I've been meaning to write some thoughts on my time in Hamilton/Ontario but I haven't been able to come up with a good way to write what I feel. I started writing this post right after I got back but I neglected the post for a while now. What follows is an off-the-cuff attempt to summarize my feelings. After 5 years of good times, I finally bid adieu to Hamilton. My 5 years in Hamilton, and by extension Ontario, were great and afforded me many different opportunities that I would probably not have had if I had stayed in Montreal. Living in Ontario gave me the opportunity to see just how different Quebec was to the rest of the country. While many of these differences are obvious and were not unknown to me, actually living them gave me greater perspective into the diversity of this great land we call Canada. While there are differences between all provinces I feel (perhaps incorrectly) that being in Ontario gave me greater insight into English Canada than I would've gotten if i had stayed in Montreal.
Hamilton as a city was big enough that it had all the modern amenities I needed to go about my simple life without a car, and had reliable enough transport to Toronto for everything else. McMaster University nestled in the westend of Hamilton resides in a quiet residential area of town, and has a closed campus that combined old and new. While it certainly had its issues, particularly in regards to funding the humanities and clubs like debating, given that most (if not all) Canadian universities have problems I can't really say I got a bad deal in my undergrad education. I took some interesting classes, met interesting people, and enjoyed the numerous amenities the university had to offer. I'm also quite sure that McMaster's insistance that I take the common first year Engineering course load (rather than accept my CEGEP credit), is a key factor that allowed me to switch into the Humanities. Had I stayed in Quebec, I may not have had the opportunity to reflect as much on my priorities, and I might have toughed out an Engineering degree, or have made the switch only after spoiling my transcript.
Of course, being in Ontario let me be a part of a much more diverse and complicated high school debating scene. If I had stayed in Montreal, I probably would have made more money coaching private school debaters, but I probably wouldn't have had a hand in really expanding debate to new schools. Ontario's regionally diverse of debating scene gave me insights on how to appreciate differences in styles and philosophies, and gave me insights on how to work with others with differing views in order to accomplish the goal of furthering debate in high schools. In Hamilton, I found myself coordinating a public school based debating scene that lacked a common vision. But I was close enough to Toronto that I was asked to Tab two National HS events held in Toronto during my time at Mac. Of course, being an OSDU representative took me to various parts of the province for the annual Championships (formerly the Seminar). I've been to places a regular university debater wouldn't have necessarily seen. I made a great number of friends from all parts of the province from all kinds of backgrounds with debating being the only common denominator. Also, being at Mac allowed me to bypass the competitive qualification procedures I would have faced had I attended McGill, and let me go to UBC Worlds. I am convinced that these valuable debate experiences happened because I ended up in Hamilton. I hope to take these experiences with me and apply them in Japan.
Finally, living in Hamilton meant living on my own for 5 years, not under the direct supervision of my parents. Prior to my second year, I moved into a house for the first time in my life. I cooked my own meals, did my own laundry. and otherwise made all my own life decisions. While I summarize this point in a few sentences this independence and freedom contributed to the above mentioned opportunities. So at the end of the day I have no major regrets about choosing to go to McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. That doesn't necessarily mean that I unconditionally recommend Mac to everyone, but it worked for me.