As I write this final post from my bedroom back in England my first flight to Budapest feels an age away. After such a long time abroad knowing that I am home for good is a nice but strange feeling and although I’ll miss the lifestyle of easy travel and experiencing different cultures, it’s nice to have home comforts back.
My last couple of months have been taken up mostly by assessments as well as preparation/paperwork for finalising my Erasmus exchange but I was able to fit in a final holiday with the friends I’d made where we visited Italy. With everyone leaving for good at different times, there will be a lot of sombre farewells but it’s nice to have one last hurrah before you say your goodbyes to everyone, and I’d recommend this as much as possible.
Although we were certainly involved less with events organised by Erasmus student organisations (finding that often you can find cheaper/better options yourself once you’re more familiar) they certainly served as a great way to meet new people even right up into my last few weeks. As we started our second term with online learning, we had to make a much more conscious effort to meet new people and although I’d hope this isn’t a concern for future students, it’s definitely up to you to socialise with other students, especially being more familiar with your city in the second term. Unlike Sheffield there was no large student’s union facility with multiple weekly nights out, so the student community worked very differently, as did the university.
The kinds of assessments I had for example, varied considerably when compared to my work in Sheffield. Whereas some of my modules were assessed via my work throughout the term, others were essays, others were presentations, and one was an oral exam based off the whole module (which was particularly hard). Aside from that, I think it’s fair to say that the quality of teaching at ELTE varied significantly by personality where some lecturers were engaging and structured in their teaching approaches where others were more lacking. Having the benefit of two terms abroad, by the second term I knew who to avoid, but the approach to modules and teaching was certainly less consistent than I’ve come to expect at Sheffield.
Another more obvious difference I encountered was living in a warmer country in summer. Although British summers can be horrible sometimes, I had to get used to more consistent sun which meant burning more often, hot nights (not helped by the fact our aircon did not work), and a cramped and sweaty public transport network. This obviously was not without its benefits, however. We spent lots of time after exams relaxing in the larger parks of Budapest and were lucky enough to visit Lake Balaton again just before tourist season comes into full force where we rented a pedalo and spent the day lounging around in the sun. This was a very easy train journey for prices that are miniscule compared to the UK and the restaurants/facilities in the area are all super English-friendly so it’s certainly one of my main recommendations for anyone who’s able to visit Hungary.
Saying my final goodbyes was definitely strange. I didn’t do the journey alone and neither was I the first or last person to leave so everything was almost a weird limbo. It’s sadly true that many of the people I met over this year I may never see again but alongside this I know there’s lasting friendships that I have made. I certainly feel more connected to the outside world than I ever did prior to this experience, simply meeting and interacting with people from other countries broadens your horizons more than you’d think and, on that basis, I’d encourage anyone to take part in this.
Bonjour à tout le monde ! Hello everyone, I’m Patrick Dapaah, and I am an International Business Management Student. And today, I am going to take you onboard to what my experience has been so far in the city of Rennes, France. I’ve always wanted to have the opportunity to study abroad during my university journey because I believe living abroad is one of the best experiences that you can take to leave out your comfort zone. As you need to get adapted to a new cultural environment which at the beginning can be dreadful but as soon as you get adapted to it, it will mostly be about elevation.
My flight journey from London to Rennes was pretty much straightforward apart from a long wait at the immigration check, which is completely normal due to all the covid checks that we all need to go through during this unforeseen period. As soon as I got to the city centre that afternoon, I instantly reached out to my former Italian-Moroccan classmate, Oussama to guide me around the city, as he has been living in Rennes for 1.5 years now. I’m not going to lie, he made my first days in France so relieving for me that you cannot even imagine. And the funny thing is that it could have easily gone the opposite way if I had to handle everything by myself.
First visit to my home campus
Just after some weeks of settling in the city, I was finally able to commence my studies at my host university known as “Rennes Business School”. If I had to describe the university as a whole in three simple words they would be international, vibrant and modern. I’ve been enjoying my time so far at this university. One of the main factors that made me decide to come to study here is the fact that it has been ranked for several years as the “most international School of Management in Europe”. This shows how the university values being known as an open-minded and international entity.
However, a small challenge that I have encountered is that the hours of lessons in a day can be quite overwhelming, especially on Wednesdays where I tend to have 6 hours of lessons from 08:20 am to 02:50 pm with 15-min breaks which sometimes can be upsetting, as you only have time to eat a quick snack or sandwich. In terms of the programme, it is quite different compared to Sheffield as there is a major focus on group work rather than individual work, which I personally prefer this way of learning as it allows improving your communication and organisational skills.
First thoughts of the city
At the weekends, I took time to explore the city which I enjoyed at the first glance. The main staple of this city which is known around France and Europe are the famous half-timbered houses which can be found around the city centre that dates back to the middle age times.
Overall, there is a good cultural heritage and history that you will only be able to witness the beauty of it when you will visit it one day. In terms of transport, it is a very green city, in fact in wherever part of the city you are, you can find rental bikes that get you around the city. In addition, one astonishing fact that I found out during my first metro trip is that the metro is completely automated, so that means there are not any drivers inside it.
To sum up my first weeks in Rennes, I can say that the whole experience has exceeded my initial thoughts, and I’m enjoying every single minute of every moment. For the future plans, I’m planning to travel more around France in cities such as Marseille, Lyon and of course the city of love, Paris.
So, stay tuned to my next article as I will be sharing a travel guide to show the in and outs of France. That’s all from me for now and Au revoir!
I have now lived in Stockholm for 3 months- a sentence I still find crazy to write! Though I have certainly experienced some homesickness and culture shocks, it has been the best experience of my life so far and I cannot wait for what’s to come during the rest of my year here. Having now settled into life in Stockholm, I thought I would offer some advice to anyone thinking of applying for an exchange in this amazing city.
Do not be put off by the weather! Arriving in Stockholm in the last weeks of August was a blessing. Being able to enjoy the city in the summer sun, swimming in the sea and sunbathing in the parks was brilliant. Not only did this create some great memories with people I now consider close friends, it is also shown me how versatile this city is! Currently it is mid November, the temperature very rarely rises above 10 degrees, with most nights dropping below zero, and the sun sets as 3.30 in the afternoon. I was quite worried about this lack of daylight when I first arrived, with many people warning me that I would need to take vitamin-D supplements to stop the onset of seasonal depression, but so far it has been far better than the warnings suggested. As an international student community, we all adapted quickly to the new daily routine and have learnt to enjoy the cosy afternoons, walks around the city lit by Christmas lights and going on nights out wearing puffer jackets, wooly hats, scarfs and even thermals! So, do not be put off by the change of climate, adjusting is easy (just make sure to pack some layers).
Adjusting to a new university Stockholm University is renowned as one of the best in Europe for a variety of subjects, however I was surprised by how much it varied from teaching at Sheffield. The semester is divided into four sections in which you complete one module at a time. Though there is a lot of preparatory reading, having only one topic to focus on does make the workload more than manageable, giving me plenty of free time to explore the city and throw myself into life in Sweden. The choice of history modules is somewhat limited due to most being taught in Swedish, but I have found the course to be flexible in terms of enjoying a variety of unrestricted modules alongside introductory history modules.
Start early with the application process
Due to the many recent complications created by Brexit, the process of getting my place and actually arriving in Sweden was somewhat stressful. My biggest piece of advice would be to START EARLY! I first applied for my residence permit at the end of June when we were told that our position as Erasmus students would differ from previous years. Due to the late alert, I had not received my permit before I arrived but luckily, after some long negotiations, I was able to travel to Sweden with just a confirmation letter and pick up the residence permit while I was here. To save yourself a lot of stress and long email chains, I would recommend starting the application much earlier! Also, as the Global Opps team had no experience of visa applications, I found the following websites very helpful to turn to for advice. I would also highly recommend starting applications for GHIC cards, funding grants and housing months in advance to ensure you have them when you travel.
Managing the cost of living It is well known that Sweden, along with the other Nordic countries, are pretty pricey places to live. Undeniably this was a concern when I first moved here, but you soon adapt and find ways to live on a budget. Getting university housing is definitely the cheapest way to live, so make sure to be quick on the application as it is allocated on a first-come-first- served basis, usually around the middle of May. Shopping at supermarkets such as Lidl is definitely another way to keep to the weekly budget. Moreover, with a little research you soon find that there are plenty of free or cheap attractions to enjoy, including museums, island hopping, hiking, swimming, vintage shopping and much more!
After only a few months here, I have found Stockholm to be a very welcoming and easy place to live. The city is both beautiful and bustling, filled with a great deal of things to do, people to meet and not to mention, amazing coffee to drink! Of course, I don’t want to overly romanticise the process of moving abroad as there has definitely been many challenging moments, but doing your research before hand, starting the application process early and getting in contact with others travelling to the same place will help you prepare for the adventure.
My name is Lorcan Wade and I am studied at UT Dallas as part of the study abroad program. When I was getting ready to go I was very relaxed up until the day before, when it dawned upon me that I was going to the other side of the world without knowing anyone there. I’m quite an easy going person and I had done my research about what to expect, but I was rather nervous on the flight out. I was also arriving over a week late because of a delay with my visa, which probably was not going to help. I had just finished a really great summer with my friends in Sheffield and the idea of having to start a new friendship group in the USA was new but slightly daunting to me
When I arrived at Dallas Fort Worth airport, I was greeted by a volunteer with the university at the airport who drove me to campus. He gave me a warm Texan welcome and an insight as to what life is like here, as well as his contact details for the future should I need any help (which I really appreciated). My first thoughts were, ‘wow, I am in America’ and the main things I noticed were the size of the roads and cars and the amount of fast food chains there were. I got in around 7PM local time where I met two of my roommates who were also very welcoming and they cooked me some dinner. They told me that all the other international students are fun and friendly so I was immediately relieved. I later met my other roommate, who told me that he was looking at joining fraternities and invited me to come along. Hence, a couple of days later we went on a lake day with a fraternity called SAE and had a great time jet skiing, sun bathing and hanging out. UTD is not a very sociable college and I am a sociable person, so I soon realised that this would be the best way for me to make friends. I immediately felt like SAE was something I wanted to be a part of and it was an easy decision for me to join. We also did other fun activities early on such as a poker and steaks night. Hence, my anxieties about coming were swiftly put to rest (partly thanks to the luck I had with my room mates!). Since then, the fraternity has helped me to get a great group of friends and I have essentially built a whole new social life here in the USA. I know that many of these people are friends for life and it’s really exciting to think that I will friends here who I can always visit and who will visit me.
Texans are really friendly. People always ask about where I’m from and are really happy that I’m here. For some reason, Americans are fascinated by British culture and they have an almost infinite amount of questions; I think it’s really fun because it means you can talk to anyone. They also value manners a lot, which is something I really respect. Politics does not come up as much as I thought it would and I don’t feel like I’m in a deep red state. There is also a lot of fast food selection here. Places like ‘In n out’, ‘Whattaburger’ and ‘Chick-fil-A’ aren’t available in the UK so it’s really interesting to try them (they are much better than what we have and are very cheap and convenient!). However, as someone who really likes their food, it is really useful to have American friends who can point you to the best restaurants. If you are in Texas you have to try a Texan barbecue, which consists of brisket, ribs and sausage. I think it’s amazing. I have also had great Korean and Vietnamese food, so you can definitely find what you need here.
I truly believe that I am having one of the best times of my life. I have made great friends of all nationalities, had plenty of new experiences and have had a lot of fun. In a couple of days I head to Colorado to stay with some family of mine, and the week after I am going to Las Vegas and California with my friends from England. After that, I headed for Christmas at my friends house in Houston followed by new year’s eve in the big apple. There are a lot of good times to come.
As I approach the half way point of my time here in Texas, I reflect on the past semester as being a great start to my time here. In October, myself and my roommates took a trip to Austin. We got there around 11:30AM, ready to watch the local college football game against Texas Tech. We took our seats at the very top of the stadium, overlooking an orange sea of 100,000 supporters with the city skyline in the background. Before the game, there was a spectacle of cannons, cheerleaders, fireworks and even a live Texan longhorn cow. The atmosphere was incredible; it was essentially a stadium full of people partying and supporting their school team. We even managed to get to some seats by the touchline which was even more immersive. It was a great insight in to the differences with American sports culture and remains one of my favourite memories of my time in the USA. I have also been frequenting NFL and NBA games (the Dallas Cowboys and Mavericks), with basketball being the sport I follow the most at the moment. After the game, in which the home team won by around 50 points, we left the stadium and soaked up the atmosphere in the streets as people celebrated. We walked downtown, got some food and went to see the Texas capitol building. After resting up in our hotel, we went to enjoy Austin’s nightlife where we met lots of other students.
In November, I went to visit Colorado where I have extensive family. I stayed with several different people for a week and enjoyed my time in the mountains. We took hikes, had family time and explored different areas. I had only ever seen these cousins when they came to visit Europe or when I was very young, so it was nice being able to get to know them on a more personal level. When you have family that live so far away, time spent with them like this is very valuable. I babysat my little cousins, aged 4 and 9, and I look forward to reminiscing with them about it when they are older. I will certainly be going back there whilst I am in the USA. In between trips I would study and hang out with friends. UTD’s area is a bit quieter but we would always have an amazing time. We had many great nights talking in friend’s gardens or out in the city of Dallas.
In December, three of my friends from England came to visit me. It was crazy seeing them hang out with my UTD friends and really nice that that they got along so well. I showed them around UTD and gave them an insight in to what life is like here. They then drove to Las Vegas where I later met them for a night once I finished my end of semester exams. Despite the city not really being to my taste, it was really interesting to see and we had a fun night together exploring. We then went to San Francisco, which remains my favourite place that I have visited here. We walked around going to different bars and restaurants and visited Alcatraz Island. The city was very much my kind of vibe; it feels very relaxed and cosmopolitan. We drove to Los Angeles on my birthday where we saw my long-time favourite basketball team, the LA Clippers, play at the iconic Staples Centre. Not only did we win against one of the best teams in the league, but we managed to get on the fan cam which was really funny. I’ve now been on an NBA fan cam in New York, LA and Texas.
After saying goodbye to my friends in LAX, we went to visit a UTD friend and spend Christmas together in Houston, where he showed us round. We met up with a load of other friends there and had a really good time seeing where they are from. We then flew directly to New York for my biggest trip of the year. Our booking website upgraded us last-minute to a luxury apartment in a trendy area of Brooklyn, which was a great start (we originally had a very affordable place near the Bronx which may not have been as homely). This holiday was an absolute dream. Spending the Christmas period in New York on my first time there was sensational. The decorations and general atmosphere was just so unique and I loved my time there. For 7 days we walked around the city, exploring, seeing all the sites and trying some of the best food that I have ever had. It was really refreshing being somewhere where you could walk around and use public transport easily and I feel like it helped me soak in the atmosphere. The jewel in the crown was going out there on New Year’s Eve. We went to a very nice club in Manhattan which we paid way too much money for, but had one of the best nights of our lives. We spoke to locals and generally had a great time. We then walked up to Times Square where we met some Peruvians and Mexicans who we stayed with for the rest of the night. The next day, I got to see the LA Clippers play against Kevin Durant, James Harden and the Brooklyn Nets. We won and got a seat very close to the touchline. None of this would have been possible without the Turing Scheme, a funding programme by the UK government for all study abroad students. In the new year, I plan on visiting friends in Austin as well as making other trips across the USA.
I am now coming to the end of my time here at UT Dallas and I can genuinely say that it has been the time of my life (so far). I have made friends for life, had unique experiences and learnt a lot about a new culture (both in and out of academics). I have still managed to fit in some travel this semester; I returned from a trip to Colorado’s rocky mountains in February before going to New Orleans for Mardi Gras.
I have always been fascinated with ‘Nola’ because of its unique architecture and my love for jazz music. ‘The greatest free party in the world’ did not disappoint with colourful costumes, street parades and dancing flowing through every street in the French Quarter. A group of us drove there with one of my friends from Dallas, and started our first day with some famous shrimp gumbo before buying classic Mardi Gras outfits and joining the fun. We walked around the city, soaking up the atmosphere and going wherever looked or sounded interesting. The buildings are more European inspired than any I have seen in the US and the streets were filled with party-goers of all nationalities. People lined the terraces and would throw beads down to passers-by as music seeped from every corner (you didn’t go to Mardi Gras if you haven’t worn hundreds of beads throughout the weekend). We continued this all day and met lots of different people, including an ex-pat from Leeds who we spoke to for about half an hour (he misses Yorkshire fish and chips). People from all over the US are consistently surprised and excited to meet some Brits and we made lots of friends. By the time it got to the evening, the famous Bourbon street had been packed with people all day and was only getting more full. We then met up with some of the other exchange students from UT Dallas and watched a street parade. The next morning, we headed back in to the city for some more seafood before repeating the process again (we had to make our first Mardi Gras count). It was an amazing experience that I may never get again, but would certainly like to if I ever lived in the US.
I am always grateful to get back to Dallas after long trips away, which means that it truly feels like a second home at this point. My week mainly consists of hanging out with friends, schoolwork and working out before the weekend when we normally go out in Dallas or to a friend’s house. For spring break, we headed out to Cancun (Mexico) for a classic college experience with all of my friends (international students and ones from UT Dallas). We had an air bnb where the beach was literally our back garden. We would get everyone round and sit watching the sun set together. This is one of many top tier memories that I’ve experienced on my study abroad, where you feel like life cannot get any better. Cancun has lots of clubs, resorts and restaurants so you can never really get bored there. One of the best days was when we all went on a boat party to ‘Isla Mujeres’ for the day, seeing its beautiful beaches and just having a good time. I would be lying if I didn’t say that Cancun is a very intense place in every sense of the word, so be mindful if you do wish to go there. Regardless, it was a great time spent with friends and another country to check off the list.
Since then, I’ve decided to take a break from travelling and spend the rest of my time here with friends. I have met such an amazing and unique group of people that I will really miss. I have really enjoyed making a group of friends from all different countries and learning about their respective cultures. I hope to have a steady stream of these friends visiting me in the UK in future. I am currently reflecting on my time here and trying to appreciate my last couple of weeks because time goes has gone by so fast. At the end of the semester, I will meet my parents in San Francisco (my favourite city in the US) and take a short holiday with them before returning to the UK.
Hello and welcome to my post after arriving home from my exchange in Canada!
I finished my student exchange at the University of Waterloo around two weeks ago. That is why I decided to dedicate this text to my overall experience and feedback about living abroad for eight months.
The first thing I’d like to underline is that even though Canada is overall very similar to what I have experienced here in Europe, only after being back did I notice the minimal differences between, let’s say, the mindset of the people. Mostly it came to the law, quality of living, and things considered common. It felt odd to travel freely between larger cities without the necessity to take a plane between some of them – the density of population and the distances between cities are the main factors contributing to a better long-distance public transportation system in Europe. As Canada is an enormous country, it felt weird to cross borders while traveling to my hometown. Also, I am not a native English speaker, and, having lived in an English-speaking country, I had some problems comprehending my native tongue.
Overall, I would say that it was all worth it. Even though the workload was overwhelming at times (as my year counted for me, so the marks I got in Canada are transferred back to the University of Sheffield), I got to travel across the country and, one time, to the USA. For instance, when I was in New York City, I still had to finish one of my assignments.
What is also worth mentioning is the opportunity to experience another education system. That allowed me to explore different studying methods and look at things from another point of view. Canadian marking system, module selection, and examination system differ from what we have in the UK. Finally, I’d like to thank you for bearing with me through my journey. It was rewarding to share my experiences and thoughts, especially knowing that it may help someone or answer some of their questions. You can always reach out to me or Global Opportunities staff if you have any questions regarding going abroad.
In this blog post I will be speaking all about travelling in my year abroad. As I was lucky enough to study in Italy there are of course so many amazing places to travel to. Especially being in Torino, the Northern regions of Italy really do have the most beautiful places to travel. As a keen traveller myself I was not going to miss the opportunity to explore Italy and its beauty. I will be speaking about my solo travels, group travels as well as the logistics of travelling in and around Italy.
When I got here in October, my first venture was to explore Torino as a city and get comfortable here before I embarked on any further travels. I fell in love with the city only after a month of living here and that love has only grown as I have experienced the culture and way of life of being a resident of Torino. Even on the flight here, being in the northern region you fly above the Italian Alps it is just amazing scenery from the get-go. Below are some pictures I captured at the start of my year here – fully highlighting the beauty of this city.
Once I had found my feet in Torino, I decided to start looking into where I wanted to go on my solo travels. As I have mentioned before, the regions around Torino are just beautiful and are only a very cheap train journey away. The first place I went to was to Verona, the home of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. It was about a 5-hour collective journey on train from Torino, firstly getting to Milano Centrale station and then changing to get to Verona. The station in Verona is only a 20-minute walk into the centre of town which is just ideal. As soon as I made it into the centre it was just beautiful – being only a small region I was able to explore its full beauty in a day. It is one of my top 3 favourite places I have seen in Italy so far. Below are some pictures of my trip there.
Without going into all of the places I have been to on my solo travels I will just add one more to the list. Aosta was another one of my favourite places that I visited. It is a small town in Northern region of Italy about an hour and a half train from Torino. Close to the Alps, you can get a bus into the mountains from here, but I just explored the town. I love it so much that I am going back with a few of my friends to do a wine tasting, apparently it is one of the best places in Northern Italy to do wine tastings. From the moment you get off the train you are greeted with stunning mountain views and with only a short walk into the centre, the views only get better from there. In my opinion it is a must-see place in Northern Italy. Below are some pictures from my trip.
Now to move onto group travelling. Finding people who love travelling just as much as me was one of the best things for me moving abroad – I had always hoped to find people with the same passions as me and want to travel. The first group travels I embarked on was to Rome. This was with ESN one of the Erasmus organisations who plan loads of activities and trips for Erasmus students to meet others and have fun. Although we did get a 10-hour coach there which was not the best part, we had a great weekend filled with tours, food and exploring. I also met some of best people on this trip. It was a really great way to start of my group travelling journey in Italy. Below are some pictures from the long weekend in Rome.
Genova was another place that I went with my friends. We only went for the weekend, but it was just the right amount of time to do everything we wanted to do. Genova is only about a 2.5-hour train journey from Torino so the perfect place to go on a weekend away. We got a great AirBnb in the centre of town – I would highly recommend AirBnB for any travelling in Italy they are very cheap, and you can find them in great locations if you look hard enough. Without saying anymore, I will let the pictures do the talking.
The final place I will talk about in this blog, is my recent trip to Cinque Terre. This is on the Northern coast of Italy – East of Genova. ‘Cinque’ meaning 5, is a route of 5 towns that go down the coast – each one you can either hike to from the previous one or get the train. The 5 towns are called, Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. We stayed in the Northern most region called ‘Levanto’ and got the train to our destination – either hiking between or getting the train between all 5 – we stayed for a week over Easter, and it was so fun! I would highly recommend staying in Levanto for anyone who is wanting to visit Cinque Terre – Levanto is about a 3.5-hour train journey from Torino. If you have ever seen the Disney movie ‘Luca’, the final town in the list ‘Riomaggiore’ is where the film is based! Below are pictures of our trip there.
Hello everyone! My year abroad has been going quicker than ever and is rapidly approaching its end. UCY’s finals take place over May, and I will be completely finished before the end of the month. Although I’ve been here since the end of September, it only recently feels like I’ve been using my time to the fullest and exploring more of the island. Lots of Covid scares (and in one case a positive Covid test) prevented me from flying back to Cyprus until March, but in the past couple of months I’ve really felt like I’ve begun to thrive.
Honestly this blog post is just an excuse to brag about the amazing friends I’ve made here, and I will do so with pleasure. Of course studying abroad is always marketed as a way to make lifelong friends from all over the world, but I was a little hesitant to believe that at first, after all you only meet people for a few months and then go back to living your separate lives thousands of miles apart. But of course I was sceptical for no reason, and since I’ve been back especially, I’ve developed some really strong and supportive friendships that I’m so grateful for. I truly believe that the people you meet make your year abroad what it is, and as much as its nice to be independent and explore a new country on your own terms, its always better with friends.
As we’ve perhaps over-emphasised in my previous posts, social situations can make me quite anxious, and I sometimes struggle to initiate conversations with people and things like that. But the great thing about studying abroad is that no one wants to be in a new city alone, and so everyone is always so eager to make friends – I’d say even more so than fresher’s week in first year. The majority of international students you’ll meet, at least here in Cyprus, are very welcoming and friendly and so meeting people at international student events is much less intimidating than it first seems. Its also very easy to meet friends of friends of friends here as people tend to be at most of the same events and live in accommodation especially for international students. For me personally, I arrived later than most people, but I met my flatmates who introduced me to people they’d met who in turn introduced us to other people they’d met, and now in April we have the best little group, and we see each other all the time.
The most important point I’d like people to take away from this post is that there’s nothing to worry about friend-wise as long as you’re willing to put yourself out there a little bit. And if you’ve applied for year abroad, you’ve already done that to a certain extent. I think first semester I was a little too quick to say no to certain things, assuming that I wouldn’t enjoy myself or that it’d make me anxious. I’ve gotten much better at being more open minded since I’ve been back, and I think that’s really improved my experience. Student events will be your best source of new friends, as well as any online student groups or chats that are made for your city. So if you’re anxious about being lonely abroad, please please try not to worry – it seems like a frightening concept before you arrive, but as soon as you’re in the city and get chance to meet a bunch of students I promise you’ll find people you enjoy spending time with pretty quickly.
What to know before you go? So, a lot of you will be wondering what you have to do before you leave for Canada. I hope that I will be able to help all of you who have been accepted but are now thinking about what next?
As I am sure you are all aware, if you are not a Canadian citizen or are not a permanent residence and you will be visiting Canada for longer than 6 months, then you will need a visa and, for studying in Canada, you will also need a study permit. I highly recommend starting this process a soon as possible to allow your application to be approved in good time before your departure. You will need to create an online account with the Canadian government under the ‘Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’. I personally found the information on the Canadian gov. website extremely helpful, and the steps were nicely laid out. Please follow the link to take you to their page Canada Government. Account sign in. You will obviously need to book yourself a flight. This is better done sooner rather than later, but I advise waiting for your study permit and visa approval.
Finally, I would highly suggest doing a little research into places you want to visit in Canada as there is so much to see, so it is sometimes a good idea to plan ahead to make your adventures as easy as possible.
For myself, I have found this experience incredibly enriching! My time here has really given me the opportunity to experience a new culture (although Canada is not too different to ours) and meet some incredible people. Going through the exchange programme has not just let me meet people who are from Canada but also people from all over the world who, like me, are also on exchange, and this is where I made the majority of my friends. I now have so many new friends from Europe, which has opened a huge door for travel and to immerse myself in even more cultures with people who can show me all the great places. So become of this, I would highly recommend attending the international and exchange orientation day, so you can get yourself into the group chat and get involved.
I have given some advice in some videos I have been asked to do by Western University and Sheffield. But the biggest thing I think you should prepare for, which was something I was not fully aware of until I came here, is that style of education is quite different to ours in how it is structured. Over here in Canada, the majority of the time, the modules are broken up into multiple midterms.
What I have found is that because the academic year here is shorter than ours, there is less “designated” time for revision, such as holidays and reading weeks. A lot of the time, you learn a section in that module, and after finishing the last lecture for that section, you will have a midterm very shortly after. I’ve had it as short as three days. This may sound scary, and it is when you jump in and are ignorant (like me). But it is not as bad as it seems and if you’re like me with having just a pass/fail year then you’ll find that there’s plenty of free time for you to travel and see Canada. This is obviously made easier if you choose interesting but less intense modules (which was what I didn’t do lol) and remember that you do not have to do the maximum number of credits.
For us exchange students, it is 3.5-5 credits total which is so much less than the full-time students (some of them are doing 5 credits per term!!!!!), but be sure to double-check the minimum credits and don’t just quote me as it could change. For those of you who are doing the year abroad as a compulsory aspect of your degree and it is not a pass/fail, then you won’t have as much freedom as those who are on a pass/fail year, so don’t party too hard!
The last thing I would like to say is don’t rush to head back home, especially at the end of the year. Your visa should be valid until the end of the year, so use it! Take advantage of this freedom, no work, different country, sounds like a great holiday to me! This is precisely what I did, and I was able to organise a trip to Vancouver during one of the best times of the year to go. This opportunity wouldn’t be available to me if I were in haste to head home.
I really hope you find my advice from my blogs helpful and I wish you the best experience on your year abroad!
Hello there, it’s Patrick here. Today, I’m quite excited to share with you guys my first-time travel experience to the beautiful city of lights, Paris.
Yes indeed, Paris has always been a city that I always wanted to discover since I was little. There is something special about this place that brings out the most interesting areas around its history, culture and traditions.
So, I will take out the opportunity to show you around Paris and give you some awesome tips that you may have not heard before. Hence, stay tuned until the end.
FIRST STOP: TOUR EIFFEL
The first stop of the tour will be of course the “Eiffel Tower”, it is one of the most visited tourist attractions with over 7 million visitors per year. And surprisingly enough, the building was supposed to be in place for 20 years, as the creator, Gustave Eiffel only had a limited 20-year permit to use the land. However, the Eiffel Tower was then repurposed as a radio transmitter station in the early 20th century.
You also might be wondering by looking at the picture, why is the “Eiffel Tower” blue? Well, that’s because it marked the celebration of France’s European Union presidency that is going to be held in France for 6 months until July 2022, so they decided to light the “Eiffel Tower” with the European Union colours for the whole month of January.
SECOND STOP: CHÂTEAU DE VERSAILLES
Let’s go to the second stop, my personal favourite, “Versailles Palace”.
This palace is one of the biggest residential buildings all over the world. It is a staple piece of the history of the French Monarchy which took form thanks to Luis XIII, former king of France in the early 17th century.
It is quite a straightforward journey if you decide to go to the Palace by train from Paris, as there are hourly direct trains. Furthermore, it did not even take one blink of an eye to realise how colossal the place was from the outside. Indeed, I would advise you to spend a full day if you want to explore the garden and the main palace.
THIRD STOP: LOUVRE MUSEUM
When you do think about museums in France, the first museum that probably pops up in your head is the Louvre Museum. This museum is made of over 380,000 artworks, but the most famous one will always be the “Mona Lisa”. The particularity of this painting is the more time you spend watching the painting, the more details you will be able to identify.
If I could give you one piece of advice, it would be to set yourself half a day of your time to look over the main artworks otherwise it will be complicated to see all the 380,000 artworks, even in a single day.
FINAL TRAVEL TIPS
To conclude, I would like to leave you with some final tips, if you ever decide to come to visit the beautiful city of Paris. Here is the list below:
Free access tickets for national monuments: In order to boost the affluence of people visiting staple Parisian monuments, the Government provides free tickets for students and EU residents under 26 with proof of ID. That’s a bargain knowing that Paris does not come at a cheap price.
Navigo discovery pass: If you are planning to use public transport (well, you must be crazy if you decide to use taxis on a regular basis), then the “Navigo discovery pass” is the one that you should go for. It costs 5 euros to get one, and you can load it with up to one month’s worth of fares for metros, buses and trams.
Knowing the basics of French: Last but not least, knowing the basics of French could make you go a long way, French people appreciate it when tourists or international students try to speak even a little French. Actually, this applies to any country that you travel to, but from my experience, I suggest you learn your French basics before coming to France.
So that’s all for me, I hope you enjoyed my time with me and Au Revoir!
With only a few months left of my study abroad experience I’m left with a strange sense of looking forward to being home in a familiar space whilst also dreading leaving some of the friends I’ve become so used to seeing every day. For those students that opt to take a full year the 2nd term can be a considerably different experience to that of the first, having to repeat the experience of meeting lots of new students again but with a much deeper knowledge of the city.
Obviously, this does not come without its benefits, and you may find yourself thrust into the position of tour guide when meeting new people which can be especially helpful and prevent you from simply sticking with the friends who remain from the first term. Unfortunately, due to a winter surge of COVID in Budapest we were forced to begin all learning online which limited opportunities to socialise. However, as restrictions were once again eased, and the weather warmed up we have been able to take full advantage of the opportunities this city offers moving towards summer.
Recently, I’ve found myself revisiting a lot of the city’s monuments and particularly the green spaces as spring comes into full force and a new life is given to certain areas. In particular, I would have to recommend Gellert Hill, which although the citadel at the peak has been closed for renovations, offers an unparalleled view of the city from which you can see all the major landmarks on a clear day.
We’ve just come to the end of an Easter break, so once again I’ve tried to visit as many places as possible (or that I can afford) including Bratislava, Copenhagen, and Venice. Though as much as possible I’d recommend visiting places within your host country. In Hungary, for example, in the border town of Mohács, an annual folk festival occurs heralding the arrival of Spring with the locals in elaborate costume and engaging in playful festivities that can involve spectators being carried around a crowd! More recently, I’ve been lucky enough to visit once again, the Hungarian national Museum in the royal palaces in Budapest, which currently has a temporary exhibition chronicling the development of art deco (architecture, fashion, design, and art in the 20s and 30s) in Hungary. As is to be expected however, as the weather gets warmer, the city has become full of tourists and so by this time it helps to know of some nicer parks and little cafes away from the city centre where you can still enjoy some peace and quiet while you work.
As I have said before, the modules here are structured considerably differently to those in Sheffield and at least for humanities, are dramatically easier. Nonetheless as May assessments approach it’s been useful to set aside some time in advance for writing essays and presentations which still require a similar amount of effort. One thing British students ought to prepare for however, is being called upon more consistently in class as you will still be learning in your own language. This is not true for every teacher, and it’s not as though they expect you to do any more work than anyone else, though we’ve been frequently called upon when lecturers can’t think of the right English word or simply to help define a concept.
My time in Budapest may now be approaching its end but I can say with confidence that I wouldn’t change this decision for the world. A year abroad can be the chance for a great fresh start with likeminded people and with third year studies looming can offer the opportunity for somewhat of a break allowing you more time to make the choices right for you.