Laura Bingham

BSc Geography - Study Abroad

Inspiring Stories

Having heard the experiences of a family friend who had studied abroad in Canada, Laura Bingham was determined to do so herself. “A family friend was visiting from Canada and we got speaking about his life there, and all of the amazing things he’d done and seen,” she says. “Speaking to him really inspired me to go to Canada for myself one day. I ordered various prospectuses, and was surprised to find Lancaster’s BA Geography/ North America degree. This was particularly due to the fact that it was just a three year course, rather than a four year course that other universities such as Birmingham offered. I ended up going to the University of Calgary, Canada.”

Excellent Course Structure

Laura found the teaching methods of the University of Calgary to be highly conducive to her preferred style of learning. “The modules were broken down into tiny assignments, so every fortnight you’d have a piece of work which was worth 10% of the module, for instance,” she says. “We also had small exams called ‘midterms’. Although it seemed a little bit overwhelming to have midterms, I thought that they were useful as they broke the course content down into distinct sections, and when it came to the final exams, all of my revision for the midterms was stuck in my head. The class sizes were also small, and there was a personal aspect to the lectures.”

Exciting Activities

Whilst studying in Canada, Laura made sure to take full advantage of the wealth of extra-curricular activities on offer. “I made the most of my time by trying to get my work done in the week and keeping my weekends free,” she says. “I joined the Outdoor Adventures Society, a society on campus that would carpool to the Rockies on weekends, and we’d go on hikes varied in difficulty. It was really cheap to do this, as we’d just pay the driver for the petrol and we were around an experienced group of hikers. It was also a really good way to meet people.”

Laura also visited some famous Canadian destinations during her time abroad, and enjoyed following the local sporting scene. “My friends and I travelled to Vancouver. We explored and had the best time checking out the sites,” she says. “Other parts of the local culture included jumping on the ice-hockey bandwagon and becoming Calgary Flames fans.”

A Life-Changing Experience

Laura feels that her experience studying abroad in Canada has moulded her into the person she is today. “Studying abroad has changed my life completely! Before I went abroad I had no confidence in myself and felt down a lot of the time,” she says. “Going to Canada opened my eyes and forced me to talk to new people, try new things and really build myself as a person. It has definitely shaped who I am today. Sometimes you’ll think that you can’t handle things or would like to go home, but studying abroad helped me to develop strength of character and willpower, so now I feel like I could handle most things and get through anything. One of the best things about studying abroad is having the freedom and opportunity to develop yourself as a person. In a way it was a completely new slate for me and a chance to become anything that I wanted.”

Aiding Employability

Studying abroad can help graduates stand out in relation to their peers, and shows employers that they are willing to try new things and adapt to new environments. “The personal benefits of my year abroad include that I always have something to talk about during job interviews,” Laura explains. “I think that employers like to hear about your year abroad, as they can then determine that you’re a self-sufficient person with the skills to cope outside of your usual comfort zone.” Laura’s experience in Canada also helped her during the remainder of her degree in Lancaster. “The academic benefits of studying abroad were considerably greater than expected,” she says. “In my third year, I based my dissertation on things that I observed in Canada, and then proceeded to write 2/3 essays on Canada based on the knowledge that I had gained from being abroad.”

Advice for Students

When asked whether she had advice for prospective students considering a study abroad option, Laura’s answer was certain. “Definitely do it!” she says. “I was nervous at first, but settled in after a short period of time. I barely felt homesick, and met the most amazing people, which quickly wiped away any sad feelings.

“The whole study abroad team were very helpful, and although you do worry about all of the logistics before you go, such as sorting your phone out or finding your way around, but you just step up to the plate and live your dream over there,” she continues. “You’ll miss it when you’re back, that’s for sure!”

Looking to the Future

Laura enjoyed her time studying in Canada so much that she has decided she would like to move there for her future career, after travelling further. “Even though I would like to study abroad in other countries, there’s only one place that I’d want to return to and that’s Canada,” she says. “I really set my heart on the country and the people. If someone booked me a flight tomorrow, I wouldn’t even think about it, I’d just drop all of my stuff and go!”