Published: 22 February 2017

Margaret Westwood Travel Grant 2016/17 - Katrina Pogmore

Katarina was able to follow a study programme that counted towards her degree at Surrey, whilst also experiencing the culture and climate of Canada. Here she describes the highlights of her exchange:

"I was accepted in to Ryerson University, Toronto for one semester of study. Living in a new city holds many challenges, but they are soon overcome, and what once felt like a foreign country suddenly became home. I really enjoyed the laid back nature of the Canadian students and the change in teaching methods was refreshing. The professors really wanted to help each student grow in character, and it showed in the motivation of the students. What really impressed me were the amount of in-class presentations and the expected level of participation. I felt this helped my confidence develop and better my managerial qualities.

With the help of the Margaret Westwood Bursary, I was able to travel during my free time. Not only was this a great way to reinforce friendships, it also put our achievements in to perspective. The freedom is incredible, I was lucky enough to see Niagara Falls, Algonquin National Park, Montreal and New York City. Toronto itself is a fantastic place for young people, there is always something to do, or see, or eat. I tried to make the most out of the North American culture: going to ice hockey games, baseball games, fraternity parties, etc. Halloween was definitely a highlight, the City comes alive and it’s a real change from the UK. It’s amazing how much you can learn if you just take a chance!

Surrey make it so easy to take on this once in a lifetime opportunity – there are pre departure meetings helping you each step of the way, and an online portal full of useful information. Of course, it is a risk, and you never know what is going to greet you on the other side. But it’s a risk I would urge people to take. The decision to study abroad was one of the best I ever made. The greatest part was that it became more than a study experience. It offers new friends, a new environment to explore, and new chances to discover yourself. It’s a personal journey no one can ever take from you, worth every minute."

On her return, Katarina had the opportunity to meet with Margaret Westwood and Kate Houghton, organiser from Alumni & Development to thank them personally for their support in making her exchange possible.

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