Hello Life @ U of T blog readers!
I’m a new addition to the blog, so first off, an introduction is in order! I’m a U of T geography and urban studies student, but I’m spending this semester (my final semester of undergrad! Ah!) on exchange at the University of Edinburgh. I’ll be blogging here about my experience with the exchange program at the Centre for International Experience. I’ll tell you about all of the ups and downs, the great experiences, and the challenges you might face if you decide to go one exchange. Basically, I’ll try to bring you along on exchange with me, to give you an idea of what it’s really like to study abroad.
So now that we’re all introduced, I should probably explain why I wanted to participate in the exchange program. I decided to go on exchange partly out of boredom, in all honesty. I love Toronto and U of T, but after four years, I thought it was time for a change. Plus, after four years of saying “Yeah, next year I’m definitely going on exchange! I can’t wait!” to all of my friends (I’m sure all of you have had a conversation like that before!), I thought I should finally take the plunge.
The first step of taking that plunge was to decide where to go on exchange. I had a few criteria: I wanted to go somewhere English-speaking, I didn’t want to stay in North America, and I didn’t want to live in a small town or an enormous city. I know, I know, I’m really picky! But after a bit of searching, I settled on University of Edinburgh, got my application all ready to go, and…didn’t submit it. I was pretty nervous about the prospect of going on exchange, so I spent a few weeks talking myself out of it.
At the last minute though, I submitted my application, booked my flights (and actually got on the plane!) and started practicing my Scottish accent. And I’m so glad that I did. I’ve been in Edinburgh for about a month now, and it has defied all of my expectations. Usually, its defied my expectations in the good way. It’s one of the most beautiful cities I’ve been to, it’s got a great arts and music scene, amazing scenery, and the University hosts tons of exchange students, so there’s always something going on.
Sometimes, though, its defied my expectations in not-so-good ways. Finding a house was a bit of a nightmare, it rains ALL the time, and homesickness is real! But here’s the thing: even when things are hard (which, trust me, they probably will be when you’re studying abroad), you’re going to feel pretty lucky. I mean, you get to live in a foreign city, make friends from all over the world, and travel to countries and places you’ve always wanted to see. All of these great things are what I’ll be blogging about over the course of the semester. Stay tuned!
That’s it for now! Let me know in the comments if you have any burning questions about the exchange program, Edinburgh, or anything else really.