I have a confession to make: I haven’t stopped talking/thinking about going on exchange lately. I suspect that it’s because it’s the one thing that makes me interesting. If I can sense that the conversation is about to go in the “This is awkward, I don’t know you that well so I don’t know what else to talk about” direction, I go and save the day by bringing up the fact that I’m going on exchange and all of a sudden it’s not that awkward anymore. Even my dental hygienist knows I’m going off to the Netherlands for school, so do a couple of customers from the store I work at, and if you came to visit Glendon on Fall Campus Day, (it was so lovely meeting some of you by the way!), then I probably definitely brought it up there too. Yeah, I’ve reached the point of no return.

Which is why instead of talking about it, I’m gonna do what I do best as an INFP: write about it. 

As great of an adventure exchange is, most people don’t really think about the amount of planning and paperwork that goes with it. First, there’s the whole application process, then once you get accepted, there’s a whole bunch of forms that you have to submit to ensure you’re all good to go. Now, I don’t want to make it seem like it’s such a daunting task, but in order to make sure everything’s running smoothly, a checklist is your best friend. In short, think like a Virgo: stop wasting your time daydreaming and letting time pass you by! But if you will be daydreaming, dream about organizing your work and managing your time more efficiently.

Ticked off my to-do list:

  • Reviewed visa requirements. Canadian citizens (as well as Australian and New-Zealand citizens, if this applies to you) have the option of applying for a €50 Working Holiday Visa while on exchange instead of the usual €317 residence permit. Not complaining at all…
  • Booked my flight ticket. I’m set to leave for the Netherlands near the end of January. For some reason, booking the flight was a very pivotal moment. As in wow, this is actually happening.
  • Enrolled in my courses. Instead of taking 5 courses all at once in a semester (which is what I’ve grown accustomed to), Utrecht University divides a semester into 2 terms, so that you’re only focusing on 2 courses at a time (this would equal 4 courses in total, which is equivalent to 15 credits for one semester at York). I was told that this is actually a good thing, as you can really allocate your attention and go in-depth into a subject because you’re not overwhelmed with the other 2 million things that you have to do. I can’t wait to experience this for myself.
  • Booked my accommodation. Although Utrecht University doesn’t own residences, they have agreements with student housing companies to make finding accommodation less stressful (a lot of these rooms are furnished, and are very close to the campus!). Do not underestimate how popular these reserved accommodations are because I’ve heard that finding housing in this city is very difficult. A lot of demand (popular exchange destination) + not enough supply = book your room fast! I set my alarm at 4 am EST to make sure I get the room that I wanted (which, I was lucky enough to successfully book) and it took me 30 mins to load the site due to high traffic. Within those 30 mins, I experienced all 7 stages of grief and almost cried. Less than 2 hours later, ALL of the rooms were fully booked. Save yourself the stress, research the potential apartments that you’d like to stay in and organize all that info in an excel file. This step is extremely crucial and what I personally found to be the most stressful part. After all, we all need a place to sleep!
  • Got medical insurance. This is mandatory, for very important, obvious reasons. A quick search on the web and recommendations from friends and family should help!
  • Submitted all of my forms to York InternationalI’ve applied for YIMA (York International Mobility Award) and submitted all of the relevant forms 10 days before the due date (Procrastination? Never heard of her…).

What’s left to do…

  • Pack.
  • Go on leave.
  • Figure out what I’m gonna do with my phone.
  • Say goodbye (temporarily) to my friends and family. This is my first time leaving the nest and living on my own for the first time (unless you count my short stint of living with roommates during Explore)
  • Work out so I can get in shape for my instagram photos year abroad.
  • A whole bunch of things I haven’t thought of yet.

Final thoughts

It’s weird to think that I’m more than halfway through realizing my dream of studying abroad. I promised myself even before starting my first year at Glendon that an exchange, even just for a semester, was a must, no ifs, ands, or buts. University is a place to try new things, and I figured that this is the perfect time to seize an opportunity like this, I’m young, full of energy and have so much potential. The reality is, there’s nothing holding me back from being stuck in Toronto – the world is my oyster.

Talk to you next Monday!

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Feature photo: National Geographic