Returning to Manchester

By Sarah Winspear (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada)

So I returned to the UK about a month ago following the most amazing year abroad. When I got accepted on the study abroad programme I didn’t expect it to be as good as it was. One of the bigger unexpected experiences was working at a camp over summer for people with disabilities in America. Study abroad opened up this opportunity for me as I had no summer plans and figured that since I was already in North America (Canada) that this would be a great way to prolong my time abroad while experiencing a different culture and broadening my perspectives. I just thought this was worth mentioning to show that there are many things that can be done after your time abroad and other options post-study.

I’ve been back in Manchester for a week now, had my welcome back meeting and am preparing for fourth year. It kind of feels like I’ve never been away; it’s easy to settle back in. I was a little apprehensive that being with people from the year below in Geography would be a little strange, and that a lot of my friends would have graduated, but with Geography there are many returning study abroaders so that isn’t an issue. As well, many of my other friends are still here as they’re doing masters or were away last year doing a year in industry or study abroad. Being back with Manchester friends feels like we’ve never been apart and we just picked up where we left off.

Overall, study abroad was amazing and, as much as I do miss UBC and Canada, it feels great to be back and with my friends again in Manchester!

Now it’s just time for the work of final year to kick in!

Bye, Bye BC!

By Sarah Winspear (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada).

So here goes, my last blog post in Canada and what can I say it’s been amazing! Although for me this is not the end of my time abroad as the adventure will be continuing in the States with a bit of travelling and then working at an American summer camp which I can’t wait for. But it has meant the last few days have been pretty hectic as I only finished my exams yesterday and have a lot of stuff to sort out in the last few days before I can leave for the USA.

Looking back this year has gone exceptionally quickly and I can’t believe it’s just about over. I remember the excitement of first arriving in a new city and meeting my new flatmates and now it’s time to say goodbye. I have become so adapted to the way of life here; going to 8am lectures, grabbing a blue chip cookie or Tim Horton’s coffee to maintain energy and of course going out for cheap sushi often, so now I don’t think it’s really sunk in that I am actually leaving.

Seymour- where I spent my first night in Vancouver
Seymour- where I spent my first night in Vancouver

A few things I am definitely going to miss are the general feel of campus and how beautiful it is, with the ability to walk 10 minutes to the beach to watch the sunset, the convenience of Whistler a mere 2 hours away on the grey hound and of course the people that I have met from around the world.

Wreck Beach Sunset
Wreck Beach Sunset

Some highlights for me have been:
-the diverse range of REC events available (these are recreational one off events that are great fun)
-Whistler
-The Rocky Mountains
-the stunning campus
-being able to go and watch campus sports (which always have a good atmosphere)
-the city in general with an ocean and beaches, mountains and trails and a thriving downtown area all in close proximity
-and so many more that I just can’t write everything down.

Rec events-day of the longboat
Rec events-day of the longboat
Team Regal-Storm the wall
Team Regal-Storm the wall
the Rockies-Moraine Lake
the Rockies-Moraine Lake
Autumn/fall
Autumn/fall
wreck Beach
wreck Beach
Beautiful Campus
Beautiful Campus
Campus
Campus
Beautiful Campus
Beautiful Campus
Nitobe Gardens- on campus and free for students
Nitobe Gardens- on campus and free for students

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City Centre from the revolving restaurant
City Centre from the revolving restaurant
City Lights-Granville Street
City Lights-Granville Street

Finally I don’t really know what else to say other than no matter what you are doing consider study abroad and make the most of it while you’re there I guarantee you will not regret it and will look back and wonder how the previous year past by so fast!!

I hope my blog has shown you a little insight into study abroad and live in Vancouver and that you’ve found it interesting!

Thanks for reading
Sarah 🙂

Vancouver Top 10!!

By Sarah Winspear (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada).

After doing so many amazing things so far I thought a summary of my top 10 might be a good idea. So here goes in no particular order.

1. Thanksgiving in the Rocky Mountains

Moraine Lake
Moraine Lake

2. The best gig ever in Seattle (Arctic Monkeys, Foals, Lorde and many more)

Arctic Monkeys
Arctic Monkeys

3. Trips to Whistler

Whsitler
Whsitler

4. Going to Camp

Kayaking
Kayaking

5. Climbing Grouse Mountain

admiring the scenery
admiring the scenery

6. The Canucks Game

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7. The Aquarium

Dolphins
Dolphins

8. Christmas Lights and the Christmas train in Stanley Park

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9. Day of the Longboat

Long boat team
Long boat team

10. The Colour Run

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University Life Canadian Style

By Sarah Winspear (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada).

So I’m just about to start my second semester at UBC and thought this would be a good opportunity to reflect on the academic side of studying abroad. Teaching is quite different at UBC with the majority of my classes in first semester taking place in a classroom rather than a lecture theatre even though they are lectures. The classes seem to be smaller and for my courses there were no seminars or small group sessions only lectures, although this may just have been the courses I took. One of my classes did have a computer lab attached as this was a computer based class.

Another major difference and probably the biggest difference is the assessment style, rather than the one big final exam and perhaps one piece of coursework I might get assessed on at home here there were weekly tasks in some classes, mid terms and coursework, so many varied methods of assessment. This means it does take the pressure off final exams and they are worth a smaller percent of your overall grade. Another thing worth mentioning is that the grading is often higher here with a pass being 50% rather than the 40 at Manchester.  With this assessment method it means you get more continuous work than at Manchester but personally I have not found the work load difficult and there is still plenty of time to do whatever you would like and enjoy your weekends.

Also it might be worth noting that rather than having an extensive library with most the books in that you need for your course available to borrow, at UBC you are expected to buy the books you need for a course. There are many ways of doing this though with a second hand bookstore, UBC bookstore for new books and the possibility to buy a used book of another student.

Overall UBC is academically quite different but it is very easy to adapt to and is not a negative difference, it’s just not what you’ll be used to. I hope this has helped and provided an insight into academic life at UBC!

Beautiful BC

By Sarah Winspear (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada).

I really don’t know where to start, so much has happened in the past week!! One thing that immediately struck me about Vancouver and the UBC campus is how beautiful the surroundings are. I still can’t believe I live so close to such vastly differing terrains with mountains, the ocean and a city centre so close by, and I love how green the area is, so many trees!!!
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View from the 16th floor
View from the 16th floor
Campus
Campus
Campus views
Campus views
UBC cmapus
UBC cmapus

So far this week I have been to the beach which is actually on campus and about a 10 minute walk from where I live. I thought I lived close to the coast at home but this is a whole new level. Wreck beach has some amazing views out to the Pacific and of the mountains, only downside is it is actually a nudist beach, but once you get over this fact it’s actually a really pretty area.

Wreck Beach
Wreck Beach
wreck beach
wreck beach

I’ve also been to Stanley park near downtown which is another beautiful area but unfortunately we didn’t have much time to walk round it all so I would like to hire a bike and some point and cycle the perimeter.

Stanley Park
Stanley Park
Stanley Park
Stanley Park
Stanley Park
Stanley Park
Stanley Park looking onto Vancouver
Stanley Park looking onto Vancouver
View from Stanley park
View from Stanley park
Stanley Park
Stanley Park

Since being here I’ve had quite a few new experiences including going to a country night at the Roxy in downtown. I went with Canadians and there was a live band on and loads of people wearing cowboy hats, denim shorts and boots!! It was great even though I only knew two songs; Taylor Swift and Mumford and Sons. Some people even started line dancing, we definitely don’t get this in England but I loved it!!! Also that night there was a woman with a snake allowing people to take photos with it, well this was the first snake I’d ever seen and to be honest I thought they were pretty scary before hand but I was brave and decided just to touch it, it was a very weird feeling like nothing I’ve ever touched before.

Downtown Vancouver
Downtown Vancouver

On Tuesday there was Imagine day which was a day for new students to get told information and then get the chance to sign up for any societies or clubs. There were a lot of stalls all trying to get you to sign up. While I was there a group started singing acapella, it felt like I was in Pitch Perfect . I signed up for a couple including: the Ski and snowboarding society (I’ve only been skiing once and I’m not very good but hoping a few trips to Whistler will help me improve), the exchange society, who are putting on a trip to the sunshine coast, and I signed up to a sorority (not that I actually know what that means).

I’ve had two days of classes so far but I’m still adapting to having lectures in classrooms rather than the lecture theatres I’m used to and having to find classes that aren’t full if you want to switch a class. I’m particularly looking forward to the cartography (maps) course as I did a similar module last year however this one seems a lot more practical-based in which you make many of your own maps in lab time. I’m also taking a course on Modern Europe which should be interesting learning about Europe from a Canadian perspective.

This evening I went to my first ever basketball game, it was the UBC Thunderbirds against University of California Riverside. Unfortunately we lost 77-88 but it was a great evening, but again very strange having a sort of mini indoor stadium a 2 minute walk away. There were cheerleaders, a band, and Thunder the UBC mascot. It was all as you would imagine and there was even a commentator who in every time out would advertise for things such as refreshments. In every break there was load music playing the atmosphere was brilliant!!

Thunder the UBC mascot
Thunder the UBC mascot
Basketball game
Basketball game

I have another day of classes tomorrow then a free pancake breakfast on Saturday which I cannot wait for, the amount of free food so far has been great; we had a bbq on Monday and a free lunch on Tuesday. Hopefully I’ll get to explore a little more of Vancouver this weekend and I’ll let you know how it goes!!

Sarah 🙂

First night, first impressions, first blog!!

By Sarah Winspear (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada).

I’m currently sat in a hostel in Vancouver waiting to meet up with people for breakfast before moving into residence later today so I thought what better time to write my first post about getting here and my first impressions.

It seems like such a long time ago that I went to the study abroad notice board and found UBC next to my name and now I’m here, in Vancouver. I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet. The last couple of weeks I’ve just been waiting to get here. I was surprisingly calm and relaxed about the whole thing, I expected to be panicking and worrying but I really wasn’t. Saying goodbye to friends and family wasn’t too bad either, probably because I knew all my friends from home will still be there when I get back. Also I would never be able to forget them because they’d put together a photo album for me and wrote little personal messages in, this was along with them getting me a colour by numbers book and pencil crayons (geography joke). With all the goodbyes done all that was left was the packing which was probably the most stressful part but still not that bad. I thought I’d packed a lot until I got to Vancouver and saw Naomi’s luggage.

So the morning came of my flight. When I woke at 4.30am it still hadn’t really hit me that later that day I would be in Vancouver. I arrived at check in over an hour before it opened so sat around waiting then got through security to sit and wait for another 3 hours. I was so relieved when the flight was called that I would finally be on my way. Just as we were boarding Naomi, a fellow Manchester geographer, joined me for us to have a quick ‘hello, how are you?’ before we had to go our separate ways on the plane. The flight was ok, nothing special, but I was gutted when there was no personal entertainment system and just a very small screen a few rows in front showing films which weren’t of interest to me. This was the one thing I was looking forward to, catching up on some films on the flight. I thought ‘oh well at least I have a window seat so ill get good views’ but ohh no it was just cloudy until out of nowhere I saw a glacier!!! I got far too excited at this expressing to the person sat next to me I’d never seen one before but had taken a module on glaciers last semester. I was astonished at its vast size and it made that whole module become a bit more real. When we got to Vancouver we met up with Hannah, Naomi’s friend also here on exchange, and Steph, an Australian who will be living in the same flat as Hannah this year. So the 4 of us went to the hostel and met up with 2 other boys from Manchester here on exchange. We went out for tea and ate salmon and rice before heading to bed ready for the big day today. It was nice to arrive in Vancouver and not be alone. I already feel like I’ve made new friends as I didn’t know any of the other exchanges we met up with other than through a Facebook group we made!! I think everything will become a lot more real in the next few hours after I move in to halls and meet my new flat mates.  Apologies for the lack of pictures but as you can tell I’ve been quite busy. I will let you know how the next few days pan out and keep you updated on life in Vancouver and UBC!!! Sarah 🙂 <a href=”http://sarahwinspear.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/image.jpg”><img src=”http://sarahwinspear.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/image.jpg?w=300” alt=”Leaving gifts from some of my home friends including: photo album, colouring pencils, a globe pencil sharpener and a colouring book.” width=”300″ height=”224″></a> Leaving gifts from some of my home friends including: photo album, colouring pencils, a globe pencil sharpener and a colouring book.