On September 4th, 2017, fourth-year Mount BA (Communication) student Julie Hatfield set off for Lille, France where she’s spending the fall semester studying at Université Catholique de Lille as part of the Mount’s Study Abroad program. Julie’s promised to keep us updated on her adventures. Here’s her first check-in.

From Julie:

I have started using an expression in my short time spent in Lille: instead of “when in Rome”, I’ve changed it to “when on exchange“. It encompasses exactly what I want from this exchange in one sentence. To experience the culture, try new things, and of course get out of my comfort zone and be a little crazy sometimes. As I sit in a little cafe with my “coffee” (which in France, means an espresso shot), it is still surreal that I am now living in France.


In the days leading up to leaving little old Halifax, I was so nervous I couldn’t even think about the exchange. To the point where people would ask if I was excited and I would say “I’m still not sure if I’m leaving.” I said this half because I didn’t want to jinx anything and also because my visa hadn’t arrived yet (heads up to anyone trying to go on exchange, apply for your visa early…it will save you from a great deal of stress). I received some great advice before leaving (thank you Amy Brae in the Mount’s
International Education Centre!) that has helped me immensely in the first week and a half abroad:

1. Let things go.

You’re going to be awkward in another country, whether you like it or not…so when you do something stupid, just laugh it off.

2. Do your research

Like all things in life…but really Europe is not just a walk in the park so you should probs try learning a thing or two before doing something.


3. Be open!

Things aren’t weird, they are just different.

Be open

4. Just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s wrong

And my favourite piece of advice…

5. Have fun (so corny but true).

Have fun

WHEN IN ROME DO AS THE ROMANS DO, people from France know how to have a good time, so I’m trying to keep up. Buttttttttt, I also make sure to take care of myself, study and do all the things I’m supposed to. Don’t worry Mom.

So if you’re contemplating going on exchange, abroad in general, or maybe you already are on exchange…”let your freak flag fly” as my mother would say and enjoy every moment and experience. Because realistically, you don’t just go on exchange abroad to study.