Monday, February 9, 2015

Humber Goes Global: Shelby in Scotland

Name: Shelby Guertin
Year of Study: 4th

As soon as I heard there was an opportunity to study abroad through Humber, I knew I wanted to do it. It did, however, seem like one of those opportunities that sounds amazing and totally doable, but that I would never actually grasp. But this time I decided that if someone was going to get to go to Scotland for a semester, it was going to be me. Fortunately, there weren’t too many girls in my year that were interested in going, so my two best friends and I were selected to go to Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland for our 5th semester of study.

With best friends
With best friends
There are a million things I could tell you about living abroad, because when you’re somewhere new, every experience is fresh and exciting and scary and amazing. Things like grocery shopping, or catching the bus feel like huge accomplishments, and trips to London, Paris, and Rome feel like just another weekend trip. The highlights for me definitely included our ability to travel once we were in Scotland. Such cheap flights! It’s also fun to experience being the foreign one. People are interested in hearing where you’re from, and language barriers can be amusing when they’re not causing you to cry because you don’t speak Italian.
Sitting under the Eiffel Tower
Sitting under the Eiffel Tower
Going abroad has allowed me to gain perspective on a more global level. When you’re young, you are aware that there’s a whole world out there, but when you actually get the opportunity to go out and see some of it you’re forced to realize just how big it is. It also helped me understand the perspective of a tourist. I’m sure when we were taking picture on the Love Lock Bridge in Paris, or at Piccadilly Circus in London, there were many a frustrated locals rolling their eyes at us and wondering when we would get out of the way. 


Now I’m a little more understanding of all the people taking pictures in the Eaton Centre and crowding the sidewalk in front of Old City Hall. Being a tourist is exciting! We are lucky enough to live in a city that people are excited to visit and photograph. Let’s not frown at them.


In terms of my future career, I would say that studying abroad has opened my eyes to the fact that I don’t have to work/live in Canada! There are jobs everywhere, and with enough effort and motivation I could easily see myself working somewhere in the United Kingdom. As cheesy as it sounds, studying abroad has ultimately taught me that anything is possible if I actually want it bad enough.


The differences between Humber and Robert Gordon University were pretty big for us. As a university, they expected much more independent study of their students, and assignments were all handed in at the end of the semester rather than throughout. That being said, we also had the opportunity to learn a few things that we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to had we stayed at Humber for that semester. We were able to use computer programs like InDesign and Photoshop to create media for a magazine (that was later put together by the Fashion Management students/professors) including articles, product pages, photo shoots, etc. That was definitely my favourite class.


Anyone who has studied abroad will give you the same advice: just do it. Everyone wants to travel and this is a great way to get some travelling in while you’re still in school and don’t have any OSAP payments to make yet… 

Humber is also incredibly helpful with the whole process. So there’s really nothing holding you back! Here are a few things to keep in mind!

1) TALK ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS.
We found it best to let each other know when we were having a sad day (trust me there will be plenty) and that way we could help each other out! Everyone who does this goes through the same thing, and it’s totally fine to cry. A lot.

2) GET LOST.
Brittany and I spent an entire day walking through Rome without looking at the map. We ended up really lost (and off the map) and ultimately had to walk down a very dark road with no people around for a while (more crying) but hey, we made it, and we found a restaurant with 2€ bottles of wine so…

3) TAKE PICTURES.
Like, a lot of pictures. Like, too many pictures. People will love to see what you’re up to, and it’s always nice to look back on your time at monumental places, but the best photos are the ones where nothing special is going on, but they spark a memory that brings you back to that moment and you can close your eyes and feel like you’re back there.

4) TALK TO PEOPLE.

One of the good friends we made in Aberdeen was the guy who sold us our cell phones. We just started chatting about our exchange and he took us on several tours of the city and to some of his favourite places/restaurants/bars/etc. It’s also fun when you find other tourists from Canada and you have a little moment of “EH!” and then carry on. You never know who you’re going to meet!

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