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.
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!
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!
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.
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.