UKZN Student Benefits from Time at University in Canada
UKZN Bachelor of Social Science student Miss Shwetha Singaram (20) of Durban has returned from “an incredible experience” she enjoyed as an exchange student at the University of Calgary in Canada.
Four flights and 24 hours of travelling took Singaram from her doting parents in Durban to the Calgary campus in Alberta. ‘Calgarians are very warm and welcoming and they were fascinated to learn that there are Indians in South Africa!’ said Singaram.
It was daunting for the third-year student to travel so far and all alone for the first time in her life. ‘After being collected from the airport, I tried to recall and absorb everything I could about my new temporary home on the drive to the university,’ she said.
She was impressed with the level of diversity in Calgary and on campus. ‘I walked past people of a variety of cultures on a daily basis. I experienced diversity in the very apartment I stayed in with two wonderful roommates, who are still my close friends - one from Japan and the other from India.’
Singaram believes the experience will stand her in good stead in her Psychology career. ‘The academic aspect of this exchange was very demanding. I took five Psychology modules at the university which all had heavy workloads and a keen focus on research. I rose to every challenge and learned so many new skills and techniques that will be extremely helpful in my career.
‘I thoroughly enjoyed my academic experience at Calgary and participated in many events on campus including those involving Mental Health and Psychology!’
Being so far away from her family and friends in South Africa was challenging, but she made good friends with other students, which helped her to settle in. ‘It was difficult being so disconnected from my family, owing to the nine-hour time difference. Thankfully, my roommates could empathise with me as they were also away from their families and we found a lot of comfort in each other.’
A trip to Banff National Park in the heart of the Canadian Rockies was a stand-out highlight. ‘It was an amazing experience to visit the town of Banff and explore the surrounding mountain terrain and beautiful lakes. I made many new friends from across the globe on this particular trip and it really opened my eyes to various cultures,’ she said.
‘Overall, this exchange experience was life-changing and something that I will treasure. I’ve always considered studying abroad and this experience gave me the ideal opportunity to live out that dream for a short period. It strengthened my character, abilities and spiritual depth.
‘My thanks go to the International Office at UKZN for giving me this brilliant opportunity. I also want to thank my parents for supporting me and motivating me to aim high and achieve my goals.’
Words: Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer