Oh goodness, I am lost for words. This doesn’t happen often folks!

I have just come back from a ten-day trip to Halifax, Nova Scotia. I have never been to the East Coast of Canada before, and the scenery, history, and welcome from Haligonians was astounding. I’m smitten.

The trip was prompted by the summer residency of the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction program at University of King’s College. The program is offered in partnership with Dalhousie University, which means it benefits from a whole whack of different amenities but also retains the charms of a small institution. King’s is the oldest chartered university in Canada. Established in 1789, it is the oldest English-speaking Commonwealth university outside of the United Kingdom. It was originally based in Windsor, but after a fire ripped through all the buildings, it was relocated to Dalhousie campus at the corner of Oxford Street and Coburg Road.

I could write and write and write about this all day long, but likely best to just show you some photos from the experience.

Woman stands in front of old stone building with sign in background saying "University of King's College"

Arrived! Yes, I look a bit bedraggled after a red-eye flight from Vancouver to Halifax, but happy I managed to navigate the bus system with ease to arrive on campus.

Stone building at Dalhousie campus with beautiful boxwood hedges out front.

Dalhousie and King’s campus did not disappoint. Tons of history preserved so well.

Dorm room with a bed, desk and small bureau for clothes.

My first dorm room ever. I never lived in student housing through undergraduate studies, either at home with my parents or in my own place. It was fantastic being on campus throughout the residency as classes were just exhausting (they crammed a lot into my brain in those ten days!), but let’s just say shared accommodations are probably best experienced in your 20s.

Bound book featuring student signatures and names as part of King's Matriculation tradition.

Being an old institution, there are several traditions at King’s that I have never experienced as a student before. One is called “Matriculation,” where students sign a book in the Library. If you are an undergrad, I believe they do a whole ceremony around signing and officially matriculating at King’s — a bookend companion to the convocation ceremony, I guess. There was no pomp or circumstance when I arrived, though, but I got to sign the book all the same. Once things fill up a bit more, they hire a professional calligrapher to write out everyone’s names. Super formal and fancy.

Wall of small paintings at the Halifax Public Library

One of our last nights we visited the Halifax Public Library for a reading. They had a wall filled with art. The public library in a town says so much about its people, and Halifax’s new building was stunning. Very modern but actually cozy.

Simone Blais in a pub holding an aperol spritz

What writing workshop would be complete without a beverage? End of day libations were much needed after all that learning and creativity.