What can you learn from a semester abroad? Lundagårds exchange columnist Ondrej Gomola is reflecting back on his autumn in Canada.
As my time in Canada is drawing to a close, I am taking the time to reflect on this country and people. It’s quite strange to know that all the things I’ve experienced, all the places I’ve discovered and all the people I’ve met in the last three months will soon be relegated to memory. But I shouldn’t look ahead by looking back. That’s why I don’t wish to dwell too much on my departure from this vast beautiful land. Not yet anyway. I’m still here for just under three weeks and there’s lots to do.
Exchange is an opportunity to do something different, and that’s the case every day I’m here. Or at least so I tell myself. Even as the sun sets on the whole adventure, I’m still able to discover new places in my area. Even walking down the same dusty street for the umpteenth time might lead me to some unexpected discoveries. Maybe I’ll see some squirrels hopping around the trees or notice a new coffee shop around the corner.
Or I could stay inside my student dorm. But why bother staying inside when there’s so much to discover outside? I’ve spent my time in Canada trying to do just that: kayaking, hiking, travelling, and occasionally, studying. In short, I’ve had a great time here.
But it is not all sunshine and rainbows. It is hard to live in a new place. My time in Canada has not been one joyous outdoor travelling adventure at the end of which I discovered my ‘true self’ or found a ‘deeper purpose’ like some gurus tend to suggest. That’s just social media balderdash. The reality is that it can be quite lonely and challenging to be far away from your loved ones and from everything you call home. It’s not easy when you can’t be with your family on special occasions such as birthdays or anniversaries.
And I suppose that’s it: I don’t have any grand conclusions about the ‘teachings’ of exchange, just that it allows you to live a little differently than you would back home. Perhaps it puts you out of your comfort zone — and you get to have new experiences because of that. Certainly, I consider myself to be enormously lucky and grateful to be here. Should you go on exchange — is it worth it?
If you have the opportunity and the resources, absolutely. You’ll never forget the memories and your friends will never forgive you for the mountains of postcards you send home!