Camille James
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Before I actually began packing for my study abroad trip, I felt as though I had really been packing mentally for months. I thought about which particular articles of clothing I would need during the rainy English winter, whether I would need anything fancy, and specific supplies that I would need in my dorm room.

It took me a few days to gather everything I needed, and a few more to actually pack everything into my suitcase. (Rolling literally everything you own and packing things into vacuum storage bags takes time!) Here are some items I found particularly helpful to pack from home before beginning my journey abroad:

  1. Travel adapters. You will need an adapter from the moment you arrive in your host country, and having been on an airplane for hours you may be anxious to charge...
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Kyla Oshanek
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Humans are dynamic. We are always changing, learning and growing. The person you are after your study abroad experience will likely be different from who you are now. Here are three attributes that you can cultivate to help you during your study abroad, and beyond.

  1. Curiosity: curious people have a hunger for knowledge. They take pleasure in discovering new things. They ask questions and investigate. For example, a curious traveler might enjoy researching their host culture or country before leaving, providing them with a broad foundation of knowledge before they arrive. Alternatively, the curious traveler might want to experience as much of the culture as possible and seek out unique adventures, such as sampling local delicacies or participating in a local tradition....
Category: Writers In Residence
Taken during my solo trip to Isle of Skye, Scotland
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Having completed a study semester abroad in England, I was given many travel opportunities during my time there. Overall, I was able to visit 16 different countries over the course of a few months. I was able to travel both in a group and with just one friend, but I also took a few trips alone. I consider myself a pretty independent person, however whether or not you are should not affect your ability to travel solo. Travelling in a group has its perks, but I believe travelling alone almost has more. My favourite part of solo travelling is being able to do whatever I want whenever I want to, without worrying about what others want to do. I am free to explore and rest as I please, and can go at my own pace. This is also really beneficial when your travels are not entirely planned, as you are able...

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Lisa King, Colombia
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It was 9 am and my clothes were already sticking to my skin as we strolled down the cracked streets towards the riverbank. I needed to make one quick stop at the little money exchange kiosk at the end of the block. A man in a white t-shirt and jean shorts sat on a wooden chair with a crate propped up beside him. I needed more pesos, so I plopped down a crisp fifty-dollar American bill and a used looking twenty. He pushed the twenty back and pointed at the folded corner; damaged bills were not accepted. I was told this was a common request among rural exchanges.

I caught up with the rest of my study abroad group and jumped into our boat. We were finally leaving the city of Leticia and onto the Amazon portion of our trip. The boat was basic, built out of wood with a tarp roof and a single mo...

Category: Writers In Residence
Brendon Dawson
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Arriving home after studying abroad is an entirely new adventure in itself. I have done it a few times now and am always amazed by how surprised I am by the challenges I face when coming home. These challenges are not easily overcome, but always seem to provide new insights and gratitude for not only the country I just left but the home I am coming back to.

Some say they are surprised by how “everything is the same.” I feel this is accurate on the surface but totally misaligned as soon as you delve into any deep analysis. Your new perspective you have developed overseas adds depth and dimension to the world you left behind - a realization you will only come to upon return. The relationships, networks, friends, family, and co-workers all continued to live their lives in your absence and as...

Category: Writers In Residence
Kyla Oshanek, Japan
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I recently returned from a study abroad exchange in Japan—my second experience, the first being a field school in Mexico. My experience in Japan was culturally more fulfilling, which I credit to, this time, staying with a host family. Here are a few perks of living with a host family:

Language practice: Depending on your host country, there is a good chance that you and your host family speak different languages. This is an excellent opportunity to sharpen your language skills. And there is an added bonus to all this language practice: you learn a lot about your host family, plus their city and country, while developing new friendships and professional connections.

Local food: Staying with a host family provides a glimpse into what it is like to rea...

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Melinda Ng, South Korea
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When I first experienced what people call it, the ‘reverse culture shock’, I was quite bummed out because having lived in Vancouver for over 20 years, I thought I knew the city pretty well. I didn’t think that living in South Korea for one year would change my mindset and behaviour this much upon my return, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. For those of you experiencing reverse culture shock and struggling to “re-live” the life prior to living abroad, just know that you will eventually adapt. All you need is time; because after all, you are returning home.

Now that I have been home for a few months, I get a good laugh at some of the funny situations I had put myself into without even realizing it. Back in Seoul, there are no push buttons at crosswalks for pedestrians. The lights are all...

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Melinda Ng, South Korea
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Travelling is a big must-do for study abroad students. Take advantage of the fact that you are at a school surrounded by students who share the same mindset as you. You can learn about one another during your travels together, and better yet learn about a new culture together. Chances are that you are also geographically a lot closer to several different cities and countries than you were in Canada too (since Canada is so spread out)!

During my exchange in South Korea, I was able to visit Japan, Hong Kong, and Malaysia. However, before checking those places out, I did not forget to visit the cities within my host country first. In fact, I really enjoyed inter-city travel within Korea just as much as I did travelling internationally. The time to travel was shorter and a lot cheaper.

...

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Lisa King, Colombia
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Has it really been a year already? I travelled to Colombia last May and immersed myself for two weeks in its brilliant culture. My study abroad trip took me up into the crisp aired mountains of Bogota and down into the sweltering heat of the Amazon. Our days were packed full of excursions, and while I trekked from one wonder to another, I tried to take in as much as I could of my environment. Time flew by so fast. Not only was this my first time on a study abroad program, but it was a chance for me to earn the last credits I needed for graduation.

But what now? Let me say that the Amazon: its people, trees, animals, beautiful air, and water became a part of me. It courses through my veins and fuels my dreams. I received the best, fleeting, taste of paradise that money couldn’t buy. I met p...

Category: Writers In Residence
Melinda Ng, South Korea
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I did not want my study abroad experience to end and I am sure many of you feel the same way. I made so many amazing memories that I was scared of losing them forever! Though it is probably inevitable, you are likely going to forget some things you wish you wouldn’t. I tried to look on the positive side of this thought: if I am able to be reminded of a memory, it is a great feeling to think “wow I totally forgot I did that, it was awesome”! If you happen to be a bit forgetful, I find it much easier to recall your experiences when something else sparks the memory for you. Taking photos is without a doubt one of the easiest ways to do this! I’m not the best photographer. I don’t take many photos in Vancouver and the only camera I own is the one on my cellphone! Nevertheless, I was a photo-maniac wh...

Category: Writers In Residence

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