Michelle Davies, Poschiavo, Switzerland

By: Michelle Davies, Thompson Rivers University, winner of the BC Study Abroad: Stories from Abroad Scholarship

Study Abroad Destination: Germany​

Before leaving from Canada for Belgium in 2013, as an exchange student, I was offered the sage advice that nothing is “better or worse, just different.” I was encouraged to approach every situation with an open mind. Though I strived to do just that, I found myself comparing my host and home country. From the transportation to the food, Canada, in my mind had it all backwards. Upon returning to Canada after 11 months, I experienced reverse culture shock questioning and comparing everything between the two countries.

When I travelled to Switzerland for my second study abroad experience in 2015, I felt my perspective going into my exchange was more balanced. I had reflected on my tendency to compare and realized that I wasn't alone in doing so. While I knew this good and well, I still found myself chalking things up against one another. When faced with something unfamiliar, I resorted back to what I knew and often compared ways of doing things. It was like holding up a black and white picture of a city 100 years ago to that of one in colour today. 

Returning to Switzerland to study and take on research for a second time this summer, I go with the intention of genuinely seeing this country and reflecting on my own each no better or worse than the other. Aiding me in the process is an understanding of myself through the context of the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) that I completed as a Study Abroad Ambassador. By comparing my home and the country of Switzerland and others I travel to, I only limit myself and my mind. By moving away from a place of polarization, I will be able to better appreciate each respective countries differences, histories and unique stories, including my own. While it is no small task, I intend to experience the countries, people, and festivals in a state of mind as free of bias as possible.

Wish me luck, and I hope you too are able to experience you exchange rooted in the belief that “It’s not better or worse, just different.”

Student Blog


Leave a Comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

Recent Blog Posts

Are you currently studying or planning to study abroad in-person or virtually this spring? Apply now for a chance to receive a $500 (virtual study abroad program) and $1000 (in-person study abroad program) to enhance your learning experience abroad. BC Study Abroad Scholarships are now accepting...Read more
By: Amanda Phillips, Capilano University, winner of the Spring 2023 BC Study Abroad: Stories from Abroad Scholarship Study Abroad Destination: Austria Saying, “I’m studying abroad in Vienna” was one thing. Physically being abroad was another. Now, sitting back home in my childhood bedroom in...Read more
Thank you to everyone who participated in our scholarship! We are pleased to announce the winners of the Fall 2023 Stories from Abroad: British Columbia Study Abroad Scholarship . Congratulations to: Joe Porter, Douglas College Joe is a 19-year-old British-Canadian studying at the University of...Read more