Hi, I’m Sonia and I’ve just completed my second year, studying abroad at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. If you’re looking for a new adventure, something to throw you into life and challenge you, studying abroad can offer you just that. This was by far the best choice I’ve ever made, leading me to new found friendships with both Canadians, fellow Lancaster students who I was lucky enough to meet through the process, and other incredible people from places as far as Australia.
So, how did I choose Canada?
I was always drawn to America or Canada, I knew I wanted an English-speaking country, and to experience a similar but somewhat very different culture from one I knew. Canada is very alike to the UK in many ways, but the various differences it did offer, made it that much more special. The atmosphere and buzz surrounding sports was one of my favourites. The Carleton Ravens are the best university level basketball team in Canada, ranking first since the team was founded; attending their games was definitely one of my highlights. Sport is a huge part of university life and Canadian culture, the Panda Game in September is the first of three, and biggest of the varsity events against uOttawa – the other local university in Ottawa, throughout the year. Ice hockey was of course a sport I couldn’t miss, being the winter sport of Canada. The sports culture is most definitely something I miss the most already!
Canadian Life and travel
Canada definitely became a second home to me, with the capital being a perfect location, with its own loveable quirks, such as: Parliament Hill, Winterlude festival, ByWard Market, and of course the famous Rideau Canal. I enjoyed walking around the city, finding new bars and places to eat, the Rideau Shopping Centre, Bank Street and watching the Ottawa Redblacks American Football team, the Ottawa Senators Ice Hockey team and the Carleton Ravens male and female teams playing in American football, ice hockey and basketball.
Ottawa is also a prime base for travelling to other areas of Ontario and Quebec. I spent my reading weeks and Christmas break adventuring Montreal, Kingston, Toronto, Niagara Falls, and Quebec City. With Canada being so wide spread, it does take a good few hours to reach some spots, but with great train and bus connections, it’s easy to find great deals in advance, ideal for student budgeting. Montreal is a very quirky city, dressed in stylish street art with fab tourist locations, and brilliant food. My friends and I packed in walking up to Mont Royal, experiencing Montreal nightlife, brunching, visiting the Old Port, McGill University, the botanical gardens, and trying “the best poutine in Canada”– the holy grail dish of Canada, or as we know it, chips and gravy with cheese curd. Kingston is a more quaint town on the coast, half way between Ottawa and Toronto. It is home to Queens University, as well as lots of cute coffee shops and cafes. Toronto was the city I was most excited to see, and it did not disappoint. I was lucky enough to spend New Year’s there, watching the famous Raptors basketball team, and seeing the fireworks in Nathan Phillips Square. I would also recommend going up the CN tower, taking a boat across to Ward Island to see the skyline, visiting Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-lake and going to a winery. We also enjoyed going to the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), the Distillery District, Graffiti Alley and eating more amazing food. Lastly, was Quebec City. It really is like going back in time. Like a quaint town in Europe where it’s Christmas all year round. It was extremely cold (roughly -27C everyday), so remember to wrap up and bring your snow boots if you go! I ate crepes, saw the Chateau Frontenac, went on the Oldest Taboggan Slide, experience Le Petit Champlain, a famous, pretty pedestrian street in the heart of Old Quebec which was stunning in the snow. I also went to Montmorency Falls and the suspension bridge, and took a boat across to the town of Levis to see QC from the other side. Floating across the river with the broken slabs of ice, and the sunset was an amazing sight I’ll never forget.
It is safe to say you will never be bored and the people are super friendly whether your walking to class, studying in a coffee shop (which becomes second-nature), or socialising in a local bar. I really have made friends for life that I am still frequently in contact with. I am already looking to go back, not only to see my friends in the east but to travel the west and see the Rockies and Vancouver!
See you soon! If you have any questions feel free to email me at email@example.com ! 😊