My Exchange Experience

Reflections on a semester in Canada

By Rumulo Villa, Contributor

Dreams come true.

Last year, my university opened a call to participate in the exchange program Emerging Leaders in the Americas (ELAP), offered by the Canadian government for one semester at Lakehead University. I decided to apply. I didn’t think I had a chance for this scholarship. I arranged all the documents, had an interview, and surprisingly won. I was selected to study at this university for the 2019 winter term.

Photo submitted by Romulo Villa

My journey started on January 2nd when I arrived in Thunder Bay. Being from Ecuador, it was a huge change! It was cold, but the International Office gave me a warm welcome. When I took my first tour of the campus, I realized that it is flawless. I felt so grateful and I knew that it was going to be an incredible experience. I resided in an apartment with roommates, all of us from different countries and backgrounds.

I am in my last year of Mechanical Engineering. Since I started university, I’ve been involved with initiatives that promote youth participation and entrepreneurship. I chose this field of study because I have always been fascinated by the sciences and curious about how things work. I thought with this career I could have a better comprehension of the world.

At Lakehead University, I had the opportunity to take courses that I could not take at my home university. I had high-level professors and was part of a research group at the School of Kinesiology. As a result, I had a unique and enriching academic experience.

I took part in social and cultural activities too; I was able to meet a lot of people from different countries of the world, and now we are good friends. In my opinion, all this diversity represents what I believe Canada is: a peaceful and friendly country for all people.

I have had the opportunity to travel to different cities such as London, Dubai, Washington, and New York, for academic purposes; however, none of these experiences can be compared with the incredible semester I’ve had here. My life has changed, and a piece of my heart will always be at LU.

This winter was very tough in Thunder Bay. However, Canadians are the kindest, warmest, and most polite people I have ever met. It felt like home, and I have no doubt I would choose Lakehead University again.