Moving from Canada to England – Student Exchange

Passport – Check!

Student Visa – Check!

Awful Fake British Accent – Check!

Fitting My Life Into Two pieces of Luggage – Work in progress…

Excited & Nervous At The Same Time – CHECK!

What a long strange trip it’s been… and yet,
I haven’t left Canada to start this long strange (more like AH-MAZING) trip.

What I mean by a long strange trip is the long strange process that has taken place in order for me to go across the pond and visit The Queen.

I have been planning to go on a study abroad exchange for over a year now. However, I didn’t know I wanted to spend a full school year in England until last February. My choices were limited to study abroad seeing as how I am a Film & Media Studies major; my choices were mainly England or Singapore. As a result of me being a red-head and unable to stay out in the sun past 15 mins without burning, as well as the fact that I can’t bare the hot, humid summer weather (even in Canada), I decided England was my best bet.

After getting accepted into the exchange program, excitement and stress filled the air. Was I going to be able to afford traveling to another country, let alone live there for approximately 9 months? How will I adapt to the culture? How could I leave my friends and family for almost a whole year? What do I have to do to let me into their country? WHY IS THERE SO MUCH PLANNING INVOLVED?!

With course enrolment, getting a Student Visa application completed and sending it away, as well as figuring out health, dental & travel insurance, along with bank inquiries, visas, phone contracts, and unable to afford to come home for christmas… I almost didn’t survive the summer of planning, obstacles & emails after emails. The list goes on and on…

However, I know it will all pay off. I’m going to be living in a whole different country for almost a year; experiencing, learning and traveling a part of the world I have yet to explore. This will be a year to remember.

It is currently the night before my flight from Ottawa to Heathrow (London), and only have 24 hours to pack my life into two strict, size-dimensioned suitcases and say farewell to my loved ones. I will be sad to leave them behind, but I know that this won’t be our last goodbye; just a farewell for now.

Here is a quote I was sent as a farewell and beautiful way to send me on my way: “Twenty years from now you will be more discouraged by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain

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Ryan Thomas Woods is the voice behind Out With Ryan. He’s an LGBTQ+ Advocate & Travel writer for this website and many other publications. He was recently voted Travel Influencer of Year in Canada and dedicated the award to all LGBTQ travelers making the world a better & safer space for our community, as he strives to do on his website & social platforms.


  1. Julie
    September 8, 2012 / 4:47 pm

    That is an excellent way to look at things and so true good luck and enjoy