I’ve been thinking quite a lot about my study abroad year recently.
I have moments sometimes, sometimes whole days, when I miss Ottawa acutely. They’re becoming more frequent now, as the nights come around quicker and my breath fogs up before me on morning walks to campus. I’ll miss the Canadian winter enormously, for however terrifying -27 windchill might sound, I adored the snow, the ice-skating, the hot apple cider clutched between mittens and maple syrup taffy. It was a truly magical time, of snow flurries and the slow build to seeing my family again, and anything England has to offer just can’t quite top it.
I’ve also been thinking about Canada as I’ve received a couple of emails from students interested in Ottawa as a prospective destination. It’s encouraged me to reflect again on my experiences, and impart the best advice I can.
This was a post I shared on my study abroad blog on August 24th, exactly a year on from when I departed for Canada. I think quite a lot of feelings I expressed then are still very relevant now.
(NB: Hello there! It’s been a while since I’ve blogged here for Exeter student blogs – I’ve only just come back from a year abroad studying in Canada as part of my degree. If you’d like to read more about how my year went and see what I got up to, I kept up my own blog at https://tesstakesoncanada.wordpress.com/. I’m back for final year now, but will most likely talk a bit more about Canada in future blog posts and how I’ve found readapting to life back in sleepy Exeter! For now, here’s how my Freshers Week 2017 went.)
Out of the front door and into the sun I go.
One of my favourite parts about our student house for final year (four bedrooms, brown carpets everywhere, living room sparse of all but essential furniture, a broken washing line in the garden, but a blackboard in the kitchen my housemate has already decorated with stars and smiley faces) is the view from our top step. Over the recycling bins and bikes belonging to the neighbours, over the rooftops and past the telephone wires, there’s a perfectly framed view of the Cathedral, towers imposing and ancient, the Devon hills that have been here even longer, just visible on the horizon. (more…)
Term two of second year has gotten off to a great start. I’m so glad to be back in the buzz of university life, have a schedule of basketball practices and Exeposé meetings to structure my week around and get stuck back into my degree. I was thrilled with how well received my One Second Everyday video was when it was shared on Exeter’s official Facebook page; 276 likes, 37 shares and over 5,000 views and counting! Looking back on it has made me realise how much fun I had last term – and how important it is to make the most of daily things; the walk to campus on a beautiful day, or weekend pancakes with my housemates. I will definitely be keeping it up for 2016, and now that I know the ropes of making a good compilation hopefully this one will be better than ever!
Today though, I thought I’d make a post on a more academic vein than I usually prefer to opt for. There’s no doubt that university life involves so much more than the degree, but it’s also important to appreciate we’re only here because of our degree.
At the beginning of this academic year, I was asked by the Student Blog team to have a look at creating something with the One Second Everyday app to document day-to-day life as a student in my second year. It’s been an ongoing project in which I’ve been taking a second long video each day of what I’ve been up to – whether it be a day in the library actually getting some work done, a basketball away game, my parents coming to visit and taking me to Cornwall or just nights in fooling around with my housemates. By choosing just a second a day I’ve obviously had to be very selective, and this video has by no means caught the best (or the worst) moments of this term where I’ve invariably not had my phone to hand, but it is nonetheless, I think, a lovely collection of memories and short but sweet insight into student life.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, sorting housing was without doubt one of the most stressful aspects of first year for me. We waited, just as all the Guild-endorsed promotions told us too, until after Christmas, and then spent a nightmarish few weeks charging around house viewings, ringing up landlords 24/7 and securing our current residence by pure luck that our email arrived 2 minutes before another interested party’s.
It was not a fun time, least of all because we had no idea what to expect and what we should be looking for. Everyone had different ideas, but we quickly realised we were going to have to collectively lower our expectations. Dramatically. ‘Student living’ is a catchphrase for a reason. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy living where I am now (although I think I could be living in a shed and still have a good time with my housemates) but there’s certainly things I’ll be bearing in mind when I go looking for final year housing. Just because you are probably going to end up somewhere a bit grotty, as is student tradition, doesn’t mean you should be sacrificing all comforts, and it’s best to be as knowledgeable as you can be.
So, from my experience here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re going about choosing and securing your student house…
It’s getting to a tough time of term. The deadlines are piling up, reading week is a distant memory, and the Christmas holidays are pretty near – but not quite close enough. This past week for the first time since I’ve been back this year, I’ve genuinely missed home – the home-cooked meals, having a kitchen you’re not afraid to walk about barefoot in, my dog, being able to have a bath, and my family.
The events in Paris have cast a shadow over the past week, but they have also put everything into perspective. Deadlines and early starts might be a pain, but never have I been more acutely aware of how lucky I am to be studying at a world class university in such a safe and tolerant society.