Final Farewells & Back in Blighty

I can’t believe I’m back in England writing this final blog post, and that the whole year is over! Now I’m that I’m home and settled back into life in England, I keep feeling – did it really happen? The eight months I spent in Canada were undoubtedly some of the best times of my life, and I would encourage anyone reading this blog and hesitating whether or not to apply to DO IT, DO IT, DO It! You won’t look back! There will certainly be odd times on your year abroad when it feels very challenging or you feel homesick, but for me those moments were always fleeting, and whenever there was a particularly hard time, there was always an incredible new experience just around the corner. Having completed the year, I feel I have come out of it more confident in new environments, and self-assured of my ability to adapt to different situations. I now feel that I could happily move abroad for a job in the future, with the skills needed to fit into a new country and culture.

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A Trip to Texas

By Uschi, Simon Fraser University, Canada.

The start of semester two went so fast, and very quickly the reading week was upon us and my friends and I were wondering what fun (and affordable) travel opportunities we could make the most of during that week. Obviously there was some uni work that needed to get done during this time, but I did not want to miss out on opportunity to do some more travelling – how often do you find yourself in Canada? My flatmate, Millie, had friends studying in Austin in Texas who were also on their year abroad, so considering that visiting a place where you know people is always a good start, we packed our bags and headed off to Austin for a few days hoping to find some sun!

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Christmas in Whistler & End of Semester 1 Reflections

By Uschi, Simon Fraser University, Canada.

The end of December/ beginning of Jan has been crazy busy with exams, moving house, going skiing in Whistler, saying goodbye to various friends leaving Canada, and starting the new semester. But I’ve finally got a bit of a lull and thought I’d update everyone on my news, as well as offer some reflections on the end of the first semester and how the last four months in Vancouver have gone.

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Update: Mid-terms & Stanley Park 10k

By Uschi, Simon Fraser University, Canada

 

Stanley Park 10K

 

On Saturday 21st October Millie, Carrie, Lottie and I completed the 47th James Cunningham Sea Wall Race around Stanley Park. Being a spontaneous decision to sign up to the race 3 weeks before the event, none of us really did much training for it, and so when race morning came around we didn’t really know what to expect. Sheff was an absolute babe and drove us to the start line which saved us the dreaded journey downtown on the 95 bus (curse of living on a mountain). On the way down we listened to a mix of Beyonce power ballads and jump-up to get us pumped up for the run. Despite the weather being against us (it was pretty rainy and cold) and not being dressed in the right gear (all the Vancouverites had donned their fancy lululemon rain coats whilst we were shivering in t-shirts), we were all excited to start the race! The run was a loop of the sea wall all around the edge of the park, so we were really spoilt with beautiful views out to sea during the entire time – I even saw a seal bobbing along in the Harbour which was a real highlight. The trees were beautiful colours of red and orange as they began to shed their autumn leaves and at several points during the run I forgot about my aching legs and was just taken aback by the beauty of the park and felt such gratitude to be able to be where I was, doing what I was doing. Designated a national historic site of Canada, Stanley Park is a magnificent green oasis in the midst of the heavily built urban landscape of Vancouver – a must-do for any trip to the city. Twenty-seven kilometres of trails meander through evergreen forests filled with a rich diversity of lush plant life. You can walk, run, cycle, skate or rollerblade through it.

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Eating My Way Around Vancouver

By Uschi, Simon Fraser University, Canada

I am definitely a big foodie, so when travelling or visiting new places I am always excited about hunting down new eateries and trying out local specialities. The only quintessentially Canadian food I could find was ‘poutine’: French fries topped with gravy and cheese curds. It originated in Quebec, and it’s so internationally loved here the Canadians even have whole festivals dedicated to it, and they serve it everywhere from fancier restaurants to the likes of Burger King. I can’t say I’m a massive fan as it’s very rich and heavy, but every once in a while it hits the spot. Here are a few other memorable food experiences I’ve had out here so far… to make your mouth water!

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First Impressions & Settling in

By Uschi, Canada, Simon Fraser University

Wow, a whole month here has completely flown by! So much has happened during this time, but I feel like it has definitely taken me up until the one month mark to start feeling properly settled here. Let me try and synthesise the main points of the first few weeks:

Firstly, be prepared to be completely exhausted, disorientated and at times completely overwhelmed during the first week. The first few days were so intense and a whirlwind of new faces, places, and endless orientation activities. After the third day I think I lost track of the amount of different welcome talks, speeches, and orientation activities I had been to. At this point no one has any clue what’s going on, and everyone is trying to desperately cling on to the few friends they have made. If you’re reading this having just arrived and feeling a bit lost/ confused/ doubting why the hell you’ve decided to move halfway across the world then I can assure you those feelings are normal and will definitely pass! A month in, I’m having the best time and all those initial ‘rabbit in the headlight’ feelings are long gone. Now that classes have started and I’m in the habit of studying again, going to lectures, going to the gym, and having a routine everything feels a lot more normal.

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Pre-departure Thoughts

By Uschi, Simon Fraser University, Canada

So the end of August has come round sooooo quickly, and here I find myself on a sunny day in downtown Vancouver writing this blog post before I head to Simon Fraser University tomorrow for the start of the semester! Thinking about this moment has dominated my thoughts for over a year now, and so I can’t believe it’s finally here! I am feeling excited and nervous in equal measures, and while I have the odd brain worms giving me a bit of anxiety, I can’t wait to get moved in, meet my housemates, and start seeing what life at SFU has to offer.

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