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

London Exchange Profile

By Perry Newsome, Undergraduate student in the RTA Production program, Faculty of Communication and Design

Last Sunday evening, I was travelling back to my residence at the University of Westminster in Harrow on the westbound Metropolitan Line train. It was nearing dusk, and the sky was lit up with a fiery, pink-streaked sunset, bringing the perfect spring weekend to a close.

I had spent the last two days meandering my way across Covent Garden and Chelsea, my two favourite districts in Central London. The weekend was driven only by a desire for both food and spontaneity, as my friends and I crawled across the city in search of great bakeries, cafes, and green spaces upon which we could lie and soak up some warmth.

The spontaneity of my weekend, and the striking sunset that ended it, encapsulates the beauty and contentment that I have found in my semester abroad.

There was a point two months into my stay when London no longer felt foreign and the quiet unease of being a tourist dissipated. Instead, London has become a familiar playground and a city that feels personally fitting in a way even Toronto does not.

There is an undeniable feeling of euphoric freedom when you leave behind your normal pattern to scrape out a life in a new place. Now that I feel settled in London, I am faced with this daily.

For me, it was glorifying to suddenly realize that the feeling of vacation has passed; that the novelty of my new city had given way to normalcy, and suddenly London had become my life and not just a temporary layover. It’s rewarding to be able to glance at a tube map and take myself anywhere in the city, and to realize London’s winding, busy streets are no longer overwhelming. Being here has given me the opportunity to discover something new each day, whether it’s an old neighbourhood, a seaside town, or which corner deli has the most delicious baked goods. In case you’re wondering, it’s definitely either Bread Ahead, Honey and Co or Ottolenghi. Though if we’re talking food places, I also suggest that you go to Dishoom, and order the potatoes.

I wanted to study abroad because I wanted to escape all that was familiar and give myself new opportunities to explore and grow as an individual. I chose London because it was a city I had always admired from afar, and because it had so much to offer culturally, historically, and gastronomically.

I’m now quickly nearing the end of my time in England. Next week I begin travelling across Europe, hitting Denmark, Amsterdam, Ireland, and Spain before heading back to Canada in May. While I’m excited to begin the next leg of my adventure, I’m already sad to be leaving both a city and a great group of friends that I have grown to love. The ability to explore London as a resident and to feel in tune with its rhythms and quirks has been an unbelievable accessory to living in the city. Being in London has reminded me how easy it is to get caught up at home in the worn in, comfortable beat of our day-to-day stresses. A whole other world is out there, and that world has a lot to teach you, both big and small.  After all, how else would I have discovered the important fact that while traditional scones and jam really are delicious, British English muffins are actually inferior to their Canadian counterparts?

That’s one thing I can promise, however ironically, is much better at home.

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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.

 

Learning how to be jolly good: Living life the British way

By Lauren Gellatly, Undergraduate Student in the RTA Production Program, Faculty of Communication and Design

Did you know that, in England, you have to pull the door handle up before you can lock it? My awesome fellow Canadian housemate and I did not. We tried for half an hour to lock our door and, when we gave up, we locked it from the inside and broke out of our own backyard like any intelligent, resourceful, and independent young women would do when faced with this problem.

I didn’t find there was a lot more than this level of culture shock in England. As a people, they’re pretty similar to us – a little more sarcastic and way cooler in terms of accents, but they also say sorry excessively and love talking about the weather.

I had been dreaming of going on an exchange for a very long time – since I was thirteen. I started putting away my babysitting money for my big trip around the world. I was going to live in a new place I’d never been to before. I was going to see famous places and eat lots of delicious food. I worked non-stop and saved as much as I could to go. As I got older, and started looking at universities, I highlighted three things in each university’s booklet – what program they had, what scholarships I could get, and where I could go on exchange.

Waiting at the airport felt surreal. The thing I had been dreaming about for years was finally happening! I’ll admit I was a bit nervous in the weeks leading up to leaving. Was I really not going to see my family or sleep in my own bed for months? But the loudest voice in my head was my thirteen-year-old self telling me to go for it.

And she was right. My six months in England were the best six months of my life. It was everything I ever dreamed of and more. Looking back on it, there was one small period where I was a little stressed – but not once did I wish I was home. I know that I am the luckiest person in the world to have had this experience. I got to visit nine different countries with both new friends and old. I lived in a place I’d never been to before, and it felt like a second home in a very short time. I saw famous places and not-so-famous places, and was blown away by both. I ate so much good food, especially in places like France, Italy, and Spain, I thought I’d have to be rolled onto the plane home.

My advice to anyone who is just starting their exchange, or who is going next semester – remember to make the most out of your experience, whatever that means for you. Make friends from around the world, including your host country. TRAVEL, especially if you’re in Europe. Their discount airlines will become your favourite guilty pleasure websites. You’ve gone this far, so see all of the places you want to see! Don’t fail, and don’t waste your learning experience at a new school. But, don’t bury yourself in schoolwork and forget to experience your exchange.

And, if you’re in England, don’t forget about those doorknobs – pull up, then lock.

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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.