How I feel during the week:
How I feel when the weekend arrives:
The best way I can describe my current state is a hamster who is running a little too fast on their wheel, and is struggling to slow down. (I could definitely think of better ways to describe it, but I don’t really have the time to do that.)
That was a joke (ha!) In all seriousness, I seem to have morphed into an uncharacteristically organised, slightly neurotic student from Monday-Friday in an attempt to stay on top of the constant stream of work being handed out (I’d like to think that the neurotic part has eased off). Then I have been squeezing every last minute out of my weekends to do all the stuff that I create on my bucket list during the week (said bucket-list is actually non-existent, but you get the idea.)
So the workload is a little more than I had anticipated. But, like most things, you start to adjust: you adapt to a new routine, discover different ways of working and letting off steam. In other words, you find your stride.
As always, the very idea of writing an essay and sitting exams comes as a shock after a 3 month summer break. In addition to this, studying abroad eradicates all the familiarities you gain during your first and second year at Uni: you enter into a year group as an “outsider” (or an exchange student to be less dramatic); you don’t know or recognise any of the lecturers; you are assessed in a new way that you must quickly adapt to; and you’re more concerned with exploring the city than the library because, let’s face it, you’re not coming all the way to Canada without going on a few little adventures.
All of these differences are not exactly a bad thing, though. Since the majority of my classes are focussed on coursework, it works out that I only have one end of term exam, with lots of mid-terms and mini essays taking priority. On the one hand, it eases the pressure of the December exam period that we are all too familiar with at Glasgow (no individual exam amounts to more than 30% of my grade in any given class.) On the other hand, it is close to impossible to find free time during the week as there will always be an assignment or test for one of my classes coming up. It also doesn’t help being surrounded by other exchange students who only have to take 3 classes instead of 5 (which seems to be the norm for most Glasgow students going abroad.) The temptation to go out and/or do fun touristy stuff is ever-present, but you just have to remind yourself that you have the whole year to try and fit it all in, whilst trying to get a degree at the same time…
If this is turning out to be a bit of a scary blog post, I apologise – it is really meant to be more of an account of my “adjustment period”. My advice to future study abroad students (and to myself when I need to have a quiet word mid-week) is to stay positive-minded, and to use the god awful “work hard, play hard” motto to your advantage. You know that liberating feeling you get when you finally hand in an essay you’ve been working on all week? Well, with this constant course work, I get that feeling every single week – WOO HOO!
So, moving seamlessly onto a more positive note: since my last post, I’ve managed to pack in plenty of fun Hali activities:
- “Dalfest” was a two day music event held on campus in mid-September. Although I hadn’t heard of many of the artists, it was still a really good time with free, live music and a beer tent pitched up in the Quad!
- I was BEYOND ECSTATIC to attend my first Canadian ice-hockey game supporting The Halifax Mooseheads! It was a great atmosphere to be immersed in, despite the fact we suffered a 3-0 defeat (staying a loyal fan regardless!)
- Equally exciting is the process of working my way around all the bars in Halifax. There is a big live music scene here, and I am slowly starting to learn the words to the Maritime songs that are typically played by all the bands. You know that feeling when a song comes on that you don’t know the words to but everyone else around you does? That happens a lot here – but I’m learning. (‘Farewell to Nova Scotia’ never fails to remind me of Scotland!)
- The Farmer’s Market in Edinburgh which I so dearly love has been put to shame now that I’ve been to the 2 storey indoor/outdoor farmer’s market in Halifax – I felt like a child let lose in the playground with all the amazing food and produce on display! If you have the willpower, it is a great place to just go for a wander (and grab all the tasters) even if you don’t want to buy anything (or you could just buy everything that looks pretty, like I did).
- A couple of weekends ago, some friends and I took a 30 minute bus ride to Herring Cove, which is a gorgeous little suburban area on the shore. It was great to get some of that fresh, maritime air and explore a little bit outside of the city. After that, we got a ride to Crystal Crescent beach where we played in the sand for a while:
Last weekend, we thought it would be fun to hire a few cars as a group to go mud-sliding and tidal bore rafting. I can’t say it was on my “bucket list”, but it was definitely an experience!
It has been just over a month since I arrived in Canada, and amongst all of the assignments and the fun, time really has flown by. In an attempt to avoid any cheesy, nostalgic statements from me as a sign off, here is a little dose of wisdom that I came across in my very own Dal calendar:
“Sometimes it’s good to do what you’re supposed to do when you’re supposed to do it” – from Frances Ha.
Sometimes, I’m supposed to go mud-sliding. That’s just the way of the world.
À la prochaine!