I created a vlog as my last post! Enjoy 🙂
(Either one should work)
The University of Massachusetts Amherst campus is situated in western Massachusetts, just over an hour and a half drive away from Boston and under four hours away from New York. Being in such a good, central location meant it was easy to travel to loads of great locations, some of which were close by and some further afield. Here I’ve compiled a few of my top tips for travelling while studying abroad.
There are so many ways to get to places, some cheaper than others so it’s important to look around and find the best options available. I made use of a Facebook rideshare group solely for UMass students, where people posted if they were driving somewhere and had spare seats in their car. Most of the time you’d just have to pay for petrol, so rides would be much cheaper than buses, and if you were lucky, they’d drop you off right outside your destination!
Making friends in a brand new environment can sometimes be tough, so bonding over a shared interest in travel can be a great way to meet new people. I found making friends with other exchange students was great for this, as we shared a desire to explore our host country and make the most of the short time we had there.
Travelling in big cities can occasionally be dangerous and although it sounds obvious, it’s important to keep an eye on your possessions and to stay safe at all times. Unfortunately, I learnt this lesson the hard way whilst on a trip to Montreal in Canada, where I dropped my wallet at the top of Mount Royal without realising. After freezing all my cards (thankfully I had no cash in it) and accepting that it had been lost, I randomly received a Facebook message from a nice lady that worked at the chalet at the top of the mountain saying my wallet had been handed in! Although this story ended happily, I definitely learnt my lesson and made sure I was more cautionary in the future.
My host university had an international programmes office that often organised events and trips for all the exchange students, such as a Halloween fright night trip to the local theme park. Sign up for reminders about upcoming events and make sure to look around – I was able to go on a day trip to New York with the landscape architecture department even though I study chemical engineering! Not only did I get to go to New York and back for only $25, I also got a guided tour of local gardens and parks and got taught new knowledge on a topic I’d never studied before.
When deciding where to travel to, I found talking to my classmates about where they’ve been and local places they would recommend to be super useful. Getting tips off residents is a great way to get a better feel of the area as they can provide ideas of non-touristy things to do and see.
At UMass we were lucky enough to be given a 10-day break for the Thanksgiving recess, so a group of 8 other students and I decided to head down south and embark on an 8-day road trip across America. We travelled to 7 different states, driving for over 40 hours in total and were lucky enough to be able to see lots of amazing sights.
Day 1 – New Orleans, Louisiana
We began our adventure by all meeting on campus and catching the Peter Pan bus to Boston Logan airport. We caught a short flight to New Orleans, where we picked up the car and minivan that we’d hired to drive us around the country. After stocking up on some essential road trip snacks and with a long drive ahead of us the next day, we checked into our air bnb and decided to get an early night.
Day 2 – Nashville, Tennessee
Waking up bright and early, we began our long drive to our first destination. Driving through Mississippi, we stopped off in Birmingham, Alabama for some typical southern BBQ food before heading on to Nashville. After exploring the city, we ended up on a dancefloor being taught how to line dance whilst being accompanied by a live country music band!
Day 3 – Chattanooga, Tennessee
We began the day by heading to a full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens, situated in a park just outside of Nashville. We explored the city centre some more before stopping for some brunch on a rooftop restaurant. We broke up the drive by stopping at a waterfall in Tullahoma, then headed to our wood cabin where we’d be staying for the next two days.
Day 4 – Exploring the Smoky Mountains
We spent our fourth day discovering the Smoky Mountains and its beautiful surrounding national park. The views whilst driving through the winding roads were breathtaking and provided lots of great opportunities for photographs. We stopped off at a typical American diner for dinner, where the food was delicious but the portions were enormous!
Day 5 – Charlotte, North Carolina
We travelled to a small historical town called Cherokee in North Carolina for a pit stop on our way to Charlotte. We had many interesting stops on our drives, my favourite of which was the Peachoid, which is a 135-foot-tall water tower that resembles a peach located in South Carolina.
Day 6 – Montgomery, Alabama
The morning of our sixth day was spent discovering Charlotte, famous for museums and the NASCAR Hall of Fame. We hired electric scooters to whiz around the city and explore the local attractions. We made a slight detour to briefly visit Atlanta, Georgia where there was a Christmas lights festival in the botanical gardens, as well as Christmas markets situated in the Centennial Olympic park. We then headed to Montgomery, where we’d be staying in a treehouse for the night, surrounded by acres of greenery and trees. Being out of the city meant the stars were fully visible and were amazing to gaze up at.
Day 7 – New Orleans, Louisiana
We completed our round trip by driving back to where we started. Our 7th day happened to be thanksgiving, which meant the roads were very quiet. However, disaster struck when the van got a flat tyre in the middle of the highway and we had to be towed to the nearest shop that was 30 minutes away! Nevertheless, we eventually made it back to New Orleans and spent the evening exploring the busy and vibrant city.
Day 8 – Boston, Massachusetts
We ended our exciting trip with a flight back to Boston, where we visited local museums and indulged in a bit of black Friday shopping, despite the shops being very busy and chaotic!
Overall, despite a few mishaps and alterations to our original plans, we had an incredible trip and felt very fortunate to be able to travel to so many spectacular places.
Reflecting on my time in Sweden, I began thinking about how my expectations before I arrived compared to the realities that I experienced. The main reasons I chose to study in Sweden include: great natural beauty, the idea that it was a world leader in terms of sustainability, a great studying and learning environment, and a feeling of the “unknown”.
To start with, I was attracted to Sweden because of the possibility to spend a lot of time outdoors, exploring its natural beauty. On this front, I have definitely not been disappointed. A friend summed it up best when he described Sweden as one of the most “quietly beautiful” countries he has ever visited. I think this is a good way of looking at it, Sweden is often overlooked, even in terms of its Scandinavian neighbours. Norway has dramatic fjords and glaciers, and Denmark has the lively city of Copenhagen, whereas Sweden’s beauty is more understated. The area surrounding Lund, and the region of Skane, are a perfect example of this. Rapeseed flowers, the unofficial national flower of Sweden, dominate the landscape at the turn of spring and paint the patchwork of fields bright yellow. Lund’s location makes day trips into the countryside very easy, as the sea is only half an hour away, and the area is dotted with national parks.
Ystad, Skane – Where the TV series “Wallander” was set and filmed.
Another key factor that brought me to Sweden was it’s reputation as a world leader for environmental policy and sustainability. It was interesting to see how this manifests in everyday life. Firstly Sweden has an extremely efficient recycling system, and even imports trash from other nations to process. I saw this through the ordered recycling bins at almost all locations in Lund, including student halls and libraries. Secondly, cities like Lund and Copenhagen have been planned and designed to accommodate bikes and public transport as the primary modes of travel. This leads to reduced emissions and consolidated their status as climate friendly nations.
Sustainable and innovative architecture in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Overall, Sweden met my expectations as a beautiful and environmentally forward-thinking country. I was also presently surprised by the “unknown” factor of Swedish culture and society – which I experienced through getting involved with student “nations” and organizations. Check my other blogs for more information about this unique Swedish student life!
By May last year not only was the Toronto cold beginning to lose its bite as the snow melted into a optimistic Spring, I was all done and dusted studying at U of T. Home time? Well no, not quite yet. The explorer inside me, (Insert a hilarious Dora the Explorer joke here) had some unfinished business to attend to.
Ellie Thompson, NUS, Singapore
Let’s be honest, moving to the Singapore is stressful, from trying to get your bag to match cabin weight, to saying goodbye to all your home friends. It’s overwhelming and more than a little bit manic. So, to help with this stress, here’s a small break down of information that should make the transition a little bit easier!
In Singapore card and cash are used frequently, so it is very rare to come across places that do not accept both. That being said I would really recommend bringing cash with you when you first arrive. Food for both UTown and PGP are in Hawker -Type Centres, and whilst you can pay on card some find it easier to pay in cash. Equally you’ll probably be getting a taxi from the airport, which again is made easier with cash. If you were to use card, I would really recommend Monzo. The useful thing about Monzo is that you can use it in airports, so if you have a stop over you can still buy water and snacks without worrying about having left over money. You can also pay with Grab. Grab is the Singapore version of Uber with an extra section called Grab Pay, here it works like a normal debit card but you pay through the app. Finally, there is also the EZ-Link card. This is a metro card that also works to pay for; printing, washing, transport, and other groceries. It is a widely accepted form of payment and can be bought across Singapore but specifically from convenience stores on campus or at 7/11.
The EZ -Link card works for the bus and MRT. The transport system itself is very extensive across Singapore and cheap, as you only pay for the number of stops rather than a flat rate. The closest MRT station to campus is Kent Ridge and you can get there for free by NUS bus. NUS have a free bus system to take you around campus, which is extremely useful as the campus is huge. To navigate this, I recommend you download the NUSNext Bus app which is the campus bus timetable and bus routes. The only negative to this is that the campus bus system stops running at 11pm and is reduced service on the weekend. As I mentioned Grab is the same as Uber and is very popular, particularly for the first few days Grab is a really useful way of getting around Singapore. Finally, I would recommend downloading the Citymapper app, not only does this work in the UK, but can also be used for the MRT system and buses.
My final piece of advice is to bring plug adaptors. Whilst Singapore has UK plug sockets, some items from IKEA are the European plug system! Also, if you plan to travel you will need some adaptors for the surrounding countries!
Hopefully this should provide some logistical help with moving to Singapore!
Moving to a different country to study and live abroad is an incredible experience. From meeting new people, trying new foods, visiting new places, new experiences and discovering the local culture but sometimes it’s not always sunshine and rainbows and THAT’S OK!
A few weeks into my exchange I began to miss home as well as all my family/friends but do not worry it is completely natural and all part of the process of studying abroad. So here are some tips if you are ever feeling homesick on any point of your exchange.
As a Nordic Country Finland is no doubt very expensive to live and so it can be costly to even socialise with your friends in your free time but there are things to do in Helsinki (believe it or not) that are free – disregarding the small transport fee needed to reach particular destinations.
The Helsinki Cathedral is the most impressive landmark in the city, located along the northern side, the grand building dominates the Senate Square. With its white pillars, blue domes dotted with golden stars and statues of the twelve apostles along the roof, it is definitely the perfect selfie spot. Free of charge!
The Uspenski Cathedral is a short walk away from the Helsinki Cathedral. With its golden tones and redbrick face, the cathedral symbolises the Russian impact on Finland in the past. Free of charge!
Sompasauna is the perfect spot for the quintessential Finnish sauna experience. The sauna is open 24 hours a day and it’s a fun way to spend an evening with your friends and if you’re daring enough jump in the Baltic sea after sweating it out in the sauna. Free of charge!
3. Nuuksio national park
Nuuksio is one of many Finland’s national parks, you can either reach the national park via bus or a short train journey (at a short cost). There are many different trails that take you through the scenic woodlands and lakes. There is also the chance to hire bikes, go horse-riding, visit a reindeer park and even walk an alpaca – of course this cost comes at a cost. Free of charge (excluding the transport fee and the optional activities).
4. Helsinki City Museum
There are plenty of museums in the city centre with free admission but my favourite is the Helsinki city museum. The museum documents and displays the history of Helsinki as well as featuring personal memories and everyday life of the city’s residents. Free of charge!
Suomenlinna is a must visit and has free entry (despite the small ferry fare). Sumonelinna is the Finnish Sea Fortress perched on an island. The sea fortress is a world heritage site, unique for its military architecture. The island also has historical buildings, a church, museums and numerous cafes/restaurants. Free of charge!
Knowing I was a late arrival tripled the expected feelings of nervousness and anxiousness. As well as the daunting experience of having to pack up and then set up a temporary new home all by myself. Not to mention, having to sort all the administration papers, course enrolment, applying for residence Finnish residence all by myself as I missed the introduction week. As well as circling the city centre multiple times a day to find my next lecture but it was helpful since I got to see more of the city and different landmarks despite getting lost! Having tackled this single handily along with the help of the friendly staff at the University, a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders knowing I had finally caught up with my fellow Erasmus students!
With being a third year, I was nervous about leaving my already established friendships and connections that I have accumulated over the years at the University of Manchester. I attended a couple of the fresher’s events in the first week held by a society named ‘ESN Helsinki’ which I would highly recommend to anyone – it’s a society full of Erasmus students and you are welcomed with big open arms by every individual. Having attended my fair share of ice breakers and meeting new people in Manchester, I knew that I would not force any friendships despite my first few days in Helsinki being rather lonely, hearing crowds of people down the corridor partying (while I was tucked in bed), I let my friendships naturally take place with time. Now, nearly 6 weeks into my Erasmus exchange to Helsinki, I have made the best of friends. They spread from as close as Scotland to Germany; Austria; France and even as far as Russia! So, my advice is let everything fall into place and watch it flourish naturally. It took me a week or so to meet ‘my people’ who I see and hang out with every day – and I couldn’t be happier!
Cliché but deciding to undertake a year abroad at the University of Helsinki has been the best decision I have ever made. I’m excited to see what the next few months brings!
Winona Newman, Concordia University, Montreal
I wanted to share a small trip I went on before Christmas. I had been feeling a bit lost and confused. Sitting exams in another country was stressful and I was simultaneously feeling both proud that I’d got through almost half my time away and scared that it was slipping through my fingers. The threat of snow was also looming ominously so I needed to enjoy autumn while I could. I decided to visit Montreal’s Botanical gardens which are almost an hour away from where I live and are recommended as one of the best places to visit here.
Like everything else in Montreal they were beautifully extravagant but also surprisingly peaceful. It was an intensely Autumnal day and there was something about that that made me feel really nostalgic, it reminded me of walking through paths of fallen leaves back home and the crisp sunny air which has always been my favourite weather. You can never really predict what’s going to make you feel homesick and I didn’t think I’d find it here, amongst these cute statues and carefully curated landscape. But it makes sense, autumn here mirrors autumn back home both the in climate and aesthetics. It was fine that the homesickness hit me here, where it was peaceful and I could walk on my own, I could ground myself, just focus on taking these photos. It gave me some quiet space.
I think this could be said of this first semester in general. I’ve had a space away from much that was familiar, both the bad and the good, and I’ve had a chance to work out what I am without it. I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to sort my mental health a bit and really focus on doing and thinking things I had no time for before. I’ve realised that even the best things in your life can act as day-to-day distractions and while that’s not a bad thing it’s strange to find what you are without them, what suddenly takes priority when there’s none of the usual expectations of you.
I think this is a pretty cool aspect of a year abroad because it’s one you can control, it’s not place or people dependent and most importantly it can help to counter that encroaching feeling of homesickness. Just find your own strange botanical garden away from it all.
For me, finding accommodation for my time at Lund University, initially, seemed like a never-ending endeavour. I would say this is the only negative experience I have had so far with my time in Lund. However, I do also feel that potentially my year was particularly bad. Therefore, I have tried to accumulate all the information I feel is useful and relevant when looking for housing and accommodation for your time in Lund.
As some background on my experience of housing: when I flew out to Lund, I did not have anywhere to live and was staying in a hotel for the first two weeks. So, my first piece of advice is to book somewhere to stay for the first few days/weeks whilst you are getting settled. This could be a hostel (Winstrup Hostel is popular), Airbnb, Bopoolen, Blocket or a hotel. I would recommend doing this early as lots of places get booked up. Also, if you do find somewhere to stay after booking a place to stay, you can always cancel it. However, it is still useful to have somewhere to stay when you arrive in late August as most tenancies do not begin until September, so you would need somewhere to stay for that time anyway. I did not do this as I expected to find somewhere and then paid a higher price for a hotel. Additionally, within the hostels there are often many exchange students staying there so can find friends through this too.
About a week into being out in Lund I found a place in Åkarp, outside of Lund. It is about 5 minutes on the train or 20 minutes by bus. I found it on a site called Boopolen. I did not like this very much as Lund is a very concentrated place, so I felt once you were out of Lund you were out of it. The trains and buses were not very frequent (trains twice an hour and buses 2-3 times an hour). Also, both the trains and buses stopped running to Åkarp at 1am ish, which also meant I had to catch ~£30 taxi home on my own after nights out as a result of missing the last one. Following 2 months here, I found a place on AF Bostader in Lund where I am happy and going to stay for the rest of my time.
Lund University (LU) provides some accommodation for its students. This is distributed through a lottery system and is very competitive to the point I hardly know anyone who stays in these halls. This is aside from a place called Ideon. This used to be a hotel until the summer and this year is just international students who were given it on arrival day. Other than this, I am not sure what the LU halls are like. LU has a guarantee agreement with some universities so their students are prioritised. They are all within Lund so are convenient and I believe are all pretty nice, as most student halls in Sweden are. I know some students from previous years were offered a place within some LU accommodation following some people dropping out throughout the course of the year also.
2) AF Bostader
AF Bostader is also a housing lottery. You can only get a place in their lottery as a student of Lund and being a member of StudentLund (which is how you also become a member of the student nations). No one I have met this far truly understands how this system works; however, I will explain as much as I think is correct. During a week in July, when you sign up for AF, you will be given a time (e.g. mine was about 22:17) through a lottery system and this time is your place in the housing queue. So, the earlier your time is, the higher chance you have of being given accommodation during the novisch period (the so-called fresher period, when AF have set aside so many rooms for ‘novisch’ students). Through AF, you can get a ‘corridor room’ (like a normal halls) or a flat for one or several people. The flats are more competitive.
Once you are in the housing queue, you can sign up for 3 rooms each day, or until the rooms have expired and been given to someone. If you are first in the queue at midnight on the day that the room expires, the room is yours and will receive an email regarding it the next morning. These, like LU accommodation, are very competitive. There is a general rule of being on the waiting list for 6 months before being able to obtain a room. Mine was only 3 months, however. If you are active whilst in the queue, changing rooms when you have a higher place in a different queue, you will take less time. I think this is why mine took less time. Also, I was kind of desperate so wasn’t picky about where I was living, as long as it was in Lund.
One of the reasons these halls are so competitive is all Lund University students can live there. For example, in my corridor there are students who are close to finishing their degrees as well as students who have just started. As students can live in the same room for their whole university careers, rooms will not necessarily be furnished, so this is something to bear in mind when looking for accommodation. This is the case not only with AF but anywhere you look. If it is furnished, generally, it will mean there is a bed, desk, wardrobe as well as cutlery, crockery and kitchen utensils. It is, therefore, quite good to go for a furnished room, not only because then you do not have to buy a bed but also because you do not need to get plates and stuff, which makes it cheaper and less hassle at the end of the year when moving out.
The picture below is what the queue looks like.
Something to note is the ‘party’ halls are Delphi, Parentesen and Sparta. Vildanden is known to be quieter and further out, but that only means it takes 15 minutes to get places rather than 5 minutes, like the rest of Lund. This is because, like I said previously, everything is very concentrated in Lund so as long as you are in Lund, you are not actually that far away from things so I wouldn’t let this particularly tempt you towards one or the other, as it is good to just get one!
These pictures are from my room in Vildanden. It is en-suite, has ethernet connection (as most AF rooms are) and about 4545 SEK per month (around £365).
LU has 13 nations associated with it. These are good places to meet people as they do brunches, lunches and general activities as well as being where the majority of Lund’s clubs are. They also have some accommodation but you can only try for accommodation in the nation that you are a member of, and you can only be a member of one nation. There is generally 6 months waiting list for these also. However, some do put some rooms aside for new students, like Kristianstads nation.
There is also Smålands nation which is not directly linked to the university which you can be a member of, in addition to another one. Smålands seems to have pretty regular rooms available that are also a reasonable price and in a good location.
3) Bopoolen & Blocket
Bopoolen is a website, specifically for students, to find accommodation. This is where I found my first place to live in Åkarp. These tend to be apartments sharing with other students or living with the flat owner. It is not unusual for students to live with just normal people in their spare rooms, in their converted basements or something similar. My previous place was a large house, where three other students and I lived. We lived upstairs in the house, which had been converted to a flat, with its own kitchen and bathroom and the homeowner, our landlord, lived downstairs. This was a better set up, in my opinion, than some others I had seen whilst looking for somewhere to live, such as being in the room next door to the landlord. However, I also have friends who have done this and really get on with their ‘landlords’ and it has worked out well for them. It all depends on what you want and are expecting. To find these places, there are adverts on the site and you have to email or ring the landlord. These, again, are very competitive and one advert can have 10+ people coming to look at the housing. They also depend on what the landlord wants from their tennants (long or short stay), whether they took a warming to you etc. Therefore, I would recommend emailing everyone or as many as you would feel happy with. As a result of the high demand for places, it is not uncommon for people to not respond to you also as a forewarning. Also, you are able to email Bopoolen themselves to ask for accommodation if you are feeling time is getting on, but I think this is only really done once in Lund.
These adverts are often outside of Lund, like mine was, and can be in nearby Malmo. I think if you are in the situation of living outside of Lund, I would say it is better to live in Malmo as it is a city and there are frequent trains as well as trains throughout the night to and from Lund. Also, there is also an university in Malmo so there are students there too. Alternatively, someone from Manchester this year is living outside of Lund and not in Malmo and he is loving that. It all depends on you and who you live with.
Bopoolen’s website is useful to look at generally as it has a list of housing sites which are legitimate as well as ways to avoid fraudulent sites/people. Being defrauded can occur as people know that students are in need of places to live. I would not say it is very common and should not happen if you use common sense.
Blocket is a similar case in regard to the type of accommodation that is available on it. It is a website for selling things generally. So, there are people selling second hand bikes, sofas and apartments as well as renting them. These are not necessarily specifically for students, so that is something to be aware of too. The same emailing process takes place with this website too.
4) Other ways of getting accommodation
Greenhouse is an eco-friendly accommodation about 15 miles outside of Lund. It is supposed to be quite social as everyone is there together as well as quite cheap.
On arrival day this year, 20th August for reference, there was a housing lottery. This is for international students who did not have accommodation and took place between 9am-10am. Everyone who was there was given a number and then numbers were chosen like a lottery after the hour and these people were given accommodation. So, it also may be useful flying out to Lund prior to the actual arrival day. The accommodations distributed included LU and Greenhouse. We were not informed about this until about 2 weeks before leaving so I had booked my flights and was not able to participate.
There are lots of people there who are there to help you, whatever your situation is, so just talk to anyone and they will try to help or point you towards someone who can. Also, on arrival day you can book some activities for the first few weeks to get to know people, like dinners or sports days.
There are lots of groups on facebook which advertise housing in Lund also. Some of these are specifically for students and some are general. Again, there is the precaution to be aware of scammers on these as there is not the safety that comes with the other websites. To name a few there are:
There are also long-term Airbnbs you may be able to find to stay in for a few months.
Some things I think are important to note:
Some of the best experiences I’ve had at UBC have been through joining the Exchange Student Club (ESC) – I met some of my closest friends, travelled across parts of Canada, and most of all, made some incredible memories. Here are some of my highlights from Semester 1:
The first ESC trip was definitely one to remember! We stayed for the weekend at Camp Potlatch on the Sunshine Coast, a boat ride from Vancouver. If you could picture a typical North American-style camp that you often see in movies this was it – wooden cabins with very, very hard bunk beds and no electricity, big communal meals where we all chanted camp songs, and all this whilst being surrounded by luscious green forests and calm, blue ocean.
Nothing like arriving at a beautiful camp in the middle of nowhere and being told about all the bears and cougars you could potentially run into! Wasn’t best pleased to hear about a group of 10 year olds once being chased by a cougar. But luckily they taught us the trusty ‘Go away bear’ technique in which you stand up to the bear, raise your arms with your hands in the shape of claws and loudly say in a low-pitched voice “Go away bear!!”. I was very much hoping I wouldn’t have to test the effectiveness of this method at any point – especially as my cabin was one of the furthest into the forest, up a big rocky hill, where I doubt anyone would be able to hear you if it hadn’t worked. Luckily we all survived!
Of all the trips the ESC run throughout the year, I would say Sunshine Coast is a must because you meet so many people from countries across the world, and some will become your closest friends during your time at UBC. The camp offered a range of fun, buddy-making activities such as canoeing, paddle boarding, hiking, rock-climbing and archery. My canoe partner probably wished they hadn’t ended up with me when I was too busy watching seals instead of paddling! We also had campfires in the evening and all participated in a big showcase where each group had to put on a performance that told us something about the country they were from. This was a lot of fun to watch and it was really cool learning about other national traditions. I also learnt that slip n slides aren’t for the faint-hearted!! You have to cover yourself in washing up liquid and hurl yourself forward onto some wet tarpaulin that stretches downhill and race to win a flip cup battle. I didn’t quite realise how brutal this can be for your body – at the end I had battle scars that looked like I had encountered a cougar after all (see below)!
Another amazing trip the ESC run is one to the Rocky mountains in Alberta. As a geographer being able to see these incredible glacial landscapes first-hand was definitely a highlight. The infamous Lake Louise was frozen when we visited, providing this great photo taken just after I thought I heard the ice crack! This is where we also had a very slippery walk up to the Agnes Tea House for a hot chocolate. Who knew snow was so tricky to walk on?! I soon gave up on the way back and slid down the hill on my bottom – something I thought was a great idea at the time but slightly regretted later when I had to wear wet leggings for the rest of the day! We also got to see the Athabasca-Columbia icefields – huge white glaciers, lakes, and frozen waterfalls. You know, the type of Canada you tend to see on Mac computer screensavers. There were also lots of wildlife spotting opportunities – bears, elk, deer, and a pack of wolves! Definitely worth the 10 hour coach journey to get there!!
One thing the ESC is known for here at UBC is their every other Thursday Pit nights at the university bar. They’re called YOEOs = You Only Exchange Once! Which I think is a great motto to remember – you have to make the most of everything! Each night has a different theme and they’re a great way to have fun, look slightly silly and meet fellow exchangees. These range from ‘snowpants or no pants’ (pants meaning trousers remember!!), tropical themed, to ‘where your own flag’. If you want to dance to cheesy tunes all night this is the place to be!
To end the first semester at UBC, the ESC held a winter gala, giving everyone the opportunity to dress up and celebrate the end of the decade. It is crazy how fast time flies here – it felt just like yesterday that I was holed up in wooden cabins with some of my, now, closest friends. Unfortunately not everyone stays at UBC for the year and so it’s a bittersweet evening having to say goodbye to lots of friends. On the plus side now I know people from places like New Zealand, Australia and Brazil (just to name a few!) so I can definitely look forward to future travels where I will be welcomed by some friendly faces.
Here’s to Semester 2 and the making of more memories!