I am writing this as I look through my bedroom window and enjoy the view of the Narrows. The flickering deep blue sea contrasts sharply with the red-orange trees. This is what Canada looks like, to me.
It’s November already. Time flies.
My name is Lauranne, and I arrived from France in August to pursue a PhD in English at Memorial. I know I was here early, since classes didn’t actually start until September, but I strongly suggest coming to St. John’s early. Like most people who arrive in a new country, I did not have a place to live upon arrival. If you don’t, have a look at the on-campus housing or off-campus housing websites to see the different options that are offered. In my case, I just needed to wait a few days before moving in, so I spent a few nights on campus after I found out that MUN has very comfy and affordable summer accommodations.
Also, because I am an international student, I had to check in with the Internationalization Office in order to get all my paperwork in order. The process was much easier than I expected because the staff helps you along the way. I could come in without an appointment and they would answer my question right away. They are always there if you need them. They also gave binders to all the new international students that gave us a list of what we needed to do upon arrival, and how to do it. It’s a great guide that helps with coming to a new country. If you follow the steps in the binder, you will have everything covered. But more importantly, what is great with the Internationalization Office is that international students have a place to gather, meet new people, talk about what it is like to live abroad, and realize that even though they are far from their family, they are not alone.
As soon as I had the paperwork done, I started exploring the place. Arriving a month early was very convenient because it allowed me to visit the campus so that I was not completely lost when classes started. I was also able to get my precious student card and borrow some books from the library, finally! It made the transition from no longer being a student, to being a student again, much smoother. But even better, I was able to enjoy some of the festivals and events organized in St. John’s in August. There is a lot going on here, like the George Street Festival (live music and performances), the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival, and the historic Royal St. John’s Regatta. I also spent some time at the Rooms, a local museum and did a road trip with some new friends from St. John’s to Corner Brook, on the other side of the island. We went off track on several occasions so that we could enjoy nature and hiked in Gros Morne National Park where we also saw beautiful waterfalls. In a month I got to experience parts of the local culture, the local food, and I got to meet new people, but there is still so much more to discover. Exciting, right?
Classes have started now. The English department was very welcoming and it is not a problem that English is not my first language, I can understand and communicate, and it is all that matters. Since I have been here, I have already learned so much, in terms of the program content, of course, but also about me, the way I think, and how one builds knowledge. Studying abroad is great in the sense that it forces you to move away from your comfort zone and be exposed to different ideas, and in the process you self-reflect on your experience. It makes you grow as a scholar, but also as a person. I am looking forward learning and growing more during my time at MUN.
Until next time…