Exchange Prep Update

Remember when I said in my first exchange-related post that I predict an abundance of lists? Well I can safely say that’s completely accurate! I have physical lists, and virtual lists, and lists in my head, and by some strange sorcery some of them have actually gotten longer. I’m going to say that this is a good thing, because it means I’m somewhat organized and slowly getting things done!

Screen Shot 2017-07-20 at 7.39.07 PM
You don’t even want to know how long this list is… or that there are at least two more like it…

I can publish this blog post now because as of this past Monday everything paperwork-related was due, so you could say I’m in the home stretch now. I’ve filled out the emergency contact forms, the waiver forms, the scholarships forms, the ROCA forms, the course credit forms, the OSAP forms – did I mention there are a lot of forms? I’ve also gotten my courses figured out, both in Canada and the UK. I had to enrol in two courses here so that I pay tuition to York, and I’ve had my course selection confirmed at OBU. The final step will be face-to-face enrolment, but that doesn’t happen until I get to Oxford. If you’re at all interested, these are the courses I’ll be taking this year:

  • French B1 and B2 (yes, yes I know I speak French but I haven’t taken a French grammar course in a few years so here’s my chance)
  • Deep History (I’m super excited to take history again)
  • Museums and Society (doesn’t this sound interesting?!)
  • Introduction to Social Anthropology (I’ve never taken an anthropology course, but I was actually considering majoring in it at one point so now’s my chance!)
  • Introduction to Environmental Geography (I’ve already taken a lot of geography classes but I love it too much to pass it up)
  • Introduction to Japanese Society and Culture (I know very little of Japanese culture, so this one really caught my eye)
  • Geography of the Oxford Region (okay, at this point I might be taking advantage of the fact that I’m only taking elective credits… but still!)

I am so looking forward to this year, even on my courses alone!

The other thing I’ve gotten sorted out is where I’ll be living for the next 9-ish months. I applied a while back and was finally assigned a single room with an en-suite bathroom in the residence building I was hoping for, so I’m extremely happy (or ‘chuffed’ as the Brits say)! I’ll be living and sharing a kitchen with 4 or 5 other people, all with their own rooms and bathrooms, and because we all put our Facebook link in the application we’ve all been able to connect already! I’m the only North American, and then there are people from England, Spain, and Germany which is so cool to me. I’ve paid the deposit and ordered a bedroom kit (sheets, pillow, duvet, etc.) that will be there when I arrive, so I don’t have to bring anything with me or find stuff on my own, and then I think I’ll probably buy cheap kitchen supplies at whatever the British equivalent of the dollar store is. Having my accommodation figured out is a huge weight off my shoulders, so now I can concentrate on arguably the most important thing – my visa.

Supposedly it’s a 20 minute walk from residence to campus – a bit longer than I’m used to!

Okay, I knew the application for a study visa would be intense, but I really wasn’t expecting this. I’m a simple Canadian university student who just wants to spend a year studying in England – I promise! There are so many questions about me, my family, my travel history of the past decade, my health, my finances, everything! Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand why they have to do this, it’s just a bit overwhelming. I’ve also had to email OBU every so often to make sure I’m filling it out properly (the last thing I want is for my visa to be refused), and luckily they’re remarkably fast at replying. I’m almost finished the first, question-filled part of the application, so that leaves getting photos done, sending documents off, and then waiting for it to be processed. Apparently it takes less than a week to be processed, so there’s that to look forward to! Once I get my visa, I can finally book my flight, and then I have to pick everything up when I get to Oxford and then check in six weeks into the semester and make sure I get out on time. No one said going on exchange was easy!

So what’s left to do? A lot. My never-ending lists tell me I have some questions in need of answering (e.g. what do I do about my phone? should I open a UK bank account?), possibly some stuff in need of buying, more applications and paperwork in need of filling out, and of course the ever-present question mark reminding me that there’s probably something I’m forgetting. I also have a countdown telling me there’s 56 days left before I leave. This might seem like a long time, but it feels like only yesterday was December and I was answering the question ‘why do you want to go on exchange’ on my application!

Lauren Clewes countdown to exchange
I’m convinced this was at 80 days earlier this week

Seeing as I’m still swimming through applications, to-do lists, and work, I’m not as excited as I thought I would be at this point. That doesn’t mean I’m not feeling the anticipation – I am. I guess it just doesn’t feel completely real yet (check back in September when I’m trying to balance packing with bouncing off the walls with excitement)!

Things will really start to pick up in early September, so stay tuned for more exchange-related rambles!

x Lauren


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