by Lola Bianchi, University Guelph, Canada
So it’s actually currently March but I thought it would be good to write about how it was going home for Christmas and then also having to come back!
It’s quite a nice change studying abroad as all the work for the fall term is due before you break up, meaning that you can go home for Christmas and actually enjoy the break instead of having to study for exams.
Before I went home it was rather sad to be honest, as a lot of the good friends I made here were other international students. However, most other countries outside of UK only offer one term exchanges, so it was rather upsetting having to say goodbye and not knowing when we would next see each other. It was also a very strange feeling to be going home, as I think it changed my perspective on the year abroad. Before I had been struggling with the length of time abroad and, especially as my time here hasn’t been the smoothest, there have been times where it has felt like I am never leaving Guelph.
I came back here a week after classes started and realised there was only 3 months left here and that 1 of them we don’t even have university so that has made this term feel a lot less daunting, as I know I have a limited time frame and as such have to make the most of every day. Saying that, I was supposed to go out last night to an event I have been trying to go to for ages but I fell asleep at 7 to have a nap and like an idiot set the alarms for AM instead of PM so here I am writing this after having slept 12 hours!
For those who do end up coming to Guelph, the event I was going to go to is called ‘queer night out’ and I figured would be a good place to bring it up. As a member of the queer community, something I struggled a lot with is that a big majority of the Canadians I’ve met here are straight and, while there’s nothing wrong with that, it did make me feel very singled out for a long time. Despite this, don’t let the ridiculous amount of backwards caps fool you! There are other students who are LGBT+ and, actually, University of Guelph has one of the most open queer communities in Canada! It just takes some time to find them and befriend them but do not lose hope!
Again, sexual inclination isn’t the only factor of friendship but I think when you are a gay person it is important to have other members of the community around you to help you not feel isolated. There is quite a big frat mentality here, and I only felt like I was able to step away from that part of the culture through pursuing friendships with people who were more similar to me. ‘Queer night out’ is also SUPPPOSED (fingers crossed I go next week) to be a super chill evening to actually chat to other gays in Guelph and form those friendships in a safe place. The venue is an adorable small wine bar called ‘Two Faces’ which even if you are straight, you have to go to as I think it is the cutest spot downtown and is always super chill and good vibes!