Snow, national parks, and discovering what all this ‘poutine’ fuss is about

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

Emmeline is studying abroad at Emily Carr+ University in Canada with her Graphic Communication degree at Reading. Just after 2 weeks moving to Vancouver, Emmeline updates us on the start of your semester abroad!

I have just finished my first week studying at Emily Carr University of Art + Design! But let’s start at the beginning. It feels like years have passed since I first attended a study abroad meeting to hear students talk about their own study abroad experiences – I went to that meeting on a whim, having never considered studying abroad before. It seemed too exciting an opportunity to miss out on. All the waiting since then made the prospect of moving country seem quite surreal, as I had talked about it and been planning it for so long that I sort of became numb to the reality of it. And then the day came for me to get on a plane and fly halfway across the world, where I would be living 8 hours behind my family and friends for the next 4 months…

My first week in Vancouver was exciting, and we were blessed with great weather (locals tell me this is a rarity). People I encountered were cheery and said hello as they walked by, or made small talk at a bus stop. The sun shone nearly every day, and when the sun was gone it snowed heavily. I can’t remember the last time, if ever, that I had experienced so much snow! I visited Stanley Park (twice) and Lynn Canyon Park – popular spots amongst both locals and tourists – which were beautiful, peaceful places, brimming with huge trees and wildlife (no bears thus far). Vancouver really seems to have it all: beaches, national parks, the city, and mountains on the horizon no matter where I am.

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

View from Stanley Park

A week after arriving, I attended an induction at Emily Carr for new exchange students. Typically, I befriended a fellow Brit. She told me she had poutine the day before. I was afraid to tell her I had absolutely no idea what poutine was, but she was very excited about the poutine, and said ‘poutine’ a good few times. So I thought I should try it. When in Canada, eh! Anyway, I had poutine. Turns out it’s chips and gravy with some lumps of cheese thrown in. And yes, it tasted great!

After the induction, I got a nasty cold. It was to be expected. Since then I’ve been taking it easy; I visited some waterfalls with fellow study abroad pals, started classes at Emily Carr, and have been settling into life as a temporary Vancouverite. But I won’t pretend it’s all been grand and perfect. There were a couple of days where I felt extremely overwhelmed, and moving so far away from home to where you literally know no one is of course going to feel lonely at first, and will take time to adapt to. So that’s where I’m at now – I’m adapting. I’m allowing myself to relax and encouraging myself to embrace life here, and I’m definitely taking advantage of the great public transport in this city (also, I can’t express how kind and helpful all the bus drivers have been)! I am looking forward to what the next few months will hold for me; both academically and personally.