Living in Canada - My experience as an exchange student

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There has been some months since my last post here. It has happened because I was in Canada since the beginning of this year, being very busy and having a lot of assignments to do. I was selected to be a exchange student, receiving a scholarship that was given by the government of Canada in the Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program (ELAP). I have traveled to the city of Cranbrook, British Columbia, to study in the College of the Rockies. It has been an amazing experience for me and I will explain why.

Before the beginning of the exchange program, I was waiting for my approval in ELAP since February 2018, as I have received the news that I could be selected. Then, only in December they have confirmed my approval and I was very happy for that. However, I had to arrive at Canada until January 2019, so I had less than a month to prepare all the things related to my visa and tickets. It was a crazy rush, as we were closer to December holidays and there were some delays during this process. I have received my visa only after the beginning of January and then I could buy my airplane tickets and plan the travel. For those who are reading this and are living in a similar experience, one good advice is that you need to try to relax and look at the things in a good way as there is nothing to do except hoping that your visa will be approved and that everything is going to be ok.

After this process, I could arrive in Canada. Because of the visa delay, I have arrived after two weeks of classes in the College. I was very busy trying to complete the assignments that I have lost during this period and studying the contents of the courses. My program was focused on a Statistics course and two other courses focused on Academic Writing/Reading and English Conversation. These first moments were kind of complicated for me as I was getting myself adapted to this new culture and this different type of education. I have noticed that the education in Canada is a little different from Brazil, as most of the Brazilian universities and colleges give more autonomy for the students’ learning process, and in Canada there were a lot of homeworks and assignments that were evaluated later, being part of the final grade and you had to complete them to achieve a good mark. It happened in all the courses that I have taken, so I suppose that this is a normal thing.

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In terms of culture, since the first days living in Canada, I was always very impressed with the way that people build relationships in Canada and how they respect the personal space of each person. Most of the people are very polite and respectful, and everything works fine. It is very different from Brazil, where everything is kind of chaotic. Canada looks more organized than Brazil in terms of how the things work and I have liked that a lot.

Another point is that I have arrived in Canada during the winter, so it was very cold. I have never seen snow in my entire life, so it was amazing for me to see that. I got used to the cold weather as I am not a summer person and I prefer to stay at home rather than going to the beach, haha. In Brazil, I live in a city where the common temperature is around +28ºC, while in Cranbrook, the common was -15~20ºC during that winter. Even though my hands were freezing at some times, I was very excited to experience this weather for the first time in my life, hahaha.

Essentially, this was an experience that will change me forever as a person, professional and student. This change happened because there I could learn a new way of thinking and behaving, being a more organized and polite person. In terms of education, I could improve myself and focus on getting the things done. I will miss all the friends that I have met there and I hope that someday I can go back to that country for a visit or even to study again or to work there.