Luke Orwin

Country of origin: United Kingdom

BSc Business Studies, 2013

My Study Abroad experience in Canada was extremely eye-opening and the experience of a lifetime. I’ve learned to live thousands of miles away from home, made friends from all over the world and have a much better insight into the world.

I am originally from Leeds and moving to Lancaster made me realise how big Leeds actually is, but then moving to Toronto completely changed my perception of that. Toronto is huge, with skyscrapers pretty much everywhere forcing you to walk with your head constantly looking up.

Being the only student from Lancaster University going to Toronto meant I was well and truly independent, and it wasn’t until I got there and walked out of Toronto Pearson International Airport for the first time that I really got to grips with the situation - but it didn’t take long to adjust.

Culture shock is such a big part of studying abroad; having been thrown in at the deep end, I really enjoyed the challenge and adventure of that. From the differences in food, sports, accents and entertainment, to the weather, money, cars and people, the new challenge was a great adventure. Revelling in that really helped combat any negative aspects of culture shock, and keeping in contact with friends and family, as well as bringing a bit of home into my new home 3500 miles away, definitely helped.

The great thing about studying abroad is being joined together with other exchange students from around the world. The OACC (Open Arms Committee) organised introductory events for all the incoming exchange students. It was just amazing meeting people in the exact same situation as me but with completely different perspectives.

I made friends with people from all over Europe, South America and Asia and this really opens up your own perception of the world. Toronto is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world and has nearly all nationalities represented; showing people from all ethnic backgrounds can live together in harmony which is truly an amazing thing to see.

Academic life in Canada is also very different from the UK which really broadened my perspective on learning. Courses consisted of coursework, group work, mid-terms, and finals at the end of each term, spreading out the course assessment over the terms. The professors were also really engaging, mainly due to the lectures being no bigger than 50 students or less, making it easy to be involved. The lectures were also split up into either one-and-a-half hours or long three-hour lectures, making my timetable about twelve hours a week and pretty much everyone having Fridays off. This structure gives a lot of free time over Christmas to go travelling and fully explore Toronto and Canada.

York University is a huge university with over 40,000 students, making it much bigger than Lancaster. There was also so much to do on campus with an ice hockey ring, tennis stadium, American football stadium, shopping mall, and sports centre (free for students!). In the city I got to see the Toronto Maple Leafs (hockey), Blue Jays (basketball), and even Toronto FC play LA Galaxy with David Beckham! With the CN Tower, ice skating outside the City Hall, countless museums, Toronto Zoo and Niagara Falls nearby, there were endless things to do in Toronto alone!

Study Abroad is an amazing opportunity, and the experience has rounded me into more of a global individual with a different perception of the world. I have adapted to change and to a new culture as well as becoming a much more confident and independent person - which are all ideal assets when applying for graduate jobs.

Upon my return to Lancaster, I joined the Study Abroad Society and became a Study Abroad ambassador – aiming to encourage other students to take up this once in a lifetime opportunity, as well as helping incoming Study Abroad students who are currently experiencing the same thing here at Lancaster.

I would recommend Study Abroad to anyone and hope they too revel in such a unique opportunity.

Wanting to see more of the world, Luke decided to take a gap year working in Australia once he had completed his degree.