I spent my year abroad in London, Ontario, Canada at Huron College, where I studied English. The trip has had its ups and downs, but I want to focus on providing some practical tips that I hope will help. Had I known some of these things beforehand, it would definitely have made it easier for me.
Tips especially for Huron / Western::
- This is the most important: When you apply to Western University, make sure you actually go there. I did, but ended up going to one of Western’s affiliated colleges – Huron, which made it a completely different experience.
- Make sure you know which courses to take. I knew the courses I wanted to take but found out pretty late that they weren’t available to me as an exchange student. So check this one more time to avoid disappointment. Try to take at least one course on a subject that may not be available in Southampton. This will help improve your versatility.
- Find out if there are any fees that you have to pay. I didn’t know about mine and unexpectedly ended up paying close to £ 900 later in the year.
- It sounds obvious, but make sure to use the library! The workload is much bigger than that of Southampton which means reading is more too. Buying all of the books required would be extremely expensive. So when you’re settled in, try to reserve what you will need in advance. That saves time and money.
- Make the most of the exchange team and take advantage of all the trips and events they run. Huron was pretty good at it and took us to a few places including Niagara Falls, a maple farm, and the beach, all of which were free. They also host other events on campus throughout the year.
- Try to get there in time for orientation week. This is the time you are likely to find your friends for the year. The class discussion is quite limited, so getting to know your classmates is a little harder. Again, Huron was good at it, and during the week we got to know the campus before everyone arrived and the city.
Canada in general:
- If you’re lucky enough to have a friend with a car, suggest taking a trip during reading week. It will be a good, cheaper way to see more of Canada. Canada is huge, so many of the big cities are far apart – sometimes you have to fly there. When a car is not available, there is a bus that goes to some places in the country and even America.
- You need an ETA (electronic visa) and a study permit. The study permit takes some time and you will need to go to a specific Canadian center (in the UK) to get one. So if you’re confirmed, try to sort this out asap!
- After all, things are more expensive in Canada, especially food that needs to be prepared for them. If you have space, bring your essentials from home as they are definitely cheaper!
I hope these tips are helpful and a reference to all other English students. The workload is MUCH higher than we are used to, but it is doable. Once the year is over, you will be better prepared for the final year. In fact, the work may still be less than Canada!
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