Hi, I’m Isobel and I’m studying abroad at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.
It seems like forever ago now that I was standing at the Lancaster stall at a UCAS fair, learning about the study abroad options for my course. Study abroad was actually one of the main reasons I made Lancaster my firm decision! When I found out there was one place this year for a student to go to Canada, I knew it had to be mine. Several forms and three planes later, here I am!
Carleton is very similar to Lancaster in a lot of ways, the main one being the fact that it is a campus university. The residence halls here are conveniently situated no more than a 15-minute walk from the furthest teaching buildings, and my hall (Leeds) even has kitchen facilities so you don’t have to buy a meal plan if it’s too expensive for you. Included in your university fees is a UPass, a card which allows you to take buses and the O-Train, which connects campus with downtown Ottawa and the suburbs. Although it’s a much bigger university than home, Carleton has a similar sense of community, mostly built around the Ravens family of sports teams.
On an exchange programme at Carleton, you’re never alone. Many of my friends here are also on exchanges, and the International Office organises loads of different events to help you build connections. For example, I just got back from an amazing weekend in Niagara Falls! And of course, it’s Canada, so everyone is legally required to be ridiculously friendly and helpful if you run into any difficulties.
I’ve been here for almost two months now, and here’s the truth: studying abroad is a challenge like no other. You will miss friends, you will miss family, you will miss silly things like familiar brands in a supermarket. However, it is also an incredible experience which really forces you to step out of your comfort zone and basically build a new life from scratch, and I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone.