Thoughts from a mate in Australia

By Andrew Walls, Undergraduate student in the School of Business Management , Ted Rogers School of Management

With a worried look on his face, my younger brother said to me “Don’t get eaten by spiders”. He was worried the Goliath Bird Eater spider he’d seen in a “Deadliest Things” YouTube video would chomp me.

This sentiment entirely reflected people’s opinion of Australia after I told them about my upcoming exchange at Curtin University. They couldn’t understand why someone would risk their life like that. It seemed daft. As they saw it, Australia was home to the deadliest most poisonous things on Earth.

This ran through my mind as I hugged my family goodbye at Pearson’s departure gate. What was Australia actually like? On the one hand; it was this haven of beaches, beauty and excitement, on the other articles like “The 30 deadliest animals in Australia” existed. Does Canada even have 10 deadly animals – let alone a ranking system for them?

But deadliest everything or not, I was headed there for a semester studying abroad. With feelings as mixed as the many drinks I would soon be having, I boarded my plane and so began one of the best periods of my entire life.

Being not smart on a boat

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A 45 hour jaunt across the world later I was stepping off a jumbo jet into the brightest sunshine I’d ever seen in my life. This was Perth, the capital city of Western Australia and the most isolated major city in the world. It was also 45° out. Coming from a brutal -15° snowstorm which nearly derailed my travel plans, the heat was sizzling. I casually mentioned that to another disembarking traveller and he threw back “Mate, this is a cool one.” I thought: “What have I gotten myself into?”

Fast forward a month and I was living the life. My roommates and I got along famously. I’d found some drinking buddies and lifelong friends to mess around with. My classes were engaging, and there was always something to do; surfing lessons, scuba diving, trips to one of the many world-renowned beaches. I was having the time of my life. This was the Australia I’d dreamed about!   

 

Scuba, Natural stuff

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Along with all the fun stuff to do, there was still that feeling something was missing. It was the lifeline back home. That feeling of being grounded by friends and family. My mom was crucial in this fight against loneliness and I’m forever thankful for her being the amazing woman she is. Travelling alone is scary, and that every-few-days call home helped me to both develop a new appreciation for what I’d left behind and recenter myself in the incredible experience I was so lucky to be having.

This stability was absolutely necessary when I was accepted to work with Curtin Volunteers in the remote community of Laverton. I was to fly several hours into the red belt as part of a 5 person team to rendezvous with our program facilitator. We were working with a youth program for 5 days to engage local indigenous youth.

Wide shot of #selfies

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Besides being one of the most challenging things I’ve done, this experience fundamentally changed me into a more compassionate, empathetic and kind person. For the rest of my life, I’ll have the memories of my wonderful teammates and young friends. It still makes me smile at a moments notice (like as I’m writing this).

A breathtaking trip to New Zealand and a bumbling 3000km road trip to the stunning Ningaloo reef later and I was heading home. Looking back on my experience I can’t understate how much happier I’ve become from having gone abroad. It wasn’t easy by any means, but it was beyond worthwhile. 

Two NZ landscapes/the Wanaka tree

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Before you go money doesn’t seem like it’ll make sense. The overload of destination choices makes narrowing the list down to one seem impossible and terrifying. But finding the courage to push through those obstacles and embrace the experience has permanently changed my life for the better. It was only by leaving everything behind that I could really see how incredible my life was, and how lucky I am to have so many wonderful people around me.

Thanks for having me Perth! I’ll miss you.

 

For more information on exchange opportunities at Ryerson, please visit: http://www.ryerson.ca/ri/

For tips and tricks on financial planning for exchange, click here.

Six months in the New York Public Library’s Photography Department

By Cassandra Tavukciyan, Master’s Student in Photographic Preservation and Collections Management

Greetings from New York City! For the past five months, I have been completing an internship at the New York Public Library’s Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs. This internship is a residency requirement for my Master’s degree in Photographic Preservation and Collections Management at Ryerson. As an intern with a focus on photographic preservation, I have been able to gain hands-on training and experience in archiving and managing photographic collections of a major research library. Ryerson International and the RIWEF Award further assisted me in this pursuit with minimal amounts of financial constraint thus ensuring I complete my internship to a high standard.

The New York Public Library (NYPL) is a public library system in New York City. With nearly 53 million holdings, the NYPL is the fourth largest public library in the United States and the fourth largest in the world.  Established in 1895 with 88 branches and four research centers, the NYPL provides free and open access to a variety of materials including rare books, films, videos, maps and more.

The NYPL’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, widely known as the Main Branch, is the flagship building in the NYPL’s system and a prominent historic landmark in Midtown Manhattan, housing research collections in the humanities and social sciences as well as a circulating children’s collection. Located on 42nd and Fifth Avenue, the Library is surrounded by Bryant Park and in close proximity to the International Center of Photography School (ICP) and Grand Central Station.

My main responsibilities in the Photography Collection include assisting in research, supporting and enhancing cataloguing practices, managing the re-housing and organization of photographic collections and maintaining digital records through the library’s database. I have additionally supported staff in assisting and registering patrons with external research requests and appointments in the Prints and Photographs Study Room. The internship is additionally the basis of my thesis work in Ryerson’s MA Program, where I am researching cases of misattribution in the context of Ottoman-Armenian photography. Through these initiatives, I have achieved a high degree of fluency in navigating and organizing archival spaces and my thesis work has additionally attuned me to the particularities of specific objects and how they fit into archival collections.

In addition to the work experience and my thesis research, I am also taking advantage of being in one of the most diverse and exciting cities in the world.

During the evenings and weekends I’ve enjoyed participating in local cultural events, film screenings, and concerts and visiting the city’s incredible selection of cultural institutions such as the Morgan Library, the Met, The Brooklyn Museum, the Tenement Museum and much more.

I also had the opportunity to attend a conference in Watertown, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston where I got to meet and connect with individuals who share similar research interests with me. 

On the whole, my experience in New York City has been very valuable for both my academic and career goals. This wasn’t my first international placement, but it was certainly a memorable one. Living here for six months allowed me to become familiar with my surroundings and the institution.

While at times, living in this expensive and high energy city can be very stressful and challenging, I am confident that the skills I have acquired and the relationships I have formed with my colleagues will allow me to succeed in my future professional pursuits.

Planning for Exchange at Ryerson? Read this post for tips on finding short-term housing in Toronto

When planning for exchange at Ryerson University, finding appropriate living arrangements can often be a challenge. As you start your search, there are many factors to consider such as cost of living, location, rental agreements, etc.

Photo Credit: Vilja Keskimaki, 2016/2017 Ryerson Inbound Exchange Student

Below are some search avenues that may be helpful:

1. Student-residence building:​ There are 5 student housing buildings close to Ryerson campus that you may be interested in living in​, and may offer you a short-term lease along with basic furniture. As they are not owned or operated by Ryerson, you will need to do your research on them and contact them on your own. They are called: Neill-WycikCampus CommonTartu CollegeParkside Residence, and CampusOne.

2. Our partner Places4Students is an excellent resource, as property listings are posted regularly. You can use the Ryerson campus postal code to sign up for a Places4Students account: M5B 2K3.

Look for a sublet via Places4Students. A sublet is a short-term rental where you are renting from a tenant who is absent for a period of time (such as going on exchange themselves, or taking a co-op job in another city). Sublets are ideal because they are almost always furnished, and people looking to sublet out their unit may be willing to cover the cost of your internet or hydro bills in order to get their unit rented.

Look for a short-term lease via Places4Students. A short-term rental is simply a lease with a shorter duration than 12 months, where you are directly renting from a landlord.​​ Short-term rentals are not too common in Toronto (most Toronto leases are 1-year), but you may find some if you search a “room for rent in a shared house” or a furnished basement apartment

3. Our partner StayBillety is another great resource for short-term stays. We encourage you to check out StayBillety and use the code RAMS to book a short-term stay with a like-minded host. StayBillety operates similarly to AirBnB, but is dedicated to connecting guests with hosts who have shared interests, and you can book a longer-term stay than a typical weekend AirBnB booking.

4. You may also want to look at other websites such as Kijiji for postings. You can reduce the distance radius to 3km to find a place that is under 30 minutes walk to campus (1km = about 10 minutes walking).

We also suggest using Google Maps to check the distance of each apartment to campus. You can use the Ryerson Student Learning Centre as a reference point on campus, as your classes will be within a 5-minute walk of this building.

Prepare against scams

It is very important that you view a unit before agreeing to a lease. Housing scams are unfortunately common in large cities, and particularly at this time of year. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. We strongly encourage you to view any apartment before you sign a lease; make sure to google the address and landlord name to see if there are any reports of scams connected with either.

Landlords want to get their place rented—if they’re making excuses for why you can’t come see the unit, or are asking you to send money in advance, this is likely a scam. Remember: you should only ever pay money at the moment you are signing the lease. Toronto landlords cannot ask for a security/damage deposit; they can ask for first and last month’s rent, as well as a key deposit only in the amount it would cost to replace the key but you should only be paying this after you have seen the unit and are signing the lease.

This may mean you have to come to Toronto a week earlier and stay in a hotel or hostel (you can find one via this list of temporary accommodations), and attend viewings in person before agreeing to sign a lease.

For more information, we encourage you to read our Guide to Toronto Housing. You can also contact the Off-Campus Housing Office for more support.

To all Ryerson Students, if you or anyone you know has a room or apartment available for short-term rent/sub-lease starting in the late summer or early fall, please feel free to share the details with us at rihelp@ryerson.ca. We can then share the details with the incoming exchange students. 

Living the European dream: Life Abroad

By Serena Lalani, Undergraduate student in the School of Journalism, Faculty of Communication and Design

I’m not sure what day of the week it is as I’ve started to lose track, but what I can tell you is that I’m currently sipping rosé on the coast of Greece and life feels nothing short of a dream come true.

Santorini, Greece

Only 4 short months ago, my 3 suitcases and I were nervously boarding a plane from Toronto Pearson to Amsterdam Schipol.

Almost a year of preparation had led up to the moment of the take-off. It felt completely surreal to be moving to a new country, let alone a new continent. I knew from my first year at Ryerson that I wanted to take advantage of any abroad opportunities I possibly could and yet I had no idea what to expect from this semester. I had done months worth of research on absolutely everything. I felt extremely prepared to get my visa, register my new address, open a bank account, decorate my room, make international friends, plan weekend trips and have the time of my life.

I’ve spent the past few months studying at Hogeschool van Utrecht in the European Culture & Journalism program. The perks of my program here in Utrecht is that the class sizes are extremely small. This made making friends extremely easy as everyone got close right away. The friendships I’ve made at Hogeschool are ones that I know will last for life.  

Another great part of being on exchange is that there are tons of events formed by student networks to help you meet other people your age from all over the world. Any feeling of nervousness quickly diminishes when you realize just how many people are in the same boat as you are. Many of my best memories were made during nights out with new friends.

Living in a European city is probably the highlight of my entire life. Utrecht is exactly what I hoped it would be and so much more. There are cute cafés on every corner, endless amounts of boutiques, picturesque canals surrounded by hundreds of bicycles and friendly people.

Utrecht, Netherlands

The absolute best part about being on exchange in Europe is the ease of being able to travel to a new country almost every weekend. During the off-seasons, flying or taking trains to other European countries can cost as low as 20 euros. Of course, I took full advantage of this and jet-setted as much as I possibly could. I took trips to Germany, Italy, Denmark, Greece, Belgium, Portugal and Switzerland and crossed numerous things off my bucket list (the main one being Skydiving above the Swiss Alps).

Class trip to Berlin

Rome, Italy

Copenhagen, Denmark

Lisbon, Portugal

Interlaken, Switzerland

Traveling through Europe introduced me to countless people from cities I had never even heard of, gave me a fresh perspective, enriched my cultural experience and left me speechless.

If there’s one piece of advice I can give to Ryerson students it’s that opportunities are endless. Many of my friends that are currently abroad had no idea it was even an option for their program. If there is something that interests you in any way, reach out to faculty members and they will be more than happy to point you into the right direction or help guide you. Your university experience is what you make of it and I highly recommend making the most of anything that comes your way, especially if it involves going abroad.

If you ever find yourself on exchange in Europe, get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!

For more information on exchange opportunities at Ryerson, please visit: http://www.ryerson.ca/ri/

AIESEC RYERSON IS HIRING!

AIESEC is the world’s largest non-profit youth-run organization. AIESEC helps develop global-minded leaders by sending students and graduates abroad through AIESEC’s global internship programs.

If you want to experience the rewarding feeling of being able to make a difference in other students’ lives, join the RYERSON team!

AIESEC Ryerson is looking for motivated students who wish to gain leadership skills while contributing to something much greater than themselves. As the world’s largest youth-run, non-profit organization, AIESEC develops leadership through facilitating cross-cultural experiences and exchange opportunities!

Interested in joining the team? We have positions open in Marketing and Communications, Finance, and Alumni Relations!

 Steps to Apply:

  1. View job descriptions
  2. Submit application form
  3. Email your resume to recruitment.aiesecryerson@gmail.com

View job descriptions here: http://bit.ly/2rAfAZk

Apply here: https://goo.gl/forms/2aXI0EKjjxuUwIR13

* Deadline for applications and resume submission is on June 6th @11:59PM 

** Only successful applicants will be contacted for interviews

*** Interviews will happen between June 7th – June 10th

Post written by Jessie Ng, Vice-President of Marketing and Communications at AIESEC Ryerson. Jessie is a Marketing student in the Business Management program at the Ted Rogers School of Management.

International Conferencing as an International Student

By Desislava Stefanova, Masters Student in the Environmental Applied Science and Management Program

MIT Campus

Last April, Ryerson International awarded me with the International Conference and Research Support Fund (ICRSF) to represent the university at the AAG International Conference in Boston, Massachusetts.

As an international student here at Ryerson, I was thrilled not only to present my research, but also to explore a new city on this side of the pond.

Boston

It was my first time attending an international conference AND my first time presenting my own study. Although I was super excited, I was also somewhat sceptical that people wouldn’t find my work interesting.

My research examines how tree canopies impact traffic noise within a streetscape. In other words, I discovered that trees in front of my house attenuate traffic noise, making my life more peaceful.

Upon arrival at the conference, I put up my poster and waited. Soon after, the first person stopped to inquire about my research. At first, I lacked confidence and thought to myself: “Am I saying the right words? Is it at all important? …” But the woman was pretty interested so we kept talking and exchanging information. In fact, it turned out that some people came specifically to see my poster!

I met professors who study noise effects on human health; I met professionals who evaluate noise measurements; I met students who work on noise mitigation. It was great for networking!

Fenway Park

In addition to the conference, I had the opportunity to be a typical tourist. To get into the real Bostonian spirit – my colleagues and I went to a Red Sox game at Fenway Park. Bostonians are furiously enthusiastic about their team!

MIT Campus

In order to get inspiration for a PhD, I visited MIT and Harvard University! The “smell” of intelligence was all around.

The experience of traveling to Boston for this conference helped grow my confidence, network, and public speaking abilities. And most importantly, it brought me joy from a job well-done!

I would like to thank the Environmental Applied Science and Management Master’s Program, the Geography and Environmental Studies Department and Ryerson International for the International Conference and Research Support Fund (ICRSF). None of this could have been possible without your support!

 

The finals days in Lyon: Reflections from a broad abroad

By Julie Germansky, Undergraduate student in the School of Journalism, Faculty of Communication and Design

Julie is also a participant and scholarship recipient of the Ontario Universities International exchange program to study in France.

It’s around 5 o’clock and I am sitting on the steps along the quai du rhône, sipping a sample size bottle of côte du rhône red wine while observing the French after-five indulgence in full swing. Clusters of friends gathering for apéro, runners trace the border of the quai, the pastel palette of Lyon’s historic facade reflects off of the water, couples show heaps of PDA and baguettes and cheese are being eaten in the masses— this is the French culture thriving as I will remember. The first time I sat on those stairs, the french chatter was white noise, but now I’ve grown to understand and participate in the French lingo myself.

I had always wanted to live in France someday so I knew when I started the journalism program at Ryerson that I was going to use the opportunity to go on exchange in France. I’ve done quite a bit of solo travelling for someone my age, so it wasn’t so much the newness of entering a foreign country that had me revelling, but the chance to be able to immerse myself like a local into the French joie de vivre.

___

I segued my studies into journalism because it gave me a very legit excuse to experience and understand the lives of others and ask empathetically what makes them who they are. Perhaps it is my subconscious desire to better understand myself which is why I seek to understand others.

Studying and applying myself to journalism at Ryerson has helped develop a lot of skills that I will need to move forward in the industry. But, it is for certain that combined with my decision to go on exchange that I have enriched these skills into a more forward thinking approach with real-life relevancy. You hear a lot of how the more important lessons happen outside the classroom— this I believe is true. Beyond learning how to be a journalist, I needed to learn how to be myself, whoever that was.

Rewind to when I started my semester at Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3 and I was immediately thrown into a pack of international students, all with a keen sense of openness and an itch for adventure.

Being an ambivert, I have the tendency to retreat into myself, not out of shyness, but out of the need to re-center myself after spending time in large crowds. It’s hard to get out of my shell, and at times I would spend a lot of time on my own. It’s one thing to be set in your ways in your home city and have your friends know your sometimes reclusive tendencies, but visiting new cities, especially on your own for short periods of time, can make you feel alone.

Slowly, but surely the exchange began to mesh in a type of global classroom, where my fellow classmates became gateways into new cultures and perspectives. The unique atmosphere with mixed cultures helped open up a new frame of conversation, beyond the everyday mundane small talk. From spontaneous day trips to Geneva with weather that rivalled that of a Canadian winter to touring a chocolate factory in a remote town, there were always opportunities to connect with others— it was just about seizing the moment to get the most out of the experience.

The irony of going on exchange to France was that I made friends from all over the world, some from right at home in Canada. But naturally, living in a new country shifted me out of my ordinary routine, however, not so much so that I didn’t fall back into the responsibility of getting a part-time job so I could comfortably afford the adventures to come. Though it may have isolated me a bit from the typical exchange student life, it allowed me to dip into the french student life— one that offered an equal amount of adventure.

Getting into the swing of things as a student in Lyon entailed a certain type of non-stop energy. The city has the perfect blend of areas boasting both old and new, scattered with universities, terrasse cafés and sunlit squares for mid-day reading. I easily succumb to the habitual stop at patisseries which frequented every corner. Lyon is the capital of gastronomy in France meaning that indulging in amazing food is not reserved for special occasions, it’s to be enjoyed everyday. Who can argue that!

Living abroad in Lyon allowed me to gain a new sense of appreciation for the little things, like the after-five rendez-vous for a drink to recount the day among friends and the act of taking five minutes out of your morning to sip an espresso at a local café rather than rushing from A to B with an extra large coffee gripped in your hands.

These subtle nuances are what make my time in Lyon so special. While Ryerson helped me gain the skills to be a journalist, it was exchange that really helped me see how I can be a global citizen by exploring my interests through a new lense. The distinct contrasts between myself and my new environment revealed aspects of my character that I never before uncovered. And these traits… they came in many forms that I may never have even realized if I hadn’t faced them while abroad.

My time in Lyon is coming to a close and I have no other way to express it other than it feels like a dream. Soon enough I’ll be heading out on more summer adventures, and then returning home to Canada. All in all, it’s always when returning home after a long time away that you really grasp how you’ve been impacted and I can’t wait until then.

For more information on exchange opportunities at Ryerson, please visit: http://www.ryerson.ca/ri/

For more information about University-Wide Exchange Opportunities in particular, please visit: http://www.ryerson.ca/ri/global-learning/exchange-opportunities/

Shedding Skin at Talking Bodies 2017

By Emma Dunn, PhD Student in the Graduate Program in Communication and Culture

As a PhD student, international conferencing can be intimidating. If you’re like me, when surrounded by brilliant minds in your field, you can often feel stuck somewhere between shameless optimism and crippling self-doubt. However, the recent conference I attended with the support of Ryerson’s International Conference and Research Support Fund (ICRSF) – Talking Bodies 2017 at the University of Chester, UK – helped assuage my uncertainties and increase my confidence as an emerging scholar.

 

Engagement; networking; motivation. If I had to summarize my experience with Talking Bodies 2017 in three words, these would suffice.

Both the organizers and the delegates of the conference were extremely friendly to graduate students; in addition to presenting my research on anorexia and doll culture, I was able to absorb many engaging ideas from my fellow presenters. I made meaningful connections with scholars and graduate students from around the world, and gained new motivation to work on my thesis upon my return to Toronto.

Moreover, the conference took place in one of the most enchanting towns I’ve ever visited. Chester was used as a Roman fortress in the 1st century A.D., a fact that is illuminated by its long, red sandstone Roman walls, which frame the old town. Chester is also characterized by its red brick row houses and authentic Tudor style architecture. In between my intellectually stimulating conference sessions, I made time to walk around the town and take in its beauty.

One of the big bonuses of travelling to the UK for a conference is that there are many low-budget travel options offered to numerous places in Europe. With this considered, I of course couldn’t turn down the opportunity to continue my journey once the conference was over. I went on to travel through the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Germany for two weeks. Travelling with low-cost transit, sticking to a strict budget, cooking instead of eating out, and staying in inexpensive AirBnbs allowed me to travel to these three additional countries on a low student-friendly budget.

Canals, Amsterdam

May Day Protests, Switzerland

My inspiring experience at Talking Bodies 2017 would not have been possible without the support of Ryerson’s ICRSF. Participating in international conferences has allowed me to see places I never would have seen on my own, and to grow academically, emotionally, and spiritually; I’m already looking forward to the next one!

Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland

RI Photo Contest Winner

Ryerson International would like to congratulate Sierra Sun, the winner of the 2016/2017 Ryerson International Photo Contest!

Sierra is an undergraduate student in the Media Production Program at the RTA School of Media. She is currently on exchange in Hong Kong.

The Winning Photo:

Temple Street Market – Hong Kong

In her submission to the Photo Contest, Sierra wrote:

“It wasn’t easy to get this shot. This experience gave me the courage to go exploring on my own and no less, at night in another country. This was the moment that really led me to have confidence in myself, particularly in my ability to find this place. There were no directions online on how to get there, so it was a matter of trial and error. I’m proud to say I found my shot.

I think the most memorable experience from my time abroad is really realizing how much is taken for granted. While I have met some great lifetime friends and had amazing experiences, there is nothing more humbling than finding new appreciation for what I already have (in Toronto) and how the world manages to work despite cultural differences. It’s been quite the opportunity to experience the different social systems in Asia, notably Japan, Vietnam and Hong Kong. For example, clean water from the tap opposed to having to boil water every time is a simple appreciation.

Another memorable experience is having strangers become friends. We had a humbling experience with Lan, a lady in Ho Chi Minh who had opened the doors to her home to teach us how to make the traditional rice rolls. We did everything from going to the neighborhood market to get ingredients to making the finished product. Lan and her family were very kind to us. And to be honest, I don’t think it would be as easy to have the same experience in Toronto.”

Sierra with a Boa Constrictor in Ho Chi Minh

Again, congratulations Sierra! We wish you the best for the rest of your journey and look forward to presenting you with your prize upon your return to Toronto.

7 Lessons Learned on Exchange

By Janica Portillas, Undergraduate Student in the Business Technology Management Program, Ted Rogers School of Management

Although it feels like just yesterday, it’s been well over a year since the day I left Toronto for my exchange semester abroad in Zagreb, Croatia. Fueled by my desire to explore new places and experience new things, I decided to go out of my comfort zone and set off into the unknown.

Like most exchange students, it was my first time leaving home and living in a new country. Unlike most exchange students, however, I was a timid and naïve introvert. With this being said, I was naturally anxious and worried if I would ever make it back sane. To be honest, I even had second thoughts about going. Thankfully, the wanderlust in me dominated and next thing I knew, I was in a new city, country and continent!

Luckily, when I arrived at the Zagreb School of Economics and Management, the anxious energy I had been feeling vanished. Instead, all I felt was excitement and thrill for this new adventure. I promised myself to keep an open mind, disregard my biases, and take chances.  All of this is probably what transformed my exchange experience into more than just studying abroad. It become a great source of inspiration for me now, and I’m sure it will continue to do so well into the future.

I definitely learned many new things throughout my exchange – some useful things, some just nonsense facts. Below, I describe the top and most memorable takeaways from my experience:

  1. People are generally kind

Without the help of so many great people along the way, I would not have had such an amazing and unforgettable time. From the techie wrestler who offered to show us around his city, to the family of three who offered me cookies while hiking down a mountain, to the old woman who didn’t speak English but invited us into her house and gave us a glass of fresh strawberry juice. If I had let my skepticism overpower my judgment, I would have missed out on so many experiences. Of course, you should follow your gut and use your best judgment, but based on my experience, I recommend keeping in mind that people are generally willing to help and if you let them, and the kindness you receive might surprise you.

  1. Do not be afraid to make spontaneous decisions

Know that not everything will always go according to your plans when travelling, so you might as well embrace the art of making spontaneous decisions. Following this way of thinking led me to stumble upon some of the best places I have ever been. When a person from the local community says it’s a hidden gem, believe them!

  1. Living like a local person is the best kind of travel

When on exchange, it can feel like you’re on a LONG vacation and sometimes, it can feel like you should travel EVERYWHERE. Other times, a drink from the corner coffee shop or a stroll at the local park is all you need. But no matter where you are spending your weekend, I recommend doing things that the local people do. Try your best to immerse yourself in their lifestyle to get a more authentic feel of the country you are in.

  1. Enjoy the sunsets

There is nothing more blissful and serene than watching the sunset in a new place. In addition to the glorious golden hues, there’s just always something so grand about sunsets that makes me feel alive.

  1. Italy does have the best gelato

Enough said. This photo is not in Italy though. I didn’t actually have any photos of an Italian gelato because I usually just gobbled it all up right away!

7. Keep in touch with people you meet abroad

To this day, I still keep in contact with the new friends I made throughout my time abroad. Whether they’re just strangers I met on the road, fellow international students, or hostel roommates, I try my best to connect with them online – I even receive postcards from some of them occasionally. These people are going to be the ones to subtly remind you of how your exchange experience went. Keeping them in your life will also help preserve the precious memories you made abroad.

For more information on exchange opportunities at Ryerson, please visit: http://www.ryerson.ca/ri/