By Olivia Bucherer-Ezer, University of Toronto, Canada
It’s been just over a year since I packed up my life and set across the pond to start my year abroad in Toronto and it got me thinking about all the thoughts, fears and anxieties I had that, in retrospect, I truly didn’t need to worry about. So I thought it was suitable to whack them in a blog in case they provide any reassurance for those heading out this coming September.
Naturally, one of my biggest fears was about making friends. Packing up your life to move to a completely new place is stressful enough and with the added pressure of meeting people and putting yourself out there, it can all be quite debilitating. The thing that helped me kickstart the momentum was the Facebook group you’re encouraged to join after receiving your acceptance. If you haven’t already, I strongly advise you to put your ego aside and post a little introductory snippet about yourself. This was an incredibly easy way to become introduced to other students, after all, everyones in the same boat as you so are super keen to connect. I found it really reassuring having a few people I’d made plans with prior to heading out and some of them became my closest friends so I very much recommend !!
While university was not at the forefront of my mind, it certainly dawned on me during the 8 hour flight to Toronto that the exchange year also meant education ! Learning a new university system is a ball ache to say the least and I had a few issues at the beginning with picking / swapping modules as I hadn’t quite done enough research before going. If you find yourself in a similar predicament I’d suggest skipping the email palaver and go straight into the exchange office. I found that my emails were never responded to, fairly so as they have a huge influx of confused students to deal with. Instead, I found heading in to speak to someone who could sort it all out in a matter of minutes was a lot more efficient and effortless.
‘What have I forgotten’ crossed my mind about 823056071465 times on my journey to Toronto. I was literally torturing myself, prying through my brain almost in hope that I’d suddenly realise I’d forgotten my passport halfway to the airport. Other than the necessary documents you need to get across the border, anything you may have forgotten is either easy to find on the other end or can be sent to you. Trust that you’ve got all the essentials and find out the hard way if you don’t ! 😀
All I can really say is don’t stress about the unnecessary things, just be confident, back your ability and throw yourself into every opportunity!!