Hazel Adie – Drama & Performance – Level 3
Brock University, Canada
Oh Canada! What a trip! I had some pretty amazing highs and some not so amazing lows but I’m so grateful for everything this trip gave me in the end.
The first high point of my trip was that I turned 20 just a few days after arriving. This turned out to be a great ice breaker and I went out to a local bar with a few classmates and two other exchange students. I thought it would be hard not being with my friends and family for this big milestone but my new friends in Canada made sure I had a good time.
One of my classes was Theatre Criticism which meant the university arranged for us to go and see a lot of plays in both St Catharines, where I was staying, and nearby Toronto. I was able to see a great variety of art, the most interesting being the Indigenous theatre I saw. It was so different to anything I had ever seen before and truly offered a unique experience that would have been impossible to get in the UK. Both through talking to my classmates and the teaching at Brock University I learned so much about the local history and culture that was fascinating to me.
Something I struggled with was the difference in assessment style. While at QMU you might have one or two big assignments for one module; at Brock there were many small assignments which all contributed to your final grade, I struggled with this persistent work load and for the first time I failed to hand in an assignment. I was absolutely mortified, this particular assignment was worth 15% of one module, so not enough to make me fail but enough to put a significant dent in my final grade. I try not to beat myself up about it because it was likely to happen at some point during my time at university, and I can see why it happened at this particular point. Adapting to this new system of learning, coupled with being away from home was admittedly a challenge. I would suggest to anyone who is feeling similarly overwhelmed, find someone of your course to be a study buddy, they’re used to the way things work and can help you. Also, vent about it to other international students, they’re going through the same thing and would probably appreciate a sympathetic ear.
I visited Toronto many times during my trip; one weekend I rented an Air BnB with nine other girls who were also on exchange, in our group there were people from Scotland, England Italy, New Zealand, France and Mexico. One of the best things about exchange is not just meeting people from the country you are in but also getting to know all the other exchange students who are in the exact same boat as you. (DISCLAIMER: you will get serious FOMO from their Instagram when they are traveling without you)
One slightly crazy thing I did while across the pond was travel to New York by bus, which took about 12 hours. I stayed in an Air BnB in New Jersey that was only a 30 minute train ride to Manhattan. I managed to tick off: The Statue of Liberty, The WTC Museum, Times Square, Greenwich Village, Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge and a Broadway show all in just three days, plus I saw a late night stand up show. And when my phone changer broke at midnight I discovered there’s a 24 hour Apple store on 5th Avenue; when they say the city that never sleeps they really mean it.
Overall my trip to Canada was a crazy ride, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you it was COLD (going to a 9am lecture is tough enough but doing it in -19 degree weather is a whole other level) but it was all worth it. I visited Niagara Falls twice which is something I never thought I’d get to experience at all. I saw loads of amazing sights I never would have got to see otherwise and I proved to myself that I really could push myself as far out of my comfort zone as it was possible to be. I even got a tattoo to commemorate the whole experience. As much as I’ve grown and changed over the last few years I feel as if I grew just as much in 3 short months in Canada as I did in 3 years in Edinburgh.