Hey guys – I’m James! I have been in Canada for almost a month already and I just cannot believe how quickly the time has gone.
I arrived at my halls of residence at 1am after a full day of travelling and was absolutely exhausted – however I found my halls weren’t manned 24/7 and I had to go to the building next door to see if they had my keys and let me in! Luckily they had everything I needed and I got settled into my room about 1:30.
I had also thought ahead and taken a duvet and cover with me in one of my suitcases as I knew I would be arriving in the middle of the night – this might be something to think about, although none of my friends that I’ve met here did the same as me. For me though, it was a no brainer as they were using flimsy sleeping bags or blankets for the first couple days.
I had a couple of orientation sessions with the international office, residence teams and exchange office which all basically told us the same thing, however through these sessions I met a few of the people I’m friends with now and it gave us a nice opportunity to bond and get to know each other – especially over the free dinner provided at one of them!
I chose to live in an upper year and international halls of residence which I do not regret one bit. I live in a flat of 4 with a Danish guy, an English guy and a Canadian – which is cool as I haven’t managed to meet many other Canadians other than him. There are a lot of English people in my halls which in a way is lovely as it provides a home away from home, however I was disappointed not to be meeting locals left right and centre! I’ve met people from Denmark, England, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Hungary, Poland and Sweden to name just a few countries which really is awesome!
I’m writing this on the 29th – first semester Southampton exams have just finished this week and it’s also the day after a trip to Niagara Falls which was organised by the international office here. I had an absolutely fantastic day on this trip and couldn’t recommend it enough! It is winter here so obviously it was cold, but the falls were absolutely breath taking! We also bought a ticket for the Skylon tower which was well worth the $10 it cost – the view was stunning (although the wind was absolutely freezing up at the top).
Although currently it’s not actually that cold, it was -15 degrees on my first day here! The snow then came shortly after and I absolutely loved how beautiful it made the campus look. For the last couple of weeks, it’s actually been very similar weather to the UK and there has even been a bit of rain – which is not what I came for! I’m hoping the snow is going to come back over the next few weeks!!
Although it has been fun settling in here, it was also very stressful having to sit my three semester 1 exams from Southampton whilst here, because the term in Canada started on the 4th of January. On top of that in 3 of my classes we have tests and quizzes every week and in between two of my exams I had a 20% quiz assessment. Although the exam period and slightly before was stressful, it was completely worth it and I haven’t let myself miss out on too much (apart from the crazy nights out – I couldn’t justify those and being hungover the next day, not doing revision :p).
If you’re reading this and considering Canada, or any other country for a semester abroad I have one thing to say… DO IT! It has been so good so far and I’m sure it’s going to keep getting better :). I think that’s about all from me right now, all I can say is I am looking forward to seeing what the next few months bring and I’m sure they’re going to pass just as quickly as the last one has!