I think I am approaching stage two on the study abroad journey right about now…
I hate to be negative on my blog, however I will display a rounded picture of my experience whilst on exchange in order for others to be fully informed before making this decision to study abroad.
Despite feeling settled socially, I am currently feeling a bit down regarding the academic side of things here at Western. After being here for eleven days I have met some lovely people from all over the world including my wonderful flatmates from The Netherlands and Kenya, among many others from Hong Kong, Germany, France, New Zealand, Australia, the UK, and of course Canada, but now I am done with being a “frosh” and am actually ready to start my classes (I definitely sound like an old third year right now!!!).
I am unsettled as I still don’t know what level of commitment, performance and participation is expected of students here. As classes began on Thursday 8th, and my timetable is very heavy on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so far I have only had the first class for one out of my four Canadian modules. I am finding this scary as I really just want to be thrown into the academics now so I can find my feet and prepare myself for what is to come over the next semester.
On top of my concerns over the difference in the academic levels and expected performance, I am worried about how my marks will convert when I get back to Southampton and how this will affect my overall degree grade. Most significantly I am concerned about how I am going to get half of my dissertation done whilst I’m here! This is something I considered whilst applying, however at that time I thought it would be much easier to find time to dedicate to my research project.
Despite these fears that will hopefully be allayed by the end of this week, I know this semester abroad is going to be an incredible experience. I will gain an insight into the Canadian culture and that of my fellow international students from around the world, I will develop valuable transferrable skills in intercultural communications and cultural adjustment, and hopefully I will have some great fun with lifelong friends!