Uni Life

From Snowboards to Surfboards – my Canadian/Australian exchange

Cold wind, dropping temperatures, colourless sights as far as the eye can see. All around, people are bustling, gripping tightly to their hot cups of coffee to keep warm. This is home. I grew up in this harsh winter climate of mid-Canada, snow boots and mittens my everyday fashion choices. Part of me loved it. I loved late night ice skates, the Northern Lights dancing in the sky above. I loved hooking my sled up behind my grandpa’s skidoo and getting pulled through winding bush trails. I’d fall off multiple times, snow always finding its way down my back, into my shoes. Snowboarding and skiing in the Rocky Mountains, sitting in hot tubs and then running in a swimsuit through the snow, these are all the things I loved.

Saskatoon, SK, Canada

My childhood home in Saskatoon, SK, Canada 


Skating on an ice rink in -30 degrees celsius. 

Skating on an ice rink in -30 degrees celsius.


Being pulled by a snowmobile on a sled through the snow

Life in Canada is what every Aussie kid dreams of. But my little Canadian heart dreamed of white beaches, dense rainforests, and perfectly blue ocean water. I had visited Australia as a child. I loved it.  And then one day, I booked a spontaneous one-way ticket to Brisbane, Australia.

Here are the things I’ve learnt:

  1.   Australians love Canadians!

Everywhere I go, people ask me where I’m from. It’s basically all I talk about, ‘Canada this’ and ‘Canada that’. Why? Because Aussies are obsessed with Canada! They love the snow, they love the mountains, and they all know someone in Canada. This makes it really easy to have conversations with locals, feel welcome and valued in a group of new friends, and stand out from the crowd. The downfall is that as time goes on, it gets annoying to always be a foreigner, especially if you’ve moved over permanently.

  1.   The beach is WAY better than the snow

Dear Canadians, in your head right now, picture the nicest beach you’ve seen in Mexico (because you’ve 90% for sure been there on vacation). Now take that beach and multiply it by 83928 and you’ve got the beaches of Australia. This country has 59,736 kilometers of perfect coastline (that’s the same as driving back and forth across Canada five and a half times)! Anytime of the year, there are flawless, white sandy, and beautiful pristine beaches that beg you to come lay upon their sand and soak up sun rays. There are 32 beaches within 100km of where I live, each with their own unique beach vibes. Seriously, if you love the beach (like me), visit Australia!

  1.   Being away from home is tough but it’s worth it

I left home and moved 16,000km around the world when I was 19. Talk about a wakeup call. No friends to watch TV with, no grandma to cook you delicious food, no Tim Hortons. Wah! Moving is tough. The hardest part was not having a group of people who just ‘get you’, who don’t take effort, those deep friendships. There were so many nights I cried myself to sleep, uncertain of my decision, just wishing I was back in my skates whipping around the rink. I used to go to the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) when I was homesick, gazing at paintings I used to study in high school. This was my safest place. But as time goes on, you meet more people and open up your heart a bit more. Each new relationship is a new gift with so much potential. I have made the deepest of friends in this country. Heck, I even found the love of my life here (yes he’s a blonde, tanned surfer boy who also has a job). Homesickness sucks but it is worth fighting through. The other side is beautiful.

Sometimes I miss Canada – my wide-open Saskatchewan skies. I miss the northern hemisphere stars and warm fireplaces on a cold winter’s night. But in those moments, I remember how blessed I am to have truly experienced both worlds. Life is a beautiful thing, and I want to spend every moment living it well.


– Josie

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