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Hey everyone! My name is Sam Levy and I will be keeping you updated on my exchange semester at Columbia University in New York City. My term is actually set to begin in a couple of days, so consider this post more of an introduction to who I am and what I’m going to try to do in my upcoming posts.

In second year, I was fortunate to hear about a study abroad program at Fudan University in Shanghai. With no relevant qualifications to speak of I flew to Shanghai and went on to have maybe the most shaping experiences of my life.  I couldn’t believe my fortune, that I was able to experience an entirely different way of life, make incredible friends, and improve my chopstick technique with each meal (in that order). My only wish was that the program (6 weeks) could have been longer.

Overlooking the Forbidden City

Overlooking the Forbidden City

I completed two more incredible study abroad programs – at Hebrew U (Jerusalem), and KGU (Osaka) – having equally unforgettable times. These programs were also during the summer, and so persisted my wish to go abroad for a semester. When the opportunity to apply for a Killam Fellowship to study in the US became possible, I eagerly applied.

But studying in the States isn’t really studying ‘abroad’ is it? With the largest border of any two countries in the world, a shared history that is crucial to both and truly intertwined economies, it is hard to find two more connected allies. But on the point that a student experience therefore would differ little between Canada and the US, there I would have to disagree. At Fudan I was surprised by how most of my time was spent with American students, with whom I had some truly awesome experiences. From learning the difference between ‘KD’ and ‘Easy Mac’ (turns out they’re the same thing) to celebrating the Fourth of July, I realized how little I actually knew about our neighbour to the south; it was almost embarrassing, given how important the US is both to Canada and the rest of the world.

At the Umeda Sky Building, Osaka

At the Umeda Sky Building, Osaka

Or take the recent US federal election. That an overwhelming majority of those outside the US favoured Obama, yet the votes of the American people reflected close to a 50/50 split clearly shows that there is something going on in the US that we do not fully understand – to our detriment, I might add.

 

Therefore, I intend to write posts that capture differences between, or shed light on American and Canadian values, customs, vocabularies, political opinions, etc. I want to share moments of revelation and discovery, with ideas that can be tied to current events and pressing debates.

image from: philadelphia.grubstreet.com

image from: philadelphia.grubstreet.com

Or I might just post some pictures of deli food (#dinerfromseinfeld), we’ll see what happens. Speak soon!

– Sam

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