Michael Schenck

from the University of Leeds, England

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The people are remarkable, never before has a stereotype been more accurate; they are all so polite, friendly and welcoming.

Why Halifax, Nova Scotia? 
In my life the phrase ‘I had no idea what to expect’ has never been more applicable than when I found out I was coming to Halifax.

I did my research and read a lot online, but I didn’t actually know anyone who’d been to Nova Scotia before never mind Halifax so first-hand advice wasn’t really available to me. Although that sounds terrifying as I’m writing it, I could only be excited because my expectations were completely open, and I couldn’t wait to make my own unique experience. The best piece of advice I can give to anyone who’s in the amazing position of having a year or semester abroad to look forward to (in any country not just Canada) is to expect to get homesick. I’m a very familial person and this hit me quite hard. It doesn’t really sound like a positive thing to say but I don’t know anyone who hasn’t gone through it – the trick is to not let it overcome you.

What do you like about Dal?
There are so many amazing things going on here all the time that are just waiting for you to get involved in and it doesn’t matter how bad you’re feeling, the only way to really get past it is to get out there and make the memories you came here to make (no matter how cheesy that sounds).

What did you like about Halifax?
Halifax itself is a beautiful city, I was amazed by how warm it was when I first got here in September but don’t let that fool you, the cold and the rain and the snow will all follow eventually. A lot was said to me about how much it rains here but being from the U.K. I’d say this is a pretty dry city – we get nowhere near the amount of snow though (and I’m told this is a mild winter!). I’m so happy my mum bought me a Russian-style hat to prepare me for it.

The city is really easy to navigate if you look around and familiarise yourself with everything as early as possible; with the buses regular and taxis ubiquitous. I recommend finding out any and all places that sell poutine – probably the thing I’ve grown most attached to since I got here as there’s nothing more satisfying than a big box of chips (fries for the non-British), cheese and gravy after a night out.

What was life like at Dalhousie?
The people are remarkable, never before has a stereotype been more accurate; they are all so polite, friendly and welcoming. In terms of the university itself, Dalhousie is great. The set-up is completely different to what I’m used to back home doing English and Theatre, with the class format being more like what I had in high school, as opposed to the massive lectures accompanied by smaller workshops/seminars/tutorials I have at University.

Assessment is different as well, back home I will get maybe an essay or two plus an exam per class and that’s it. Here I get smaller assignments which are worth less of the overall mark but I get given them more regularly. The willing helpfulness of the staff helped this transition massively; you’ve just got to remember to take advantage of it.

There’s a real sense of community at Dal, everyone’s in it together, just take a look at Yik Yak while you’re here and you’ll see exactly what I mean.

Any advice?
Being here has been one of the biggest challenges of my life, but it has also been one of the most rewarding, I couldn’t recommend it more because it’s an opportunity that won’t come around again. Just remember to stop, lift your head up and take a minute to appreciate where you are every day, because although a year or a semester seems like a long time, when you’re in the thick of it, it really isn’t – what’s that old saying?