Preparing for the Big Leap

Irish Memorial Monument Big Leap

As many of you may know, Thing 1 is heading off to Queen’s University this fall. #noTears! The Big Leap

In order to help get him ready, we’ve decided to take a few trips to Kingston to check out the new “hood”. The transition from high school to university will be shocking enough without having to worry about getting around campus, buying groceries, a shirt or finding some decent fries.

I can’t do much to help once school starts – especially being as far away as we’ll be. But I can do something now to assist him in preparing for “the big leap”. I can take him there, scout out the retail situation, and help him demo the fries. And with a little planning, we might also be able to fit in some tourist visits. Thing 1 is a big history buff and Kingston is littered with historical tidbits and chunks.

Our adventures began in July… The Big Leap

Day 1

We found an eclectic room at First Canada Inns on Division just south of the 401. After the long drive in a car that lost the a/c halfway, we were so grateful to walk into a nice cool room. We met friendly, professional staff at this location. While older, we found the inn to be very well maintained and full of charming personality.

View of a hotel room in Kingston Big Leap

Kingsized bed, jacuzzi and pull out couch at First Canada Inns

The room had a jacuzzi. It brought me back to the days when we’d head off to Niagara Falls and the heart shaped, red jacuzzis. While not red it was lovely and bubbly…( and I’m not allowed to post Thing 1 in the bubbles so you’ll have to take my word for it. )

By the way, did you notice the elephant in the room?

elephantInTheRoom Big Leap

The Elephant in the room at First Canada Inns

We enjoyed dinner at Harper’s Burger Bar, a local burger place. Very interesting menu – you pick your bits and pieces separately and then they bring it to you all together. They claim to have the best fries in Kingston! We met some Queen’s students working there who offered some awesome tips like ‘get involved in everything’. So far, we’ve met these people everywhere and they all seem to be positive, excited to discuss the school, happy to give advice and answer questions. The Big Leap

Harper's Burger Bar Big Leap

Our Masterpieces at Harper’s Burger Bar

Day 2

The next day Thing 1 was off to his SOAR ( Summer Orientation to Academic Resources ). He visited all the information tables to learn about everything. Good for him!

Here are some of his highlights:

  • He was informed what to expect academically and tips on how to succeed;
  • He knows what to expect first couple weeks;
  • He learned that he will have access to academic support with Student Academic Success Services offering six free one-on-one appointments to discuss university level writing practices with advisors who have earned their master’s degree;
  • He learned where to get unlimited homework help, device repairs and time management seminars;
  • They translated the meal plan for him and offered tips on how to get the most bang for your (my) buck;
  • He found out that he will get a membership to the gym;
  • He learned about career services for jobs on campus or guidance for jobs after graduation;
  • He heard about the dazzling array of clubs, student government, and extra curricular opportunities to get involved in;
  • He found out what to expect on “moving in” day;
  • He was told he’ll get a letter in the mail with details about what to bring with him into residence. The Big Leap

When he left my car on University Avenue that morning he felt unsure and confused. When he got back in my car at the end of the day he was excited and informed. ( His words. ) I wish I had the same confidence about this adventure he’s going on. But it is his journey and I believe in him.

I visualize learning as a fountain – information pours in, from all the different sources, it gets swirled around for a bit, mixed up and sorted, then it comes out of the funnel in some shape that resembles understanding. Just like this beautiful fountain I saw early in the morning, right after dropping him off. This is when it really hit me that this place will be his home for the next four years. He’ll leave a child and return an adult. #noTears

Campus Fountain Big Leap

This beautiful fountain reminds me of a funnel of knowledge.

While he was stuffing his brain and building up some anticipation, I wandered around town. I had ‘student budget’ in mind and discovered that Kingston is loaded with excellent bargain opportunities. From what I could determine, there are 3 Salvation Army Thrift stores, a Value Village, a Liquidation World, Bibles for Missions, a March of Dimes Superstore, consignment stores, more dollar stores than I could count and a military surplus store.

I managed to get to some of them and scored quite a few awesome treasures – though not exactly the kind a student living in residence would want. There were great selections available for the student budget though. Everything from dishes to furniture, linens, clothing, costumes and books. Next time I’ll be looking for grocery options.

bargain treasures Big Leap

Lots of treasures from a few of the second hand shops around town

We went for dinner at the Copper Penny. He’d heard about this place from someone at the orientation. Apparently the best fries in Kingston! ( I’m starting to see a pattern here.)  We had to check it out. He had ribs with fries and I had pasta. We were so hungry I forgot to take pictures! Sadly I didn’t have room to try the Suicide by Chocolate cake – the SLICE was approximately the size of a dinner plate on it’s side. Not even kidding! Next time I definitely want to experience some of that.

Day 3

We stayed in town a second night and were able to enjoy the Inns’ facilities and pool in the morning before heading back to Fort Henry. I didn’t write about the INCREDIBLE Fort Henry here and that’s because it was so amazing I want to give it an entire post of its own. It was phenomenal. You can read about that visit HERE. ( If you want to make sure you are notified for all posts,  add your email at the bottom of this page. ) Just know that you must go for a visit and if you go this summer and make sure you catch the Sunset Ceremony on a Wednesday night.

There are so many more things we want to do in Kingston that we’ve decided to go back again. On our way out of town we noticed a tech company that claimed to have a robot that makes crowns and a garden centre that advertised freshly picked Djarleeng tea leaves. As well, the Haunted Walk, Upper Canada Village; and the 1000 Islands intrigue us.

We are going to call this adventure #QueensUmum and you can follow along with us if you’d like. Stay tuned and let me know in the comments if you think there’s something else we need to see.

The Big Leap… to be continued. (Click here to see the next part in Moving in Day…AKA the BIG LEAP.)

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