Courtney Knights (BA'11)

A day in the life

Courtney Knights (BA'11)

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I took classes in Spanish, French, Poli-Sci, Philosophy, Classics, and Theatre. With so much choice, I was able to make an educated decision about what I really enjoy, rather than getting to fourth year and realizing I picked the wrong field.

Life-changing experiences

Though Courtney Knights grew up in Burlington, Ont., she often replies “Halifax, Nova Scotia” when asked where she’s from. “I love the character of Halifax—it’s my ‘home away from home.’”

But the recent graduate is making a new home in Switzerland, where she’ll soon begin a master’s degree at the University of Bern. “It’s a little nerve racking,” Courtney admits. “But I’m more excited than anything!”

Before her move, Courtney had already done a semester-long student exchange in Dijon, France. “I can honestly say it was the best and most life-changing experience of my four years at Dal,” she says. “I learned a lot and met a lot of great people—including my boyfriend!” 

She credits Dal staff and faculty with helping her get to Switzerland. “Academic preparations aside, the tireless support I received during my master’s application process was phenomenal,” Courtney says. “Dal profs and staff gave me any help they could offer.”

But just being at Dal helped her prepare on a more personal level. “I’m glad I chose a university that wasn’t close to home,” she says. “I learned a sense of independence.”

That too helped her prepare for Switzerland: “If I could navigate a new city and university campus, make new friends, and set up a new apartment and job once, why not do it again overseas?”

Plus, there’s the European Studies program itself. For one thing, Courtney fulfilled the program’s language requirements by taking several French and Spanish courses, some of which she says were “spectacular.”

In one Spanish course, “Many people were nervous, myself included,” she recalls. “But before the class really got rolling, the prof said, ‘If you all spoke perfect Spanish, you wouldn’t be here. You WILL make mistakes, and that’s good—that’s how you learn.’”

“I had one of those light-bulb moments,” Courtney says, adding she then became more comfortable speaking. And acceptance of making mistakes surely comes in handy when adapting to a new country and culture.

But something else about the European Studies program may have encouraged Courtney to take risks in following her dreams. “You’re allowed to choose courses from almost any department,” she explains. “That kind of freedom can be a bit daunting, but at the end of the day, you can get a better feel for what you really want to do.”

Photo: Courtney Knights