Disconnect to Reconnect

“Get offline, free your mind, go outside and disconnect to reconnect.”

My name is Santi Quiroga, I come from a coastal city in the northwest of Spain. When I made the decision to spend a year in Canada, I had mixed feelings. I was quite frightened but also facing the year with a lot of excitement and looking forward to learn, not just in an academic aspect, in a cultural way too. Even though I have had some hard moments being away from my family and friends, this year has been an experience of a lifetime and did not disappoint.

Friends are the first thing that come to mind when deciding to spend a year abroad. I’ve been lucky as I have had the opportunity to meet a lot of new people, who I now call my friends. One of the most important insights I can give to someone considering an exchange is to be yourself and to not to be afraid of making mistakes, because you learn from them, improve and become more confident. It is amazing how an experience like this can make strangers became so important in someone’s life in such a short period of time. The best thing about these friendships is that, although we are not going to see each other for a long time, I know that I could always count on them in the same way they can count on me.

Boredom should also not be a concern, because of the people you meet and the plans that occur because of them. One of the best places to come is Fernie. There are a lot of things to do such a skiing, hiking, baseball and everything related to outdoor activities. Extracurricular activities are a good way to keep busy. This year I joined basketball, and in fact we made provincials and had the opportunity to go to Langley and to play against the best teams in the province. Another amazing sport to practice in Fernie is skiing. Thanks to the awesome local ski hill, I had the chance to learn and enjoy this sport for the first time. It was a great experience and I am sure I will keep doing it and improving in Spain.

Recently I looked at the calendar, only to realize my departure was just two months away… leaving the place that has been home for a year. There is a lot of emotion around this date, going back to share all of the fantastic moments I have lived. Despite all of the new technology we have nowadays, keeping up with my loved ones has not been that easy, because as I mentioned before, there have been so many things to do, so many experiences to live and no time to lose. Despite being busy, I have always found a moment to call my parents to tell them I am okay and to assure them I am treated well by my host family and friends.

Overall all, this has been a great experience for many reasons. One being the amazing family I have stayed with; they really care about me and this would have been way different without them. Another reason, is that I would have never thought it possible to make such a good group of real friends or that these friends would make such a big difference in my life. In fact, I am going to miss them every single day back home. I want to thank all the people that I have shared moments with because they have defined my stay. As my stay in Canada comes to a close, I realize an exchange is not a year in my life, it is a lifetime worth of experiences in a year. And that I was able to get offline, free my mind and go outside to disconnect and reconnect this year in Fernie.