I am studying at McMaster University in Canada. Perhaps as a result of their continuous form of assessment (which I wrote about previously), they have a reading week each semester. As it is in the middle of the semester, as long as you are on top of work there is no need to be stressing about finals as you do in Leeds during that week off before exams start. This makes it the perfect opportunity to travel for us exchange students.
My first reading week came around surprisingly quickly, at the beginning of October – less than two months after my arrival. Having just started to get settled, we did not have a huge amount of time to plan what we were going to do. Myself and a few friends from Leeds decided to venture to Québec. We had heard lots about Montréal and managed to find relatively cheap train tickets – only encouraging us further.
From the very beginning, our journey to the next province was evident. A combination of the colours, layout of the city, rustic feel and switch to French as the dominant language made it feel like we were back in Europe. From doing a food tour, to experiencing the light show at night and seeing the view from the top of the Parc Du Mont Royal, it truly was a brilliant trip.
In the recent February reading week, I was lucky enough to join the McMaster Outdoor Club (MOC) on their trip to the Grand Canyon. This was a bit more adventurous than the previous reading week but beyond worth it. As someone who loves the outdoors, I was excited to spend a week hiking and camping to the base of the Canyon, where we would find ourselves sleeping under the stars beside the Colorado River, before making our way back up again. As well as being an incredible experience, the trip was also a great way of meeting new people. Long and short of it, don’t be afraid to do things independently!
It is hard to explain some of the views and nature we got to experience – I truly believe everyone should grasp any opportunity they get to go on a similar trip! As well as the hike, the trip also incorporated a stop in Chicago on the way, before a night in Las Vegas on the way home. Definitely an experience I didn’t see myself having on my year in Canada!
The reading weeks you will get in Canada are the perfect time to travel. Make sure you keep this in mind and get on top of your work in order to make the most of them! Keep an eye on the University clubs too, I cannot imagine being able to plan something like the Grand Canyon trip without them and it was something I would have hated to miss in retrospect!
Written by Hannah Ramalingam – McMaster University, Ontario, Canada