As you may have read before, I had my first exchange experience in high school. I was sixteen when I first ventured off to Lyon, France. If you haven’t read that yet, feel free to check out How I Caught the Travel Bug: The Exchange. After returning to Canada, I had a finish high school. It was less than exciting. Shortly after, I ventured off to university. There was a variety of reasons that are incredibly uninteresting as to why I didn’t take a gap year.
I did as a much travelling as I could throughout university. You could say my priorities were travelling, having fun, then school. My grades reflected that. I don’t suggest doing that but hey, I was 17 and I had a fantastic time. I volunteered in Peru, I lived in the Caribbean for a few months, I backpacked through Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru. My family and I vacationed in Aruba; I visited various parts of Canada and visited Vegas. During this time I met some of the best people through school and work (I had to fund my travels some how!) that I’ll never forget.
University Exchange: Trinidad & Tobago
I was ready to embark on my second exchange during my third year of university. Keen on escaping the Canadian winter, I ended up in Trinidad and Tobago at the University of the West Indies. Travelling out of a snow storm and into +40 degree weather in a matter of hours. Having a few more travel experiences under my belt at this point and more freedom as I was an ‘adult’ I was less nervous about being away from home than I was on my first exchange.
Starting my Exchange in Trinidad & Tobago
Navigating the campus and settling in lead to mild logistical frustrations – let’s just say our orientation day wasn’t very informative. Nonetheless it was an opportunity to meet the other exchange students. They were primarily Americans, some other Canadians and some Germans with a few other nationalities sprinkled in there.
Once I learned that my classes were on a pass/fail basis and that 80% of my grade was based on a final exam, my attitude quickly shifted to great I just need to pass an exam, and I shifted into travel mode. Again I do not suggest this. It also happened to carnival season which is an amazing event that has parties and events leading up to it even a month prior! I highly suggest checking it out.
My exchange in Trinidad was an amazing experience. I was able to immerse into another culture that is so vibrant. Try amazing foods. Partake in festivals. Experience new music, camp on beaches, meet amazing new people and live completely differently.
Info & Tips:
- If you have any intentions of doing an exchange in Trinidad (or anywhere) – just do it. It’ll be one of the best experiences of your life.
- If you’re thinking of visiting Trinidad & Tobago, go during carnival season, you’ll have an amazing time!
- Check out the beaches that are a bit of a trek to get to – they’re less crowded and the most worth it.