It’s been a few months since I returned home from my Canadian exchange experience, which has given me plenty of time to not only adjust to being back home in Australia, but also to think back and reflect on my time away.
Arriving back home was a bit of a whirlwind – having to deal with an airline misplacing one of my bags and then finally catching back up with family and friends kept me super busy for the first two weeks. After about a month, once I had time to settle back in (and get used to the crazy temperature difference!), I found myself really missing my friends and the home that I had made in Calgary.
I’ve discovered that it’s the little things you really miss most of all – walking through a world bathed in white to campus in the morning with the cold gently stinging your face; just popping over to visit friends in your residence building – but more than anything, nightly dinners in the dining centre with some of my exchange student friends, where we often stayed back more than an hour talking and catching up.
Of course, there were also plenty of new adventures and opportunities I got to experience while on exchange – my first time skiing, going to watch NHL games (go the Calgary Flames!), hiking and snowshoeing in the mountains, mid-terms (augh!), varsity sport, ice-skating on Lake Louise and going on trips with my friends. Being back at Flinders has certainly kept me busy and helped stop me missing my new home away from home too much, but I will never forget the friendships I made and the awesome experiences I had while on exchange.
Travelling and living overseas for five months taught me so much. I have definitely returned a more confident person, with a desire to seek out new experiences and form new connections with others. It has also had a positive impact on my planning, organisational and problem solving skills. I can’t wait until I am able to head back overseas – both to visit Canada again, and also to Europe to catch up with some of my new friends.
For anyone thinking of undertaking a semester exchange, I would totally recommend it! I feel so privileged to have been able to be a part of the exchange program at Flinders and am so grateful for the opportunities it has opened up for me – it has been one of the best experiences of my life and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it all over again!
Samantha Whillas, Bachelor of Arts (High Achievers) undertook an exchange to Calgary in S2 2019