I wrote a blog post a year ago on my hope for my year abroad and I thought it would be fun to see how much of it I managed to do! Here and some inserts from that very blog and my thoughts:
1. Travel as much as possible
“There are parts of Canada and the US I am desperate to see- especially whilst I am able to get cheaper domestic flights! I’m hoping to travel as much as possible but I definitely want to see Banff, Montreal, Niagara Falls and New Orleans while I am there!”
This, I definitely achieved! Though I didn’t manage to go to Banff or the New Orleans due to flight costs, and despite having missed a trip to Chicago due to having to return home early, I am lucky to be able to say that I saw some amazing places during my year abroad. In Semester 1 I travelled to Toronto twice, Niagara Falls, Montreal, Quebec City and Aurora (all in Canada), and in Semester 2 I visited Aurora again, as well as seeing Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco, and then Disney in Orlando to reunite with my family for the weekend. It would be impossible to choose my favourite place, because each one has its own unique appeals, but some of these places will hold a special place in my heart, particularly Toronto as I got engaged there, Disney as it is where I reunited with my family after 7 months, and Aurora, Vancouver, Seattle and San Francisco, because these places formed the craziest and busiest 7 day trip of my life, and the food was unforgettable (shout out to Granville Island Market, Pike Place Market and the Cheesecake Factory in particular).
2. Try to find work on campus
“Though this is a hope that may be out of reach as campus jobs aren’t overly encouraged at Western, I would love to get a part time job to get a real feel for what truly living in Canada would be like! Plus after having 2 jobs for a year I might feel a little lost without one!”
This one was less successful… I did apply for 2 jobs on campus with no success. As a year abroad student I was in Canada with a study permit which permits me to work on campus only, and Western only had 2 jobs open for applicants across the year. Though I didn’t work on campus, I did continue my student team job, and the lack of a second job allowed me to travel more, as well as to star in the Theatre Western fall play, and to direct a short play in semester 2. So I am actually very happy I didn’t work and got other opportunities instead.
3. Join as many societies as is feasible
“Now, this is something I haven’t stuck by in Birmingham, having joined many societies over the last two years but failing to attend all of them as planned. In Canada, however, I definitely want to use every tool available to meet new people and to keep myself busy.”
I absolutely used the tools available at Western to meet new people and stay busy (I have never been so busy in my life as I was in Canada!). Though not all societies, I was actively part of Theatre Western all year round, I attended Global Café (which ran Thursdays 3pm-5pm as a way for international and exchange students to meet) most weeks, I attended Trivia and Rick’s at the spoke, as well as spending time with friends off campus in downtown London, and at Masonville Mall etc, enjoying Vegan Community dinners, Ice Cream, various restaurants, and the Covent Garden Markets. Happy days!
4. Eat as much poutine as possible
“Though I’ll have to make sure it’s vegetarian gravy”
Poutine!! I miss it!! I ate my fair share of poutine for sure!! The best poutine I had was a La Banquise in Montreal, which is very well known and highly recommended for its poutine and it did not disappoint! I also ate my fair share of beaver tails and pancakes… so good!
5. Live in the moment
“This is something I struggle with massively- oftentimes looking too far ahead, panicking about tomorrow and not enjoying the here and now enough. I am hoping that a new environment will be of aid in living in the moment more.”
Ah. Looking back I definitely improved on this a great deal in Canada, though I still think there is room for improvement. I am forever thankful to Canada and the people I met there for the affects it/they had on my personal growth.
6. Take as many pictures as possible
“This coming academic year is one I want to look back on in years to come with fond memories, and many, many pictures.”
It has been so fun to review this blog post from a year ago, and I am so impressed with how many accomplishments I made that I hoped to! I am also impressed that I made even more than I anticipated! I miss Canada every day and I will cherish my time there forever.
Follow my Instagram @sophie_kxo for all of my year abroad posts and recurring reminiscing of my time there!