 

I am feeling slightly like Dorothy in Oz. Canada is similar to the United States, but slightly different. The language is slightly different, but still English (I am glad that British Columbia is part of the English-speaking part of Canada because I do not know French). But phrasing is slightly different here. Instead of asking where the “rest room” is, I try to remember to say “wash room.” Listening to the Canadian accent has been fantastic! The mid-west accent that I speak with is very flat, which is great for public speaking but kind of boring. The Canadian accent, on the other hand, is very musical as it goes up and down. If I'm not paying attention, I already find that I want to adopt this accent and use it myself. 

Picture taken after I retreated inside

The wildlife in <town> is also just slightly different than Iowa. Iowa is also overrun by deer, and we have cougars. But instead of wolves, we have coyotes. Instead of moose we have racoons – which aren't very similar at all. But the most similar wildlife, deer, is also what I find the strangest. In Iowa, deer aren't afraid of people but they do keep their distance. But in <town>, the deer will come right up to you! The other day I was petting a stray cat right outside my suite's door, when suddenly a baby deer and mother deer was right next to me, sniffing at the cat. I was torn between being startled by their sudden appearance and glad that I had my camera on me at the time. 

The landscape and climate is the most dramatic change that I have encountered so far. Iowa is pretty flat, with very few hills and is landlocked. <Town> is on an island, with mountains. In the nice September weather, I have already taken hundreds of pictures of the the river, the bay, and the surrounding mountains. So far, I have greatly enjoyed the weather here. The sun has been out most days, with the occasional fog in the morning. It has rained here and there, but since I spent the summer in Iowa, which was in a drought from June to late August, I have enjoyed the rain. 

But there is one way that I do not feel similar to Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy spends the entire movie trying to get home to Kansas. But I am glad to be here. I know it's only a year, and then I will soon be leaving for Iowa and for school in Ohio (which is really similar to Iowa). But in the meantime, I'm enjoying being here in a place that is both familiar and unfamiliar. 

My supervisor and his wife took me on a beach picnic.  I am roasting a hot dog by the tidal river.

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