For what seemed like ages, going on study abroad was my next big thing to prepare for and look forward to, but after what seems like a blink of an eye, it’s over. I’m still getting my head round this and will probably not need much prompting at all to talk about my year for the foreseeable future (hopefully not in too much of a gap-yah style).
By Jing-Jing Hu (University of British Columbia Okanagan, Canada)
After another two weeks of travelling in Canada and the US, I eventually made my way back home – first to Germany and then to Manchester (at last).
In Germany, I spent the majority of my time with friends and family, exchanging stories on all the things that had happened in the last few months (and there were a lot), celebrating my sister’s highschool graduation and visiting friends in different cities in the area. It took me a while to realise that I am not in Canada anymore (it is summer, but where is the snow?!), but I eventually got used to the fact that my time in the country famous for its beautiful nature, its icehockey team and maple syrup was over – for now. Writing and talking about Canada still makes me feel nostalgic, but at the same time I have missed my loved ones at home. And there are a few things that I sometimes take for granted in Germany that I have missed, too:
The architecture, for instance, (here in Freiburg)…
…or a good wiener schnitzel with spätzle – a typical German dish.
Back in Manchester I worked as a student ambassador for a couple of days before starting my internship.
As part of the internship I sometimes travel to London and I must admit I was quite surprised when I found a sunny and hot London (it was over 30°C!) instead of the cold and rainy one I was used to. I mean, where is the rain?! Where is the wind?! Why is it not cold?! Well, at least the red buses are still there and of course, the impressive architecture. London never fails to amaze me in some way or the other – and neither does Manchester.
Although it is in the middle of summer and many of my university friends are back in their home country or travelling, I was very pleased to see some of them during graduation in July. It is unbelievable how fast time has passed. Two years ago I first arrived in Manchester, not knowing a single person. This year I am welcoming new students to our University in September, with a wealth of experiences to share. And next year? Next year I will (hopefully) be where some of my friends were this July – graduating with a degree from The University of Manchester. Let’s see what the future holds in store for me, but whatever is going to happen – the beautiful memories I have made in Canada will always stay with me.
By Giulietta Grassi (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada)
It’s officially one month ’til I leave the best city in the world, one month ’til I come home to London and start my final year at Manchester. I am lost for words just thinking about it; I can’t believe a year has passed so quickly… I just want to fly back to the beginning and do it all over again. It has been the best year of my life!!
The past month has been packed with trying to see and do as much as possible. We visited Seattle again for the weekend, had one last trip to the USA, and visited my friend’s friend who studies there – the best way to experience Seattle life! It was the best weekend, just exploring the city some more and chilling all together, especially during the long coach journey there, which wasjust filled with us playing pranks on the first person to fall asleep after barely any sleep the night before.
The festival of Holi also happened on campus, thousands of UBC students gathered in the rugby field where Indian music blasted from speakers and we covered each other in paint. IT WAS INCREDIBLE! By this point I actually recognised the different Indian songs playing after spending a year being shown the ropes by one of my best friends here who is from New Delhi.
Also, my best friend from London came to visit – it was amazing! I took her to all the main spots, downtown, Stanley Park, Granville Island, Main Street, the Museum of Anthropology on campus (it’s amazing and free for students!), all the blossom tree spots and then on the final day I took her to Whistler where we met all my friends who had been skiing for the day for apres-ski. It was amazing having her here and having her meet all my friends; it felt like she had always been here… the best reunion!
The past week has been filled with exams, and as cheesy as it sounds, I have actually been enjoying studying and the work I’m doing. I love the freedom of choosing what your final papers are on (yes, apparently I say ‘paper’ instead of ‘exam’ now…) and using your own research and articles found; it makes me excited to think about dissertation writing when I get back – I never thought I’d see the day when I would say that. Also, the non-stop work period means everyone is downstairs in the main commons block of Walter Gage (my accommodation) studying together into the early hours, half of the time is spent studying but the other half is spent hysterically laughing together and procrastinating; my favourite time of day.
The weather has also turned back to summer weather, as it was when I first arrived, and I LOVE IT. The trees are covered in blossom and campus is covered in people studying, listening to music and SUN. I never want to leave this place! It’s weird how in a year you can find a completely new life for yourself, one that a year ago you had no idea about but now is the most important thing to you.
The next month is going to be filled with doing as much in Vancouver with everyone as possible, along with travelling up to Banff and the Rockies, and being with my friends 24/7 until we all have to say goodbye. The thought of it hurts, but I just feel so lucky to have had this year here, that has been life-changing. All I can say is… STUDY ABROAD !!!!!!!! If you get the chance RUN AT IT, because I promise you it will be the best decision you have EVER made.
By Giulietta Grassi (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada)
The trips and travelling have been one of the best things about studying abroad! I’ve loved going away with everyone, from researching where we’re going and where we’re staying right down to getting on a plane all together and finding our way in a new place. Here is a breakdown of some of the places I’ve been to so far during my first semester:
Seattle was the first place on our list of places to visit. It’s so easy to access from Vancouver, a 4 hour coach journey and you’re across the border and in the US of AAAA. I loved Seattle! It’s got a big city vibe, similar to Vancouver, minus the mountains and sea. We were lucky because we knew some people studying in Seattle, so we got the full American college experience. We visited the public market, wondered the thrift shops and went to a college Halloween party. It’s amazing how a border can make so much difference, Vancouver and Seattle are right next to each other, yet there is such a difference in feel between the two. I loved every moment of this feeling and this trip, and I am definitely going back to Seattle before I leave.
Los Angeles!!! What I loved most about this trip was the spontaneity of it. We had never planned to go to L.A., but one day it was suggested and a few hours later we had booked tickets to go in 2 weeks time… IT WAS THE DREAM. We spent the whole plane journey singing Miley Cyrus Party in the USA. We managed to find a cheap apartment to stay in, right off of Hollywood Boulevard, and spent the 4 days wondering Hollywood. I definitely recommend going there for a short break, it was perfect just to get some sunshine, chill at Venice beach and feel like Hollywood stars for the weekend.
I’ve visited Whistler 3 times since being here, all 3 of which have been amazing. The first time was (when there was still some warmth in Canada) for Thanksgiving. We rented camper vans which had tents attached to them. We spent the weekend camping just outside of Whistler village, it was so cool! There were 17 of us cramped into all these different camper vans, sleeping on tents attached to the tops of the vans. It was one of the best and funniest experiences of my life. The other 2 times I went were during winter; skiing in the day and going out at night. Being the clumsy human I am, I managed to hurt my knee badly so am unable to ski now, but even without skiing Whistler is amazing; just exploring the village, staying with loads of friends in an amazing apartment, surrounded by snow and cosy winter vibes. I definitely recommend taking advantage of Whistler as much as possible in Vancouver! BUT being really careful skiing and do not be dumb like me. Whether a skier or not, Whistler is perfect for the weekend and chilling with friends.
By Giulietta Grassi (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada)
So I have been in Vancouver for three months now, and I still can’t believe it! Three of the most amazing months of my life. It definitely has been an adjustment, living so far away from everyone you love, getting used to the time difference, and finding your way completely by yourself. However, the biggest thing I think I have had to adapt to is UBC’s academic and school structure.
The workload here is really different compared to Manchester. I always assumed there wouldn’t be much difference between Canada and England, but there really is. I, and many of my other international friends here, have found that UBC’s workload is much more than our home universities’. When talking to the others from Manchester, we all agree that the workload here is much bigger, but the work itself seems to be easier. I am still trying to decide which I prefer…
In Manchester, as an Anthropology student, I usually have some readings and a few small tasks a week, followed by a big essay or two every two weeks/once a month. Whereas at UBC I have big tasks usually every week and much more weekly work and readings as a whole. I have definitely found this challenging to adapt to, but I have loved having this challenging. Yes, it has been difficult to keep on top of, trying to travel and do as much as possible here, but as geeky as it sounds, I have liked challenging myself.
Another thing I’ve found is that participation in class makes up part of your grade here. At first I was so scared by this, but now I actually like it… I like being forced to have my say in class – it makes me really think about what the class is about, and the aspects I am interested in. I have definitely done a lot of mumbling, going red and being flustered by questions that I’m expected to answer, but afterwards I have loved the feeling of having my say and giving my opinion, no matter the reactions. I feel like this way of learning is really stimulating and has really made my class experiences much more enjoyable.
The academics here has definitely been the biggest change for me from Manchester. Keeping up with constant work, rather than just the usual big essays. Although I am still unsure as to which way of learning I prefer, either way I feel UBC’s way of learning has taught me alot. I know that I’ll be coming back to Manchester with much more confidence (I hope) and much more willing to put my hand up in lectures and have my say. It’s taught me to speak out.
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!
By Katie Lewin (Simon Fraser University, Canada)
My first two weeks in Canada and SFU have been so busy I have barely had a minute to let it sink in! After two lonely days in Vancouver sorting out a phone and exploring, I took a taxi to SFU. I hadn’t been nervous about starting until I saw the mountain looming in the distance and it hit me how much of a big adventure I was undertaking.
Moving into my accommodation was fine with everyone being very helpful, however, it was early to move in (which mainly first years do), so my accommodation was very empty which was a slightly strange experience. However, I was able to make plenty of friends through orientation week, which I hadn’t realised would be so hard-core (7am to 9pm every day). Highlights of orientation included a great inspirational speech by a comedian/musician, the cheerleaders teaching us the SFU chant and a day trip to Lynn Valley. This was very different to Manchester’s Fresher’s week, which I surprisingly hadn’t expected, with more activities and guidance such as campus tours, which are great when everything is new.
Being on a campus university on top of a mountain is extremely different to Manchester and something I am still not sure on. The campus is small which can be great for getting to classes, but also means there is a limited amount of things to do. The bus to downtown Vancouver takes an hour, which isn’t too bad but isn’t as convenient. However, the facilities on campus are great and there are some great views of Vancouver and the surrounding mountains, especially from Burnaby Mountain Park. I am not looking forward to when the rainy weather kicks in, as it can get very grey and foggy up here, especially as it blends it into the concrete architecture. Although it has cleverly been designed so you can walk from residence to class without having to walk in the rain. In the coming week are the club days, so I am looking forward to see what’s on offer and getting more involved in university life. Classes so far have been more similar to Manchester lectures than I anticipated, the main difference being the expensive textbooks that some the classes require.
Weekends are busy with exploring and activities, especially as my to-do list only seems to grow. Attending the SFU homecoming football game was a weird experience, they are as stereotypical as you imagine and exactly like the movies! Having access to both mountains, beaches and the city is amazing, sunset at Kitsilano Beach can’t be missed! I already have my tickets ready for a Vancouver Giants hockey game and a trip to Whistler. There is just so much to do and I can’t wait!
By Giulietta Grassi (University of British Columbia, Vancouver)
After days of stressing, packing and saying goodbyes I have now finally made it to VANCOUUUUUVER! I’ve been here nearly 2 weeks now and have loved every moment of it. Let me try and somehow start from the beginning…
I arrived in Vancouver completely jet-lagged and confused, and getting through immigration was only the start… but a few hours later I was in a hostel, surrounded by people from all over the world and in downtown Vancouver at the centre of it all. Vancouver is beautiful! It is the perfect mix of city life and outdoors. You walk 5 minutes down the road from sky rise buildings and traffic to see the sea and mountains, I’ve never seen anything like it. IT’S AMAZING! Coming from London, I’ve always been used to non-stop, busy and fast paced city life, but here city life is just as busy but relaxed and chilled out; music is blasting from cars, people dancing and taking salsa lessons on the streets, outdoor Zumba classes and much, much more.
I stayed at the Same Sun Hostel on Granville Street, and it was definitely the best choice! I was daunted by the fact that I’d be staying there for 9 days before campus accommodation opened up and I could move in, but I would not change a thing. The people there are so friendly and everyone is in the same situation, looking to meet people and explore the city. I spent the 9 days visiting the main spots like Stanley Park (go there at sunset!), Granville Island, Gastown and China Town and meeting different people from all over the world daily. But the best part of it was definitely climbing Grouse Mountain, one of the hardest, most amazing things I have ever done! I was told it was a short, hour-long hike… no no no! It is a good 2 hours of uphill hiking, but worth EVERY MINUTE FOR THE VIEW (and bears!!) from the top. Definitely do it, despite all the blood, sweat and tears shed, I would do it all over again!
9 days later we made it to UBC and it could not be more different from Manchester! The campus is HUUUUGE and basically a village of its own; you even need to take the bus to get to some parts of it, crazy! It’s so beautiful here. I’m living in Walter Gage on the 8th floor and my view looks out onto sea and mountains. Waking up in the morning could not be better! I’ve been here 2 days now and I still can’t get over how beautiful everything is. You walk 10 minutes from your room and you’re on the beach. (I spent my first trip there saying “WOW” and “I can’t believe it” for a good 10 minutes before it finally sank in that I’m living here for a year.) The flats in Gage are perfect; 6 people to a flat and Walter Gage as a whole is really social so there are different events on each night. So far my time here has just consisted of meeting more people and exploring UBC! I am in love with it here already!
I would definitely recommend staying at a hostel downtown before moving in to accommodation: it gives you the time to meet other international students going to UBC, as well as people from Canada and all over in general, (which sets you up for great connections if you decide to go travelling after!). Also, campus is so big and it takes 20 minutes to get downtown from UBC, so staying at a hostel gives you the time to see Vancouver properly before getting completely immersed in campus life.
I hope this blog has somehow been helpful and given you a better idea of what the beginning of Van City life is like! This next week is going to be filled with frat parties, BBQs and making the most of the weather and beach before summer ends! UBC’ING ME SOON!
By Sophie Black (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada).
The ease of accessing the west coast of the USA from Vancouver is ideal: in a few hours you can reach Seattle by car, and in under two hours you can touch down in San Francisco. Two cities too good to miss out on!
(hover over each photo for more info/click on the first one to go though the gallery!)
Really hope my holiday (‘vacation’?) photo albums have tempted you to take a trip down into the USA!
By Sophie Black (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada)
Upon reading through Sarah’s Top 10 (read her fab post here) I’ve taken it upon myself to think of a few more things to see/do in Vancouver…
- Menchies : Yes, I shall place the best frozen yoghurt on campus at number one. Menchies is delicious, and if you live in Fairview then it can become very dangerous for your (limited) study abroad bank accounts!
- Beach at Kitslano: If you catch the sunset over the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club the view can be so beautiful. There is a twenty-year waiting list for boats to be housed at the marina here – and you can see why. Only about 10 minutes away from campus, an evening on Kits beach is a must!
- Granville Island: Famed for its indoor food market, spending a day on Granville can also include a very inexpensive water taxi journey over to Yaletown or even an evening spent in one of its theatres.
- Cycle Stanley Park: make the most of the cheap bike hire shops and spend an afternoon cycling the sea wall at Stanley Park. It will 1) Make you realise how huge the park is; 2) Probably make you feel very very lost in the maze of cycle paths, yet; 3) Give you some awesome views, especially of the Lions Gate Bridge!
- Beaches on Campus: Yes, I am aware of the incredible beaches fellow study abroaders have nearby (Aussies, I’m looking at you!), yet UBC has a few too. Walk the stairs of doom down to the nudist Wreck Beach (yeah, I said nudist…) or take the smaller, far quiter option of the next beach along. There are even a few bizarre ‘watch towers’ covered in graffiti to somewhat spoil the view!
- Serene Vancouver Island: Take the opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of Vancouver and take a ferry ride over to Vancouver Island. I was lucky enough to have family living in Nanaimo, where I spent Thanksgiving. Stereotypical ideas of ‘Canada’ can certainly be found here: silence, forest…and even elk. Well, when I was on the ferry to the island I did spot a pick-up with the body of a enormous Elk that must have been hunted somewhere up in the North!
- Capilano Suspension Bridge (at night!): the suspension bridge runs a free shuttle service from downtown every few hours throughout the year, so there is no excuse to miss seeing the incredible views and braving a walk along the bridge! BC Residents are given an annual pass the first time you visit the bridge, so visit both during the day, but also when the Canyon Lights event is on during Christmas time. Fairy lights galore…
- Hitoe Sushi: Started with food so I shall finish with food… I had tried very little sushi before I made my way to UBC, yet I have come home a sushi devotee. The best can be found on West 4th– only around 10 mins on the bus from campus, Hitoe is so delicious and so cheap. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
Just a few to consider venturing out to do while in Vancouver!
Please comment below with your own favourite things to see and do 🙂
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.
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.
Some highlights for me have been:
-the diverse range of REC events available (these are recreational one off events that are great fun)
-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.
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
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
2. The best gig ever in Seattle (Arctic Monkeys, Foals, Lorde and many more)
3. Trips to Whistler
4. Going to Camp
5. Climbing Grouse Mountain
6. The Canucks Game
7. The Aquarium
8. Christmas Lights and the Christmas train in Stanley Park
9. Day of the Longboat
10. The Colour Run