Lucy Dabbs
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By: Lucy Dabbs, Georges P. Vanier Secondary School, participant of the 2017 Beijing International Education Exchange (BIEE) Summer Camp.

At your feet lies a black headset, a thick visor to go across your eyes, and two nunchuck like controllers on each side. You pick up the headset and fit it onto your head like a crown, your eyes fitting into the visor like a pair of snorkelling goggles. Two cylindrical eye holes fill your vision, windows into another reality. A vast plane land, like the sandy terrain of Mars surrounds you. Your hands grope around, using touch and senses to pick up the controllers in the real life you can no longer see. Looking down to where your hands should be and in place there are two white controllers. You have no legs.

This is the virtual real...

Category: Student Blog
Lucy Dabbs
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By: Lucy Dabbs, Georges P. Vanier Secondary School, participant of the 2017 Beijing International Education Exchange (BIEE) Summer Camp.

The BC group still sits together at dinner, but this is the first official night, so people are still getting used to the idea of being able to walk up to any group and be talking to people from countries I haven’t even heard of. I could just sit down and have a meal with the people from Bangladesh and have conversations about homemade flutes with a side of dessert. The dessert, by the way, is amazing. They’re these fluffy cakes that are soft like a kitten’s fur and yet taste like vanilla.

The track had become the central unofficial hangout spot, where groups would gather in the evening in circles. This type of societal formation w...

Category: Student Blog
Lucy Dabbs, inside of the Bird's Nest National Stadium
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By: Lucy Dabbs, Georges P. Vanier Secondary School, participant of the 2017 Beijing International Education Exchange (BIEE) Summer Camp.

Our next stop is the Bird's Nest National Stadium, a massive outdoor stadium made of huge steel bars crisscrossing in the shape of a bird's nest, hence its name. From a distance, the supports look like mere twigs, but up close they spanned 4 feet across. This was where the Summer 2008 Olympic Games were held. Ironically enough, I am wearing my Canada shirt from the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.

If you're paying attention, you might notice that I’m not wearing my orange shirt today. Why not use any excuse I can to save my orange shirt for another day, and represent Canada at the same time. Wearing Canadian clothes seemed t...

Category: Student Blog
Lenelle Kutzner, Kassel, Germany
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By: Lenelle Jordan Kutzner, University of Victoria, winner of the 2017 Stories from Abroad Scholarship.

The classic phrase “time flies when you’re having fun” should be changed to “time flies when you travel”. I find myself writing my “mid-trip” blog when I only have a week and a half left. One minute you have all the time in the world, and the next minute you are scrambling to see all the museums and attractions that you planned to do ‘next week’. Germany has been a rollercoaster of all kind of emotions and experiences, not all of which have been easy. However, I think the true growth comes from such moments and struggles. It’s not always fun, and sometimes it gets overwhelming. I’ve done a really good job of letting myself experience whatever emotions I’m feeling- whethe...

Category: Student Blog
Lucy Dabbs, the restaurant
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By: Lucy Dabbs, Georges P. Vanier Secondary School, participant of the 2017 Beijing International Education Exchange (BIEE) Summer Camp.

Following the commencement of the ceremony, the whole summer camp streams out and walks over to the parking area where 20 buses are waiting. I join Canada and find a seat on the bus, which I learn we are now sharing with a group from Texas school of performing arts.

These buses are tour bus style, with nice fabric individual seats in groups of two. I sit beside a Chinese student named Bunny, who explains to me that every bus has two or three groups, in addition to a handful of Chinese students who are on every bus. Bunny is open and friendly, and asks me questions about myself. She tells me we are on our way to a restaurant for lun...

Category: Student Blog
Lucy Dabbs
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By: Lucy Dabbs, Georges P. Vanier Secondary School, participant of the 2017 Beijing International Education Exchange (BIEE) Summer Camp.

As the representative of Canada, I have to get up an hour early to join the other representatives on our transport to Tsinghu University where opening ceremonies were being held. My first day here at the camp and already I have to leave my roommates who I just met to venture forth into my exciting duties awaiting. I put on my elaborate Canadian outfit, consisting of various Dollar store accessories and two flags stuck in my ponytail.

At 6:00 sharp Gloria comes by to collect me, and by 6:15 AM I board a bus along with 32 other students, one representative from each country. Before I even reach the bus, the representative from Argent...

Category: Student Blog
Lucy Dabbs, Gloomy day in Beijing, China
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By: Lucy Dabbs, Georges P. Vanier Secondary School, participant of the 2017 Beijing International Education Exchange (BIEE) Summer Camp.

Dreams, in the sense of the visions we have while we sleep, are wonderful things. They are curious, sometimes confusing, sometimes pleasant journeys that our brain takes while our bodies rest. Dreams are messages from the subconscious.

However, sometimes reality can interfere with our dreams, and on the first night in Beijing, here I am in my dorm room dreaming when my peace is disrupted. And what is interrupting my sleep but the ear shattering sounds of construction trucks, dumping massive loads of sheet metal into piles on campus. In my hazy dream like state, my logic is not fully in motion, and I groggily groan to myself that th...

Category: Student Blog
Katlyn Bieber
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By: Katlyn Bieber, Thompson Rivers University, winner of the 2017 Stories from Abroad Scholarship.

Since arriving home for the summer at the beginning of July, I have been keeping myself busy in order to transition back from my exchange life to my normal life here. I am working at the Visitor’s Centre in Clearwater, B.C. where I am still talking to people from around the world every-day (including some Austrians)! It definitely feels weird to be back in Canada, separated from my new friends. There are days where I wake up and I feel a pang of sadness that I won’t be riding my bike to school in Graz or hanging out with my awesome roommates and friends. The time I had with them was so short and yet I made relationships that I know will last for the rest of our lives! I am tr...

Category: Student Blog
Lucy Dabbs, The entrance to the Beijing Royal School
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By: Lucy Dabbs, Georges P. Vanier Secondary School, participant of the 2017 Beijing International Education Exchange (BIEE)Summer Camp.

Have you ever gone into one of those saunas at the public swimming pool? Where you walk in and it's like stepping into, well, like stepping into a room full of hot, steamy air. The air kind of weighs down on you, slowing your breath and clinging to your skin. That's what we are met with as our curious faces emerge from the airplane and step onto the stairs leading to the solid ground of Beijing, China.

Now don't get me wrong, sauna air can be refreshing, for a few minutes. But this is an everyday reality of Beijing, and it is hot here in July and August, a fact I knew all of us would soon become very familiar with during our stay he...

Category: Student Blog
Katlyn Bieber, calamari fried in garlic and butter
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By: Katlyn Bieber, Thompson Rivers University, winner of the 2017 Stories from Abroad Scholarship.

Food has been a big part of my exchange so far, both in Graz and in all of the places that I have been fortunate to visit. Below I will highlight some of the foods (or drinks) that I have been able to try so far!

Switzerland: I went to Bern, Switzerland for 4 nights to visit my friend who is studying abroad there! Because Switzerland is very expensive, I didn’t really eat out much. While I was there, my diet consisted of carrot sticks, chocolate, and radler. I did; however, try an interesting Swiss soft drink called “Rivella,” which is produced from milk whey. I tried a kind that was mango flavoured. It was very interesting but definitely not my...

Category: Student Blog

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