Over the summer I have been steadily building up excitement for my International Exchange to UBC in Canada. In my spare time I’ve been seeking out the endless options of exploring British Columbia. Here is why…

My exchange begins in five days time and my excitement has turned to nerves about what to expect. The reality is that this can only be answered by actually being at UBC. I’ll try discuss the main areas which I have been thinking about in the final few days before heading off.

Missing my friends and family: Since I will be away for the entire year and will also not return for the Christmas period this could prove to be a very lonely time when many other exchange students will return home. I am particularly concerned about seeking out friends who share similar humour to me. Laughing will probably be the best cure to homesickness.
I would also say to any student considering international exchange to ensure that your Mum knows how to work Skype… I tried to show her a few times but she never seems to understand the three click process. I anticipate long periods before every skype call of ‘Can you hear me? Is it working? Is that you I see John? Is that me I see in the little window?’

Adjusting to a new examination system: In Canada they use many exams throughout the semester, course work and assignments as well as smaller assessed material to grade a student’s performance. For myself I am used to one final exam counting towards around 80 to 90 percent of the grade. UBC uses assignments (~20%), midterm exams (~30%) generally in mid to late October, then possibly another in November and finishing with a final exam (~50%) in December. Yes, this means you have to work the entire semester, pretty much from week 1 or 2.
How will I cope with this?

Missing Scotland and it’s incredible landscapes: I love to spend my weekends in The Highlands rock or winter climbing. I know you are all probably thinking why I would complain about missing this since I will be in spectacular British Columbia which has incredible landscapes and more than enough rock climbing for a lifetime. I guess I’ve just grew to love the unique and special scenery that Scotland offers and I think it will be a big thing which I miss on exchange.

Glen Coe, Mid June. Snow still hanging on up in the Corie.

Glen Coe, Mid June this year. Snow still hanging on up in the Corrie.

In the end I think the main problem I am having at the moment is that I am in limbo. Prepared to go and experience it all but not able to until the departure date.
I guess there is nothing left to do apart from have a party with my best friends and family before saying my goodbyes to them for an entire year.


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