My current state:
As I’m writing this, it is exactly one month until I leave for Canada for the entire year…
However, instead of sharing my excitement with you, I’m going to bore you with a step-by-step guide of all the preparation that I’ve gone through to arrive at this irritatingly excitable point. Then you too can be annoying and blab to all your friends and family about how excited you are – because you’ll have earned it after all this:
1. Pick a place
Not just any place! Think about why you want to study abroad; what you want to get from the experience. All of my choices were for Canadian universities, and in hindsight, I should have placed far more emphasis on my reasons for having a specific interest in Canada. (Quick side note- I originally didn’t get into any of my choices and BEGGED for answers as to why, other than “it was an extremely competitive process” – I was eventually told that I spoke too much about my interest in my subject (massive geek eh), and not enough about my interest for each university that I was applying to – so make sure you choose universities and cities that you’re enthusiastic about – and make it known in your application!)
Depending on your circumstances, budgeting is really important when picking a place to spend a whole year. Costs will (of course) vary depending on your destination – across the globe but also just in Canada. Everyone is different in terms of what they can afford and also what they will be spending money on, so just be realistic when making your choices. I’ve been working all summer to save up for extra travel expenses and I’m at a point where I can look forward to going away knowing I have the funds to enjoy myself when I’m out there. (For future Dal students – Nova Scotia is one of the most cost effective provinces to live in in Canada! Flights, accommodation and living expenses are all fairly cheap in comparison to Vancouver!)
You’ll suffer from information overload during your application process and when it’s done, you’ll be craving answers.
“Be patient” – you have no choice!
In addition to these two draining but oh so very true words, I would advise you to be open minded. This year, the competition to study abroad has been greater than ever, and some of my friends are jetting off to places miles away from their original choices. If you are offered an alternative, think about whether you would enjoy the culture of that city, whether the university course looks decent, and whether you’re willing to adapt to a completely different environment from the one you’d anticipated. You’ll be under a lot of pressure to make a quick decision, but don’t be influenced by anyone or anything other than your gut!
4. You’re in!
Yay! So prepare for information overload round 2 – it’s all good stuff, so make time to go to the meetings etc – you’ll have a bunch of course work and probably exams at the same time, but heeeey it’ll be worth it. Soon, you’ll also be in correspondence with Dal (or your host university) and they will be feeding you lots of important info to your uni email address in Canada. I’ve slowly stopped corresponding as much with Glasgow Uni and at the moment I’m pretty much just keeping in touch with the co-ordinators at Dal, who are all really helpful – but check both addresses to keep updated!
5. Choosing courses
This really wasn’t as bad as everyone said it was (maybe Dal just has a good system!)
For example, I’m studying English Lit Single Honours, and Glasgow’s requirements mean I have to take the maximum credits. So I will be taking 10 courses at Dal – that’s 5 in the Fall Term (I’m so Canadian) and 5 in the Winter Term. All 3000 level. Their site “myDal” is pretty easy to use. Just be aware that you need to get “course override approval” for each course before you register, but they will send you an email explaining this. (For anyone studying English Lit, I was a bit confused about the pre-1600 requisites at Glasgow, so I’ve taken two medieval courses at Dal – but I have since been informed that I only have to take one – so I’ll be changing when I get there, which I’ve been told is no problem…)
Skyscanner. I booked a one way flight from Glasgow Int’l – Halifax via Iceland for £328! I’m not coming home for Christmas so I’m unsure about return flight deals but book early and it’ll all be good… I’m flying with Icelandair which I’ve been told is a decent airline, and they allow you two 20kg bags (phew!)
As memorable as Murano was, my time with university halls is well and truly up. The thought of going into catered halls at Dal did not appeal to me, so I began looking into alternative options.
I’m part of a Facebook group for international students going to Dal who are looking for accommodation together which would be cool, but everyone is hoping to find a flat/house for 5 or 6 of them and it all just seemed like a right faff to be honest. So I opted for going solo (as in being a roommate, not living alone).
I was recommended http://www.kijiji.ca/ by several people and I also can’t recommend it highly enough.
There are hundreds of adverts put up my by people looking for a new roommate, or landlords looking for students to fill up the spaces in their student houses. I went for the latter option, so I’ll be staying in a big house with 7 other students, and it’s only about 5/10 minutes from uni. My rent works out cheaper than my Glasgow flat, as all bills are included at $680 CAD a month.
8. Study permit
You don’t need a visa to study in Canada – just be prepared with all the relevant documents and you can apply for a study permit online for $150. You’ll need a coloured passport photo, acceptance letter, exchange letter and proof of your financial support (i.e. SAAS covering your tuition fees). My application took about 2 weeks to process.
You will be automatically enrolled in Dal’s health insurance plan and it seems pretty reasonably priced with good coverage. However, you can choose to opt out and do your own thing if you so wish (to clarify, by do your own thing, I mean find another plan). With regards to travel insurance, I’ve taken out a “Longstay plus” plan with Holidaysafe that also has me covered for winter sports, which I imagine most of you going to Canada will require as well!
Once you’ve completed these steps, you will understand step 10 in it’s fullest capacity.
P.S. Sorry that this post is all words, no pictures, I will make up for lack of pictures next time xoxo
If you’ve read this blog and are still feeling puzzled about applying to study abroad, drop me an email 2025660B@student.gla.ac.uk or just Facebook message me 🙂