A student's experience
 

I didn't choose Bishop's University for its traveling opportunities or because it had several partner schools all around the world. In fact, I didn't even know Bishop's had an International Office. I came to Bishop's because it was small, beautiful and in the Eastern Townships, one of the loveliest parts of the province of Quebec. It is only when I arrived here and started meeting people that I realized that traveling was very much a part of life at Bishop's.

In my first semester I met a very good friend from Spain, met Canadians who were just coming back, enchanted, from a semester or a year away on exchange and met fellow students who were excitedly (albeit nervously) planning their own trips to foreign countries. Even then, I did not even consider that this would be an option for me, an Honours student in French Studies. It was only until a professor suggested this possibility that I strolled over to see Lilian Rogerson at the International Office and discussed with her the possibilities of going on exchange. What really surprised me was not only the possibilities (there was practically nowhere in the world I couldn't go), but how easy it was!

Once I had decided on a school in the south of France, I was immediately given all the necessary forms to fill out, was directed to resource centers that would give me all the information I needed in obtaining my passport and visa, and was even given forms to apply for financial help, which I duly received and which made my leaving the country a lot less stressful and much more financially secure.

The semester before I left was a bit of a whirlwind, but once I landed in Paris I marveled at how schools made it easy for students to travel: someone met me at the airport and provided me a place to stay for the first night, as well as gave me a tour of the city and helped me get on the train that would take me to Aix-en-Provence; I lived in an international student residence which cost next to nothing and allowed me to meet people from all over the world, and while traveling my student status allowed me to benefit from several discounts. I went from being a student who had barely set foot outside of Canada to visiting seven countries in six months.

I traveled the French Riviera and saw some of the most beautiful sights in the world, was in Rome when the new Pope was elected and witnessed this historic event, and ultimately shed all my fears of traveling alone. I truly believe that I learned more, about life and about myself, in those six months abroad, than I have in all my years in Cegep and university. Despite all this, though, I was happy to return home; being abroad made me miss all the little comforts that we have come to take for granted in Canada. However, I am confident that this was not my last trip, far from it. In my six months in the South of France I have created a network of friends from all over the world and truly hope to see them all again, in their own homes or elsewhere, in my future travels.


written by: Julie Fredette '05

 
 
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