When I first heard about the chance to spend a semester on exchange, I knew that was exactly what I was going to do. I was buzzing with excitement when I received my acceptance letter from the University of Alberta, Canada. I’m fairly sure that I started packing my bags six months before my flight. I stepped off the plane, absolutely in awe of Canada’s beauty. I get to spend my days exploring a city 13,534 kilometers away from my own. I was lucky enough to set eyes on a grizzly bear, elk, bison and squirrels (its still just as exciting after a hundred times as it was the first).
The University is situated in the city of Edmonton. Edmonton is the northernmost North American city with a population over one million. On the coldest day recorded in Edmonton the temperature was -48.3C with a wind-chill dropping it to -61C. Why would I choose to go to such a cold place one might ponder? Well, Edmonton is also home to North America’s largest mall, spanning 48 city blocks. Edmonton is also close to many National Parks including, Jasper National Park, Elk Island National Park and Banff National Park.
“Don’t blink or you’ll miss it” they all warn as I pack my bags and set off for the adventure of a lifetime. Yeah right I thought, as tears roll down my eyes and I sink into my creaky mattress after spending the day hiking around Elk Island in the snow. I was just feeling blessed to have all my toes intact, and unaffected by frost bite. I miss my mum, the familiarity of my home town and surprise surprise, my job.
Its easy to forget sometimes where you are and how much you have achieved in just a few months. I’ve ticked off more items on my bucket list in the last 4 months than I have been able to manage in the previous 22 years of my life. I woke up to the sight of Lake Louise, wandered the streets of Vancouver, spent the afternoon swimming with Dolphins in Hawaii, viewed the Grand Canyon by air and got to go to Disneyland – its true what they say by the way, it truly is the happiest place on earth. In 46 days I get to achieve my lifelong dream of spending New Years Eve in New York City; not that I’m counting or anything.
It’s crazy to think I left Australia three and a half months ago. I’m already more than half way through my exchange adventure. If you’re thinking about it, do it. Apply for exchange, its the rollercoaster of a lifetime. Remember not to blink though, or you just might just miss it.