Diary Posts, Pre-departure


Today is a wonderful, wonderful day (or rather, yesterday was). Terrifying, but mostly wonderful, because I am pleased to report that after over two and half months, at least half a dozen emails, my aunt being an absolute champ and ringing uOttawa up, and me leaping on my phone every time I got an email notification much to the frustration of my housemates – finally, FINALLY, as of yesterday, May 27th, I received my acceptance from Ottawa.

Official excerpt:

Dear Tessa,

Congratulations! We are pleased to confirm your acceptance as an exchange student for the Academic Year 2016-2017 at the University of Ottawa, under the international student mobility bilateral agreement with the University of Exeter.

I have a student ID, I have a letter of acceptance to submit to the Canadian embassy, and I have a registration form for all my courses. More importantly, I now have the ability to say with absolute confidence that, life-altering disasters aside, at the end of this summer I will be moving 3,251 miles away from home to live in Canada. For a year. On my own.

Holy moly.

It’s a huge, huge relief but somehow also more stressful than ever (remember that massive great to-do list? Yeah now I’ve actually got to get started on it.) But to be honest I’m happy because Sorting is a helluva a lot preferable to Waiting. I spoke to my American best friend via Skype about half an hour after I found out, and to be honest I’m quite proud I managed to restrain from just squealing at her. Fortunately, having done the study abroad thing herself, she’s about as excited as I am. Seeing her and travelling in the US is going to be such a highlight. Who am I kidding, the whole thing is going to be a highlight.

In recent weeks, niggling worries about making friends and being homesick have started to make themselves known in the back of my mind, but the whole acceptance excitement has blown them clear out of the water. There’s too much to think about, too many official forms (with a confusing amount of French on) to respond to and the date is written weirdly and I have no idea when I moved into my current home in Leicestershire and what exact day do I think I’ll be arriving in Canada again, Mum? When did we agree to book flights?

Look at this fancy photo of the (probably) one attractive building on Ottawa’s campus

It’s a lot to take in, and I don’t think I’ll truly appreciate how huge a deal this all is until closer to the time. In the meantime, I’ve been printing and scanning and signing up for Buddy Schemes at uOttawa and generally keeping myself far more busy than most students who’ve just finished exams. What can I say, this is the kind of work I will happily geek out about.

The big thing I’ve done so far is send in my registration form, with all my deets and course selections. Course selection has been a Faff to say the least, because unlike at Exeter when you click the ones you like the look of and merrily submit your options to the Timetable People, at Ottawa you are expected to build your own timetable. As in, all the courses already have lecture slots and rooms and you have to get creative with an Excel spreadsheet and try and fit in the ones you want to do (and if they clash, tough shit.) Aside from the fact I haven’t used Excel since year 9, this has been a pretty challenging job. A lot of things I liked the look of clashed, even more are on awesome subjects but taught in French, and horrifically, some lectures are due to take place in a three hour slot from 7pm to 10pm. (You read that right, 10pm, and here we are kicking up a fuss about 6:30pm finishes.) So it’s been a case of working with the ones I’m interested in, and trying to make compromises in terms of times (ie. in the Winter term I’ve managed to wrangle Fridays off which I am THRILLED about.) Anyway, here are the ones I ended up submitting:

Autumn (sorry, ‘Fall’) Courses

  • HIS2153 A – United States from 1945 to the Present
  • HIS2364 A- Contemporary Canada
  • HIS3100 A – History and Perception of History in Canada
  • HIS3150 A – Medicine and Modernity in America
  • EAS1101 A – Introduction to Aboriginal Society and Culture

Winter Courses

  • HIS3391 A – Studies in Public History
  • HIS2342 A – Europe in the 20th Century
  • HIS2307 A – The History of the Native Peoples in Canada
  • HIS2130 A – The Peopling of North America
  • SRS1130 A – Atheism: A History of Doubt

All very modern (the way I like it) and pretty Canada-biased because I’d like to make the most of being taught about the country I’m living in. Plus, two randomers just to mix things up. Module submission opened a couple of days ago for all the other uOttawa undergrads – and it’s first come first served so cue my frustration at still not having heard about my acceptance – but here’s hoping I’ll still get my choices. I’ve chosen 5 for each term on the advice of previous study-abroaders at uOttawa but if I’m honest I’ll probably take Exeter up on the minimum requirements and drop to 4 after the first few weeks. I received an email from the team manager at the Gee-Gees (that’s uOttawa’s sports teams nickname to you) women’s basketball and man alive do they train a lot. Plus, I still want to make sure I can fit in plenty of travelling in and around schoolwork.

So there we have it – Things Are Happening and it’s mildly terrifying and overwhelming and generally pretty damn great.




4 thoughts on “The One Where I’M ACTUALLY GOING TO CANADA”

  1. Congratulations! A year abroad is worth all the stress – and Ottawa is a really nice place & it’s bilingual (hence all the French!)… the whole self-assembly timetable definitely seems to be a big feature of other universities, perhaps it’s only the UK which actually creates timetables for their students!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. (A bit of a late response but hey!) Thank you! I’m definitely excited to explore the city and the bilingual aspect of the university and local culture. Yes perhaps – we’ve been spoilt!

      Liked by 1 person

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