Snow shoes at the ready!

University of Reading student studying abroad in Canada for a Semester

Natasha studied abroad at the University of Ottawa in Canada for a semester as part of her Geography degree at Reading. THis blog post covers the latter part of her semester abroad!

I am now mid-way through my semester abroad in Canada and its safe to say I’m still loving every minute of it! The week after reading week, my boyfriend came to visit me for a week, so we used that time to drive (6 hours) to Toronto and Niagara Falls. Most of my friends had already been to Niagara Falls and hearing all their stories from visiting, I was so excited to actually go and see it myself. The sheer size of the waterfalls were just insane, like nothing I had ever seen before! Toronto as a city was amazing and definitely one of my favourite cities that I have ever visited. We managed squeeze so much into a short weekend visit, as I wanted to make sure that I didn’t miss any classes at ottawaU. Going up the CN Tower and seeing the entirety of Toronto over sunset was so beautiful, and really put into perspective just how spread out the city is! Visiting the St. Lawrence Market, which has been recognised as the number one food market in the world, was so much fun and we tried so many different foods in a relatively small area.

University of Reading student studying abroad in Canada for a Semester

Niagara Falls

In November, the cold weather had finally hit Ottawa, with temperatures going down to negative twenty-eight, so we were staying inside a lot more. Despite this, a group of international students, with the help of a guide, had arranged a weekend stay with a First Nations family in the North-Western Territories. Needless to stay, it was of the most humbling experiences of my life. Being able to experience the way they live completely off the land, understand the struggles they go through and staying in such a beautiful place.

I am still experiencing new things in relation to the Canadian culture, by visiting copious amounts so University sports matches, particularly ice hockey.

University of Reading student studying abroad in Canada for a Semester

The workload has increased recently, with final papers needing to be handed in – all four within one week! On top of this, final exams were only weeks away so the going out had slowed down. However, before my time to go home came, I wanted to go to New York City and experience their Christmas extravaganzas. It’s safe to say that I was not disappointed. I visited ‘SantaLand’ at Macys, visited Central Park and watched the light show on Saks 5th Ave. During my time in Canada, I have travelled to so many amazing places, making me realise how little I have travelled around the U.K. This has made we want to explore the country I live in more.

Natasha

Missed Natasha’s last blog post? Catch up here: http://bit.ly/2kvLD8L

Saying goodbye to Maple-Syrup Country

University of Reading student studying abroad in Canada for a Semester

Jake studied abroad at the University of Ottawa in Canada with his Film degree at Reading. We are already well into the Spring term but Jake’s post looks back on the end of his semester abroad. 

My last few weeks in Ottawa were hectic to say the least. Knowing my time in Canada was drawing to a close, I tried to make the most of everyday whilst also ensuring I dedicated enough time to completing my Finals for the five modules I chose to take at uOttawa.

In the last few weeks, my Final essays undeniably consumed much of my focus and time. However, despite all the stress, I thoroughly enjoyed writing each one. In many cases, by being able to choose my own research questions, I was afforded more academic freedom and creativity than I would have perhaps experienced in Reading for the equivalent courses. From comparing the films of Atom Egoyan, to also analysing how an audience responds to a film like Spike Jonze’s Her, I was able to write about ideas and theories that really captivated me. Canada allowed me to grow in confidence socially, but also enabled me to become more secure in my own academic interests and writing.

Apart from my finals, I made a conscious effort to re-visit my favourite places in the city of Ottawa. In the very last few days of my exchange I visited numerous coffee houses and photographed beautiful scenery, exploring places that were increasingly covered with more and more snow. I conducted my own ‘magical mystery tour’ of the memories I created in the very first days after my arrival. It really hammered home how the time had flown by and confirmed to me that, with an experience like this, you really have to make every second count. It is over before you know it! You do not want to be left wondering whether you really ate enough poutine or skated (wobbled) around an ice rink as frequently as you could have done.

University of Reading student studying abroad in Canada for a Semester

Looking back on my overall time in Ottawa, I do not regret any moment. Despite the worry, nerves and academic stress of taking such a big leap, I have been exposed to an amazing culture, seen wonderful landscapes and made life long friends. I thoroughly believe that throughout our lives it is our experiences that define us. Everything we do and see contributes to our sense of self, and as I learned in Canadian Cinema, this process of becoming is never ending.

I have skated in the snow, watched mesmerising light shows projected on parliamentary buildings and drank gallons of Tim Horton’s coffee, far more than is probably healthy. However, I can safely say despite the numerous things I have accomplished, I am not quite satisfied. This exchange in Canada had awoken within me an intense desire to travel and experience the world. I want to return to Canada in the future; I have fallen in love with this maple-syrup country, despite the literal toe-numbing temperatures towards the end of my exchange

University of Reading student studying abroad in Canada for a Semester

Regardless of it being a cliché, I can now see that the world is full of possibilities. After completing my degree to the best of my ability, I cannot wait to get out there and explore it in its entirety. I thank Canada, and the people I met there, for making this exchange an unforgettable experience that has helped me define myself that little bit more as I continue onto the future.

Jake

Missed Jake’s last post? Catch up here http://bit.ly/2kkypcL

 

 

Making the most of Reading Week in Canada!

University of Reading student studying abroad in Canada for a Semester

Jake studied abroad at the University of Ottawa in Canada with his Film degree at Reading. This post is reporting back mid-way through his semester in North America!

I am mid-way through my exchange and I am still enjoying every minute! Canada has offered me all I wanted and more, allowing me to see wonderful scenery, meet new people and begin to grow more confident in myself socially as well as academically.

During reading week I had an amazing time because my sister flew out to stay with me for the duration of my time spent away from uOttawa. It was amazing seeing family again, giving me the boost I needed to carry on and enjoy my time away from home. Whereas we ran out of time to do the ‘big stuff’, visit Niagara and Quebec City, I can only be slightly disappointed because we still managed to cram so many things into just one week.

We immersed ourselves in the culture, visiting Byward Market for the Fall produce, going to the cinema and a couple of museums, as well as catching Broadway’s Cinderella whilst it was on its Canadian tour.  On top of this, we managed to take a day trip to Toronto where we visited the CN Tower and had a long lunch with the most spectacular view. We also managed to fit in visiting Ripley’s Aquarium and have a quick look at Rogers centre (home of the Toronto Blue Jays!).

University of Reading student studying abroad in Canada for a Semester

University of Reading student studying abroad in Canada for a Semester

Apart from an awesome, but extremely tiring reading week, I have focused on the academic side of my exchange, which whilst much less exciting to write about, has kept me busy and fuelled my continuing interests in film and media. I have had multiple, stressful mid-term assignments due recently but a positive is, compared to studying in Reading, there are more frequent assignments. Yes, this means more work but it also means more chances to ensure my grades remain high and frequent testing means I understand how I am performing at all times throughout the semester. There are more chances to boost my marks!  My favourite assignments have included making podcasts/videos for my Multimedia project ‘Made of Mad Media’. I have been able to create a website or online community that not only discusses my academic interests of films/TV but has also brought me closer to new Canadian friends who have asked to contribute their own projects and ideas.

Whilst my friendship group were too busy to really appreciate a true Canadian Halloween, I have seen some scary, and funny, costumes/decorations throughout October. More importantly, as soon as Halloween finished the festivity of Christmas arrived, bringing with it a lot of snow! The Canadian landscape has proven even more beautiful, if not much colder, covered in a blanket of pure white. The local shopping centre or ‘mall’ is decorated from top to bottom with lights and Christmas trees and has really put me in the ‘Christmassy’ mood for the remainder of my time in Ottawa.

Before the snow hit, my friends and I managed to catch a greyhound bus to Montreal to experience the nightlife. The music and art world is truly alive in Montreal and it is a city I hope to visit again in the future because, alongside Toronto, I have fallen in love with the atmosphere it provided.

University of Reading student studying abroad in Canada for a Semester

I am now taking the time to focus on my finals for the semester. I undertook this trip to experience the world and there is no doubt that I have done that so far. I have gone to the cinema too many times to count, eaten the essential Canadian food group that is poutine (yum!) and have walked more and seen more than I thought I could ever handle. Although I will now focus on writing my final exams, undeniably a lot of work that I will have to dedicate the majority of time to, I look forward to the surprises, laughs and memories the last few weeks undoubtedly hold.

Jake

Missed Jake’s last post? Catch up here: http://bit.ly/1tAKTNm 

 

 

Canada’s Natural Wonders

University of Reading student studying abroad in Canada for a Semester

Natasha is studying abroad at the University of Ottawa in Canada for a semester as part of her Geography degree at Reading. Read her blog entry about covering her first 3 months in North America. 

After being in Canada for just over three months, I have experienced so much during my time here. From whale watching in Quebec, to hiking the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, and making friends from all over the world. There was no problem with settling into life in Canada, as everyone is so friendly and welcoming.

During my first few days in Canada, there was a vast array of activities that had been organised by the international office, such as trip to Parliament. This meant that I got the chance to meet other international students, whilst touring the city of Ottawa.

University of Reading student studying abroad in Canada for a Semester

There is an abundance of lakes, with canoeing and kayaking a very popular past time in Canada, so naturally my friends and I went kayaking for the day! My first Gee-Gees football game was exhilarating, and the annual ‘Panda Game’ against the rival Carleton University in Ottawa was something that I have never experienced before. The tailgate (pre-party) leading up to the football game was the best part, with some parties at 8am!

University of Reading student studying abroad in Canada for a Semester

Within two weeks of being at OttawaU, I had taken part on a trip to Tadoussac in Quebec and Quebec City. This was arranged by the university and was relatively cheap. The trip also took place over a weekend, ensuring that we didn’t miss any classes. This trip allowed us to see the cultural diversity of Canada as an English and French speaking country, being educated about the history of Canada and Quebec, and seeing the second largest whale in world in the wild! As you can see in the picture, it was already so cold in Canada!

University of Reading student studying abroad in Canada for a Semester

Academically, OttawaU is definitely more demanding in terms of deadliness, classes and midterms and final exams. However, it’s nice to know how well you are doing throughout the semester, and the help from the professors is appreciated. The choice of modules offered here is vast, with many modules not offered at Reading. Some the of modules that I have taken include: geographies of tourism, geographies of globalisation and cities and social change. I have focused more on the human geography modules, as this is my preferred area of study.

During my reading week at OttawaU, my friends and I decided to make the most of being in Canada, and to travel to Banff national park to see the amazing scenery that Canada has to offer. Although travelling within Canada is rather expensive, it is definitely worth seeing the natural wonders that Canada has to offer.This aided with some of my classes as I could understand the transition that has occurred in Banff, around the growth of tourism and how this has affected Banff as society. I have actually used this trip within one of my assignments at OttawaU. Overall, this was trip of a lifetime, whilst also impacting my studies.

University of Reading student studying abroad in Canada for a Semester

I feel like transitioning to the Canadian culture has been much smoother than I had anticipated, although this has definitely been helped by the kindness of Canadians, meeting many other international students in the same position as me and the love of the English accent! I can’t wait to see what else I am yet to experience in my remaining weeks here in Ottawa. So far, I could not emphasise how much my confidence and independence has grown since studying abroad, and I would recommend it to anyone thinking about potentially participating in such an amazing programme.

Natasha