As the Christmas break draws closer, I thought I would take the time to reflect over my first semester here at the University of Ottawa! So far, I am thoroughly enjoying my time here and whilst I am excited to fly home this Christmas, I am also thankful that I am coming back in January to complete this awesome adventure.

Here at uOttawa, I am taking five modules per semester, which equates to 15 hours of contact time in the first semester, and 20 in the second (the semester is slightly shorter so you have to pack in more per week!). This gives you plenty of time to explore parts of Canada, and experience what true Canadian culture is about! I thought I would share some of my trips and adventures with you below, along with some information about my day-to-day life, in case you are thinking of coming here too.

The University

The University itself is fairly large, with over 42,000 students! So far, I have only found myself in the law building as everything you need is in there, including a two-story library. Best of all, the law building is only a 5-minute walk to my off-campus house. The house is owned by the University, so you don’t have to deal with private landlords, but still get the freedom of cooking your own meals and get to feel like you don’t spend your whole life on campus. I live with four other students in total, including two other students from law at Southampton, and although I didn’t know them throughout the first years of my studies, it is great to live with people from Southampton! I also live with a girl from South Korea, and a guy from Denmark.



1. Niagara Falls
In August, when I first arrived, one of the first trips I made was to Niagara Falls. I would recommend doing this trip early, as when I went it was still a beautiful thirty degrees, so doing the riverboat cruise into the falls is a lot of fun (instead of being painfully cold if you leave it too late!).

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2. NYC
For only £155, I got to go on a New York City trip held by the International House at uOttawa with 49 other exchange students! The trip included transport (which was an 8-hour coach trip) along with accommodation in Queens. Although we only got about 3 hours sleep per night, we managed to see so much of the city, including the view from the Rockefeller at night, Lady Liberty, Ground Zero, Wall Street, China Town, Central Park and of course Times Square! The trip was sensational, even despite the fact our coach broke down on the journey home and we were stranded at a gas station in the cold for seven hours!

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3. Montreal
Visiting Montreal made me feel like I was back home in Europe – the city is beautiful and the views from Mont Royal were incredible! We also visited a beautiful light show in the botanical gardens. There is more of a variety in nightlife in Montreal, with clubs open longer. Montreal was only an hour and a half coach trip away, so was a great weekend city break.

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4. Skiing at Mont Tremblant
The ski season starts at the end of November here, which means there is loads of time to hit the slopes. For £55, you can get a two-hour coach with the University’s ski and snowboard club to Mont Tremblant, which includes a lift-pass and ski rentals. Whilst I have only been once so far, there are loads of trails to explore on the Mountain so a year abroad in Canada is the perfect place to go if you love to ski, or if you want to learn!


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To break up the weekends when we aren’t travelling, there is always something to do in Ottawa. From walking along the beautiful canal (which you can skate along from January – it is the longest ice rink in the world!), going to NHL ice hockey matches, kayaking, supporting the University’s American Football Team in their home matches, visiting the huge Rideau Centre Mall or the Parliament buildings, using the free sports pass that all students get, or just going for drinks in the popular Byward Market, you can always have an exciting weekend when you want one. One of our favourite places to go in called The Loft; it is a board game lounge where you can eat and drink whilst playing board games next to the fire.

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Law Activities

Whilst in Canada, there are still great opportunities to CV-build (if you want to) and develop your skills, which can lead to great opportunities! I recently took part in the University’s Family Law Negotiation Competition, which was sponsored by the Canadian law firm BLG. The competition was a two-day process, held over the weekend at BLG’s beautiful offices in the heart of Ottawa and judged by not only lawyers from the firm, but also judges! The view from BLG looked right onto the Parliament building, which was a great setting for the competition. I was fortunate enough to jointly win the competition, and now have the opportunity to travel to Toronto in March 2016 to represent the University in the national competition! Because Canadian law is so similar to ours, it is really easy to work with what you have learnt already and apply it over here.


Next Semester

I am hoping that next semester will hold as many opportunities to travel and explore as the first semester has! From January through to April I have heard there is constant snow (we have only seen snow once so far, apart from when skiing) so it is definitely going to be colder! On the agenda still is visiting Quebec City, Toronto and I am planning to fly home from Vancouver at the end of my year here.

Ottawa is an absolutely beautiful city, and to anyone thinking of a year abroad here I can thoroughly recommend it!

Ottawa – Canada

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