By Gigi Lin, Simon Fraser University, winner of the 2017 Stories from Abroad Scholarship and member of the BCSA Writer in Residence Team.
A lot has happened in October. As I sit here typing away, I reminiscence back to this time last year, when I had attended the pre-departure orientation. It was the last info session before exchange, but also the first time I had connected with other students attending the same exchange institution. To prospective exchange students: I would really encourage you to take advantage of all the resources available from your home institution. The fairs and/or info sessions that take place are really helpful, and you’ll realize that for a lot of your worries and questions – other students have them too (and you’ll make some friends)!
Let’s retreat back to the present for a bit. October was the start of midterm season, and I’m glad I had the changing colors of the leaves to keep me optimistic throughout this busy period (that’s the beautiful walkway I jog through between lectures at SFU). Safe to say, I befriended a great group of friends in my final year classes, so it meant that weekly assignments and labs were a bit less tortuous. It also feels great to be able to further my interest in my major, after being motivated on exchange.
I’m currently preparing for a Study Abroad 101 session at SFU. As I was thinking of what to share on ‘Financial Aid’, I remember how I had found out about the BC Study Abroad Scholarship around this time, last year. I find it wonderful that as a recipient of this scholarship, not only did I get the chance to share my exchange experience through blogs, but that I am given an opportunity to present. I want to be able to share what I can in helping students realize the benefits of exchange, but also reassure them that exchange is meant to be uncertain – and that’s what makes it great. It’s exciting because you don’t know what will happen on exchange, and it’s this curiosity that will fuel many of your bold decisions in not wanting to let any opportunities slip by.
On a yummier note… all the UBath exchange students from SFU met up for Korean BBQ this past weekend (right)! We had a similar dinner in Bath when we were nearing the end of our exchange term (left). Look at how we’ve grown! I love how this group is so enthusiastic about staying in touch and being connected with each other. It was definitely interesting hearing about how we were all settling back into SFU and the different things going on in each other’s lives. We occasionally bring up moments from exchange, and it still feels like it was just yesterday.
I gladly hold onto the newfound perspectives and positivity that I’ve discovered on exchange. As my favorite quote goes: “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”. Exchange not only strengthened my personal bubbly-ness of drinking in all that the world has to offer, but reminded me that when I lift my head from the chaos that is life, and look far beyond, there are great things to be conquered. I instill this mentality within me as I push myself to seek opportunities for work next term, but also prepare to apply for a Masters program for next Fall. I’m so excited for where November will take me!