Well this is the last time I will be touching in. My time on exchange has come to an end and it has been the best 4 months of my life. As I’ve been living in Canada by myself for this time you can imagine I have been faced with many challenges that I have had to overcome.
First of all, the climate. As soon as I arrived in North Bay I experienced feeling so cold I couldn’t think. Hoping off the bus having the cold blow into my face woke me up to what I was really in for. I experienced temperatures of -30 during the day and -50 at night. I didn’t know how to function and I thought my body parts were going to fall off. Every time I would walk outside in those temperatures my skin would turn bright red.. my friend and I soon found out that our skin turning red that quickly was a form of mild frost bite. Finding this out we headed to Walmart and stocked up on some extra warm clothing. This meant new coats, boots and long sleeve shirts to avoid to the mild frostbite and be able to function in those chilly temperatures.
The cost of living in Canada was also a challenge for me. After 4 months, I’m still not used to No Frills – the equivalent of our Woolworths. The cost of a lot of the groceries is a lot higher and the produce is less fresh. Eating out is a lot cheaper but unhealthier so I was faced with a dilemma. Eat healthy but not be able to afford it or eat unhealthy and see the results on my hips? I decided to go with the healthy eating but buying more and cooking bulk meals then defrosting meals as I went was a cheaper, easier and healthy option to my eating whilst in the bay.
Another challenge I faced when I got to Nipissing was the length of the class times and the size of the campus. Classes here went for 3 hours with a 10 minute break and the way my schedule worked out was that I had 2 classes on 2 days a week back to back. That meant 6 straight hours of classes with only a 20 minute break. A lot of brain power was needed and the days always ended in being super tired. I overcame this problem through taking advantage of Timmy’s! For those of you who don’t know what Timmy’s is, it is also known as Tim Horton’s, a coffee place and bakery. Their medium regular coffees and cinnamon rolls helped me through those long days and fuelled my brain to make it through those 6 hours. Along with the class times, the size of the campus had to be overcome as well. The size of my campus at home is equivalent to the size of the library here at Nipissing. The library isn’t attached to the main building so you can imagine how much bigger the main building is.
Now the hardest things I have had to overcome whilst I’ve been here is definitely living out of home without my family and making my friends here, now having to leave them. Not having my mum around was hard because we are very close. I also never realised how much I rely on her to do my laundry or have dinner cooked by the time I got home from school or work. Here I had to do everything on my own. I learned to have a system of doing laundry – dedicating my Mondays to that whilst doing homework and cooking my meals for the week so I wouldn’t have to worry about cooking when I got home from class. My level of independence has definitely increased greatly whilst I’ve been here and Skype sessions on a weekly basis made being away from home that much easier.
Leaving my friends here is also another challenge I’m yet to face as I leave North Bay in just a few days. My friends and I are all exchanging Skype addresses so I still see them when I get home and many of them are planning trips to Australia in the near future. I feel sad leaving them at the moment, however I know when I look back on my experience here, most of whatever I have faced have been overcome by the help of my Canadian mates and the support they always gave me. I can’t thank them enough. I’m definitely going to miss them a lot!!
Well there is my last update.. I hope you have enjoyed what you have read and enjoyed my trip from what I have told you just as much as I have! This exchange experience is definitely one I will never forget as it has changed the person I am now and has taught me many life lessons.
See you when I’m back in Sydney!
Thanks, Carla! We’ve loved hearing about your Canadian adventures and can’t wait to hear more of your stories when you get back to ACU!