Why You Should Study Abroad

…if you’re able to that is. Studying abroad for even a semester does not come cheap. Once you’re in your destination of choice, there is so much around you that you want need to experience that having a good financial situation is necessary.

If studying abroad is your dream, there are ways to make it happen. Bursaries through your school should be available, taking out a loan (either through a bank or through your student assistance program) or using savings.

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If you’re on the fence about it, see below for my interview with one of my best friends, who spent last semester in Leeds, England (she’s back now, thank god).

Hey Kels, what made you decide to go abroad and leave all of your awesome friends behind (not bitter at all I swear)? Studying abroad has always been something I wanted to do every since I was in high school. ‘Leaving my friends behind’ wasn’t a deterring factor for me because I knew I that when I came back at the end of the five month- or however long, my friends would always be here. For me, I wanted to go on exchange because I love traveling also because everyone I have ever spoken to about going abroad has had an amazing time.

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What was your first thought when you got to Leeds? The first couple of weeks in Leeds were very different to what I am used to back in Canada. The two nights I remember being in my dorm room and my neighbors playing god awful music up until 5 am and thinking, ‘oh god, what have I gotten myself into?’ But then as the week progressed I barely  spent time in my room and went to events held by the university. The first weekend there was definitely a culture shock in terms of nightlife. The going out culture is just so different in England compared to Canada. In England, the people are rowdier and more aggressive, however they are harmless and as time went on, I got used to it and even grew fond of the English crowd.

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Was it difficult to make friends? Not at all. You first and foremost need to keep in mind that you really need to put yourself out there and be open to new things and meeting new people from different walks of life. Going to Leeds I did not know anyone, including the people from Mac- that is in part my own fault because I bailed on the mandatory pre-exchange meetings, oops. I made my first friend at the airport in Toronto because I recognized a Mac sweater and found out that she too was studying abroad at Leeds. Once in Leeds, it was very easy to make friends through exchange events and parties. I met some of my best friends by accident on my way to a pre-drink when they asked me and my other friends if we were lost and needed help. Ever since then we became really close and traveled around Europe together. 

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What did your typical weekend look like? To be honest my weekends were not as wild as my weekdays. For kids on exchange, the weekends meant rest, local day trips or weekend trips to different cities/countries. I barely spent any weekends in Leeds because my friends and I would travel. When I did spend a weekend in Leeds, there would usually be club events on Saturday nights that would be held from 9pm up until 5am- those were a lot of fun and my personal favourite kind of nights. Sunday would be ‘recovery’ day and brunch that would usually take place at no earlier than 1pm.

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What was different about studying abroad than studying at our university? The main difference for me was the grading system and the fact that as an exchange student my classes were pass or fail. Obviously I still tried to do well, but at the end of the day all I needed to do was pass, which was a 40% according to the grading system at the University of Leeds. Also, the attendance was taken in every single course, or as the English say ‘module,’ and if you miss a certain amount of classes, you were called to a meeting with your parent school. I never had to attend such a meeting however I did receive a warning email-whoops.

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What was the hardest part about leaving home? This may sound a bit harsh, but it honestly wasn’t hard for me to leave home at all. I consider myself pretty independent and I already live in student housing during the school year, so while moving to another country for five months isn’t exactly the same thing, it did help me prepare for living on my own. Don’t get me wrong, I missed my parents and my friends a lot but I FaceTimed them to make the transition easier.

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What was your favourite memory of being abroad? There is not one single memory that I would consider my favourite. I think for me the best part about studying abroad was making lasting memories with my new friends. Its nice to have made friends with people from all over the world and how you could become so close with someone in such a short amount of time. You see these people basically everyday for five straight months, travelling and living with them, so you really get to know them- perhaps even more so than the friends you have back at home. My favourite memories-nothing in particular, would be the nights going out in Leeds either to my favourite club called Mission (Thursdays are the day to go) or grabbing ‘a pint’ at Hyde Park Pub, as long as the company was good, every night was sure to be memorable.

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What have you learned from studying at Leeds? Academic wise- not much. Personally, I’ve learned a lot about myself while studying abroad. I really learned to become more self-reliant and self dependent- I cooked and cleaned for myself all the time. I feel like going abroad has changed me as a person, for the better of course. I feel like I have a better attitude on life and I’ve realized what’s important. I definitely value things differently after going on exchange. I self admittedly valued material things beforehand but now I would much rather spend my time and money on experiences with the people that I love because those mean more to me than any material object. Most importantly, I’ve learned that I truly can do anything I set my mind to. For me, studying abroad was nothing but positive learning experiences and having successfully completely 5 months abroad (I passed all my courses-yay!) I know my next adventure awaits.

For more amazing pictures check out Kelsey’s Instagram here 

 

 

Warner Brother’s Studio Tour

I, along with several billion other people, am obsessed with Harry Potter (still waiting for my Hogwarts letter…).

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I knew that coming back to London the second time, I had to visit the Warner Brother’s Studio. The studio houses tons of different props, sets and spaces used during the filming of the movies. Needless to say, I started crying as soon as we got there.

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Getting There

From London, we had to get to Watford Junction Station, in order to catch the Harry Potter shuttle bus to the studio. The bus was very crowded but I didn’t care. Be forewarned though, this is a popular school trip attraction so expect lots of small children. The price of the studio tour is pretty steep, it was roughly 70$ Canadian but that is also due to our crappy exchange rate.

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Sets

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I took a million photos of the studio because I knew my sister would kill me if I didn’t but there is so much to see that it can be impossible to look at everything! Firstly, the Great Hall is pretty much the most amazing thing ever. Even for the common muggle, being inside the Great Hall is a tearjerker.

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They also show you the Gryffindor Common Room, Snape’s classroom, and sets from the Burrow, amongst other, smaller sets. My favourite one was definitely little Harry’s cupboard under the stairs from the first few films.

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Props

There are a million props used throughout the 8 films but some of them were incredibly recognizable, i.e. the Goblet of Fire. They have them displayed throughout the entire studio, grouped into sections based on which film they were used in. They also have an entire room devoted to the animals used in the film, i.e. the Basilisk head, goblin masks, the Hippogriff…

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They also have all the costumes displayed throughout the studio as well. My favourite was Hermione’s dress from the Yule Ball (fourth film).

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Extras

Once you’re through the studio, you enter into an amazing gift shop with a million different things to buy. I had to buy a Gryffindor scarf (even though all signs point to Slytherin for me) and some of the Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans (“and they mean every flavour”). We also stopped and had some amazing Butterbeer (see here for how to make your own!) in the cafeteria, then checked out some of the outside sets, i.e. the Knight Bus, 4 Privet Drive, The Hogwarts Express…

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For anyone who is a fan of the Harry Potter movies I highly recommend making the trek out to the Warner Brother’s Studio. You will want to immediately re-watch all of the films!

Thanks for reading!

Brighton: At A Glance

On our second trip to England, we took a day trip to the small town of Brighton, the home of the famous Youtube star, Zoella (I wouldn’t have known this if it weren’t for Julia so thanks Jules). Not quite sure what to expect, we arrived in the cutest little town only about two hours drive from London.

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There’s lot’s to see in Brighton but our first stop was the Brighton pier. Super old school (opened in 1899!) and kind of kitschy, the Brighton pier is a sort of carnival/fair type of establishment with rides and vendors and an amazing view of the English channel. The day we went was beautiful and the view was spectacular.

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One of the cool things in Brighton to see is the rainbow storage units. There’s probably a hundred of them all lined up along the beach and they’re super cute!

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After viewing the beach we walked through the actual town of Brighton and had an awesome time discovering all the little shops and restaurants available. Brighton is actually a university town so it had a lot of younger people as well. There is live music on every corner, little hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and artists showcasing their talent everywhere. 

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Other things to do in Brighton include taking a walk to the Brighton Dome which houses some of England’s new music artists, watch a movie on the beach (June and July only!) or visit the Royal Pavilion (looks kind of like the Taj Mahal).

I have also heard that there is a naked bike ride parade of sorts that goes on in Brighton every June so if biking and nudity are your thing you’re in the right place! 

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All in all, I actually really enjoyed Brighton! It was a nice change from the busy London so if you’re in England, definitely give it a visit! (It’s only an hour on the train so if you don’t have access to car, don’t write it off!)

Thanks for reading xx