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Photos taken by Jess

Study Abroad: ‘O Canada!’

The word ‘Canada’ can be traced back to the Spanish or Portuguese settlers. They recorded on their maps Cá nada which translates as ‘nothing here’ – and I can tell you that they were very wrong.

I have recently returned from my term abroad where I studied at the University of Ottawa, which is the capital of Canada if your geography is not too sharp. It was an unforgettable experience and every second was worth it.

By taking a semester abroad I have improved academically as I have been taught in new and refreshing ways. I have also gained more independence after moving to, and succeeding in a different country.Studying abroad has been a life changing experience and I would recommend it to anyone. I would particularly recommend Canada as its such a diverse and exciting country.

Here are just a few things that they had to offer:




I had some aims of what I wanted to see and do whilst in Canada but I never thought that I would get the opportunity to experience the extreme. In between mid-terms and assignments I managed to fit in a quick bungee jump, plus some skydiving – the scariest and most exhilarating moments of my life. Bungee jumping was so surreal, particularly bouncing back up and feeling completely weightless.

Skydiving was even greater as you are quite literally on top of the world! My tandem  partner summed it up quite nicely: “Now you know why the birds are always singing!”



Canada is quite simply beautiful. I arrived to glorious sunshine, saw the gorgeous Autumnal tones of Fall and left my new home blanketed in a good few feet of snow. I dreaded the bitterness of the Canadian Winter. Admittedly I had to wear six thick layers so that I did not succumb to temperatures of minus thirty!! But I survived and I feel the cold at the best of times so this was quite an achievement for me.

However cold, Canada was breath-taking, and never ceased to amaze me, whether it was in the city, high up in the mountains, or in the shadow of the majestic Niagara Falls, hearing their roar and feeling their spray. The wildlife also was incredible; seeing a blue whale was one of the highlights of my trip.



Some hold the presumption that Canada, most notably Ottawa, does not have that much to offer culturally, but this is false. With numerous influences from all over the world, the country has plenty to see. Walking through the old
cobbled streets of Quebec City and gaze upon the most photographed hotel in the world. Take in the inspiring view of the city skyline from the Olympic Park or have a stroll by the river in Montreal. Head to Toronto for a more urban environment and visit Ottawa if you want the whole package.


The guide books worried me saying that my prospective home had little to offer, but it was my favourite place by far. Ottawa was interspersed with English and French styled architecture and was dotted with fascinating museums that effectively portrayed Canadian history. One could relax with a walk along the Rideau Canal or spend hours exploring the little shops in the market.

Ottawa is neither the biggest city, nor the most popular but it was a perfect home. It was exciting, interesting and surprising, and I wholeheartedly would recommend anyone to travel there.



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About Jessica Freeland


One comment

  1. editor.spark@reading.ac.uk'

    Coming from Canada myself and having lived in Ottawa for two years, this article is a nice reminder of how astonishingly beautiful it can be. I’m glad that you have such a marvelous experience while you were there.

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