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Canada vs. Spain – Coun­try­side vs. Beach

During her Tourism studies, Leonie spent two exchange semesters abroad. She experienced two very different cultures and gained plenty of experience along the way.

In August 2023 I went overseas for the first time in my life. Studying abroad at UoG, University of Guelph, Canada was truly something different than studying and living in Switzerland. Before going there, I thought the North American culture would be quite similar to the European one, but if we are honest, there is not one culture in Europe and there is not one culture in North America. Studying and living abroad has introduced me to so many new cultures and has broadened my mind differently, in a way that would’ve never been possible in Switzerland.

One reason why I wanted to study abroad was, to experience different teaching styles and learn to adapt to those. And I can say now that the universities are so different from what we know from Switzerland. In both countries exams are rather multiple choice based which is not as easy as it sounds because the questions are mostly asked very tricky. In Spain, you will also lose points for wrong-answered questions. What I appreciate a lot, is that I could choose the subjects myself with only a few restrictions from FHGR. Attending classes that we don’t have in Switzerland made the study abroad experience even more special and enriching for me. In Palma choosing the subjects and finding suitable ones was not as easy as in Guelph because they have only a few options for Erasmus and the International Office has less negotiation power than the one in Guelph. In both cases, I had some classes that I would not choose again but most of them I would choose again because they were very interesting and insightful. Depending on the subject I had many group projects and assignments in Palma, however, in Canada, I had mostly single assignments to do which was a nice change because I could also plan my free time better and I started solo traveling through North America. After exploring the West coast of Canada; Vancouver and Victoria, I went to Miami and finally to Mexico. All those travels gave me so much perspective and new insights. My exchange in Canada was truly eye-opening!

Cultural contrasts

I spent some freezing days in the provincial park Algonquin while I got sunburned in Palma on the prettiest beaches. Canada introduced me to country music while Spain has woken my passion for reggaeton and techno. In Canada, I started exploring nature and in Mallorca, I am continuing with hikes that have stunning views! There is one thing where Palma, well Spain in general, wins over everything – PARTY LIFE – I have had the most incredible party nights in several clubs across Spain, pool parties in Ibiza, and boat parties in Palma..

ESN - Erasmus Student Network

With an ESN Section in Palma (ESN Baleares) there is this whole community of exchange students and local people who want to connect with and help the new exchange students. I met incredible people here and made friends for life. Again, I have realized what I want in life, and more importantly, I know now where my heart belongs.

The past year was without a doubt the best year of my life. I faced some personal challenges which I could overcome by making my exchange about myself and no one else. I started focusing on myself, my needs, and my desires like never before. I have learned so many things about myself, life, and people. I will always be grateful for those experiences. Everything I’ve learned, all I’ve been through, the negative emotions, the positive emotions, and all those incredible people I’ve met!

Leonie Leuenberger is a tourism student at Fachhochschule Graubünden. She spent the fall semester at the University of Guelph in Canada and the spring semester at the Universitat de les Illes Balears Palma in Spain, both partner universities of Fachhochschule Graubünden.

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