My Outlook email pinged and I rushed to my laptop. I furiously clicked my email tab open, anxious for the message I had been waiting to read for weeks. And there it was. My acceptance letter granting me the opportunity to study abroad on the Provost Pre-Freshman Program to Montréal, Canada. I was overcome with gratitude and delight- all the while believing that that was the best feeling I had ever experienced. Little did I know, the best feeling was yet to come.
I stepped off of the tiny fifty seater airplane to the savory smell of hot, greasy, cheesy poutine and felt all five of my senses tingling. I remember the feeling of my finger tips grasping the flimsy paper airplane ticket, the sounds of the hustle and bustle in the Montréal airport, the taste of crisp Canadian air, the sight of the beautiful Red Maple leaf flag, and most importantly the delectable smell of Poutine (Quebecois dish popular across Canada) filling my yet to be cultured nostrils.
Whether it was strolling through The Jean-Talon Market (the largest fresh market I have ever seen), hiking up the Mont-Royal Mountain overlooking Montréal in its entirety, or simply having dinner at a quaint fondue restaurant in Old Montréal, every excursion felt as detailed and unforgettable as my arrival to Canada. Every day was filled with adventures. Some of my favorite memories include traveling to Ottawa (Canada’s capital) and watching the guards switch out shifts in front of Parliament, spur of the moment zip-lining across the summertime festival in Downtown Montréal while fireworks exploded overhead, the beautiful bike ride around the city ending with the sky falling out and all of us getting soaked, and most of all getting to meet all the incredible people in my group.
The 6:00 AM flight back to Tampa was brutal. I was the first one to leave and I cried the whole way home. The passengers sitting next to me on the plane thought I was crazy. They didn’t understand the life changing experience I just went through. When my mom asked me about my trip, my mood instantly changed. All the wonderful memories flooded back to me and I proceeded to spill my heart out about how fantastic everything was. The best feeling was knowing that I had that experience and no one could take that away from me.
Studying abroad allows a person to be more marketable in the professional world, create undying connections around the globe, make incredible friendships/relationships, take in a new culture and sometimes a new language, allow personal growth, and most importantly it gives you an unforgettable life experience that you can reflect on and learn from for the rest of your life. I experienced all of these benefits and I only studied abroad for a week! If I could redo this program I would in a heart beat. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made and to be honest, I am already planning my next trip to perform my undergraduate research abroad. I encourage every single student to study abroad and gain the enduring life experience like I did.
Pre-Freshman Program in Canada – Summer 2016