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Iris during her internship in Toronto

"This may sound funny, but the first thing I felt was "I'm home". I remember looking out of the window from the airplane and that I couldn't wait to see Canada."

  • Adventure
  • Internship Abroad
  • Studying Abroad
  • Living Abroad
  • Working Abroad
  • North America
  • Canada
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Hey! Who are you and where are you from? Where do you study/live/work?

Hi! I am Iris and I am originally from Haarlem (the Netherlands) and I study communication in Leiden. I decided to do an internship abroad. Because when do you ever get that chance? I am currently a marketing and communications trainee in Toronto!

What was the first thing you thought when you arrived in Canada?

This may sound funny, but the first thing I felt was "I'm home". I remember looking out of the window from the airplane and that I couldn't wait to see Canada. Once I arrived in Toronto, I had to get used to the size of the city during the first week. I felt like I was in a movie and that was very cool! I am still a big fan of all the big buildings when I see them.

What was the most shocking difference between the Netherlands and Canada?

The people. I personally think people are very different here. They are more reserved. In the Netherlands, I think everyone is more direct. That is a bit different here. Everything is either amazing or terrible. A bit exaggerated sometimes. But I got used to it quickly. I don't know if they're my kind of people, but that's okay.

What does your daily work day look like?

I work from Monday to Friday, from 9 to 5. Everyone in my company also strictly adheres to these times. Sometimes we have a wine party on Friday afternoon, which starts at 4 o'clock but also ends at 5 o'clock. While when this happens in the Netherlands, such drinks can sometimes continue until the late hours. So I had to get used to that.

How is the working atmosphere at your internship company?

The atmosphere is informal but also formal. For example, we have a dress code: on Fridays you can wear your jeans but not on other days. Everyone is very nice and helpful. I work with only women, so that is also a different atmosphere than just men or mixed.

Have you ever been homesick? How did you handle this?

I am very honest, but no I have not (yet) been homesick. There have certainly been bumps on the road, but I never thought that I wanted to go home. Sure, you miss your family and friends but then I think to myself: I know that I'll go back someday, so I should make the best of it now. And I also often have little moments of happiness. Like walking in the sun or enjoying the time when it was snowing here. Then I really enjoy!

I did do an internship abroad earlier and then I had extreme homesickness which was really no fun at all. I also went home earlier, I think I was not yet ready for it. So to give you a tip: really ask yourself, can I do this all by myself? Because it often comes down to that. You get to know yourself immensely well and then it is nice if you can trust yourself and be happy with who you are. If you are aware of this, then it will be okay! And just go for it, don't think too much about everything.

Do you feel at home in Canada? Why (not)?

I think this is a difficult question, somewhere I do feel myself at home, but also not as I don't have my friends and family here with me. Perhaps if all of them would have lived here, it would have been different. But I'm having a good time here. My internship is starting to become a bit of a routine now, I learn a lot and I also do a lot. But it is not the company where you make friends and I am often used to that. So now I'm going to make friends in other ways. They have many meetup groups here, so that is a nice way to get to know new people. I strongly recommend that if you only go to Toronto. Register and meet new people!

Is there a typical local dish that you really can not eat (or really like)?

Ehm no there is not really a typical dish here, there is of course maple syrup and I thought I would really like it. But that was not the case haha. It is very sweet, but it is not really my thing.

Give us tips on who to become friends with abroad. The Russians? The Irish? The Chilean?

You might not expect it, but Toronto is very diverse. You see more Asian people than Canadians. Everyone is very nice, but I can not really give a tip on what kind of people you should focus on. Last week I had a date with my canoe guide, who was Canadian and Portuguese. It's just about what people you meet and who you like to meet up with. Then I do not care where they are from. Yesterday, for example, I met a Ukrainian girl. It is just who you meet.

Describe the people of Canada in three words.

Diverse, nice and hospitable.

What did you learn from your experience abroad? Was it the beloved community that you liked? The cheap cocktails? The beautiful nature? Or was your experience less than expected? Details, we want details!

What I have learned is what I said before, if you're going abroad by yourself then you'll be doing everything alone. You need to make the first contact with people and you have to do it for yourself. And I think you really grow in that. And that is super valuable. You get to know yourself and that is very beautiful in my opinion.

I myself am a huge nature fan, so the first thing I wanted to know was how I could end up in the great nature. I decided to visit Morningside park and once there I found myself completely at peace. I really enjoy that. And the city is very cool too because there is always something going on! But no one will hold your hand, you have to do it yourself. And that is sometimes difficult but also very cool if you really do it. My expectations were different with the expectations I got, just better in all ways. And I think I will realize it even more when I am back in the Netherlands. Someone from the Netherlands recently said to me: you are living the dream! And then I thought, yes that is so true! So I really realize it too! I would say I recommend it to everyone, but then I would lie. Because I do not think this has been put away for everyone. You need to be ready for it and you really need to want it!