It’s been two months now, and it’s very sad to think I’m over halfway through my time at Western. The month of October brought us midterms, Canadian Thanksgiving, Halloween and some incredibly early snow!
Midterm examinations were the main focus of the month, therefore rather restricting the number of fun and interesting activities that one would ideally blog about. As exchange students from Southampton, we only have to take three courses a semester compared to the regular five courses, meaning my exam timetable was not as packed as everyone else in my residence. However, there was increased pressure on these exams upon the discovery that Southampton remove 15% from the grades here to convert it back from the different grading system here (80% is an A vs. 70% for a 1st). The exams were largely similar to testing in Southampton and are behind me for now. I have only received one grade back and despite being 5% above the class average, after converting my grades back to Southampton grades, it was one of my lowest marks since being at university. I would strongly recommend looking into how grades convert to your home university before embarking upon an exchange as it is slightly demoralising that it is therefore impossible to score 100% in a test.
On a slightly different note, the holidays of Thanksgiving and Halloween have been and gone with the all-too-typical North American enthusiasm. Unfortunately, due to the amount of studying (not revising, apparently), I wasn’t able to go to a Canadian student’s home for Thanksgiving like other international exchange students. I did, however, get to go out for a meal with some of the international students who were still around, as well as those Canadians who couldn’t travel all the way home to the far reaches of British Columbia on the west coast. It was great to meet even more people, from different parts of the world and hear a little bit about their journeys on the road to university at Western. Luckilythere enough Canadians around to remind us internationals that you must tip at a restaurant allowing us to avoid any unwanted any social faux-pas.
Halloween at Western marked a slight respite in the seemingly everlasting midterm period. We were given a couple of days off as study days or reading days allowing students to catch up with work and study for their next exams. However, being Halloween in North America, there were not particularly quiet study days. There were 4 nights of events, requiring four different costumes and for someone who has never really seen the point in Halloween, I was certainly being thrown in the deep-end. What I did notice was that costumes here are designed to be amusing, flattering or just anything moderately famous. Alternatively, back in England, costumes are more scary and creative with make-up creating costumes which can be really unpleasant to behold. Personally, I much preferred Halloween in Canada.
With Christmas the next major holiday, I can feel my time in Canada rapidly running out. I’ve found a church here in Canada which I’m enjoying attending regularly, joining a new society next week and constantly meeting new people, ever-developing new social skills. I’m excited to see what November brings, and am very thankful for the time I’ve already had here at Western.