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Post-exchange to-do list

Posted by Chloë Grande on March 19, 2014 @ 06:00 p.m. EDT
Tags: Post-exchange

Welcome back to Queen’s. It’s cold, wet and the sidewalks are slicked with ice. After a semester abroad, readjusting back to the Canadian winter is no easy feat. Kingston may not be lined with Parisian cafés or nestled in the Swiss Alps, but it does have its charms. From postcard writing to pubs, here are some ways to settle back in after exchange:

Revisit Canadian favourites
Whether it’s a Timmy’s coffee to-go or a deep-fried BeaverTail, there are some foods so engrained in Canadian culture that it wouldn’t feel right eating them anywhere else but here. Peanut butter, Kraft Dinner and late-night poutine also top my list of comfort snacks.

Make friends with exchanges students at Queen’s
The International Programs Office (IPO) and Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC) both offer resources for connecting returning and current exchange students with networking nights, social programs and ... Read more...

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Exchange Diaries: The final countdown

Posted by Chloë Grande on December 12, 2013 @ 12:09 p.m. EST
Tags: Exchange Diaries. Christmas, Lyon, Travel

The final countdown is on. With two weeks to go, there’s just enough time left to cram in some last-minute sightseeing and travelling. Luckily for me (and my budget), I won’t have to go far to see one of the largest festivals in France this weekend.

The Festival of Lights, which attracts over three million visitors a year, takes place in none other than Lyon. From what I’ve heard, it’s an event well worth checking out. For four nights, historical buildings across the city are showcased with elaborate lighting, video and musical displays. It’s no wonder that Lyon’s been nicknamed “the City of Lights.”

Another local attraction I’m planning to explore is the Christmas markets in Lyon. More than anything, I’m looking forward to sampling all sorts of food – roasted chestnuts, hot wine and German-style fried potatoes especially. The markets feature local artisans and Christmas decorations galore. ... Read more...

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Holiday abroad in Canada

Posted by Jessica Chong on December 5, 2013 @ 06:00 p.m. EST
Tags: exchange students, holidays, Montreal, Quebec, Toronto

Traveling can be the perfect reward after term papers and exam studying. I remember when I was studying abroad at the castle in first year, the looming decision was whether to stay over the holiday break and travel or go back home and visit my family.

I started to wonder whether traveling in Canada had the same appeal that Europe had for me – so I spoke with three exchange students, Melanie Braith from the University of Konstanz in Germany, Lena Ilg from the University of Tuebingen in Germany and Alice Marechal from Sciences Po in France, to find out how they`ll be spending their holiday break in Canada:

Q: What`s the most Canadian thing you`ve experienced so far?

Braith: Eating poutine was one of the most Canadian things … I’ve never heard of it. I’ve never seen of it, and when I heard about it I thought, “That must ... Read more...

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Exchange Diaries: The Canadian reputation

Posted by Chloë Grande on November 27, 2013 @ 12:57 p.m. EST
Tags: Canada, France, Lyon

The French love Canada. I knew we had a fairly respectable reputation abroad, but I seem to have underestimated how positively Canadians are perceived.

Take this encounter, for instance:

While strolling down the Champs-Élysées in Paris this weekend, I stopped by a crêpe vendor for lunch. The vendor casually asked where I was from and I told him Canada (clearly my camera and backpack were an obvious indication that I was a tourist). I don’t think I’d ever seen a reaction as enthusiastic as his. “Canada? That’s amazing!” I could see from his huge grin that he was genuinely excited. “I love that country! That’s so interesting!” Each time I see such a positive reaction, I’m filled with Canadian pride. Yet it also sparks a tinge of homesickness. Even though I’m enjoying my time here, there are things I miss about Canada. Family, friends, Thanksgiving, Homecoming and poutine, to name ... Read more...

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Exchange Diaries: A vegetarian in Hong Kong

Posted by Brindan Baskaran on November 25, 2013 @ 08:01 p.m. EST
Tags: Exchange Diaries, Hong Kong, Vegetatrian

For those who don’t know me, I’m a vegetarian.

My maternal grandfather, who I’ve never met before, became a vegetarian in the name of animal rights during a time when the animal rights movement wasn’t as prevalent as it is today. Therefore, my mother was raised a vegetarian from day one, which led to my sister and I being raised the same way. Even my dad, a devoted meat eater, made an independent decision to become a herbivore about 15 years ago.

So, there are only two hurdles preventing me from becoming an omnivore: One, I find it a little gross to eat (though I have no problem staring at the carcasses hanging on the streets of Hong Kong), and more importantly, my body just won’t accept it. It’s true. About two months ago, I had quite a bit of chicken (because I was assured it was fake chicken, even ... Read more...

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Exchange Diaries: Reaching the halfway point

Posted by Chloë Grande on November 10, 2013 @ 01:26 p.m. EST
Tags: Cuisine, France, Lyon, Spain


Chloe Grande is in France on exchange for the upcoming year. She will be sharing her experience as a regular contributor for QJBlogs.

The halfway mark hit me hard. On Oct. 22, I realized that I only had two short months left in France. With exactly 61 days left, I still had so much to cram in. Among other things, I wanted to meet more French people, eat raclette and visit Paris. Meeting French people is easier said than done. In my classes, I’m surrounded by English-speaking students. Last week, however, I attended Franglish – a conversation exchange event that matches native English speakers with French ones. You spend seven minutes speaking in both languages with each person. Although I was nervous to begin, the event turned out to be a confidence booster. I received compliments on my French ... Read more...

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Exchange Diaries: Campus differences

Posted by Chloë Grande on October 21, 2013 @ 11:30 a.m. EDT
Tags: campus, Jean Moulin, Lyon


I’ve vowed to never complain about having an 8:30 a.m. class again. As luck would have it, my course schedule here in Lyon consists of four days in a row of 8 a.m. classes. Although the 30-minute time difference may not sound like much, it makes all the difference in the wee morning hours – especially when trekking 20 minutes to campus.

I’ve come to learn that the class starting time isn’t the only thing differentiating my university experience in Lyon from Queen’s. For starters, a typical class runs for three hours, once a week. Instead of breaking down classes into shorter lectures, the French seem to prefer testing the endurance of a student’s attention span.

Fortunately, we’re given a break halfway through class. It’s during this time that students and professors alike make a mad dash for the beverage vending machines. ... Read more...

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The "real" British experience: BISC vs. Warwick

Posted by Jessica Chong on October 10, 2013 @ 09:01 p.m. EDT
Tags: Abroad, BISC, England, Travel, Warwick

An experience to be had is inarguably on exchange, where the value of education forms from more than in-classroom teachings and scholarly readings.

I recall the excitement I felt boarding the plane for the Bader International Study Centre (BISC) – my first trans-Atlantic flight – which left me giddy with anticipation to absorb the quirks, cuisine and posh clothing of British culture.

Yet, anyone who has attended the BISC harbours the knowledge that the experience isn’t an authentic immersion into British culture, especially when you’re around other Queen’s students and distant from London in the East Sussex countryside. Attending an English university would have inevitably created completely different travel experiences and memories.

So I sat down with Shelene Satar, ArtSci ’14, to hear her differing experiences from studying at the BISC in first year and at Warwick University in third year:

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Exchange Diaries: Learning the local culture

Posted by Chloë Grande on October 7, 2013 @ 10:14 a.m. EDT
Tags: Exchange Diaries, France, Lyon, Travel

Chloe Grande is in France on exchange for the upcoming year. She will be sharing her experience as a regular contributor for QJBlogs.

Before I left, a typical conversation about my exchange to Lyon usually involved me repeating the name of the city several times and a lot of blank stares. I’d say the name a little slower and hope for a spark of recognition. To be fair, though, I didn’t know much about the city before, either.

I arrived in Lyon knowing two things about the city: a) it was the gastronomical capital of France and b) it was two hours away from Paris by train. I knew other details of course — it was a university city, located close to the Swiss border and the second largest city in France — but I was completely oblivious to Lyon’s rich historical and cultural traditions.

As I learned in ...

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Exchange Diaries: Hong Kong, a month later

Posted by Brindan Baskaran on October 3, 2013 @ 11:14 p.m. EDT
Tags: Hong Kong, Travel

It’s been a month since I’ve arrived in Hong Kong and I feel as if it might all be an illusion – maybe I’ll wake up one day and I’ll find myself in Kingston, an hour away from an 8:30 lecture. Nevertheless, it’s the real deal… I’m half way around the world.

Since I got here, I’ve been mesmerized by all the sights, sounds and flavours of this place. Some have been positive, some were sightly sour, but all were eyeopening. It would take too long to share all my with you, but let me take you through the biggest differences I’ve noticed between my life here and my life in Canada.

1.Tall, narrow, and crowded

The title says it all… everything is tall, narrow and crowded. Hong Kong is very small, but has the task of fitting over seven million people in its space. These two factors result in ... Read more...

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