The Catharsis of Moving

Moving to Scotland for university has always been my dream, even more, it’s been part of my grand plan. Of course, you can’t just dream and make it happen, it takes a lot more work than that.

I wouldn’t say that I’m a particularly courageous person. Just the other day I accidentally cut my finger with a knife and pretty much passed out. What I am however, is determined. Once I get something in my head, I make a plan and see if it’s feasible. Heck, it might not be feasible, but I’ll probably plan for it anyways. Moving wasn’t a matter of having enough courage to live three thousand miles away from my friends and family. It was a matter of fulfilling a promise I’d made to myself through years of hard work and determination. So when I stood in front of the ‘#mtlmoments’ sign at the airport on September 16th 2014, I was ready to claim my reward. However, It wasn’t just years of hard work I was rewarding myself for. It was for making it through years of feeling “other”, my parents separation and the recent death of my grandparents. While people had a lot to do with making me want to leave my home, I couldn’t have done it without the support and love of many individuals.

My Last #mtlmoment

My Last #mtlmoment

The flight itself wasn’t very eventful. We’d been upgraded to first class at the check in desk, which was a lovely surprise. I’d planned to make myself a whole playlist for the seven hour flight to Heathrow, but in the end, I only chose two songs: “Goodbye England (Covered in Snow)” by Laura Marling and “Born To Run” by Bruce Springsteen. I tend to come up with nice little ideas, but don’t always have the time to fully complete them. While I kind of ran out of time with the playlist (literally syncing the songs onto my iPhone an hour before leaving my house), I only really needed those two songs. They captured the bittersweetness of leaving home, and also how ready I was to move. After a short flight from Heathrow to Glasgow, my mum and I made it to our hotel exhausted.

The following day, I met up with a few of my new classmates and we went to Byre’s Road in the West End to scour the charity shops for plates, cups, cutlery and other cheap essentials.

So much thrift shopping!

So much thrift shopping!

I made it a point to purchase a pair of tea cups and saucers. I couldn’t possibly live in the UK and not own a proper tea set!

Nothing more British than afternoon tea!

Nothing more British than afternoon tea!

It was a great way to meet some of my new classmates – we got to know each other over cups of hot chocolate afterwards. I could tell right away that I’d finally met people who were a lot like me.

Almost six months later and I still feel the same way about my classmates. I’m so lucky to be in an amazing programme, with people who I work so well with. Sure, we aren’t always going to agree and yes, we are competitive, but it brings out the best work in all of us.

Am I still happy that I moved so far away from home? Yes, without a doubt, it’s been the best decision of my life. Leaving home and getting a fresh start was cathartic. I wouldn’t say I’ve grown as a person, but I finally feel like I can be myself. Back home, people saw my potential, but in Glasgow, I’m proving myself by pursuing my dreams.

So my advice? Don’t be frightened of taking chances. If you are thinking about going to university far from home, do it! You won’t be alone in being new and in the process you’ll learn more about the world and yourself.

I’m Back!

It’s been more than half a year since my last post. But, there is plenty of new content coming! Since my last entry, I have moved to Glasgow, Scotland to pursue a bachelor’s degree at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Digital Film and Television. I’ve learnt tons, watched tons and have managed a fair bit of traveling around the country. I’ve also made some amazing friends and have been taught by incredible people. This blog, in partnership with a Youtube channel where I post vlogs, will chronicle my university experience for any curious minds out there!

Here’s to a hopefully well documented three years!

Just moved in!

Emily

Old Montreal // New Memories

Once a year, two of my friends and I go on a pilgrimage to Montreal’s China Town to appreciate the culmination of the island’s Chinese culture. We stuffed ourselves with vegetarian dumplings, Dragon Beard candies and Bubble tea. Happily satiated we continued our journey into Old Montreal, the historic cartier of the city.

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 Unfortunately, most of China Town was under construction while we were there so I didn’t get any photos of the area. Hopefully these dumplings and scallion pancakes will satisfy! 

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I’m never disappointed when I visit Old Montreal. With a European air, cobblestone streets and delicious food trucks, it’s always a pleasure to be there. My friends and I took pictures in Place D’Armes, in front of the Notre Dame Basilica where Celine Dion got married and the monument fountain dedicated to Montreal’s Founder, Paul de Chomedey. 

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While on our way to the water front, we passed by the Cours Le Royer. I pulled my friends over so that we could take a closer look. I felt like I was in Paris! Surrounded by converted warehouses, now made into apartments, the area had small water fountains and benches, acting as a quite get-away from the busy streets nearby.

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We made it a goal to take pictures at all the MTL MOMENT signs we could find. Located all over the city, the picture frames allow you to take a cute photo with a scenic Montreal background behind you. The two we found were located in Place Jacques-Cartier, surrounded by artist street vendors and one in the Old Port, with a view of the Cirque de Soleil tents behind it. 

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This past winter my boyfriend and I went ice skating on the canal. It was absolutely beautiful! Returning with my friends, I was even more impressed with the calm nature of the park. You can rent pedal boats on the canal or lounge on the grass while admiring the view of the Bonsecours Market. We bumped into friendly tourists from New York and Shanghai who though it was cool that we were having a tourist day in our own city. We explained that since one of my friends and I are both going to university outside of the province, we wanted to make the most of what we had here in our city.  

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It was a great way to appreciate the city I call home and a wonderful way to spend time with my friends. I can’t wait to have my next adventure!

A Rough Application Timeline for UCAS or CUKAS

~ Know the key dates for applications to UCAS and CUKAS ~

One Year or More before Applying:  

You might have known what you want to study since the age of six and already have your life plan completed, but for the majority of people who don’t, it’s important to leave yourself enough time to change your mind and discover what it is you want to do. This is a good time to begin researching various universities, programs and determining what you need to do in order to be accepted. During this time you should also begin researching scholarships and financial aid programs offered by the universities that interest you.

Nine Months:

By this time you should have a clearer picture of the programs and universities where you are intending to apply and what you will need to do in order to complete your application. Find out if you will need to create a portfolio, attend interviews or auditions or sit some standardized tests.

Six Months:

 With six months to go before the application deadline, you might feel like you still have loads of time. However, it is a good idea to begin brainstorming and writing your personal statement. Your personal statement is your way of selling yourself to admissions and distinguishing yourself from other candidates. You want to be original and appear to be the type of student the school wants. You also want to give yourself plenty of time to make corrections and let others, like parents or academic advisors, take a look and give you some feedback. 

Three Months: 

Prepare to send your marks to date. This might be a little confusing if you are from overseas. Contact the universities you are applying to and ask how they would like to receive your marks. You might be asked to calculate your average and enter it in the Education and Marks section on the application. However, they might ask you to send or scan your transcripts to them directly. If this is the case, you will need to dig up the transcripts you require before sending them in. You can always contact your high school if you cannot find a copy that you require.

One/Two Months before: 

You should contact the person you would like to write your letter of recommendation. They are doing you a great service, so you want to give them enough time to complete the letter without them feeling stressed. On UCAS, your referee will be invited to submit their letter online. However, on CUKAS, you are responsible for making sure that the letters get sent in. So for CUKAS it is very important that you give your referee enough time to write the letter and for the post to get it to the school. Always check how many letters of recommendation you require and what type of letter it should be (ex: academic or specialized). 

Perfect your letter personal statement, or start it if you have already!

Applications Open: 

Create your account as soon as you can and fill out the primary information. This allows you to see all the information that is required and if you encounter something you don’t understand, you will have the time to get the answer. If you have questions, the best place to ask is the actual website you are dealing with. Call the helpline or check out the Facebook page to ask your questions. 

Once you’ve filled out you primary information, have your referee upload their letter to UCAS or if using CUKAS, mail the letter, submit your marks, upload your completed personal statement, check over your application and make sure you have completed all the sections, then pay and submit!

 CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve submitted your application!

Following the submission of your application, you may be contacted about interviews or portfolios. 

An Application Overview

If you are reading this post, then you have most likely begun the journey of university applications. University is often considered the pinnacle of education and preparing for it can be like a life goal. I was drilled at a very young age to believe that every move I made could make or break my chances of getting into my top choice university. While it is really important to prepare yourself for bettering your chances, it doesn’t mean you should stress yourself sick. 

First, you need to have an idea of where you want to apply; which countries, which universities and what programs. It can take some time to do the research. I would suggest beginning at least a year advance, if not earlier. It can be difficult to decide what you want to study. I spent a year bouncing between radically different programs, but eventually through my research and some self-exploration, I decided on the field and programs I wanted to pursue. Through your research, you might discover that you will need to take certain examinations, have specific credits to apply or need to create a portfolio. This is why it is important to start your research well in advance. 

Once you know where you want to go and what you need to apply, it’s time to start working on your personal statement, portfolio, letters of recommendation and other pieces. Don’t underestimate the time it will take to do all this. Your personal statement should be well-written, original and captivating to admissions. It is your way of introducing yourself to the school and proving that you are the type of student they want. You will also need to give your referees enough time to write a letter of recommendation. It’s also important to note what type of letter of recommendation you are required to submit (i.e. academic or specialized). Some schools will require both types, so be sure to check. As for portfolio pieces, this is another place you will want to devote a great deal of time and effort. You are showing your talent. Talk to teachers, family and admissions for advice as to what to include. Universities often have portfolio days which allow you to visit and discuss your portfolio with a staff member.

Technically, you cannot submit anything until the application period is open. You might choose not to work on you applications until then. However, I did that and it was super stressful. Trying to balance your current school work with applications and portfolios is absolute mania. Luckily I had started my personal statement during the summer. It took me six months to perfect it. 

Allot yourself at least two weeks to complete the actual application form. You never know when you will have questions, so give yourself extra time. Also, if you are applying as a foreign student you will have to deal with time differences and questions pertaining foreign affairs. Check to see if your application database has a Facebook page or a live help section on their website. 

If you are applying to UK schools through UCAS, be sure to check out their Facebook page. You can leave them questions on their wall and they will reply to you directly. UCAS is seriously a great help during the application process. Their technicians are always eager to help, so even if you think you have a silly question, its safer to ask than to make a mistake. 

"Education is all a matter of building bridges" - Ralph Ellison

“Education is all a matter of building bridges” – Ralph Ellison

University Abroad Talk

Freaking out about applying to university? Thinking about applying abroad? Don’t fret! This post marks the first of many about applying to universities abroad. 

Your mind is probably filled with hundreds of questions and anxieties, but don’t worry, because there are literally thousands of people going through the same thing. Applying to university can be stressful, but applying abroad can make you even more anxious. More often than not, academic advisors in your school will be specialized in helping you apply to universities in your own country. While I’m no expert on the world’s different application systems, I can definitely help you de-stress during your application period. Having just gone through the British application systems, UCAS and CUKAS as a Canadian student, I can vouch that applying abroad can be scary, but it’s well worth it. 

To give you a preview of the questions I’ll be answering, you can look forward to posts on: 

  • Application Timelines
  • Applying through UCAS and CUKAS
  • Applying to Film Schools
  • Writing your Letter of Intent
  • Financing and Scholarships
  • Tips for Staying Focused and Balanced

I will be posting weekly, answering the different questions and concerns I had and if you have any feel free to comment! That’s why I’m here! 

Hello WordPress!

My name is Emily and I’m an 18 year old student with big dreams! Currently living in the wonderful, bilingual city of Montreal, I hope to next year be studying in Scotland. With interests in film-making, photography, fashion, beauty, winter sports, history and art, I’m always busy. I’ve always wanted to find an outlet in which to combine all my interests and I believe that a blog is the perfect place for me to share my interests with the rest of the online world.  So welcome to my world!

I hope you enjoy my joie de vivre!