Choosing to study abroad is like standing at the foot of a diving board for the first time. First, there is apprehension, there’s a combination of fear and adrenaline which is followed by an overall uncertainty of what you’re about to do. You have two options, you can dive head first or walk away and regret it tomorrow. As for me, I stumbled clumsily head first and I never looked back. Choosing to study abroad in Canada was one of the best decisions I have made in my life.
Now, prior to my adventure, I had never even heard of Halifax other than using it as a banking service. I couldn’t have pointed it out to you on a map if I tried my hardest. But if you’d have told me when I was sat on the 9am West Jet flight via St Johns that I would fall deeply in love with the beauty of this small, breath-taking Canadian city, I would have simultaneously dry heaved through my ugly sobbing (I HATE flying) and laughed in your face. However, the overall finality and exhilaration of sitting on a flight alone with your stale complimentary biscuits to an unknown country is one of the scariest but exciting feelings I have ever experienced.
Since moving to Halifax, I have experienced so many firsts in my such a short time. I’ve learnt to ski (badly), studied political science, hiked across some of the best trails Nova Scotia has to offer, eaten my body weight in Poutine (that’s glorified chips and gravy to you and me), travelled to Toronto, Niagara Falls, Montreal, Kingston, Ottawa and New York and experienced my first white Christmas, attended a women’s march, visited a Harry Potter cocktail bar, experienced Canada’s 150th birthday, watched live ice-hockey and basketball matches and shared Thanksgiving dinner with refugee families to welcome them to Halifax.
Canada really is as stereotypically friendly as it is beautiful. (And yes, Canadian’s really do say ay). There is always something to do, somewhere new to explore and something to learn. Canada has so many stories to tell and I’ve learnt so much since coming here. Halifax specifically, is situated on East-coast and I am fortunate enough to experience fantastic views of the Atlantic just minutes from my residence. It’s the nautical city that you absolutely need to visit if you enjoy rich Canadian history, good wholesome food and an abundance of country music. The nightlife really isn’t too shabby either and they even aired the Six Nations here, which is a bonus!
However, the weather leaves something to be desired and is something I never really prepared myself for despite reading No Great Mischief beforehand. I’ve experienced minus twenty-one degrees, which is like being embraced by twenty fully-grown snowmen simultaneously. Bitterly cold and unbearable. The snow is stunningly beautiful for about a month until you’re shovelling your way to 8am lectures. Never again will I complain about the weather in North Wales after experiencing the harshness of ten hour Canadian blizzards. Winter aside, Halifax offered me a picturesque Fall, from the slow changing of leaves to their full vibrancy to an abundance of all things pumpkin spiced and cinnamon. It really does make Autumn in the UK look miserable.
Overall, my experience here has taught me a lot about myself and has given me the confidence to continue travelling after I graduate. I have met some truly fantastic and interesting people here, and studying abroad has opened many doors for future opportunities for me. So for anyone that is hesitating about putting in that application form, just do it, you won’t regret it.
By Ellie Webb