My second semester here is going far too quickly. I’m 27 days away from moving out of residence and have 42 days until I leave Ottawa, bound for Heathrow.



Winter in Canada has been incredible. Never in my life have I seen so much snow or experienced such terrifyingly cold weather. My birthday was the coldest day of the year (and my life) reaching -45 with the wind chill! I didn’t think it possible for your hair and eyelashes to freeze, but clearly Canada has different ideas. It’s amazing how quickly you become accustomed to the cold though, deeming -10 to be quite warm.

February saw a record breaking snowstorm – 51.2cm in one day! This broke the record set in 1947 with just 40.6cm of snowfall. Everywhere was covered in a blanket of white and, in some places, the snow went up to my knees. Vehicles were struggling and planes were cancelled at Ottawa International Airport (I think this tells you something when Canada can’t even deal with the sheer amount of snow).

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I was very fortunate to combine a trip to Vancouver with some work experience at the Law firm Gowlings. It rained for the majority of the week that I was there but I still loved every minute of it. Vancouver is beautiful, with a bustling city on one side and mountains on the other. My week was mixed with court visits, client calls and exploring Vancouver. I went to Stanley Park to see the skyline, the Vancouver aquarium, and even had a snowboarding lesson on Grouse Mountain.

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    This was the view from my own office room

Canal Skating

What’s great about living and studying in Ottawa is that the university is right next to the Rideau Canal. This freezes over in the winter and becomes the largest skating rink in the world – stretching 8km. Seeing it from my bedroom window everyday, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to skate on it. I bought my very own pair of ice skates so I could skate on the canal as much as possible (I’m not entirely sure how I will fit them in my suitcase to take home). It was a very surreal experience and unique to studying at uOttawa. A lot of Canadians use the canal to get to work, skating, walking and I even saw someone riding their bike on it!
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Ottawa is about a two-hour drive from Mont Tremblant in Quebec. My brother came to visit in February and he took me up the mountain in an attempt to teach me more snowboarding. I was in a considerable amount of pain after winding myself and falling over so many times. However, it’s so great having a mountain close by and being able to pay so little for a ski lift and rentals. I was also able to go with the uOttawa ski society. The society goes to the mountain every Sunday, a bit of a contrast with the Southampton ski society and yet another reason why doing a year abroad is a great way to experience things that Southampton can’t offer.



Husky Sledding and Snowmobiles

One of my most Canadian experiences yet involved being surrounded by hundreds of huskies, holding a 3-week old puppy and driving a snowmobile. A bit of a speed junkie, I loved driving the snowmobile, however, controlling a husky sled was an unimaginable experience. I had a naughty group of huskies who wouldn’t listen or react to my attempts at getting them to stop. They overtook the husky sled in front of us which we were explicitly told not to do! The day finished with ice fishing – a very Canadian tradition. Despite not catching anything, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
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The work load is picking up now that exams are nearing. I have one assignment left to hand in and then I will be able to start revision. I’m not at all ready to leave and if I could extend my year abroad to another year, I would so so without a doubt. It has been an unforgettable experience and one in which I think everyone should do if given the opportunity.

I will miss so much about Canada; the plastic-maple-leaf-smelling banknotes, how friendly Canadians are, campus, the weather and the great opportunities it has given me to travel. Can time slow down now?

Canadian Banknotes Smell like Maple Syrup

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