Letters from the dorm

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 September, 2009, 12:00am


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It's grey and it smells like an old castle - and it's where I'm studying. I tug at my uniform: a crisp, white, collared shirt, striped tie and boxy skirt. Welcome to Bishop Strachan - the oldest girls' school in Canada.

I saunter up the school circular drive and head to the orientation booth. I can already hear chatter about the summer. Bishop Strachan is more than a school - it's a community with girls from all four corners of the world.

We dive into conversation about 'Starbs' - our slang for Starbucks. Girls here have a knack for abbreviations and caffeine hits.

'I need a Starbs. I'm on Scotland time, and I'm like twenty billion hours ahead of Toronto time,' pleads a close friend.

I join an endless line for school photos. It feels like the MTR at rush hour - orderly chaos and no food.

Eventually I get out of the orientation scrum armed with a class schedule and a group of friends. We compare timetables. We're happy to find we have spare lessons at the same time as friends - free time! And we're frustrated that the intensive maths course is scheduled for Friday afternoons. But it's orientation day, which means a free afternoon.

We charge over to The Ville, a quaint strip of restaurants. As I step outside, a chill runs through me. After five weeks in Hong Kong, I'd forgotten how cold Canada can be!

Our destination is What-a-Bagel, a classic Toronto bagel cafe. Not exactly Cafe de Coral, but it will have to do. The first day of school is always rough, but there's nothing good conversation and an overpriced bagel can't solve.

Elizabeth Wong, student at Bishop Strachan School in Toronto, Canada