I completed my exchange in Ottawa during the 2015-2016 academic year. Having now finished my final year at Uni, I’m able to share my experience of my year abroad and how I settled back into life at Southampton!

Before I talk about life back in Southampton, I’ll run through some of my highlights of studying in Canada.

Firstly, the thing I loved most was the fact that doing an exchange gives you the opportunity to travel to so many different amazing places. If¬†you’ve got the spirit for adventure, you’ll be sure to love a year abroad. Whilst studying in Ottawa I visited Toronto, Montreal, New York City, Quebec City, Niagara Falls and more. I was also able to take part in University ski trips and we even had the opportunity to go husky sledging and snow-mobile riding. All these unique things really make the year abroad an unforgettable experience.



Montreal in the fall




Quebec City and dog-sledding

13083297_10154088306935320_3664128287434276362_n 13103291_10154088306795320_9155803369552452833_n 13083251_10154088306865320_6454562887393139970_n

Ski trips

13087862_10154088310785320_9126224049396614024_n 13124966_10154088312775320_1557063065335089107_n 13102896_10154088312710320_6123043229775850518_n

I even got to learn to snowboard (which was pretty painful and made me realise I should stick to skiing)

However, by far my favourite experience was travelling to the West Coast at the end of the year. Term finished at the end of April in Ottawa, so you get a really long summer holiday which is the perfect opportunity to travel to the West Coast. We flew to Calgary, before hiring a car and driving through the Rockies, ending up in Vancouver. The Rockies were absolutely amazing, with so much to see and do. Vancouver was also brilliant, an amazing city! After Vancouver we got a greyhound coach to Seattle, before we flew down to Arizona where I stayed with a friend who had also done a year abroad. From Arizona we went to the Grand Canyon, and over to LA before I flew home!

The Rockies


13095750_10154105899300320_5003683605633969928_n  13151902_10154111794400320_5406920243455548203_n 13164437_10154111795755320_7541780870787174852_n 13173498_10154102261320320_5458784102968225048_o




(the famous gum wall)

Arizona and the Grand Canyon




As well as having plenty of opportunities to explore new places, Ottawa itself was a great city with loads to do. Below are some pictures of some of the highlights which included Canadas national art gallery, going to multiple ice hockey games (we even won free VIP tickets once), being in Ottawa when it had the most snow on record in a single day, visiting wildlife parks, american football games, kayaking and much more!

 13087253_10154088310040320_6985607051414898588_o   13082584_10154088309700320_4387082586633628784_n  13083143_10154088313095320_5638831592052162455_n 13087614_10154088312490320_503955344032418323_n  13062307_10154088313760320_3479538283359092380_n 12375997_10153788133215320_7427815304874656722_n  13062259_10154088313975320_1109399577043351165_n  13124980_10154088313955320_4110032729197219995_n  12375045_10153788133310320_4137951047996932151_o  1421218_10153788133420320_7372808415285116547_o 13124451_10154088312415320_5596205594272947882_n

Life back in Southampton 

Returning back to Southampton after completing your exchange can be pretty daunting. Many of my friends had graduated so I was a little weary of how fun the year might be. However I have been extremely pleasantly surprised. Once you’ve completed exchange, you kinda of feel like you are part of a little community. I’ve made so many friends who also did year abroad, and it’s nice to be able to compare experiences and reminisce with other people who studied in different places all around the world and are all suffering from the ‘reverse culture shock’ (basically a term for feeling depressed about coming back to England and final year).

Another piece of advice I would give is to try and sort out final year accommodation before you get back in the summer. If you leave it this late it can be hard to find anywhere, and you could end up paying a lot. I was fortunate enough to come home over Christmas, which is when I found a house advertised on Facebook. So just keep your eye out, or if you have a group of friends also doing exchange, try and sort something together!

My final piece of advice is if you are thinking about a year abroad just go for it! I wish I could mine all over again, it really is one of the best and most unique experiences you’ll ever. Whilst moving to a foreign country can be daunting at first, it’s an incredible experience and one that you’ll be sure to love. Try to find out if any other Southampton students are going to be in the same city as you, as I lived with and became great friends with the other students from Southampton and its great to come back to Southampton with new friends!

A year abroad in Ottawa and life back in Southampton

Post navigation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *