My expectations for my year out had always been high. I aspired to live the Canadian mountain life of hiking, snowboarding, and total immersion in nature, and Calgary, Alberta was the next best thing. A thriving, young city, a short hour’s drive from the mountains, with a huge university which oozes with North American community spirit. Calgary, always overshadowed by the better known metropolises of Toronto and Vancouver, surpassed all of my expectations.
Where it lacks in reputation, it makes up for in opportunity, in beauty, and in the quality of its wonderful people. I came home with an arsenal of international friends, some serious nostalgia for snowy Alberta days, and a serious re-ignited enthusiasm for life. To embark upon a year-abroad is to kick start the most exciting year of your life so far, so take the bull by the horns (literally – Calgary is abundant with rodeo bull rides) and ride it out.
Why did you apply to study abroad?
I applied to Durham with every intention to study abroad in my third year. I had researched the opportunities, and set my sights on Canada. I knew that I could extend my subject knowledge, as well as my own personal experiences hugely, by spending an extra year away from home and America’s friendly northern neighbour seemed the perfect place to do this.
What was the best thing about your year abroad?
Being swept up into a whirlwind of opportunity – aided by my beautiful natural surroundings, new friends from every walk of life, and the University of Calgary’s wealth of academic and extra-curricular offerings. I spent Christmas in Vancouver with friends I’d made in residence, snowboarded with true Calgarians, and skated on the University’s Winter Olympic ice-rink.
What piece of advice would you give to potential applicants?
Be prepared to immerse yourself in your year abroad – have nothing holding you back. There is an unbelievable amount to gain personally, academically, and experientially.