Before I came to Guelph I have to admit I was apprehensive about what kind of experience I was going to have. I love living in Manchester for the city it is: the arts, music, culture and people. Guelph is much smaller, and I would be living on campus compared to being in Fallowfield in Manchester. Not least of my worries was the nauseating idea of moving back into halls after leaving Oak House behind in second year!
I wish I could tell past myself to shut down all those worries. I spent so long concerned about comparing the two universities that I forgot that two completely different things could be just as good as each other. Living on campus has been the most amazing experience so far. Not only can I walk through the snow to get to class instead of catching an overfilled magic bus, I am constantly surrounded by things to do. Every single person I have met has been incredibly welcoming and it has made it so much easier to settle in than expected. There really is a true sense of community at Guelph University, with people of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities mixing. One of my favourite moments so far has been sitting round a table eating dinner with people from five different countries, and realising how easily we got on immediately.
I haven’t explored the city itself much yet, but what I have seen so far I love. It is much smaller than Manchester, yes, but I am glad it is small because it means I will be able to know the city completely by the time I leave, as well as having the opportunity to travel to other places without missing out on too much. I am glad now that I chose to come to Guelph, as it has provided me with almost the exact opposite university experience to Manchester and I am enjoying it just as much. I would encourage anyone going on exchange to push themselves to have as different an experience as they possibly can – because why come on exchange to live the same life as you do back home?
I am fortunate to be surrounded by so many other exchange students who are as enthusiastic as I am and willing to try any and all experiences. Already we have visited Toronto and Niagara Falls, and we have so many trips organised for the future. Whether it is going to ‘The Frosty Mug’ (The annual Varsity Ice Hockey game), eating poutine or celebrating Australia Day, I am learning about so many different cultures and traditions and loving every single second. I guess what I am trying to say in the most roundabout way, is that you have to let go of any expectations when studying abroad. Be prepared for ups and downs, yes, but I prepared myself for too many downs, and so far I haven’t had a single one.