The final few weeks

Only 3 weeks left at Western!! It’s getting to crunch time with one more week before what is known as “dead week.” It’s pretty much when final presentations, papers, group projects – everything is due before finals week. No teachers are allowed to assign any homework but a few of my professors have sneakily added quiz dates before we went on Thanksgiving Break.

I’ve just come back to Western after a week off, and experienced two family Thanksgivings in Chicagoland, and also ticked off a few bucket list items that I didn’t get to do during my first visit. It’s funny because usually when I have a break like this at home, I will use the time to do assignments or prepare for exams etc. I did none of that. I was a busy bee, going up 103 floors to Sears Tower, or driving to neighbouring states, doing Black Friday shopping.

It’s crazy how the time has flown. I keep reflecting my time at Western and one of my biggest regrets is how long it took for me to establish myself in this new environment. I was feeling homesick, and I would go out with my friends and think of my friends back to home. But now, I want the days to go slower, I want to savour every moment, write down every minute detail, because I know in a couple of months I’ll forget everything.

Whilst the next few weeks are going to stressful in terms of workload, nothing is more stressful than knowing that you are going to have to say goodbye to some very special people that have impacted your life so greatly.

My advice for anyone considering an exchange program? Home is always going to be there for you, no matter how far or long you are away from it, so whilst you’re away from 4, 6, 10  or 12 months, make sure you are living in the moment and saying yes to every opportunity. The first couple of weeks are always the hardest, but before you know it, you have three weeks left and you have to start to say goodbye to your teachers, your classmates, your friends, your boyfriend/girlfriend, and you’ll be left wishing that you could stay longer

Journey To Exchange

Hi, I’m Claire. I study a Bachelor of Education based on the Albury Charles Sturt University campus. I have now been on exchange at the University of Chester, England for a little over a month.

My road to exchange started at the beginning of 2016 when I first stumbled across the idea. I started researching and although I had missed the application date to leave in 2016, I had plenty of time until the next one. This was a blessing and a curse. I spent the next year & a half excited and wishing the time to hurry up, however, it took almost that long to complete the application and prepare myself for the big move.

The Application Process

This, I will be honest, can be tedious and at some points disheartening, however very worth it, as the more organised you are on arrival the smoother settling in will be. I’m  unsure if it is the degree I am studying but it was a lengthy process to find and approve equivalent subjects to study. My course director and the CSU Global team were incredibly supportive throughout the whole process and always responded to my many emails (often irrelevant and sent at 1am) quickly and with great advice. Once you have a subject set approved the process is a lot kinder. I am incredibly fortunate to be a dual citizen with the United Kingdom meaning I did not have to apply for a VISA.

Packing

About two months before I was due to depart I grabbed a huge whiteboard and some markers and wrote everything I thought I needed to pack. Over the next two months I wrote and rewrote on the whiteboard, piled clothes and items next to it and subsequently took them away again. This process, apart from an attempt to make the time go quicker, gave me an opportunity to really think about what I was packing and to make sure I had everything.
I said goodbye to my beloved hair curler in favour of a good raincoat (good decision) and traded my favourite pair of heels for a sturdy pair of Dr Martins (another surprisingly good decision by past Claire). Upon reflection, anything I left behind I have been able to buy here (except my fav teddy  which I am glad made the final cut).

Pre-Departure checklist

As the weeks until departure dwindled I made sure to do all the last minute jobs. This included sorting out banking, bills and all those boring things. I said goodbye to the many families I babysit and my numerous jobs whilst completing a few final subjects with CSU. This time was a very busy and emotional one, but reminded me how lucky I was to be embarking on such a big adventure with an amazing support system behind me.

 

Winter is coming….

As the first half of the semester comes to a close, my friends and new Trent family all head home or to travel for reading week. I decided I would head to Toronto, Ottowa, Montreal and Quebec city for some new and exciting adventures.

Toronto is amazing. Despite the lack of enthusiasm many Canadians show toward the city, it is full of amazing people, food, sights and events. I finally got to experience my first live ice hockey match in Ottowa. Even though the Maple Leafs had an off-game, the vibe and noise created by the crowd in the stadium made it a night to remember. Quebec city is full of cobble stone streets, a deep entrenched history of war and destruction and amazing food and drink. Upon walking about 2km out of the Old City walls, I found myself a part of town full of young people, amazing bars and friendly locals wanting to show me round the city. Lets just say it was definitely a fun night… For the second time I visited Montreal on my way back to Trent. Coincidentally it happen to fall on Halloween. My first Halloween in America, and definitely my favourite. Everyone dressed up in serious costumes, ready to have fun and dance the night away.

 

I have now returned to Trent for my final 7 weeks. The Fall colours (which were amazing) have come and gone, and winter is well on its way. Not sure I’m ready, but definitely looking forward to another crazy adventure !

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