Mathematics student by a lake

Nicole Mason

Where did you go for your year abroad?

I studied at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada.

Why did you want to spend a year studying abroad?

I wanted to live in a different country, meet people from around the world and study at a different institution. Also, with final year dawning, I wanted extra time to travel and consider what career I wanted to pursue before committing myself to a graduate scheme.

What were the best or most memorable experiences you had?

I had so many amazing experiences on my year abroad; seeing the northern lights in Yellowknife, playing broomball on a frozen lake and seeing the Niagara Falls are just a few! The best times were those spent with friends in the mountains hiking and snowshoeing. However, I was also spent lots of time with my Canadian friend and family over the holidays doing typical Canadian activities which I loved. Nonetheless, the most memorable experience was my first solo trip to Vancouver sightseeing and whale watching as it highlighted how far I had grown in self-confidence by studying abroad.

What were the key differences between studying your subject at Leeds and at your host institution?

There were lots of differences between studying at Leeds and Calgary. Overall it was much more intense as you are continually assessed throughout the semester through midterms, quizzes, reports, and assignments. Other differences were most of my classes were small and held in classrooms, there was no lecture capture and some classes started at 8 am or finished at 10 pm! The main shock, however, was the lack of a break between teaching and exams however this did mean you could relax and travel over the holidays. Despite the heavy workload, in general, I really enjoyed my studies at Calgary due to the smaller supportive classes, the natural disasters modules I studied and less pressure during finals as they were only worth 40-50% of your final mark.

Has studying abroad changed your outlook on your course or your career ambitions?

Studying abroad definitely changed my perspective on my course and Leeds as a university. Now I appreciate how structured classes are, the support given with exams as well as the consistency of teaching style, difficulty and grade boundaries across courses making it easier to achieve good marks. In terms of careers since studying abroad, I’ve been applying for graduate schemes which offer employees the chance to work abroad. This is because I’m eager to travel and have realized that spending time living like a local in a country is much more rewarding than a jam-packed week sightseeing as a tourist.

Do you have any advice for students considering studying abroad?

Just go! It’s such an amazing opportunity which you’re not likely to get again. Admittedly leaving your friends and family to travel to a foreign country is scary but by doing so you’ll return with lots of memories and friends from around the world. I’d encourage you to save as much as possible beforehand so that you can travel to all the places you want to. Also, speak to past students who have studied at the university you are interested in as they can give you helpful information on accommodation, transport, trips to go on etc.