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!

Getting Involved in the Exchange Community: Join RISExC!

RISExC is a student-run group that helps new Ryerson exchange students settle into life in Toronto. The committee is mostly made up of current Ryerson students who have previously participated in the exchange program. The group plans social events and sightseeing trips in Toronto.

Joining RISExC is not only a great way to become involved in exchange community, it is also an opportunity to draw on your lived experiences to help others feel more comfortable here in Toronto.

Join the RISExC Fall ’17 – Student Group Facebook page.

Interested in taking a leadership role on the committee?
Email us at rihelp@ryerson.ca with the subject line: RISExC Committee Fall’17  and join the RISExC Fall’17 – Organizer Facebook Page.

Are you or will you be a Ted Rogers School of Management (TRSM) student in the fall? Join the TRSM Exchange Buddy Program!

The TRSM Exchange Buddy Program is an initiative by the Ted Rogers Students’ Society (TRSS) that aims to provide incoming TRSM exchange students with the resources and support that they need to make the most out of their exchange experience.

In this program, incoming exchange students will be paired up with current TRSM students. Partners will act as ‘buddies’ throughout the exchange semester.

As a participant, you can attend social events organized by the TRSS for exchange students, and will be kept up-to-date with other events and activities held around campus.

Are you a TRSM student interested in becoming a buddy? Stay tuned! Sign-up forms will be sent out at the beginning of July via email.

Are you an incoming TRSM exchange student? Check your email and sign up now!

For more information, please contact TRSS Special Projects Manager at janica.portillas@trssociety.ca.

 

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.

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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.

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!

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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.

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.

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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.

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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/

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

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.