With less than a month left in Canada’s capital, the inevitable goodbyes are fast approaching. The snow from the long winter is melting away and the sun is shyly coming out of hiding. Summer is returning, and there is a buzz in the air, yet our hearts are heavy.
Being so far away from home has meant that my friends out here have become my family. The majority of my friendship group are exchange students as well – we embarked on this journey together, conquering all the obstacles, occasional bouts of homesickness and dramatic nights out as a team. We have spent hours slaving away in the library (often talking about anything other than the work we were supposed to be doing), “perfecting” our off-piste skiing and going on countless coffee dates. Yet our year abroad relationship, our winter fling, is coming to an end.
Despite the ache in my heart, I will always treasure the memories of our time in Canada. Not only have I made Canadian friends (all bound by a promise to visit Scotland), my fellow exchange students are scattered across the world, from England to India. This means that future reunions could range from a crazy night out in Leeds or Manchester, to being part of a larger adventure across Asia.
A year abroad often creates friendship groups which would not form normally. Our group is an eclectic mix of people from different degrees, backgrounds, and interests. I truly believe we have all pushed each other to do things that we would not usually do and I have come away from this year with a part of each of them. In fact, my dancing has improved significantly since I started copying some of my friends’ moves…the perfect illustration of how much they have changed me for the better.
Of course, we have had our moments as all friendships do, often fuelled by the thought of home comforts and the winter blues which affected us all. However, I know that the year abroad has bonded us all for life – we will be forever connected by our snowy adventures. Our slightly crazier nights out will fade into funny stories and our favourite moments will become cherished memories. As we all go our separate ways, towards stressful final university years, potential graduate programmes, and (eek) the adult world, we will crave our care-free year abroad.
My year abroad friends will always be my Ottawa family, never more than a phone call, or a tag in Facebook comments, away. Facebook’s inevitable “one year ago today” reminders will probably act as an annual push to organise another reunion. In fact, when you consider future reunions, we have so many more nights out and coffee dates ahead of us… these friendships have a long future ahead.
This year abroad is not over yet and I am determined to enjoy these last few weeks in Ottawa with minimal thoughts of the goodbyes and stresses that await.