When applying for my exchange, I instantly knew that Canada was the place I wanted to head to. It’s always been on my bucket list and the opportunity to live there for 8 months rather than just visit was too exciting to pass by. Yet I didn’t have a clue where to go and, embarrassingly, I wasn’t too clued up on the geography of the country. When I looked at my options, Nova Scotia really stood out to me for the simple fact that I had never really heard of it and instead of doing some research I wanted to jump right in and find out for myself first-hand what it was all about.
When I told my friends and family, they all seemed excited for me, but I vividly remember my pals mum scrunching up her face and saying “Why are you going there? It’s a bit dull isn’t it?”. Alarm bells started ringing. I didn’t want to spend 8 months bored out of my mind. But I stuck to my word and jumped in head first. And have loved every second since.Arrival
As I flew in to Nova Scotia, the first thing that struck me as I got a gorgeous view from above was the remoteness of it. I barely saw a road, a building or even a patch of land that wasn’t covered in forests and lakes. When I landed, this view was pretty accurate. The drive from the airport was surrounded by gorgeous scenery, but as I crossed the bridge in to Halifax towards Dalhousie University I was welcomed with a vibrant and bustling city. There were adorable little buildings and with the sun shining there were countless people sat outside bars and cafes enjoying the sun and swigging a Keith’s (a classic Halifax beer as I would soon find out!). Safe to say I was excited.
Dalhousie’s campus has a happy mixture of both modern and traditional buildings, at the forefront being the stunning admin building at its head. The halls I opted to stay in (Shirreff Hall) were also beautiful and full of history of the people that had stayed there before me, with pictures and drawings covering the hallway. In my first semester we were lucky enough to be welcomed in to a community full of fun student activities and events, from karaoke (funny) to ‘Sex toy bingo’ (even funnier). With such a multicultural campus as well, we were also able to participate in colour festivals and weekly dinners full of new and interesting foods from around the world.
Heading in to my new law school for the first time was daunting to say the least, but the six international students attending the Schulich School of Law that year were made to feel welcome and we adjusted in to our new classes with ease and support from all the wonderful professors. A quick tip for anyone heading abroad: choose some modules that you’d never considered before, because you may, like me, find a new passion (immigration law in my case!).
The International Centre in the middle of campus was an absolute life line for us international lot as they helped us set up the basics (such as a bank account and phone number) and organised amazing trips to places such as Peggy’s Cove and the Scotiabank Centre to watch basketball and, of course, ice hockey to support the local Halifax Mooseheads!
First semester highlight
One of the biggest highlights for me over my first semester was the lakes. In the hot weather we were able to head out to both the local ones such as Chocolate Lake and Long Lake and ones further out such as in Kejimkujik National Park (you’ll hear more about these trips in my next post!) and take a dip. Not only was the fresh water and long hours of sunbathing a a reason to LOVE these spots, but they were also great places to meet people and I met my most of my group of friends at these locations. So, another tip from one exchange student to a potential other: get out there and get exploring!