Rebekka Baur – Psychology – Level 2

Acadia University, Canada

I was delighted to be informed of being a candidate to participate in the exchange programme. Laura Stevenson has helped me immensely to organise this exchange and was always there to answer questions or lend a helping hand. The programme was very well organised through Queen Margaret. Depending on the course you get plenty of choices of where you would like to go for the exchange. My top three choices were Hong Kong, Nova Scotia and Texas. In the beginning I was planning on going to Hong Kong for my exchange. Whilst planning everything and getting closer to the leaving date the University advised me that Hong Kong’s University was no longer an option due to the escalating riots in Hong Kong. I then had to change my almost completed programme to going to Nova Scotia. This was a stressful time for me and I was constantly asking Laura for help and I am very thankful she has been this helpful. Once I fully organised things such as; flight bookings, talking to exchange partner and sorting accommodation (only a few thing which needed to be done in a short periods of time) I was able to start getting ready to leaving this country to go abroad. I am very thankful for the Lisa Persdotter Simonyi fund which helped me afford this who experience in the first place. I am unsure how to show my full gratitude, but I am a better person and this experience has helped me not just keep learning my course but also how to become better and social skills and facing fears. This fund helped me to pay for just about all my expenses. However, it would have been used in a better way if the virus outbreak would not have happened. I had to use more money than intended on an extra flight back home from Canada just after the outbreak. Due to the closure of everything I was not able to get a refund or change for my previously booked return ticket and therefore had to buy another one.

Side Note:   I will state that I suffer from mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. I have applied to take part in this exchange because it would be a great way of becoming more comfortable with other people and unfamiliar surroundings.

Once I organised everything it was time to start getting myself and my suitcase ready for this massive adventure. I am glad and appreciate that I was provided with a booklet which helped me through the major aspects of this exchange, including a brief packing list. I worked from this packing list and used it as a start of mine. I managed to pack both my suitcase and my backpack correctly after checking a few times. I was being very nervous and cautious though this.

Image of students outside Acadia University

The day has come! It is early in the morning and I am on the way to the airport. I am so nervous and excited but also anxious. This is going to be a massive step for me, especially because the last time I flew was coming back from my dad’s funeral in Germany.  I had to run to the gate for my plane due to it being right at the end of the airport. The goodbyes were quite hard. I said goodbye to all my work colleagues on New Year’s and I was crying. Then my parents drove me to the airport, and it was a quick but very sad goodbye.

The flights were quite long, and I arrived in NS airport late. I was greeted by students of the university who oversaw collecting others and myself from the airport. I looked all so different from home. So far everyone was friendly. I got shown to my accommodation and my room. However, my room mate was not yet there since the classes did not start till after the weekend.

Image of Rebekka with Union Jack flag and Tim Hortons coffee

During the weekend we did a few activities with all the exchange students and it was good to help integrate people. I got to meet 3 of the good friends I made from there through this event and the other ones I made through classes and going to dinner hall and other after class activities.

Image of Rebekka and friend with facemasks on - Pamper time

In the beginning I was very nervous about going to eat meals in the Meal Hall due to not knowing anyone and feeling very anxious but soon enough my new friends from the weekend sat with me and we really got along and became close very quickly. I’m very proud of this and I am glad and thankful I was able to take part in this programme because otherwise I would have never came out my shell as much as I am now, I wouldn’t be as confident in social circumstances as much as I am now.

I soon noticed that the education system was very different from ours. They take roughly three exams about each of the units and they already count towards their final exam. There are always ways of adding extra credit as well in most classes. Similarities include that there is always support if you are struggling and you have set times to go see the lectures about anything you are unsure about. There has been so much that I have learnt throughout this exchange, which I am not sure how to all explain in this. Everyone in Canada was very friendly and helpful. I learnt a lot whilst I was there. Not just in the education aspect but also in the community aspect. If I was ever unsure about anything, I knew I could always rely on someone, if that is my friends, classmates or the staff at the university.

Image of 'Stay Safe' sign in Acadia - COVID

The corona virus outbreak sadly shortened my time abroad and it was very devastating to leave behind all the great friends I have made from there. I keep in contact with them and we video call each other on a regular basis. I miss them a lot and I am hoping that I will be able to see them all again soon. We have planned to all have another trip to Canada to view some of the tourist attractions which we sadly could not do at the time due to both; Covid-19 and studying all the time.

Image of Rebekka in the snow

I am very grateful that I was able to take part in this great opportunity. Thank you to everyone involved to make this opportunity possible. I would have never grown this much as a person if I would not have been able to go. I will never forget this experience and adventure. Yes, it was cut short, but I still made the best out of the situation and I would recommend everyone to try take part in this fantastic opportunity!

Semester Abroad Experiences

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