STUDY // Study Abroad - two weeks in

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Hello there!
It is crazy to think I have been living in Canada for almost three weeks now. I still do not know how this happened. I know I say that a lot but it’s true. Obviously I can do a flow chart saying how exactly it happened (see below) but I didn’t ever think it actually would happen you know?


Anyway, I thought I’d do a post letting you know how it feels to have successfully completed two weeks of classes. My ‘successfully’ I mean not annoyed the lecturer/failed everything to get kicked off the module. I wouldn’t say it has been all that successful at all – and that kinda sucks.

So, two weeks of classes and I am already kind of at that point where it’s all too much. Yes, I know – two weeks! Usually it would take me at least a month or two to get to this stage (and we all know that stage) so it makes me feel kind of sucky. I thought my university worked me quite hard. We’re top 20 in the UK, I have been getting first class marks for the past two years and apparently that isn’t quite enough for a top 30 university worldwide. Who’d have thought (I sure hope that sarcasm is evident – I’m never sure anymore)?

I’ll be honest; I knew it was going to be really tricky. I knew the work was going to be hard. Like I said, UBC is in the top 30 universities in the world! How on Earth am I studying here for a year? I feel like I need to bow down to the students here and chant ‘I’m not worthy’ at them because with my A Level grades they wouldn’t even have looked at my application.

So, I’m here. I applied for classes and I was a little freaked out that I’m in so many 400 classes (which are final year classes for the 4 year undergrad degree). I took it in my stride. One of the modules is really interesting and I understand it. The other one is full of grad students who have 2-3 years more experience in the subject than I do and I feel completely out of my depth. What is even worse is I always have another lecture after this one so cannot ask my lecturer any questions. I know comparing myself to a grad student is completely and utterly ridiculous but it’s really difficult not to when they are right there. I know I shouldn’t feel too bad but hey!

Labs are definitely interesting. A new partner every week and getting graded on your technique? Oh, and I had no lab partner the other day – that was something new (that I don’t particularly want to experience again!) That is the complete opposite of what I’m used to and it’s pretty freaking scary. I’m fortunate my grades for that part are pretty high so far – I don’t know how!  I will get that 9/10 framed and put on my wall. However, it means you really have to stand up for yourself and do things for yourself. You really need to prove that you can do it otherwise you come out with a bad grade and no-one needs that (especially when these grades count!)

Oh, and then there is physical chemistry. Let’s just say what seems so simple in the lecture is physically impossible (see what I did there?) when it comes to assessed problem sets. I have been trying to answer the same question for the past two hours and still haven’t gotten there yet. You see the issue.

So basically, there is lots of work to do and seemingly no time to do it in. Two lab reports a week, 3 problem sets assigned in the same week, midterms are coming up soon and random tests are given too. You cannot forget reading and pre-labs either. It seems like any work you do is not enough and it’s pretty damn demotivating. I’m so glad I don’t have Netflix otherwise no work would be done ever!

This all sounds so negative but it really has been brilliant so far.

I have explored Vancouver a little bit (although not as much as I would have liked). I have met some absolutely wonderful people. I am studying on such a beautiful campus it’s crazy. You know when it looks beautiful in the pouring rain you love where you are. I’ve had a couple of nights out/nights in. I’ve sat in some really interesting classes. I have finally been to a Homecoming game. I am living in Vancouver – one of the most beautiful places on the planet. How is that not amazing?

I think what I’m trying to say here is studying abroad is really difficult – and I’m only two weeks in. Fortunately I have had so much to do that I haven’t had a chance to feel homesick. I’m pretty sure I’m still in the denial phase. I have already handed in 3 assessments and will have handed in 8 by this time next week and it has still not hit me. I kind of hope it never does because, whilst I’m not taking full advantage right now, I’m not breaking down either. You hear about people getting so down and upset and I just haven’t felt that yet. I’m just so grateful that there is a small group of us from my home university here so there is always that bit of home close by. Sure, we’re busy pretty much all the time and it kills me they are going out and I’m staying in with a lab report but at least it’s something. I know if I ever need a boost a Facebook conversation will start up and I’ll be laughing in no time.

So yeah, studying abroad is really hard. I cannot just pop home for the weekend. I had to go to Fido three times to get my phone sorted out. It takes me 45 minutes to get Downtown (which is freaking ridiculous – why is it so far?!). I have to pay $6 for a block of cheese. I cannot watch New Girl, The Mindy Project or Almost Royal. I sweat about all these little things but it really doesn’t matter in the long run. I’m here in Vancouver with some pretty amazing people and that is just great. I’m so lucky to be where I am right now and wouldn’t give it up for the world.

Ask me that in 2 weeks (hahahahaha!)

So that’s my first ultra personal post like ever! Are you thinking of going abroad to study? Are you abroad studying right now? Do you have any tips?


Let me know!

18 comments :

  1. Things sound so hard but yet so amazing.
    Just keep thinking positive thought and I'm sure you'll surprise yourself with how well your doing.
    I'm not going to study abroad but I am thinking of moving to Vancouver next year to live.

    Hayley \\ allshewrotewas

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    1. It's so difficult! I think sometimes you need to take yourself away, do something and go back to it. I suppose I won't know if I can do it until it is done!
      You should definitely think about moving here - it's so beautiful! It's a shame I cannot see more of it most of the time.

      :)

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  2. I am from Spain and go to uni in London so I know what you're going through! I study chemistry as well and A level chemistry is nowhere near what I did in Spain so it was a bit hard for me to get used to! And don't get me started with physical, I still don't know how I managed to get a B on my final last year! Good luck! x

    www.rawrbows.blogspot.com

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    1. I did really well with physical first year and completely bombed it last year! It's so difficult getting used to the way they teach it here and finding out what I do and don't need to know. Thank you so much - I'm going to need it!

      :)

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  3. I am glad you are liking Canada so far! I am loving Galway. The culture here is so much different than back home. Back home is much faster paced, so I am really enjoying the laid back lifestyle that you guys have here in Ireland. I still can't get over how expensive some things are and how cheap other things are. I am really loving it though!

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    1. Yeah - it really is (if you exclude the actual studying which is way, way, way more stressful!). I had to pay $8 for make-up wipes the other day and cried. They cost me £2 at home! It's so good that you're loving it. I still need to reach that point where I feel I'm on top of it all - hopefully that'll come sooner rather than later!

      :)

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  4. Living or studying abroad is something I would be too afraid to do! I wish it wasn't because I feel like I'm missing out on something so exciting and adventurous. I envy the courage you and everyone else who makes this decision has. I bet this year will fly by for you too! being busy has a way of doing that, haha

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    1. It is already going to quickly! I'm sitting here like 'I have mid terms in less than a month' and dying under a pile of work 3m high whilst other people are going out and enjoying their time on their year abroad. I have no clue how they are keeping up with their work (although they aren't doing a science - so that may be why!)

      :)

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  5. WHAT, they have no mindy project or new girl there?! move back home immediately, not worth it. haha and i feel you on the sticker shock of grocery prices. when i lived away from home all i ate was cheerios 24/7 ;)

    xo marlen
    Messages on a Napkin

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    1. Oh no! They do - it's just 3/4 of a series ahead so I have no idea what is going on. All of a sudden Nick and Jess had broken up and Mindy and Danny were together and I was like OKAY THIS IS WEIRD. I have gotten into the habit of eating lots of porridge and rice cakes. More out of convenience and cost than my like of them. It's so much cheaper though! Cheerios are like $6 a box!

      :)

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  6. Ah! Studying abroad is so exciting! My new uni is also super strict, apparently, although I haven't started my classes yet...

    xx, Be || lovefrombe

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    1. Ah, good luck! I was shocked at how strict they are about some things and not on others. I'm still getting used to it!

      :)

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  7. I would have loved to have done a placement year abroad whilst at uni, so just enjoy it and don't worry about all of the work, i'm sure it will get easier as you get into it more :).

    Laura x

    Fashion Found Me // UK Fashion & Personal Style Blog

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    1. It's crazy how much work there is. I want to go enjoy it but there is the whole thing about this going towards my grade being an issue. It's just about getting that balance right - it has got to happen at some point right? haha

      :)

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  8. Wow, it sounds like Canada is amazing! Great post & I'm following you. xxxx

    http://beyondthevelvet.blogspot.co.uk/

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  9. Wow sounds like it's a lot of work! A lot more than I'm doing in the UK at least! Glad you're liking Canada though, and Im sure once you've been there a bit longer you'll get into the swing of things a bit more. I'd love to have studied abroad, but oh well guess I'll just have to move abroad and live somewhere awesome for a while instead!

    Emma x
    Writing Essays With Wine

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    1. It is crazy! I did a lot of work last year but it is nothing compared to this year. I'm sure your work load will increase - I'm already starting week 4! I think it would be much more relaxing to just move abroad, I cannot deal with this work haha!

      :)

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Thank you so much for commenting! I appreciate every single one of them and will get back to them as soon as I can :)