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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Comments (20)

  1. July 18, 2015 - 6:13 pm Reply

    Great post – you definitely hit some of the high points of downtown Kingston. I still have not had the suicide chocolate cake at Copper Penny – I need to go there only for dessert – and I’ve lived here since I started Queen’s in 1999 (!!) Sadly I can’t remember all the great resources I used during my time at Queens (you’ve definitely hit on some of them in your post) but if you have any city-related questions, please ask away. I’m always happy to give advice! 😀
    Best of luck to Thing 1! Queen’s is a great adventure.

    • PooBah
      July 19, 2015 - 12:25 am Reply

      Thank you Jessica! I appreciate your feedback – can you believe that cake? Maybe we will run into each other there one day for the ‘great cake attack’ or something lol.
      We will continue our Kingston adventures for sure over the next year or so – and I’ll keep you in mind if questions come up!
      Have a great week!

  2. July 19, 2015 - 6:12 pm Reply

    What a great idea – take the trip in the summer to explore and get familiarized with your future home away from home. I didn’t live on residence, but did the commute from Mississauga to North York (York U) and should have spent some more time exploring the campus in advance of Day 1. I remember the stress of finding out where you were supposed to be etc.

    This made for a nice time away together as well. Love the post Carin!

    • PooBah
      July 19, 2015 - 6:19 pm Reply

      Glad to hear you think so – I think Thing 1 agrees too. He seems pretty excited in a not typical teenager kind of way. We need to tackle transit too. My sister when to York U. Good times!
      Thanks for your comment! 🙂

  3. July 20, 2015 - 6:43 pm Reply

    what a big step. Good to head there and check it all out. For him but also for you, I guess. I can’t imagine yet what it must feel like to see your baby move out…

    • PooBah
      July 20, 2015 - 8:49 pm Reply

      The other one will be gone two years later and I am not looking forward to an empty nest. Time sure flies. But you are right – I guess getting more comfortable with the place he’s going will bring comfort. Thanks! I never thought of it that way. 🙂

  4. July 21, 2015 - 5:31 pm Reply

    Aww… I both dread and look forward to this day in the very FAR future… it’s hard to let them fly free on their own! 🙂 Good for you taking the trek to check it out with him though.

  5. July 22, 2015 - 8:13 am Reply

    Sounds like you guys had a wonderful time in Kingston. I love the SOAR program, it’s nice for students and their parents, to have an opportunity to see the campus (and the city) before it’s full of students and all of the activities that happen during Frosh Week. Also, just fyi, the best fries in Kingston are to be had at the Big Smoke Food Truck, just north of the city. They are getting their new truck ready right now but should be open in a couple of weeks! Hope we can connect on one of your trips to Kingston!

    • PooBah
      July 22, 2015 - 1:36 pm Reply

      Shanks Peggy! We are going to have to get more serious about this fry challenge – and start taking pictures lol. Sounds like a whole new goal! We’ll give you a shout next time we are in town. Enjoy the calm while you can. 🙂

  6. July 22, 2015 - 9:57 am Reply

    Glad he feels excited and informed! Fun that you could be part of this journey for such an exciting time! I’m nervous about that stage, thankfully I’ve got a few years!

    • PooBah
      July 22, 2015 - 1:39 pm Reply

      It’s so fun! I feel like I’m reliving my own first days away – just less nervous lol. It helps to know all the tricks of survival too. But he’ll have to learn many of those himself of course. Have a great day!

  7. Sarah
    July 27, 2015 - 2:50 pm Reply

    I can’t imagine my first going to University but it will happen sooner than I think. Cool run down of Kingston. I don’t ever thing to go there but now I might!

    • PooBah
      July 28, 2015 - 3:47 pm Reply

      I have to say Sarah that I too was very surprised at all the fun things to do there. I didn’t ever scratch the surface that time. There are so many festivals and water activities. Not to mention the Islands! I can’t wait to go back.

  8. July 27, 2015 - 5:41 pm Reply

    I can’t even imagine having this experience with my kids yet, even though the oldest is just a few years away from it. Queen’s is such a great school, your son will have an amazing four years!

  9. Carolyn
    July 27, 2015 - 6:10 pm Reply

    Um, I need one of those burgers. Like, stat!

  10. Audrey
    July 27, 2015 - 9:40 pm Reply

    My oldest is in grade 12 in sept, after he chooses a school what a great idea to help him get lay of land. Thank you for sharing! Enjoy your time,they grow quickly

  11. September 6, 2015 - 9:28 am Reply

    It seems that the kids are more confident about starting their new school adventure than the parents are. That’s how I felt when my son went to school. I’m sure it was the other way around when I went to school!

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