Week Fourteen Wrap-Up – Return Flights and Reflections and Recommendations

And just like that, my exchange term in Exeter has come to an end. I’ve made a little loop around London and will be catching a flight to be home for the holidays. My time in Exeter was amazing and I need to also extend a huge thank you to all the incredible people I met that made my time in Exeter so. There’s so much I’m going to miss here. Looking back, I’m really thankful that I had this blog and the opportunity to even be a blogger. I’m usually pretty terrible at keeping a travel log about all my trips, but this blog really pushed me to do that and I’m grateful I had this opportunity.

I’ve learned a lot throughout my experience and I’ve grown in a variety of ways. It sounds so cliché but I think that once you go on exchange, you encounter different people and circumstances that will compel you to undergo change. Especially in terms of culture, I didn’t think there would be such differences at first, what with me coming from the predominantly English-speaking country of Canada to England, a thoroughly English-speaking country, but all the subtle details and nuances add up.

For me, I think the biggest thing I’ve realized is that you have to be open to everything – you have to take everything for what it is and make the most of it. There will be a variety of experiences – good, bad, and everything in between – but you need to take it all in stride. There will always be something to take away from it, whether it is learning that you don’t like marmite on toast, loving clotted cream too much for your own good, or coming to the consensus that hills will never be something you can get used to but they may be something you can condition yourself to.

If you are contemplating going on exchange term, I would absolutely recommend it. It’s definitely an experience that is worth it in so many ways. I also have a couple tips of my own that you might want to consider as well:

1. Exchange will not always be rainbows and sunshine every single day. There will be some days that are harder, such as in the beginning when you’re a tad homesick, but there will be other days that are absolutely amazing, such as going out for celebrations with other friends you’ve met. Keep an open mind and remember that there will be ups and downs; however, at the end of it all, I can pretty much guarantee you that you’ll come away from it all thinking the experience in its entirety was incredible.

2. Pack things you don’t intend on keeping. If you have things you’re planning on donating to clothing drives or the like, pack those to go on exchange. It’ll make it so much easier for when you have to pack to go back home.

3. Join things! Get involved! I know this is what everyone says and this is probably what your international office/exchange coordinators are going to say as well, but there really is a reason why this gets drilled into your heads again and again! It really makes a world of difference if you put yourself out there and really try and become a part of the university and the local area.

4. Go to class. Now this one might have you scratching your head a little but personally, I think that this is something that a number of students going on exchange might neglect. It is all very well and good to go travelling whilst you’re on an exchange term abroad; however, at the end of the day, you are there for the purpose of studying and getting a different learning experience. It really is worth it and if you want some more practical backing for my point, you’re still paying for your classes even if it is to your home university rather than your host institution. So yeah, going to class is good.

If you’ve been following me on my journey all the way through, thank you! I had an amazing experience and hopefully, you enjoyed sharing in them with me from week to week. I thought that committing myself to being a student blogger with the university would help me in keeping a somewhat decent record of my experience here, but hopefully it’s helped other people, whether it was purely for the sake of amusement or for getting a bit of insight as to what an exchange could possibly be like.

If anyone ever finds themselves in Ottawa, whether it is for study abroad or just travel, feel free to drop me an email: mpoon051@uottawa.ca. I’d be more than happy to show you around!

Happy holidays!

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