I am Teegan Alwin, a 3rd year Psychology student at the University of Southampton. My four month semester abroad was at Western University, Ontario, Canada. This blog covers my experience of my semester abroad from first arriving to leaving.

First arriving

I first arrived in Canada on the 29th of August, which gave me five days to settle into my accommodation, buy the necessities needed for my room and flat and meet people before my week of partying began. From the 4th of September until the 9th, Western University hosted what is known as ‘O-Week’, a week of fun activities and icebreakers to welcome the exchange students as well as first years. It included a concert, football game, roller skating, silent discos, laser tag, movie nights and a special guest performance from singer T-pain for the closing ceremony at the end of the week. It was an insane experience to say the least, allowing me to establish the friendships that would stick with me throughout my entire exchange.

Academic side

After my excitement-filled first week, lectures and study then began. I took five modules for my course to match the credits needed for Southampton. Two of my courses were in-person lectures on the beautiful campus and the other three were online and could be completed in my own time. However, one difference between Canada and the UK is the time of lectures. Both of my in-person lectures were from 7pm until 10pm, although they usually finished around 9-9:30. This shift from what I’m used to at Southampton where the latest your lecture can finish is 7, was a shock indeed. Instead of going home to settle down for the evening and relax, I was up and walking to my first lecture of the day – or night if you’d prefer. However, after the first two lectures, I had gotten used to the late classes and enjoyed the fact that I could do what I wanted during the day- which ranged from completing other work, shopping, meeting friends, exploring the city etc. Besides that, my online courses were fine and would require weekly quizzes and participation to assess our progress.

There were 2 midterms that I would have to complete in October and November, followed by a final exam in December for each of my subjects apart from one. The level of examination is different there and so I was not required to do evaluative pieces such as essays but instead purely multiple-choice exams. This was different to what I’m used to as psychology is such content-based subject, nonetheless it was a new experience to do exams in such a way and I am grateful for the opportunity.

Making friends

As aforementioned, in week 1 I met my flatmates and majority of the people that I would spend my exchange with. My flat consisted of two boys and two girls- one of them being me. One of them was from the UK, one from Australia and one from Amsterdam. A diverse friendship group, which was soon expanded by others in my accommodation and those off-campus. It was surprisingly easy to make friends due to the layout of my accommodation and the social events planned. There aren’t enough words to explain how much these people enriched my life over the course of 4 months and the idea that some of the best people I have ever met were just an ocean or two away is a crazy feeling. Having this friendship group instilled a confidence in me that I never knew I had and gave me a newfound appreciation for myself. The personal growth and acceptance I achieved was a result of the supportive and amazing people I had around me who allowed me to always be myself. I am glad to know that i now have friends all across the world ranging from: The Netherlands, Australia, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Canada, UK, to list a few.


Going abroad to Canada, I knew that there would be places inside and out of it that I would want to visit while I was away. Thankfully, I managed to visit many places starting off with Toronto. I stayed for the weekend with a group of friends, and we went to watch the Blue Jays baseball game, the atmosphere was great. Next trip was Niagara falls, which is just near the border of USA. The weather was great that day, but despite the sun, blue skies and semi-protection from the boat, the pure violent spray from the waterfall caused us all to be drenched, though I do not regret a second. After that, in the last week of October we were given a reading week to revise for our upcoming midterms and whilst I did factor revision in, I took the opportunity to explore other places in Canada. The destination was Banff, which was just a four hour flight away. Upon arrival, my eyes directed me to a town surrounded by the most astonishing scenery with mountains at every angle, lakes and cute shops. Of course, it was accompanied by ice cold temperatures and snow. During my week there I went to Lake Louise, an unbelievable wonder of the world, hiked a mountain (the view was worth it), went to a hot springs, explored the town and admired the falling snow looking out onto yet another lake.

Once my second set of midterms were over, I visited my friend in Florida for thanksgiving which was lovely and a nice change to the cold temperatures i had back in Canada. Finally, as the countdown of my final weeks abroad began, I went on a trip to New York with my flatmates which rolled into the first few days of December, meaning I could admire the Rockefeller tree, skyscraper views and all the beauty NY had to offer at Christmas. It was a trip I will never forget and I got to return to Canada and enjoy the last few weeks of my exchange with very special people.


If I have any advice to give to people thinking of doing a semester abroad in Canada or anywhere I would say this:

  • Take every chance you can and enjoy every minute
  • Don’t hold any expectations for your exchange, it is whatever you make it, so don’t put pressure on a certain outcome
  • Be open-minded and don’t be afraid to speak to people
  • Be wise with your money but don’t restrict yourself
  • Take lots of pictures and videos!
  • Visit as many places as you can while you are there


The past four months were without a doubt the best of my life. I learnt so much both academically and personally. The campus, people, city and nightlife all helped to create an unforgettable experience. At first, i was so hesitant to go due to thinking i wouldn’t make many friends or like the area. However, i have never been more happy to be so wrong about something in my life. Anyone who gets the chance to go on a semester abroad should take it.

The best four months of my life in Canada

Post navigation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *