How Lethbridge embraced and welcomed me with open arms when I arrived on Sunday 6th September 2015, by Hamza Kazmi.

Hello there, this is my first blog post about my experience whilst on exchange in Alberta, Canada. When I went to Canada it was my first time leaving the UK on my own so at first I was slightly nervous and it is completely acceptable to feel this way. I stayed one night at a youth hostel in Calgary and took the Greyhound at 8.30am in the morning to the University of Lethbridge. The journey in total took approx. 3 hours and 30 minutes despite Calgary – Lethbridge only being 2 hours apart.

The best tips to be comfortable in my opinion are to:

  • Explore your local surroundings (campus or the neighbourhood)
  • Attend Orientation Events which will allow you to make friends and develop connections.
  • Plan your week on the first day of what you would like to do that day and share ideas with your roommates.

It was at the point when I arrived that I realised that the distances between places in Canada is mind blowing. However, when I arrived I was welcomed by the International Exchanges Co-ordinator and shown where to collect my residence key and after went along to move into the Village (picture above). When I got off the bus I did not realise until I had picked up my key that the person sitting near me on the bus was also an exchange student who came from Germany, and he will be my roommate living next door to me in the same house. So before we went over to Rez Village, Diane drove us to the nearest grocery stores and Dollar store to buy some essential items to last us couple days to help us settle in.

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The first couple of days when you will arrive in your host institution and move into residence (usually or be moving into a house off-campus) you will feel overwhelmed, but as long as you take it slowly you will soon adjust and will certainly feel at home.

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Remember though, you are all in the same boat as you are experiencing a different country and different lifestyle. The Canadians I met were super fantastic and really wanted to help you in any way they can. For example: I was given a ride whenever I needed to go to the grocery store because my roommate had a truck and I would jump in with him if he’d be going shopping.

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