This is something I wrote a few months ago when I was still in Canada so it might be a bit confusing because it sounds as though I was still there. Just know that I’m back in Germany, I’ve seen my friends and family again and now I’m missing Québec and all the friends I made over there. I hope you still enjoy this article and the exchange year series that will be going up over the next few weeks!
My exchange year (not exactly a year but more like 10 months) at the université de Sherbrooke in Canada is almost over so I decided to write down some of my experiences as I’ve failed to do so in the last 9 month… Guess I figured that it’s better late than never… I’m actually looking forward to go back to Germany by now to see my parents, brothers and friends again. I really miss them. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my stay over here: I made a bunch of new friends, had some really interesting lessons and saw a lot of amazing places, but it’s so far away from home and it will be so nice to be able to speak without thinking a million times about every sentence (I actually really miss speaking German)!
It all began in 2013 when my high school French teacher handed out information on a university programme where you spent have of your bachelor (1 and a half years) in Germany and the other half in France with the option of going to Canada for a few months.
I had already spent a year in Canada when I was sixteen (school year2011/2012) so in my head it was almost immediately clear that I wanted to go back. I fell in love with the country when I was there and I was still talking to my host families and really wanted to see them again. I decided to apply to two other universities just in case the university in Mainz wouldn’t take me but they were actually the first uni to reply. I instantly started to dream about going back to Quebec and meeting my friends and host family again event though it wasn’t even sure the Canadian uni would accept me and I still had a year in Germany and France between me and my dream, but I never lost it out of sight. But it actually was a long way to go. While I was in France I had to apply to the université de Sherbrooke and I actually had a lot of help from my German uni filling out all the papers. That’s a real advantage of the programme I choose. There’s one whole office at our uni that takes care of us, and as we’re not that many students it doesn’t take them long to get back to you and they’ll always try to help you!
The only thing I could do after that was wait because I needed the acceptation letter from the university to apply for my visa. But I went on the website of immigration and citizenship Canada and immigration Québec to look up ll the documents I needed to apply for the visa and got a new passport, just in case, because my old one hadn’t been valid for a few years. And it actually was a good thing I already had all the documents I needed beforehand because it really took the Canadian uni a long time to reply. When I finally got my letter I just had enough time to book a flight and apply for the visas. To study in Quebec you actually need two visas: you first apply for a CAQ which basically is a document that says that the province of Quebec accepts to let you study there for a certain amount of time. You need their answer to be able to apply for the study permit, which is the visa you get from Canada. I was lucky because they actually were quicker than what the website said so I got the study permit a few weeks before I left. I kept packing and unpacking, writing long lists of things I wanted to bring with me and annoying my parents because I wouldn’t talk about anything else. I knew that I would need two suitcases so I could bring my warm winter jacket, skiing helmet and ski pants with me and in the ended we decided to send one of the suitcases via mail so I wouldn’t have too many pieces of luggage once I arrived in Canada and where I would have had to carry them all by myself.
My flight was on the 9th of August 2016, two days after my 21 birthday. I actually celebrated my birthday one day early so I would have enough time to say goodbye to all my friends and family. On my actual birthday one of my Canadian host families came to visit me and I spent the day with them and my parents. That really was an emotional week because I had to say goodbye to so many people I love. I cried a lot. I was excited to go on a new adventure but at the same time I was sad to leave everyone behind. But compared to last time (when I was 16) it was easier. It definitely helped that I already knew someone over there and that I was more fluent in French than I was back in 2011. On the 9th my parents dropped me off at the airport in Luxembourg before going to work and I took a plane to Zurich where I boarded the plane that would finally bring me across the Atlantic Ocean, back to the place I had dreamed about for so long. It actually was a really nice flight. I was sitting next to the window and the girl next to me was really nice. We talked a lot and the time flew by really quickly. We left Zurich at 13:00 and arrived in Montréal at around 15:10 (which felt like 21:10 to me… jetlag and all).
That’s it for the first part. In the second part, I’ll talk to you about how I got through the border control, got the study permit attached to my passport and what I did in the one and a half weeks I spent in Montréal with my host brother before finally taking a bus to Sherbrooke, where I was studying.
Lots of love!