So, it's Easter, and today I thought starting this blog would be a good idea. I'm intending it to be a diary of sorts, about me going to Canada next year as an exchange student. Well, hopefully. It's under the condition that I pass my first year exams, and that hasn't happened yet. If you're reading this, it's probably because it's a year or two later, and you're in a similar position, and I've directed you here in the hope that it has useful stuff in it, but it's possible it was an accident.
So right now it's Easter. I received my conditional offer to study in Kingston, at Queen's University, by Warwick a couple of months ago. January 25th, to be precise (I just checked the e-mail I got). I heard about the exchange at an open day over a year ago, and decided that I wanted to go straight away. I mean, who wouldn't? Uh, not many people apparantly, because I think that everyone who applied from philosophy this year got to go. That was me and Lydia; she's the only other person I know who applied, anyway. When I arrived at Warwick, nothing was really said until the last week of the first term, when we had an informal meeting after a lecture and were given our application forms. I think I counted about 12 people there, but most of them didn't end up applying in the end. At the start of term, a lot of people said they were interested in going, but everyone settles in pretty fast in the first term, and lots of people change their mind. Accomodation arrangements for the second year are often already being talked about, and people fall desperately in love with people that they couldn't bear to leave behind; needless to say, that didn't happen to me.
The application form wasn't too tricky – you need two personal references (mine were my resident tutor and the head of A levels from my old college), and you need to fill in a small-ish paragraph about why you want to go. I'm not sure if mine was very good, because I almost missed the deadline, after making a horrible mistake. The form said at the top that you needed to have your references in by Monday – I assumed that meant the whole application, but it didn't, the form had to be in by noon on Friday. I realised that at about 5pm on Friday. So I panicked, filled out my form like a maniac, got dressed haphazardly and ran to the department, only to find that David Miller (the man who organises the philosophy exchanges this year, but wont be here next year, so you might not know him…) had already gone home. I panicked somewhat and send him an apologetic e-mail, and worried myself silly until he replied (only a few hours fortunately). And everything was OK, as you might have guessed.
We had interviews a few weeks later. I was terribly nervous, because I really wanted to go. But it was fine. I think I babbled a little, but I think I was enthusiastic, possibly too much. I'm trying to remember what it was like… I was asked why I wanted to go, what I thought of Canada, where I wanted to travel, what modules I wanted to do… I think that was about it – it was a pretty short thing. Oh, actually, I was asked if I passed the logic exam, which I did! I went home and sulked afterwards because I was sure I wasn't going to be able to go, but I received an email offer within hours, which was great. I live in Whitefields, and I remember running onto the balcony, which my room comes off of, and yelling to everyone in the front room that I was going.
Since then, I've been to see Chris Sharp a few times. He is the man in charge of exchanges from all departments. We had til the end of term to get our forms filled in. You have to specify which modules you intend on taking on the form, but there's no guarantee of what you'll actually get, so don't worry too much about it. There's some that you have to take, so that your year abroad has some similarity to the second year at Warwick. But there's room for quite a few free options, so it's all good. There's loads of interesting philosophy modules available at Queen's – I've applied for philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of feminism, African philosophy, to name a few. I'll let you know which ones I end up doing later on.
Incidentally, at this stage I haven't actually been accepted at Queen's… but the chance of being rejected by them is practically zero – there's no information on the application form that isn't purely factual, so the only way that they might not like the look of you as a candidate would be if the photo you attached wasn't very attractive. So pick a good one.
An interesting thing about Queen's is that it runs courses over two semesters, rather than three terms. The final exams are in April – which means that you have about five months before you have to return to Warwick! There's loads of places I want to go – California and New York would be amazing, but Lydia, who is also going, suggested going down to Chile and working in a ski resort in the South American mountains, and that would be incredible too. But I'm not making any decisions until I've actually definitely got a place, which unfortunately means passing all my exams first. You need to get 40% in everything to pass, and at this moment I don't care about doing better than that, as long as I pass. You can't do resits because they're at the beginning of September and the term at Kingston has already started by then. So right now, the pressure is ON.
On that note, I'm going to do some revision now. Some advice – work really hard during the year and do all your reading, otherwise the exam time will be horrific.