The Canadian Experience 1
Caitlin Mason completed her degree after going on exchange to Bishop's University in the second semester of 2009.
One of the best decisions I have ever made was to go on exchange to Bishops University in Canada. My exchange was one of those life-altering experiences that splits your life in two – before Canada and after Canada.
Bishops University has been described as just-like-Rhodes-but-in-Canada, and you will realise this acutely when you arrive in the little town of Lennoxville, and everyone is running around in purple BU paraphernalia. If you can imagine a university and a town smaller than Rhodes and Grahamstown, then you can perhaps start to get an idea of what Bishops is like. This doesn’t mean however that this trek across the seas doesn’t hold much opportunity for something new and exciting.
The Winter Olympic
The thing about exchange is that you still have to do real life, no matter how long you try and avoid if for. And ultimately you make your own experience. I was in love with mostly everything Bishops had to offer, from my wonderful professors, my courses, the tiny class sizes to the almond and white chocolate cookies in the dining hall that appeared every so often. You know that you’re happy when you jump out of bed everyday wondering what the day will bring. It is the most wonderful thing to be sitting at a table with people from all over the world and even better when you are squashed in a van with them and road-tripping around the beautiful francophone province of Quebec. And then there is the autumn leaves and the coat-shopping because your coat is just not warm enough, and the walking through the fields around Bishops. And then there is the snow! And it finally arrives and you can't help but marvel at walking out of class and going – oh, is it snowing? Like it was the most normal thing in the world for you. I will never ever forget our first REAL snowfall, it was after a basketball game and as we all piled out of the sports centre, all the ‘internationals’ started screaming and whooping and dancing in the snow. Of course it wouldn’t be complete without our Aussie friend running around in shorts at minus zero degrees! And what can be more beautiful than learning how to build a snowman with one of your best friends who you have only known for three months? And, trudging through the snow and stopping for a hot chocolate on my way to class was something that I will remember forever.
In fact, my time at Bishops was filled to the brim with those remember-forever moments and I would encourage everyone to make the most of the opportunity and go on exchange if you can. Who knows? You will probably meet friends for life and perhaps even someone special from a distant land, I did!