Winnipeg is NOT a hole. That is the first thing I will say. Many people have looked at me and cringed when I said I applied there. Yes, it gets ridiculously cold here. But other than that, it is much like other Canadian cities… lovely. Actually, I have been told there is a very big art and music scene here, as it is cheaper than some of the larger centers. They get most of the big concerts here; have their own ballet company and tons of small venues for lots of local talent. But, more on the tour of Winnipeg in a few minutes.
The Winnipeg leg of the CaRMS store started with “tapas and drinks” at a lovely pub called Hermano’s. Upon getting the invitation, I asked myself “what the heck is a tapa?” I have never heard of said things. I Googled it. A tapa (for the few readers who are as clueless as I) is an appetizer. Apparently the word has Spanish roots (thank you Wiki) and is used as a trendy word for appetizers. Who knew? Everyone except me, yes. The “tapas” were good. Especially given they were my supper and it was 8:30 at night. The company was good as well. Over half of the residents from the program came out and told us all kinds of great tidbits about the city and the program. It made me feel better about possibly living here. Also, I walked to the dinner… Nothing too sketchy on my venture downtown, despite Patrick’s concern I would be murdered. You see, Winnipeg is the violent crime per capita capital of Canada. Though, the crimes don’t happen downtown and are generally gang related. Comforting, sort of.
Interview day started bright and early at 7:30 with breakfast. First problem… The office we were told to go to was behind a coded and locked door. After trying to find different ways to get there, I had to give in and call. They had moved the breakfast, so someone came up to get me. There was enough food to feed an army, let alone the 6 of us (yes, just 6) interviewing. For lunch, we had real food… Lasagna, salad and bread, second best lunch to Calgary lunch yesterday.
The facilities here are the best I have seen. They are not only brand new and very modern, but they are spacious and there is room to expand. The Cancer center is extremely multidisciplinary in nature and there are specialized clinics that involve all of the team. Plus, there is a gamma knife (fyi, there are 4 in Canada, two of which are in Toronto). And they have PET/CT with a cyclotron. They have reserved rad onc beds in the main hospital. The residents have their own desks and a window in the office. They do a ton of research and there are teaching opportunities, as well. They are eligible for a license after first year and can moonlight (not an option in a lot of other rad onc program. Not sure if it is what I want to do, but it would be cool to have that option.
The interview went really well. I felt much more comfortable and relaxed and I felt like there weren’t questions that I could epically mess up.
Most unusual question: This one was a follow-up to what two characteristics make a good radiation oncologist. I said communication and organization. They then asked if I was an organized person and when I said yes, the unusual questions were all about my ability to work with disorganized people.
Question that took me by surprise: Asking about research I assisted in when I was working with Hospice back during my undergrad. I knew that it could come up, but they were asking a lot about wait time and that was the part I had the least role in, so it got a bit challenging.
Post-interview, I went touring around the city a bit with one of the girls also on the tour. We decided to walk to this area called the Forks (I kept thinking of Twilight and was relieved to learn she did as well). It is the point where two Manitoba rivers meet and is a popular recreation and tourist area.
Our first obstacle was a corner with no crosswalks. There was, however and underground pedestrian pedway. The issue was that once we were underground, it was difficult to ascertain what direction to go. It was like a small city under there. We eventually with much cross-referencing with Google Maps found our way out the other side at the appropriate street.
The Forks area was really cool. For starters, they are building a giant and very modern looking museum of human rights. It is not yet open. They also have a Children’s museum and some restaurants and the train station. More than that, they have an indoor Farmer’s Market where you can get fresh produce, baked goods and meats, as well as a ton of handmade stuff. The inside of the market reminded me of California, which is kind of ironic, given it was snowy and -10 outside. They also have skating on the rivers, though they are not entirely frozen, so it is limited to a track for now. Also, they make ice surfaces for a ton of walking trails around the area, so people can skate through the park and even through the city. Apparently, some people skate to work in the winter. There is even a winter park, where people can skate around and there is a tobogganing hill and a snowboarding area. Pretty awesome if you are decent at winter sports. The area was also an exhibit including different teepees, igloo models and fire pits with explanations of their significance. You can even rent skates.
After Forks, I went to the Winnipeg Art Museum, which housed several exhibits of Canadian art, an exhibit called Feast (all about food and serving food) and another with Renaissance and Baroque style art. It was really interesting to look around. There were some rather epic paintings and sculptures along with the truly bizarre.
I went to a sushi place (that was recommended… no more sketchy cheese sushi for me) and then headed back to the hotel to do some much needed laundry. Plus, I fell in a hole in the middle of the street (graceful as I am) and got mud all over my beautiful bright purple sneakers. I had to repair the damage before it became more permanent. It was all I could think about. I managed with some soap and water to get most of the dirt off… They look almost as good as kind of new… Thank goodness I am my grandmother’s granddaughter. All in all, a good day.