Homesickness Tips

By Christevie Ngoma, University of Toronto, Canada

Growing up in London and going to University in Manchester, I honestly thought homesickness was not going to affect me. I spent two years living away from home, and one of them was in a pandemic! So I thought I was an expert on dealing with being distant from family. I thought wrong.

Being a 5 hour drive away from home is one thing, but being an 8 hour plane journey and literally being in a different time zone is another. I did not expect to struggle with missing friends and family to this extent if I am being very honest.

Homesickness looks different for everyone, and can come at different moments. It comes when it’s my friends 21st birthday and everyone is celebrating but I can’t be there. It comes when I see a really good party in Manchester and all my friends have gone without me. It comes when my parents are showing me the new shed that they got in the garden, and I know I can’t see it till summer. Sometimes Homesickness only lasts a day, and then sometimes it can last a week. Particularly for me, I’m not going back home for Christmas, so I know I’m going to feel the brunt of it a lot during this December. At the end of the day, Homesickness is a completely normal feeling when you’re living out the country.

Here are some tips on how I’ve dealt with it!

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1 MONTH TILL CHRISTMAS

by Lola Bianchi, University of Guelph, Canda

It’s the end of November and I swear I can already smell the pigs in blankets and mulled wine from across the pond. Like I said in my previous post, I still have an insane amount of work, and it’s very frustrating as everything is always worth 10/15% of your total grade and as such it makes it hard to tell how much work you are supposed to put into it or what the expectations are. However, all my grades have been very good so far, which in a way is frustrating as I never do this well at home, and this is a pass/fail year.

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Let’s BeReal About The Workload

Work smart, Not hard.

by Olivia Bucherer-Ezer, University of Toronto, Canada

In the flurry of signing onto an exchange year, sorting out accommodation and figuring out how to fit 30kg of stuff you probably don’t need into a 23kg suitcase I almost forgot that I was moving across the pond to attend university, learn and do work. 

Once the novelty of new lecturers, peers, new libraries to explore and campus to navigate wore off a little, the reality of attending Canada’s most prestigious university set in. 

my tongue seems to make a stronger feature in this blog than my work ethic...
my tongue seems to make a stronger feature in this blog than my work ethic…

As someone who is prone to becoming stressed from work, I was surprised that I wasn’t losing my mind over the amount being dished-out. Reminiscing over the glorious panic attacks I used to have at the beginning of first year, merely because I couldn’t workout how to login to my university email or find the link of a reading I really didn’t need to do, actually taught me more than I could have imagined at the time. 

Learning to emotionally detach from work when it is a pass/fail year is the best way to get assignments ticked off the list without it impeding on your social life. Not to say, you shouldn’t try, but rather do what needs to be done, and take extra care over the things you enjoy. 

giddy in the libby
giddy in the libby

As such, the work at the university or Toronto has taught me heaps beyond just what the content consists of. How to manage my time, balance university with socialising and detach from work not worth stressing over have been key to both mental and academic success! 

helps that the libraries have a good ol' view
helps that the libraries have a good ol’ view

The takeaway of this blog post is not to discard university life, after all that’s the big reason for doing an exchange; to experience a new style of learning. Instead, engaging in work – especially the parts you most enjoy – while understanding your limits ensures you have the energy to enjoy the rest of what a year abroad has to offer.

As someone wise once said, work smart not hard. 

6 things you should do in your first month in Toronto

By Christevie Ngoma, University of Toronto, Canada

After crying on the plane about leaving my friends and family, I felt a wave of excitement because I realised after weeks of planning a personal statement to apply for the IPO, months of waiting for an answer. I finally made it to Toronto.

The past 3 weeks have been so busy, who would’ve thought that moving to a new country would be so eventful? This blog has tips on what to do and where in your first month as an exchange student!

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The big T-city

(Otherwise known, by a girl in my lecture, as the “Wannabe New York”. either way, no complaints.)

by Olivia Bucherer-Ezer, University of Toronto, Canada

Exactly two weeks into my adventure, it’s safe to say Toronto was nothing like I expected it to be… (in a good way don’t worry).

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MITACS Chapter 4: Saying goodbye + some reflections

By: Eva Kristinova (University of Regina, Canada, Mitacs Research Internship Scheme 21-22)

So there it goes. Just like that it’s time to say goodbye to another wonderful experience, in a wonderful place, having met some wonderful people. Although three months might not seem like such a long time, the sheer immersion of both the every-day and the extraordinary events is enough to produce a tear or two. This is especially the case when, one after the other, all your Mitacs acquaintances, turned good friends, who’s project started before yours, start saying their goodbyes. As I waved to the parting cars and taxis, it all started feeling a bit surreal. In a few days, that will be me in that car.

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Pre-departure & immediate arrival in Canada

By Lola Bianchi, University of Guelph, Canada

So I started writing this blogpost about 10 days before I arrived and my pre-departure experience was one which was very stressful. The closer it got to the flying date, the more apprehensive I became. 

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MITACS Chapter 3: Remembering to have fun

By: Eva Kristinova (University of Regina, Canada, Mitacs Research Internship Scheme 21-22)

This is the post I have been looking forward to the most! Because whether it seems like it or not, there is a lot to do in the largest city of Saskatchewan (and beyond), even if it is comparatively small by European standards. The best thing about spending the summer in Regina is that there are plenty of festivals and events to attend, and even Canadian national holidays to celebrate. Here are a few of my favourites!

Queen City Ex festival and fair
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MITACS Chapter 2: Research as work

By: Eva Kristinova (University of Regina, Canada, Mitacs Research Internship Scheme 21-22)

Imagine. You’ve arrived at your destination in Canada, you’ve run all the tedious errands in the first days, got yourself familiar with the area, and met a few nice people. What do you do now? That’s right – work.

Not that that is a shocker; after all, it is the whole purpose of the three-month trip. But it can be a bit challenging finding your pace again, especially if you’ve had a few weeks between the start of your internship and the end of the academic year. It’s summer, beautiful weather (although slightly colder in Canada, of course) and your body and brain naturally enter into vacation mode. That’s normal. In addition, it’s not just any kind of work you’re doing. It’s research. It requires you to really think about everything you do, question your assumptions on the way, and question some more. Thankfully, at least you stay in an academic setting. So, let’s talk about what it feels like to do the actual work on a research internship.

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