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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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Nicolas Zdunich
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Turkey! The land of Turkish delights, the Blue Mosque, and the most delicious food I have ever eaten. When my study abroad adventure began in Milan, I was eager to explore the bustling countries that we so frequently see on our device screens. The Eiffel Tower, London Bridge, and the Coliseum were just a few of the “must see” landmarks that were constantly being pushed on me. They are magnificent, however I wanted to go on an adventure away from tourists.

During our International Student Orientation I met an Aussie who had been travelling for months prior to the exchange and his exact words were, “it doesn’t matter what else you see, you have to go to Turkey, and if you can you MUST go to Cappadocia.”

I have traveled a fair amount in recent years, so am usually quite weary to get a...

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Melinda Ng, South Korea
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As a student who has never had the chance to live away from home before, I was not sure if I was ready to embark on a 10-month independent journey to a country where I could not speak the language. I have been asked frequently about the ideal length of time for an international exchange program but honestly, the answer to this question is subjective. I was really content studying abroad for two semesters. I took many things into consideration before deciding whether I should apply for one or two terms at the institution I wished to attend. In the end, I decided to apply for two semesters abroad and was overjoyed to receive permission to study for eight months at Seoul National University.

Before making my decision, I thought about what I really wanted to get out of my time abroad and wheth...

Category: Writers In Residence

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