The Clash of the Cultures (Croatia)

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Author: Stephanie Rukavina
Program: Business Administration – International Business
Study Abroad Location: Zagreb, Croatia

            The experiences in Croatia are never-ending. Since my arrival I have seen so much and experienced quite a few festivals and events that I didn’t know even existed. One of my favorite things about Zagreb is the stands that can be found throughout the center of the city. When I first arrived here, the stands were selling freshly roasted corn on the cob, popcorn, and even some sweets. It was common to see these stands on every corner! Now that the season has changed, the corn has been replaced with roasted chestnuts, and let me tell you, they smell amazing! Zagreb seems to have a large focus on local and organic food, as there is several outdoor farmers market that work every day and sell a variety of goods grown or created by local farmers. I have gone to these markets a few times now, and every time I’m greeted by everyone’s friendly smiles.

While all these experiences have been amazing, I have faced some minor challenges. While many study abroad students may agree that language was probably the biggest challenge they faced when moving to a new country, the same cannot be said about me since I am fluent in the Croatian language. My biggest challenge was leaning to manage my time, and understanding how the public transport system works. In Croatia, the culture is more relaxed, slow paced lifestyle. This is sometimes reflected on the public transport system. I have had multiple times where I am late to class because I missed my bus because it came too early, or where the bus was too late. I have learned to always leave extra time to get to class, because you never know what kind of delays you’ll face. Another challenge I faced was homesickness. I missed my family back in Canada a lot, especially my mom and my sister. I feel like I haven’t seen them in such a long time (other then our Skype sessions). And even though my dad and grandma were closer here in Croatia (about two hours driving), I still missed them like crazy as well! Just like anything, some days passed very quickly, but others I had homesickness like crazy, making this a difficult challenge.

            For other students who are also facing these challenges or worried about these challenges if they study abroad, my advice to you is not to stress with it. With all of the Skype calls and messaging, you’ll never fall out of touch with your family. It’s completely normal and expected for you to miss them, but you’ll survive! Studying abroad is an amazing opportunity, and any challenges you face will be tiny in comparison to what you would gain from this experience. It’s worth it, trust me!

Looking back at my Scottish Adventure

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Author:
 Nimai Desai
Program: Bachelor of Commerce – International Business Management
Study Abroad Location: Aberdeen, Scotland

I was recently lying down on my bed and summing up everything I have done in the last six months in Aberdeen, Scotland. I remember taking a bus from London and travelled overnight for 12 hours to Aberdeen with two big suitcases. I was travelling in the dark, but I was so excited to be in Scotland. I still remember having the first look around my cozy room. Since then, I have been to so many new places, including London, Edinburgh, Cruden Bay, Stonehaven, Old Trafford and so many other memorable places. I have met so many people who became my friends from all over the world. All these trips taught me how to plan my way through anything, keeping my budget in mind. This experience definitely taught me how to be independent.

I am glad I had the opportunity to go on the exchange program and discover more about myself.

Thank you for reading my posts!
Best,

Nimai Desai

Last Month In Scotland

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Author:
Avery Navikevicius
Program: Fashion Business Management
Study Abroad Location: Aberdeen, Scotland

Sorry everyone for my last few blog posts being late! My last little while abroad was crazy! I will try to remember as much about my crazy adventure as I can.

April and May was a little bit of a haze of final projects and studying for exams. May 11 marked my last day of school at RGU and the next chapter began!

My roommate and I flew to London on the morning of May 12, my birthday, and spent the day at Warner Bros studio. It was a magical birthday spent with props from the Harry Potter film series.

After spending a few days in London, I traveled to the Greek island of Zante. I had a few lazy days by the pool and beach at a beautiful hotel. I enjoyed food, met new friends and sweated off the stress of the end of school.

I then met up with my roommate again to head off to Croatia for a week-long cruise. What a week that was! Our Sail Croatia boat was crazy fun. We saw amazing sights and explored this heavily underrated country. I will definitely be back as it was the highlight of my trip.

At the end of the week, we said our goodbyes to our cabin mates on the cruise and headed off to Italy! We visited Sorrento, Amalfi, Rome, Florence, Bologna and Milan. My time in Italy included some not-so-great moments, like dropping my phone from a rooftop in Amalfi, but it had great moments too, like when my phone still worked after its fall!

Seriously though, Italy is absolutely amazingly beautiful. The people are kind, the food is great and the sites are unbelievable. While we were there I met some cousins on my mom’s side of the family for the first time. They were very gracious to us and I cannot wait for another opportunity to visit them.

From Italy, we traveled to our last stop, Paris. We were in the city during Euro Cup, so the atmosphere was incredible. We saw the sites, celebrated with the winning team’s fans and soaked in ambiance of the romantic city. Our favorite part of being France was actually not Paris, but Euro Disney! We fulfilled our childhood dreams and hung out in Disney for three days. By the end of those three days we were exhausted and finally headed back to Scotland to meet up with our families.

                Seeing my family again had a very calming effect. Traveling on your own can be stressful, but when you’re with your parents they help share all the logistical responsibilities. I was nice and relaxed, that is, until my family made me navigate through the highlands. I can proudly say we only got lost once! My parents fell in love with the scenery, the castle, the landscape and the animals. However, on our last day we got a flat tire and after that we were all pretty much ready to go home. It’s not like we were going to be doing much more driving anyway!

It’s All Temporary – Germany

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Author: Catherine Camara
Program: International Business
Study Abroad Location: Bavaria, Germany

There is a quote from Orange is The New Black which really stuck to me in the past months: “Try to look at your experience here as a mandala, Chapman. Work hard to make something as meaningful and beautiful as you can. And when you’re done, pack it in and know it was all temporary.” A mandala is a round Tibetan art piece made of sand. After months of work laying out beautiful designs, it is wiped away. The character is referring to her time at an all-female federal prison – a situation completely unparalleled to mine – but still I find this can relate to any person taking on a new chapter of her/his life.

Never have I ever expected myself to be the one who would blog about feeling home sick! To be honest, there is not a lot about home that I missed. At least there wasn’t in the first three months here. I love Europe and even the culture shock was a pleasant experience. However, all it took was a visit from my friend from home put a lot of things into perspective. Seeing a familiar face was bittersweet and brought back a familiarity I haven’t felt in three months. I missed home! I am often alone here, whereas in Canada I was living with my family of four and two cats; there was always someone around or at least some background noise. But like most things it’s just temporary. You will miss your friends, your family, your car and even the simple pleasures that would make you happy like a mocha coconut frappucino from Starbucks, or an all-you-can-eat sushi date with your best friend.

 

Me and my best friend from Toronto, Rebecca Rausch walking the canals- Amsterdam, Netherlands

It is important to realize that during your time here you will find people who can take the place of your friends and family for a short while. After all, its only temporary. Being alone is not a bad thing as much as it is a challenge. It challenges creativity and with it your mind adapts to the feeling of loneliness. I started to make friends, plan events, have dinner dates, play sports and create my own study abroad family. The feeling of loneliness quickly turned into independence, and that’s exactly what it is. Independence is something important to me that I can take away from this experience.

Me and my new family of International Students.

Part of being on your own is navigating in a city that is foreign and unfamiliar in every way. Everyday tasks like grocery shopping, taking the bus, and loading your student card can become quite difficult with simple miscommunication. It makes everyday exciting and new, sometimes even comical. German is an extremely difficult language to learn, and though I am slowly learning, I can’t help but be helpless when it comes to ordering a taxi or pizza. It’s not easy but it keeps things interesting. When someone finally understands you, when you’ve made it to the other side of Germany on your own, or when you’ve given someone the right directions in German, it’s so worth it.

Safe Travels,
Catherine Camara

The Mecca of Football and London City

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Author:
 Nimai Desai
Program: Bachelor of Commerce – International Business Management
Study Abroad Location: Aberdeen, Scotland

The Mecca of football is Manchester and ever since I’ve been a big fan of Manchester United, I really wanted to tour the Old Trafford stadium. Thus, on the 23rd of May this dream came true. I took a bus from the city of Milton Keynes and went straight to the city of Manchester.

In the bus my excitement was beginning to build up as I’ve seen on TV the address plate of Old Trafford and as soon as I saw it, it was an amazing moment for me. Inside the stadium, I came across the statue of Sir Marr Busby, the person who started the greatness of Manchester United.

I was also able to visit the Trinity of Manchester United which contains three legendary players in English football history: Sir Bobby Charlton, Denis Law, and George Best. The man who has revolutionised this club into a global phenomenon was Sir Alex Ferguson and there was also a statue of him.

The visit to the museum was also amazing! There were so many trophies, jerseys, profile of legendary players! But the excitement wasn’t over! With the tour, I could see the managers’ conference room, the cafe, dressing room, seating area of all the players and pictures of the original stadium. The megastore of the Manchester United as they call it had so much merchandise of the club, from jerseys, to winter clothing, footballs, accessories, and etc. I just couldn’t walk out of there empty handed having so much to choose from!

Another amazing city I was glad to visit was London! Such an incredible place that most people desire to visit, study and make a fortune! I visited many iconic places such as, Piccadilly Circus, SOHO, Trafalgar square, and etc. My first stop was Piccadilly Circus and if not late, I could have gone for shows happening there. This is very common place for film shootings as many of Hollywood movies have been shot there, for instance Fast and Furious 6. From there, I went to visit the Trafalgar square, a complete tourist attraction and right next to the British Art museum. I felt so lucky being able to see one of the top 10 universities of the world, the London School of Economics. While in Scotland, I ended up visiting London City more than once and in one of these visits, I saw Buckingham Palace, the place where the queen resides. I recommend you watch the changing of guards in Buckingham Palace, it’s very intense!

After seeing the changing of guards, I walked around a park named Hyde Park, and then went to a very big luxury store named Harrods. This store has the best quality of everything with the best brands in the world. After roaming Harrods I took a bus to Madame Tussauds, a wax museum containing wax statues of legendary celebrities, actors, ministers, and etc. I had a great time there!

From Madame Tussauds I went to King Cross Station, again for all Harry Potter fans, the entrance to Platform 93/4 is from King Cross Station.

The next day, I saw the Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, palace, London Bridge, Tower Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tower of London, Shakespeare Global and ended my day at the London Eye – the biggest wheel in the world! It took nearly one hour for the entire giant wheel to finish one cycle! It was long but at the same time, so much fun!

Thank you for reading and stay tuned for my final post!

Bonjour Paris!

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Author: Safa Siddiqi
Program: Public Relations – Corporate Communications
Study Abroad Location: Paris, France

I have always wanted to be a global citizen. I believe that travelling and learning about other cultures is essential to personal and professional growth. When I found out that Seneca’s Public Relations and Corporate Communications program offers a semester abroad, I was nothing short of ecstatic.

I chose Paris because I made a five-day visit during the previous year and really enjoyed my trip. Nonetheless, my expectations were low because five days and five months are very different. I really had no idea about Parisian culture or what living there would be like but I wanted to dive in head first and figure it out along the way. I truly believe that is what made my experience so exciting.

The institution called EFAP – l’ecole des nouveaux métiers de la communication, is centrally located right off of the Champs Elysees which is one of the most well-known streets in Paris. I found this really helpful because there are many English speaking locals and foreigners in the area. I found myself asking these people questions all the time in order to navigate through the city.

I also asked my instructors lots of questions; they were always willing to help and came from a range of backgrounds, both educationally and culturally. I learned so much about communications in the European world because of their vast knowledge and global experience.

I could go on forever about Paris and all the wonderful things about it but I’ll just name a few. In terms of food, I would recommend trying escargot at least once, macarons are a must, crepes,  and croissants of course. French culture is all about having a work-life balance so spending time with family and friends are essential. You will see people enjoying picnics with baguettes and pastries at all hours of the day. Some picnic locations include the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, Seine River, Tuileries gardens, Luxembourg gardens and endless parks. One night my friends and I had a picnic from 10 pm-6 am – it was amazing! It is important to move away from the very middle of the city to other areas as well called “arrondissements” (there are 20), the more you move away from the core, the more authentic your experience. Taking in Parisian architecture by day and all the lights at night is mesmerizing- the city never ceased to take my breath away.

I get really shy when I’m pulled out of my comfort zone. Though I wish I was a fluent French-speaker, my knowledge of the language is limited. I would often struggle with communication and get embarrassed quite easily. Eventually I took it as an opportunity to practice my French as much as possible and soon enough, Paris became my comfort zone. I was pleasantly surprised because many locals were happy to help, thereby increasing my motivation to improve.

This experience has changed me in an incredibly positive way. I am able to adapt to a variety of situations and have gained an awareness about the world that I would have never developed without this program. I have made international friendships and my eyes have been opened to opportunities that transcend North American borders. Beyond the educational aspect, this experience has been about personal growth and development. I now know that I really enjoy the French way of life and I would happily live there again.

I should also mention that I was able to travel to multiple cities in Europe including, Amsterdam, Bruges, Nice, Aix-en-Provence, Milan, Florence, Chianti and Rome. Just having the ability to travel to other countries and soak in other cultures during my time off was such a great opportunity.

I think having this experience will be beneficial to me in my professional career because it expresses that I am open to new ideas, well-cultured, self-motivated, creative, and culturally aware. Many employers are looking for individuals who have these characteristics, especially in the global arena.

Author: Safa Sidiqqi

An Experience of a Lifetime

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Author: Jacqueline Roes
Program:  Public Relations – Corporate Communications
Study Abroad Location: Ghent, Belgium

Throughout my university experience, I never had a desire to go abroad. I think part of my hesitation lied in the fact that I hadn’t left the nest and was nervous of being so far from my family. After applying and being admitted into the Corporate Communications Program and moving away from my hometown of London, Ontario to Toronto, it suddenly occurred to me that it would be an amazing opportunity to take my studies abroad and Seneca offered an exciting exchange program called Going Global. After doing some research, I confidently chose to go to Ghent, Belgium. Friends and family had asked me, why Belgium? My reply to them was that I love to travel and Belgium is conveniently located within Europe. To the north is Holland, to the south is France and just below France is Spain. To the east there is Germany and to the west is England. Fortunately for me, I got to travel to all of these beautiful countries!!

Upon my arrival, of course I was anxious and really had no expectations. I had no close friends who had ever been on exchange and I was also going completely by myself. I am a friendly person but of course there are doubts: will I make friends? Will I get to travel? Will I be homesick? The answer? I made so many more friends than I expected, traveled so many more places than I anticipated and I really didn’t get homesick! So therefore, the overall exchange experience surpassed my expectations more than I could have imagined!

So for those wondering, the exchange program was all in English.  All the exchange students plus the locals could speak English and I was surprised how easily we were all able to communicate with each other! To give a very brief blurb about Belgium, the country has two official languages: French and Flemish (Flemish is very similar to the Dutch language). I was in the Flemish speaking area of the country.

I’ve been asked if there was anything I could change about my experience what would it be? My reply was I wish I could’ve stay longer! I met so many incredible people from all over Europe, as well as from the United States, and have made lifelong friends. Even though they are all so far away, my solid group of friends and I have stayed in contact and talk about how we wish we could escape the real world and revisit Ghent. The city was welcoming (most locals speak English), and it is the perfect student town with tons of activities. The historical architecture of the city was stunning and truly has the best beer, chocolate, fries and waffles in the world!!

Through this exchange, I gained more confidence in myself, incredible friends, and a more open and well-rounded perception on life and culture in general. The exchange really opened my eyes to differences in culture and how to adapt accordingly.  This was an amazing learning experience and I would a hundred thousand percent do another exchange in the future if the opportunity ever arose!

I encourage anyone contemplating a study abroad program to do it without hesitation! I jumped from thinking I’d never do one, to one day saying I’m up for the challenge and I am forever grateful for the decision I made and for my parents who encouraged me to follow through with my decision! Every day, I miss my friends and Ghent so much and that’s how I know it was worth every second and every penny I spent!

Author: Jacqueline Roes

Why I Chose to Study Abroad

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Author: Bryan Jo Fernando
Program: Creative Advertising
Work Abroad Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

As a Creative Advertising student at Seneca College, I was constantly exposed to innovative ideas and creative environments, which inspired me to want to think beyond boundaries and borders. The experience I have gained in Film and Media production, motivated me to go out and seek a global understanding of this field, and to pursue further international learning opportunities.

I wanted to explore opportunities that would help me not only learn about the business of media and advertising production, but at the same time, allow me to experience a different, yet vibrant culture.

This goal encouraged me to look for opportunities abroad. I started my journey by approaching the International Service office at Seneca. They were extremely helpful in guiding me to find a real-world opportunity that would fuel my entrepreneurial dreams.

I continued working towards identifying opportunities abroad and with the help of the International Services office; I was able to participate in The Ontario Global Edge Program, which is funded by the Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure.

I am excited to be traveling to Kuala Lumpur, where I will be working for a Production House that shoots international films in Malaysia. I hope more and more students from Seneca identify with these opportunities and make use of them to gain professional and international experiences.  I look forward to sharing my journey of working in Malaysia in my next blog post.