Hello! Apologies for the lack of blog posts – now that I have a substantial number of deadlines looming it seems like an appropriate time to fill in the gaps of the long silence. It feels surreal that it’s already November, but the rapidly plummeting temperatures (it’s currently around minus 9 Celsius, save me) are proof that it’s almost an entire year since I applied for a year abroad.
Just over a year ago, only a few weeks before applications closed I was completely set against applying at all. Then, one night in November on a panicked whim, I wrote an application and suddenly wanted it to be accepted more than anything else. Looking back on that impulsive, last-minute decision to uproot myself from everything I knew in Edinburgh, I am incredibly glad that the heart won out over the head. The dash to apply to avoid the ‘fear of missing out’ has led to so many things that I really would have missed out on.
In the two months I’ve been here I’ve been immersed in the ‘Cult of Queen’s’ and become part of the close student community through orientation week and ‘Homecoming’. I’ve sailed on Lake Ontario and hiked in Algonquin Park, visited Ottawa and Toronto, stayed in a housemate’s cottage on a lake, and spent Canadian Thanksgiving with the family of another housemate. I’ve acted in a play and attended classes that I would never have had the chance to back in Edinburgh, and found areas of interest which will likely influence my dissertation next year. With winter closing in I’m partly terrified because of the warnings I keep receiving about just how cold it gets here, but mainly excited to see real, deep snow, go skating on lakes and canals, and visit New York, Quebec, Montreal, and Chicago in all their winter beauty.
That isn’t to say that this semester has all been maple-syrup sweet – of course there have been difficult times and periods of adjustment involved in breaking with everything familiar. What I know for certain though is that it has without doubt been worth it. Applications are due soon for next year’s exchanges and the main reason for my writing this post now is that I’m hoping someone will read it and, like me a year ago, make the best decision of their university life by signing up for experiences they are scared to miss out on. If you’re reading the posts on this Go Abroad blog, the chances are that you’re considering a year abroad and my advice to everyone, regardless of circumstance, would be to just apply. Whether or not you are accepted and whether or not you accept your place, at least you have the option and another month and a half to decide. And if, like me, you end up writing an incredibly last minute application, it might just end up being the best choice you make in your university career. Good luck!