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.


Study Abroad Adventure in Geneva

University of Reading student studying abroad in Switzerland for a Full Academic Year

Jaime is currently studying abroad at the University of Geneva in Switzerland as part of his French and International Relations degree at Reading. Read his blog entry about settling into his new home in Geneva for the next academic year.

I would like to start off this entry by stating that I never thought I would end up in Geneva. Yes, I did choose Geneva as my study placement option for my year abroad. But I ended up changing my mind and I tried hard to find a work placement. But I couldn’t imagine how hard it would be to find a placement.

In the end, I found myself desperately looking for accommodation in Geneva as my work placement option failed… However, I feel so lucky about not getting a placement. Now that I am in Geneva I can’t imagine myself any happier in a placement. This place is great!

My experience upon arriving was more stressful than pleasant as I just threw myself into the adventure and came here without having any secured place to stay. I got a hotel for 3 nights. 3 nights and 3 days was the amount of time I gave myself to find accommodation. I think it is understandable that I did not enjoy at all my first days in Geneva. After being rejected by a big number of estate agents and private hosts as well as student accommodations tension began to build up inside of me, but in the end things started to turn as it was on my return to the hotel with my aunt that we saw an aparthotel in France, 5 minutes away from the Swiss border. We decided to try luck there. I am currently writing this first blog entry from my apartment here, therefore I guess I don’t have to say that this place was and is still is perfect.

University of Reading student studying abroad in Switzerland for a Full Academic Year

Enjoying Geneva with my very lovely aunt.

My family thought it would be a problem for me to live in France and study in Geneva, and if there are any problems I really can’t see them. Gaillard, which is the village where I currently am living is very well communicated with my university, the only thing I must do is walk 5 minutes to the border and pop into a tram, which will leave me in front of university in little more than 25 minutes. However, when the weather allows me to do so I ride my bicycle to university. Geneva is great for biking, therefore as a bicycle lover I am very comfortable here.

University of Reading student studying abroad in Switzerland for a Full Academic Year

Very nice views from my apartment

So far everything was perfect, I had my own apartment and I was very well communicated with central Geneva. I would also like to mention that having my own apartment in a hotel is by far much cheaper than renting a room in Geneva as I was offered a very decent student discount. So, as I was saying, everything was perfect, but university still worried me a little due to the language and because I didn’t know what to expect. Honestly, this university is great, without taking into account how slow the administration is.

The best thing is that I got to choose what I want to do throughout the year, therefore it is impossible to do something which doesn’t pleases me, on top of that I was given a few weeks to try the lessons in order to be able to choose the best ones for me. Now I find myself having university only 2 days a week, which is quite comfortable, and taking modules in which I am very interested. Have I mentioned how nice my building is? An image is worth more than 1000 words!


Having only 2 days a week of university seems amazing as you get plenty of time for yourself, but that time for yourself is not a good thing if you don’t make the most out of it. I wanted to invest the time I had in something I love; sports. My first option was to retake boxing, but I also wanted to start something new. Out of all of the different sports I’ve been offered, I decided to give capoeira a chance. It was a great choice, I love this new sport, the other students are very friendly and the master is amazing. In sports I was also given the option to try some lessons in order to find the one which most suits me, and that was how I realised that boxing did not suit me at all due to the timings of the lessons. So I decided to try another sport, and I found out that the university offered me to take judo lessons. Having done Judo for a long time I thought it would be a great option for me, so I decided to retake Judo.

There is not much else to say about my experience so far. Only that so it is being perfect and I can’t wait to see what awaits for me in the future while being in Geneva!


In the Happiest Place in the World

University of Reading student studying abroad in Denmark for a Semester

Ellis is currently studying abroad at Aarhus University in Denmark as part of his Psychology degree at Reading. Read on to find out how he is settling into his new home in Denmark for his study abroad semester. 

After hearing that Denmark was ranked one of the happiest places to live in the world, my decision to study there for my term abroad became an easy choice; and my experiences so far have not disappointed.

I arrived in the late summer, and was greeted warmly by my mentor and, somewhat surprisingly, the climate – as I was told it was normally a lot colder for the time of year. After being shown to my dorm, I met the Danes I would be living with for the next 4 months and I instantly felt welcomed.

The next week was ‘introductory week’, 5 days filled with an array of activities which would get me to grips with Danes, Danish culture and academic life. During this week I met people from all over the world, and I can now say I have friends from France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Canada, USA and Australia. I learnt a lot about what it means to be Danish, and their fondness for the term ‘hygge’ (something which roughly translates to ‘cosiness’ or ‘good-times’). Without a doubt my first week involved a lot of ‘hygge’ – celebrations galore, I attended some fabulous parties, held by the university and friends alike. Soon after I became aware of the Danish fondness for beer – you could literally get beer anywhere (even on campus there are beer taps) and at a very affordable price!

University of Reading student studying abroad in Denmark for a Semester

However, my time in Denmark hasn’t solely been partying and drinking beer. The week after introductory week, was festival week – a vibrant event taking over the city centre with art, entertainment, music, food and culture. I attended free concerts in the park, tried some of the finest Scandinavian cuisine and even watched an extravagant African dance show. During the week I also managed to squeeze in a trip to ARoS, Aarhus’ Art Museum, which showcased some famous artists work, and not forgetting the breathtaking rainbow panorama at the top – which had the most spectacular views of the city. It truly was an emotive experience, and I could’ve spent hours staring out of each coloured-glass panel. To sum up the week, there was something for everyone, whatever the interest.

After the excitement of the first couple of weeks, class began to start and I was somewhat dubious about what to expect from an international institution. However, my doubts soon faded away as I noticed the relaxed teaching style: classes involved teacher led-discussions based on set texts, which were broken up by cake-breaks – yep, each week one person was responsible for bringing in cakes for all the class to eat (a strong motivator to attend class to say the least).

So overall, I can confidently say I am having the most amazing time with the most interesting group of friends – and I’m looking forward to what the rest of this experience has in store!


Getting Mummified in Melbourne

University of Reading student studying abroad in Australia for a Full Academic Year.

Tim is currently studying abroad at Monash University in Australia with his Henley Business School degree at Reading. Read on to find out what he got up to in ‘O-Week’ during his first few weeks studying abroad Down Under. 

It now feels like a lifetime ago when I was first introduced to the difference between “yeah nah” and “nah yeah” (the latter being key). Landing on the Tullamarine runway after 24 hours of crying babies and thunderous snoring (not me), is a foggy jet-lagged memory that will remind me forever as the start to my year abroad in Melbourne!

The Clayton campus at Monash University is a lot bigger than I first anticipated. No longer are the days where I could leave 5 minutes before a lecture started and still make it on time. I live in Farrer Hall a 10-20 minute walk to campus depending on where your lecture is situated. Before arriving, I was told that Farrer was by far the most sociable halls on campus and after the first few days of my residency it was already clear that this was 100% true. A common room, 2 games rooms featuring table tennis, a pool table and a cinema style TV, I still remain to never have had a dull moment in Farrer whether it was either participating in the activities of O-week or potting a few balls with friends.

O-week is the equivalent to “freshers” in the UK however, there seemed to be a lot more activities to do during these first two weeks in Australia as well as a lot more free food on campus!

The most notable events during O-week were the scavenger hunts. The first was around the university campus doing an activity (such as mummifying a team member in toilet paper (Me)) or ‘striking a pose’ at each destination. We end up coming second and winning a pack of “TimTams”.

University of Reading student studying abroad in Australia for a Full Academic Year.

Melbourne Central Station

The second scavenger hunt was host in the city of Melbourne. Each team were given an activity sheet and required to perform each task on the list, record it and upload it to the events page online to get points for your team. Some examples include serenading a stranger, forming a conga line on the train and running into the wall at platform 9 ¾.

The typical night out is a trip to “Dooley’s” on a Wednesday and/or “The Nott” on a Thursday. I was introduced to the infamous “goon” before these nights out, the beverage of choice for most students thanks to its price – not the taste.

With money running low, finding a job is very difficult when considering the distance to travel anywhere within Melbourne from the university. A bus, train and tram are usually needed to get anywhere within the city, getting to closer suburbs requires a few bus changes which can easily take up to an hour to get to.

Nevertheless, I’d never have dreamt that I’d have had this much fun already and met so many amazing people. I’m eager to see what the rest of the semester brings as well as explore the rest of activities Melbourne has to offer.



The Taiwanese love British People!

University of Reading student studying abroad in Taiwan for a Semester

Matilda is currently studying abroad at the National Taiwan University of Arts in Taiwan as part of her Joint Art & English Literature degree at Reading. Read on to find out how she’s settling into her semester abroad in Taiwan!

The first few weeks of my Study abroad experience at NTUA have been fantastic. I was apprehensive the week before arriving, as I knew it would be a big culture shock being 6,000 miles away from home. Taiwan has already exceeded all my hopes and expectations of studying abroad. The Taiwanese are all genuinely kind hearted, generous and helpful people. They also love British people, which is a nice change from the reaction I get from Europeans. Taipei is a really safe city; you don’t have to worry about pick-pocketing.  There are lots of markets and quirky coffee shops. The language barrier is slightly difficult. Although it is lovely to listen to Chinese speakers translate to English as it is quite poetical and mostly very simple or to the point. The food is vastly different, not just from home but each meal has been a completely new taste.

Before arriving I was given a buddy, Klight, who speaks very good English. He completely looks after us and even took us to his hometown for the moon festival.  Klight has many exhibitions and arts events lined up for us; I’m really excited to experience the art scene outside of the university, as I am already impressed.

University of Reading student studying abroad in Taiwan for a Semester

My classes include ceramics, sculpture, oil painting, life drawing and calligraphy stamp. I am also taking Chinese lessons, Pilates and volleyball. Living in a dorm with a French girl means I am also learning French. Experiencing a country with a totally different culture has broadened my mind already. I feel so grateful to be here, especially as not many people even know of Taiwan. It’s really interesting to learn the differences between Taiwan and China. For example, there is less of a divide between rich and poor than both China and the UK. Corruption and censorship is not an issue here, they also don’t see dogs and sharks as a meal, I was glad to discover this! I am starting to understand the complicated political situation between Taiwan and Mainland China. Learning about the history explains this complicated relationship.

University of Reading student studying abroad in Taiwan for a Semester

It’s really exciting to be at an art school as I have never been in such a creative environment with such like minded and interesting people. Everyday there is something happening that I am interested to see; this might be a dance performance in the middle of campus or a calligraphy display. All the student exhibitions are really professional and inspirational. The creativity really is endless.

In the short time I have been here I have already had some unique and wonderful experiences. I’m excited to learn more about the culture and it is clear I will improve my skills dramatically as all my techniques have been self taught so far. I absolutely love this country and want to inspire people to visit/study abroad here as it has so much to offer. There’s so much I want to do before I leave!