Departure: Excitement & Anxiety


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My name is Harriet and I’m just about to begin the third year of my degree in English Literature. If my (slightly blurry) memories of Freshers’ week conversations are anything to go by, I’m sure I’ll be repeating that sentence quite a lot as I embark on my year abroad at Queens University, Canada.


I’m intending my first post on here to act as a brief summary of the mixture of excited, anxious and general “what-the-hell-am-I-doing” thoughts that have been dominating my mind over the last few weeks. Although it has only really been in the past month or so, as goodbyes were said and bags packed, that the reality of my exchange year has kicked in, the anticipation has been building since I found out I’d been accepted in late December. At that stage I was absolutely thrilled, and would have happily jumped on a plane straight away, yet as my actual departure date has inched closer I’ve become slightly more apprehensive.

Nevertheless, the main thing I am looking forward to is the overwhelming opportunity to push myself out of my comfort zone. For someone who vehemently hated change as a child (even being told to briefly take my duvet cover off, so it could be washed, would result in an argument), I’ve oddly always aspired to live abroad. Attending the Edinburgh Open day as a prospective undergrad, the first talk I went to was a presentation on study abroad opportunities. I have to admit that this does now strike me as slightly ironic, given that I was exploring ways to break away from my degree at Edinburgh before I had even been accepted. However, this is probably also the most accurate representation of the strength of my ambition to study abroad.

The opportunity to meet people from all across the world, live as a local in a new cultural environment and simply be able to see for myself what a completely different university experience is like, is amazingly exciting. Studying at Queen’s, I will also be lucky enough to benefit from a great position to travel across North America. I cannot wait to make the most of my weekends and fit in a few trips to nearby Canadian cities; Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, as well as taking advantage of Queen’s’ close proximity to the US border.


From an academic perspective, I am also looking forward to ~ ~ expanding my literary horizons ~ ~ and gaining a greater knowledge of how literature is viewed from a different cultural perspective. It will definitely be interesting to compare how things at Queen’s differ to my experience of the English Department so far at Edinburgh.

The main thing I am more than slightly apprehensive about is my first experience of a Canadian winter. Having frequently (and loudly) complained about the cold during the brief scuttle across the Meadows from my Marchmont flat to David Hume, I feel that I may be in for a shock when faced with several feet of snow. However, the idea of living in a real-life winter wonderland sounds far too magical to miss and I’m confident that a few (hundred) layers of fleece and my life-long fondness for carbs will see me through.

Blogging strikes me as a great way to document my experiences with others who are keen to see what the reality of an international exchange is like. As well as all the highlights, there will undoubtedly be a few mishaps and more difficult situations. Don’t worry, those will most definitely feature here too! Whatever happens though, the nine months ahead of me are sure to be my greatest adventure yet.

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Categories: Canada

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