Arriving in Canada

Hello everyone!

As this is my first blog post, I’ll introduce myself: my name is Sarah, I’m 21 and study a bachelor of psychology at CSU in Wagga Wagga. I absolutely love travelling and this isn’t my first time in North America- I got back from a year in the USA in 2015, so this might be a familiar experience for me.

img_9961Getting Ready to Take Off

Before I left to go to Canada, I got to spend Christmas with my family at the Gold Coast, which I really treasured. Not only was I saying goodbye to my family, but also the summer. It would be the last time for a while that I could hang out at the pool
or sun bake!

Just after Christmas, my brother drove me back to Sydney and I caught my morning flight out. For the most part, my flight went without any problems. I missed my connecting flight from Seoul to Vancouver, but I definitely won’t complain as the airline put me up in a 5-star hotel, fed me, and I got to see a bit of South Korea.

 

A Few Days in Vancouver

By the time I landed in Vancouver I was exhausted and in great need of a shower. In Australia, I had the great idea while packing to bring my skis- but this didn’t feel like such a great idea when I was dragging around 60 kilograms of luggage and a huge pair of skis while trying to navigate the public transport in Vancouver!

Luckily there were lots of friendly Canadians who helped me out! One lady even carried my skis onto a bus and paid my fare for me. So I’ll have to pay that forward somehow. I will say that one of my favourite part of Canada so far is how friendly the people here have been- they were always offering to help me out, and you definitely can’t stand at a bus stop for more than 2 minutes without getting into a friendly chit chat with the stranger next to you.

I spent new year’s eve in Vancouver before catching a bus to Kamloops, a small town in British Columbia where I would be studying at Thompson Rivers University.

 

Finally in Kamloops!

After living in the self-catered part of campus in Wagga, I discovered that cooking my own meals was not at all a skill I possess, so I decided to live in a homestay while on exchange. I was nervous to meet the family I would be living with for 4 months, but they were very friendly and I am excited to get to know them more! On my first Friday here, they took me to see a local ice hockey game, which was very exciting (although it still shocks me how aggressive ice hockey players are- it’s normal for many fights to break out in a game).

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The view outside my window

I started orientation week on my first day of arrival in Kamloops, and the cold definitely shocked me. Minus 20 degrees is much colder than the 40-degree heat I came from in Australia. But all of the town is coated in snow, which is absolutely beautiful. The university had about 200 new international students starting at the same time as me, from all over the world, so there were plenty of people to complain about the cold with and it was very easy to make new friends. I’ve also had the chance to try tubing already, and hopefully will be trying some other snow sports soon (snow-shoeing; curling; ice-skating on frozen lakes; and of course I’ll have to ski!)

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Tubing at Harper Mountain

Well that’s it for this week, but hopefully I’ll be able to update you all on some new adventures soon!

Best wishes,

Sarah xx

 

 

Wrapping It Up

So, it’s almost over!

In a few days I will have done my final exam for my exchange period and I will be on my way. This is both a happy and a sad time for me because as you could rightly assume I’m missing my family and friends and pets and especially the weather. It’s been just over 8 months away from home and now the temperature is averaging -6 during the day and -14 on a good night. I didn’t think my body could handle the temperatures but shows what I know because low and behold I have survived!  (Knock on wood)

Since my last post I’ve undertaken a subject on international marketing. Which was interesting but odd. The oddness I refer to is that the subjects are so different to Aus! The course went for 5 weeks; there was a presentation each week in which you created, ran and internationalised a company with a group of 8 (YES 8!) people, a weekly seminar on course material, no textbook and different lecturers each week. Hard to wrap your head around at first but extremely easy to rock if you’re like me – like all Aussie’s I presume – and are loud, organised and outgoing with leadership qualities. I think our upbringing makes us perfect for presentation senario’s!

I think it’s actually not fair that out overseas marks don’t count – its a pass/fail thing – because i’m doing better in these overseas business courses than ones I do back in Australia but what can you do. It’s a nice safety net if all you want to do is travel… which I did.

Unlike Aus it’s winter here – DUH – so they don’t have a big summer holidays break like we do. They do however have at least 2 weeks off around Christmas and New Years so students can go home and see their families etc. Since the course I was doing was only 5 weeks I got a 4 week break and what did I use that time for. Not studying!

FYI – you DO NOT have anywhere near the workload you have whilst studying in Australia. There is only 1 subject that takes all your time, if you write your notes up after your lectures and take notes on the articles for each weeks lecture that’s all the revision you need to look at for exams. AND mine was an at home exam too so even less pressure. I had done all my required notes so I had 4 ‘free weeks’. With that time I thoroughly explored Germany.

With a 60 Euro flight I was off; Berlin, Dresden, Nuremberg, Cologne, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, Osnabruck and finally ‘home to Vehlage’. I explored Germany and her christmas markets for a few weeks before settling in with my grandfathers sisters family for christmas! I learnt heaps about my family, and the way normal people live in Europe – something you as a backpacker and student never know unless you do a home stay or something of the such. I found it so interesting and would recommend potentially doing your exchange in a host family if it’s possible! There wont be as much partying or freedom but you will definitely learn a language and find out what it’s like to really be a local.

It was an amazing experience learning more about my family! I then spent NYE with friends from Uni in Hamburg letting off fireworks because in Germany it’s LEGAL! Too cool! I wish it were possible in Aus but I’m sure we are not responsible enough…

Anywho’s I have less than a week left and I am surely going to miss it! All my new international friends and relying totally only on myself and the relationships I’ve made to live in a not only a new situation but a totally different country! BUT ONE HUNDRED MILLION PERCENT I am more than excited to go home and see my family and friends and my pets! I miss the smell of Aus and all those little things you take for granted when you live somewhere! LIKE FOR EXAMPLE THE HEAT!! I cannot wait to not have to wear 4 layers to go outside and not feel like I’m succumbing to frostbite!

…But, before hometime I’ve still got a month before my flight so to make the ABSOLUTE most of it I’ll be flying to ROME and backpacking around Italy, Switzerland and The Netherlands before my flight home. Almost a month in Italy! Too keen. Next time I exchange it’ll be there. Italy blew my mind!

Only regrets I have about exchange;

  • Falling in love. Now we will literally be on other sides of the planet and probably never see each other again – at least not for a few years 😦
  • Exchanging to Sweden. I had a basic knowledge of the German language and if I had exchanged there I would probably know another language by now..

Otherwise this was really an amazing experience and I learnt so much about myself, traveled the world, made amazing friends, experienced crazy things like DISNEYLAND ON MY 21st BIRTHDAY #highlight and I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone and everyone! (just gotta save up a little bit first… about 20 grand will do it and don’t be afraid to ask for scholarships! Very important)