When you begin your year abroad journey, everybody talks about how hard it will be to settle, find your place in a new culture, they talk about the ups and downs and heightened emotions, homesickness and stress. They balance this with enthusiasm and encouragements of how wonderful your experience will be and how many friends you’ll make. What they don’t tell you is how impossibly heartbreaking and gut wrenching it is to leave. If your lucky enough to go home over the Christmas break, as I did, you get to understand a slither of these emotions and start to truly dread the end of your year abroad and reemergence to ‘The Real World’, aka – home.
For me during the Christmas break, my Canadian life felt dreamlike, almost as if it never felt like it never happened. I fit straight back into my old life, old routines, old friendships and familiarity. I would briefly mention my time or experiences as and when it came up in conversation, but ultimately things had no changed. The only thing anchoring me back to Canada, or reminding me that it was not just an elaborate invention of my mind, was the tangibility of the merchandise and clothes I brought home with me: Canadian gloves, my university jumper and snowshoes. These items, as well chit chat with individuals whom previously did not exist in my little life bubble, completely switched my perspective on my year abroad.
In Canada, my life felt like it was England, belonging there instead of my temporary ‘holiday’ in London, Ontario. From home, all my imitate plans, personal and daily objects, centred and existed only in Canada. My spheres of existence had never seen so separate.
It was wonderful being home over Christmas, seeing friends, family and pets, but returning to Canada was Fabulous. Only once back amongst those, whom jointly shared my Canadian adventures, did my anecdotes regain their humour and their impact. Only then did I fully appreciate how magically, crazily, awesome my year aboard has been and how crazily, overwhelmingly grateful I am to be there, with these new friends, having these new experiences. I will cherish them both forever.
It only dawned on me then, that my time in Canada had started the count down down phase, the countdown to coming home.
Now, I sit on a vaguely familiar but oddly estranged, wobbly desk, at my home university, Southampton, thinking back fondly on all my experiences, trying to decide which I should share with you. Which of them will enthuse you to go to Canada immediately, which story can I successfully fumble together the words to describe an indescribable adventure.
A phrase, made popular just after the turn of the century comes to mind: one look is worth a thousand words or a picture is worth a thousand words. So here are my many thousand words on how wonderfully, magic, welcoming and frankly awesome Canada is and will always be:
University of Western Ontario – Beautiful and every module enthralling!
Rattle Snake Point – one of the many hikes that took my breath away
Canada – when it snows it REALLY snows! (I never wore a skirt again in the snow -36’C BruGHHH)
A perfect example of an indescribable adventure on a island in the middle of a Great Lake in Algonquin National Park.
Canadian Canoeing on the weekends, with smores and campfires after!
Even nature has Canadian national pride.
Some of the best people you will ever meet will be on your year abroad.
They told me Huskies were working dogs while in a dog sledding harness – I didn’t listen!
Just cross country skiing to get around.
Me and my mating mate in Chicago – only a few dollars away on a bus!
New York – Just across the boarder!
I will never complain about a British winter again.
Your face muscles will permanently hurt from smiling like this everyday!
MET STEPS: Gossip Girl? Who, me?
Toronto. Just wow.
But THE best thing about Canada, its the outdoors, its beauty and all the activities you and enjoy it while doing.
See you very soon Canada, You’ve been EPIC!