Andrea de Bruyns

My last couple months on exchange were jam packed with traveling to different cities, meeting new people, and cramming for final exams. I had a few weeks off after the semester was over before I had to return back to Canada and was able to travel to some of the major tourist hot spots. My first stop was Paris where I visited the famous Notre Dame Cathedral, saw the Tour de Eiffel for the first time (it’s a lot bigger than I thought it would be), and generally just ate a lot of sugar crepes. My next stop was in Amsterdam, where I ate the most delicious food I’ve had in Europe. The Dutch are notoriously known for making the best desserts and they definitely didn’t disappoint. Amsterdam had a very lively and welcoming atmosphere as well as a rich cultural heritage that was interesting to learn about. Not to mention its beautiful, intricate canal system that are spread throughout the downtown core of the city. Next up was Berlin. Out of all the places I visited in Europe, Berlin had the most unique character, with an interesting mix of modern skyscrapers and run-down, edgy neighbourhoods with walls covered in amazing graffiti art. The last couple weeks I spent in the south of Spain and also took a last-minute weekend trip to Rome!

I can truly say that the exchange program was a very enlightening experience for me because I learned so many things about myself and was able to develop my independence as well as my knowledge about other cultures and languages. I am also grateful that I was able to meet so many other exchange students and Spanish locals. Along the way I forged a lot of strong bonds in such a short period of time, but I know that these will be life-long friendships. It is very bittersweet being back in British Columbia because when I was on exchange I was often homesick and missing my friends back home, but now I miss all the people I met in Europe! The first week back was interesting, because it was only after being removed from my own cultural context that I was able to realize how distinct the culture over here in Canada really is. I think traveling and seeing new places allows you to have a larger lens to see the world through and I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to expand mine.

By: Andrea de Bruyns, winner of the Remes Family Study Abroad Scholarship

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