Destination: KU Leuven, Belgium
Duration: 1 Semester
Program: Human Kinetics - Movement Science
Highschool: St. Joseph’s Catholic High School, St. Thomas
What is one word that you would use to describe your exchange experience? Life-changing
What was the best thing that happened to you while on exchange?
Being able to make friends from all around the world. It was a unique way to learn about other cultures, share stories about your home, compare the differences between your home life and theirs, and share cultural experiences. I gained so much independence and realized that I can do anything that I set my mind to.
What was the biggest cultural shock that you experienced?
The way classes take place, class scheduling, exams, assignments, and professor/student relations are all VERY different from what we are used to in Canada. Luckily, I was made aware of this before departing for Belgium, so I was able to go into the academic side of things with a very open mind. While the school system is extremely different from ours, it is easy to adapt to as long as you are willing to change a few of your habits!
Who was the hardest person to leave when you went on exchange? How did you manage that?
The hardest person to leave when I left for exchange was my long-term boyfriend. We knew visits wouldn’t be possible due to financial reasons, so it was hard to leave knowing we would be apart for a full 4.5 months. However, it was much easier than I thought it would be, as we texted often and would FaceTime when we could.
If you were to recommend exchange to your best friend, what would you say?
Exchange is the best experience they could possibly have at this age, and that all the benefits completely outweigh the cons (is there even is any). Exchange opens your eyes to so many things and gives you a massive appreciation for travelling and other cultures. It is such a privilege to even have this opportunity, and you would be missing out if you didn't take advantage of it.
How have you included exchange on your resume?
Yes. I always make sure to include exchange on my resume as well as mention it in interviews, as I believe it shows strong character. It displays that you are independent, sociable, able to adapt to new situations and that you enjoy taking on challenges.
Is there anything else that you would like to share?
You will (likely) never have the opportunity to completely immerse yourself in a different culture for such a long period of time, and it is a totally different experience than just travelling somewhere for a few days or a week.
A sample of the classes taken:
- Sociocultural Analysis of Sport and Leisure (credit for KINE 4850)
- Sports, Politics and Public Policy (3rd year KINE credit)
- Adapted Physical Activity: International Perspectives (4th year KINE credit)