Adventures in Deutschland

By Alexis Bonilla, Undergraduate Student in Child and Youth Care, Faculty of Community Services

Ever since I was in high school, I always dreamt about studying abroad. As I came closer to finishing my undergrad, however, the dream started to fade…Until last October, when I learned about the opportunity to study abroad for 3 months with the Ontario Universities International (OUI) program. I quickly applied for it and started to plan my 4 month trip to the University of Trier in Germany.

As my departure date approached, however, my nerves set in. It hit me that I was going to be alone with no friends or family and that I didn’t even know how to cook! I’m pretty sure I talked myself out of going 20-100 times. Thankfully I have such a supportive group of family and friends that kept encouraging me and telling me that I would be alright.

When May 2nd 2017 arrived, I was ready to go. Customs and immigration went smoothly, and when I arrived in Germany, everything seemed to be okay. This was until I had to get my 2 pieces of luggage and carry them around myself in the rain. At this point in time, reality hit- I was miles away by myself and I DIDN’T SPEAK GERMAN!” I finally found the bus stop and made my way to Trier…

Trier is a really small town, so clearly it is very different from Toronto. The campus was cute and super easy to navigate. My first two weeks were rough… actually, I won’t sugar coat it, they sucked. I would come home after class and lay in bed. I missed my family and friends and I missed hearing a language I could actually understand. I couldn’t even order a pizza because of the language barrier.

During this time, I called my mom sobbing but she knocked some sense into me. It was a life changing conversation. Suddenly, I became this super courageous woman and wanted to plan my first solo trip. Afraid out of my mind, knowing that I would be a woman travelling ALONE, I booked a trip to Switzerland and just went for it.

Zurich, Switzerland

Afterwards, I came back to Trier with a whole new mind-set. I realized I was living the dream I always wanted. I became a social butterfly and immersed myself in the German culture. Although the language barrier still existed, I made it work. I made friends from all paths of life and made sure to interact with my professors. They were helpful and did everything to assist me with my academics.

Since I only had three courses, I had most of my days off. I planned many trips and ended up seeing 14 different countries and 26 different cities – all alone – but of course making friends along the way.

My experience really enlightened me, not only in loving myself and realizing that it’s okay to be alone, but also in observing the difference between children and youth in Canada and Germany. I was able to learn the difference in policies, programs and parenting, and the ways children and youth live differently in both places.

Budapest, Hungary 

Studying abroad was a life changing experience and I’m very grateful to all those who helped me along the way, particularly to my friends in Germany who became my second family.

Lisbon, Portugal

One piece of advice I will offer and take away is to love yourself and do what makes YOU happy. Live for yourself, not for the expectations of others.

Prost!

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For more information about OUI exchange opportunities with Ryerson International visit our new website!
For tips and tricks on financial planning for exchange see our blog post!

Scarborough to Sweden – A semester abroad

By Varunan Muthiah, Undergraduate student in Business Technology Management, Ted Rogers School of Management

I remember seeing the posters for the Ryerson exchange program my first week of university. I thought it would be a great experience but didn’t think it would ever happen. Little did I know two years later I’d be on a plane to Sweden for 6 months. I didn’t know much about Sweden when applying but I knew it would be a place that would take me out of my comfort zone. This was going to be the first time I was away from family this long and living on my own. I was excited but also nervous. I had heard great things from a student who went there last year but I was still worried. I didn’t know anyone there and didn’t know if they’d have as many food options compared to Toronto. I knew it would be tough but I was determined to make the most of this experience.

The Jonkoping International Business School had set up a lot of events to show us around the city and events to meet a lot of the other exchange students. There were people from all over the world attending this university so I met a lot of people within the first week.

The university had made the first two weeks really exciting. I realized the majority of the exchange students were living in the same student accommodation as me. This meant I was less than a minute away from all my friends. It made going out super simple and everyone went out together. We had lots of parties and there was a student run club that everyone would go to every Wednesday. By the end of the first month everyone had already become friends and we were planning trips together.

The university also offered great trips to Finland and Norway. These trips were once in a lifetime opportunities. In Norway, I got to climb a glacier, kayak in an almost completely frozen lake and climb a small mountain.

Norway is one the most beautiful countries I’ve ever been to and I recommend everyone to go. During the trip to Finland I go to see the Northern lights, ride a reindeer pulled sleigh, go dogsledding, and even tried ice fishing. The experiences were unbelievable but it’s the people who I went with that made these trips so great.

When travelling with friends, you become close with people very quickly. Being in Europe meant flying to another country was super cheap. I flew roundtrip to Italy for $60. Denmark was also very close and I was able to take a train there and back for around $100. I’d suggest using the hopper app, or sky scanner where you can find flights as cheap as 10 euros roundtrip.

Travelling with your new friends is a big part of being on exchange. I suggest you take the opportunity to travel but you won’t always get the chance to meet people from all over the world. I recommend making a good group of friends before setting out on travels. Making international friends means even when you travel after the exchange you have people who will be your personal tour guides in their countries. I’ve been wanting to go back to Europe and travel more but I know it will pale in comparison to the times I had studying abroad.

Doing this exchange was the best decision I’ve ever made and I hope everyone can take advantage of this great opportunity.

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For more information on RI exchange opportunities visit our new website!
For tips and tricks on financial planning for exchange see our blog post!

#LearningAbroad Photo Contest

Are you a Ryerson student with great photos from an international education experience?

Enter the Canadian Bureau for International Education‘s Annual Photo Contest for your chance to win $100! 

The deadline for submissions is October 2nd.

Photo credit: Sofia Puente
Location: Chile

Click here for contest details!

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My Australian Experience

By Erika Nonis, Undergraduate Student in the Creative Industries program, Faculty of Communication & Design

Feels like just yesterday I was just lugging my suitcases to the airport to begin the journey of a lifetime. The Ryerson International exchange program opened the opportunity for me to go to Brisbane, Australia. I found a student apartment with a 6-month lease, and spent an 2 extra months in Australia prior to the start of the semester. This allowed me to extend my experience in the amazing country and really immerse myself into the lifestyle and culture.

I am so grateful to have spent my exchange in Brisbane, as it is a big enough city to have plenty to see and do, but it is not overwhelming. The city is very new, clean and well designed. There are lots of restaurants, shops, museums and clubs. I stayed in the Iglu Student Accommodation in the heart of the city, which was great because I could walk everywhere. I was 5 minutes from the main mall, bus station and 5 minutes from the botanical gardens. While in Brisbane I attended Queensland University of Technology for the creative industries program. One of the big differences I noticed with the program is it was much better known. They had their own faculty, a wide selection of classes to chose from and people I met actually knew about the program. The professors were great, and the classes I took were not extremely challenging which allowed me to get high marks while being able to enjoy my time there. While at the university I became a global ambassador which allowed me to help out at the exchange office and promote Ryerson University to future exchange students. This was a great opportunity to be involved in the university community, while making friends and encouraging people to come visit Toronto.

Some of my favourite memories of Brisbane are in south bank at the urban beach, or in the valley which was the neighbourhood with an interesting nightlife. I also loved that all the museums were free and they had some great art museums.

Australia is one of the most beautiful and diverse countries I have ever been to as it ranges from beautiful beaches to deserts. I was very fortunate and was able to explore much of the country. I traveled to go to Sydney, Melbourne, Airlie Beach and the Outback. The best experience for me was being able to ride a camel at sunrise in the middle of the desert. It was such a surreal and different experience. I was also able to do a few road trips with friends I made and visited Byron Bay, Gold Coast, Noosa and Fraser Island. All of which were just a short drive away from Brisbane.

I was also very fortunate to have extra time prior to beginning school to visit New Zealand. I loved it so much I ended up going twice. The first time I did a Kiwi Experience bus tour of South Island, which was an incredible 17 day trip where I saw many cities and had many memorable experiences while travelling with people my age. I ended up meeting a great group of Canadian girls who stayed with me for most of the tour. The second time I went, I rented a car and drove around the North Island. North Island was beautiful as there is such an interesting culture and I learned so much about the Maori people. I also was able to have surreal experiences, such as skydiving, bungee jumping and shooting guns. New Zealand is the land of thrills, adventure and beautiful scenery and I loved every minute I spent there.

My exchange was a life changing experience and I miss it every day. I also miss all the friends I met along the way and I hope to cross paths with them again soon. I would recommend to everyone to jump on the chance if they can go, as it truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

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For more information on RI exchange opportunities visit our new website!
For tips and tricks on financial planning for exchange see our blog post!

Top 10 Must-See Places in HK

By Sierra Sun, Undergraduate student the Media Production Program at the RTA School of Media, Faculty of Communication and Design

*Sierra also won the 2017 RI Photo Contest with her photo “Temple Street Market”

Hey there, I’m Si and I just finished my international exchange in Hong Kong. I left the comfy routine of my 4 jobs behind and traded them in for a lot of first time adventures like travelling solo, res life and adapting to a new country.If you’re thinking of going abroad, go for it and don’t bail out. I know you’re probably thinking about it and I did too at first. But I am glad I didn’t because here are my top ten must-see places while in Hong Kong.

  1. Garden Hill
  2. Edward Youde Aviary Park
  3. Cape D’Aguilar
  4. Quarry Bay
  5. Tram in Central (Central At Night)
  6. Lai Tak Tsuen Estate
  7. Mum’s Not Home
  8. Sai Wan Swimming Shed
  9. PMQ
  10. Lion Rock Peak

I hope you get to make it out to at least one of these places, there is so much to see in Hong Kong but even more when you take the chance to travel during your time abroad. I don’t get very many pictures of myself, partly because I’m busy documenting everything else, but during my time abroad, I enjoyed trips to Ho Chi Minh, Tokyo, Seoul and Busan. These are truly once in a lifetime experiences and you will meet great people like you. So go ahead, make the most out of your experience abroad and push yourself to do things you’ve never done.

Music: Bensound

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For more information on RI exchange opportunities visit our new website!
For tips and tricks on financial planning for exchange see our blog post!