From DC to Canada: An Ode to the Maple Leaf Country
March 8, 2018|Posted in: Abroad Adventures
Amelia Crabtree is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences studying Public Health. She hails from the great state of Virginia in a town called Tysons and was super excited to cross the Canadian border for the adventure a lifetime!
What do bucket hats, foggy weather, fun slang, and not one but TWO provincial dogs all have in common? Well, they’re things you can easily come by in Newfoundland! Newfoundland, home of the Broadway musical Come From Away and its own time zone (1.5 hours+ EST) was the backdrop of my fall 2017 semester.
As about 70% of my AU classmates do, I opted to study abroad during my junior year fall semester. My method of study abroad, however, was slightly different. Being a public health major left me multiple options either run by AU or through partner institutions or independent programs. I opted instead to apply for the Killam Fellowship, which is a program run through Fulbright Canada. Essentially, it is an undergraduate fellowship that sends Canadian students to U.S. universities to study for a semester or academic year and American students to Canadian institutions. In addition to a cash award, Killam fellows also receive a stipend to pay for health insurance, a cultural awareness mobility grant, and the opportunity to attend a fall orientation in Ottawa, Ontario and a spring seminar in Washington D.C.
For my fellowship, I found myself at the Memorial University of Newfoundland, the largest university in Atlantic Canada, located in St. John’s, NL. Finding myself in a province with just over half a million people which is a good bit less than the population of just DC was absolutely an adjustment. It was made easier, though, by the amazing friends I made through living in residence at MUN. I lived with (almost) all other Canadians who loved to poke fun at my “y’all” and the “silly way” I said about. We explored St. John’s together, went hiking along the East Coast Trail, and they were there to witness my “screeching in,” which is an old Newfoundland tradition of making people who weren’t born “on the Rock” honorary Newfoundlanders. I not only got a glimpse of the distinct Newfoundland culture through my friends, but also through my classes. I was able to take a history of Newfoundland class and a linguistics of Newfoundland course at MUN and both fulfilled university requirements back home at AU.
Studying abroad in Canada didn’t mean I didn’t get to engage in the classic study abroad travelling that everyone wants to do! With my Killam mobility grant, I was able to spend a weekend in Quebec City soaking in the francophone Canadian culture. I pulled out my rusty high school French skills and successfully ordered fondue, which was definitely an accomplishment I was proud of. I also spent a weekend in Halifax, Nova Scotia; visited a fellow AU Killam in Toronto, Ontario; and attended fall orientation in Ottawa, Ontario. Fall orientation, a funded trip to Ottawa with all the other Killams and in-country Fulbright students and fellows, gave me the opportunity to learn about the research Fulbrights were conducting in Canada over the next year and to meet all my fellow Killams. We also visited Parliament Hill, a couple museums, and did an indigenous walking tour of the city. This April, I will reunite with all my Killam friends back home in DC for a weekend of cross-cultural conversation and I can’t wait to hear about their exchange experiences!
While my study abroad semester certainly wasn’t conventional in that I didn’t have to get a visa, learn a new language, or leave the hemisphere, I had an incredible time. I loved getting to experience the more lecture-focused teaching style of Canadian universities, being at an enormous provincial school, and learning all about Newfoundland culture and history. I’ll be forever thankful to the AU Office of Merit Awards for guiding me during the application process and Fulbright Canada for all of their support. As they say in Newfinese, “long may your big jib draw!”