Study Abroad Reflection: Charlotte Marquand

Alyssa Skvarla
Tuesday 21 May 2019

With summertime right in sight, we begin to forget just how cold and dark the past winter was. St Andrews is far enough north to be hit by long days of darkness, and it’s cozy spot next to the North Sea guarantees icy winds through the winter months (and maybe a little longer). Now that we’re heading into long summer nights and warm afternoons that don’t require a thick coat to endure a walk around town, we prepare for happier, brighter days. It is these kind of days that let us think about the seasons that have passed.

Charlotte Marquand spent the past year studying abroat at University of Toronto, and though climatized to St Andrews’ weather, she was shocked by the true Canadian winter. In her reflection, she talks about withstanding -23oC, along with other extraordinary experiences. I’m sure she is embracing the promise of sunlight and warmth, and this has allowed her to write this excellent reflection.

Toronto skyline“I have been lucky enough to spend my third year studying geography at the University of Toronto.  I arrived in Toronto in August 2018 and was both nervous and excited because this was my first time travelling alone and living abroad.  However, I soon settled in and my time here has flown by!  I found it very important to get involved in the many activities at U of T, especially those organised by U of T’s Centre for International Experience (CIE), which helped me to meet other students, both exchange and current U of T students.  I have made some amazing friends whilst here and have plans to meet some of them when they visit the UK!


The St George Campus, where I have been studying, is located right in the city of Toronto and big city life has been a significantly different experience to student life St Andrews.  I live in a student residence very close to campus, roughly a 10-minute walk from the main U of T campus buildings, with an amazing view over the city from the top floor!

Before going on my year abroad, I had been told to expect a larger volume of work than I was used to, but I still underestimated the amount of work I would get.  Almost every week I had multiple assignments to complete, which was admittedly quite overwhelming, especially during my first few weeks in September.  However, I quickly got used to the different style of university teaching and the workload became more manageable.  I took five courses per semester and as U of T is such a large university, there are many courses to choose from and I have loved the variety.  This has been an amazing opportunity to broaden my academic experience.

Outside the classroom, Toronto is a fantastic, multicultural city to live in.  I was shocked at how cold it got here during January the temperature dropped to minus 23oC with plenty of snow. This was the coldest weather that I have ever experienced, and I think the coldest my face, hands and feet have ever felt!

Niagra falls in winter

Some of my Canadian highlights have included experiencing my first baseball, ice hockey and football games.  At the football I was part of a group of international students asked to hold a huge Canadian flag on the field during the national anthem!  I don’t think you can get any more Canadian than that!  I have also been able to see the city from the vantage point of the CN Tower, visit Toronto Islands, Niagara Falls and Dundas Peak, as well as taking advantage of the many museums and festivals that happen in the city, including the Toronto International Film Festival, Nuit Blanche and of course the Christmas market!  At the end of my second semester and exams, I am heading to Calgary to explore Banff National Park.


I would highly recommend studying abroad to anyone interested.  It is challenging at times, but I have certainly benefited hugely from my time abroad and will be returning home more experienced, independent and confident than before.  The work has been very interesting and well taught.  I have had a fantastic time in Toronto; I have been encouraged to be braver and more adventurous whilst making some unforgettable memories and the whole experience has further fuelled my desire to travel even more in the future!”

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