You can’t be your cake and eat it too.

Today my exchange in Singapore comes to a close. Since the summer of 2013, CIE has encouraged and assisted me in gaining experience abroad. It has not always been smooth sailing. I hope that my faux pas and words of advice will prove useful for those of you intent on pursuing exchange experience.

16 long months ago, I recall a less apt tween, sulking into a scrapbook and incapable of admitting she’d even accepted her exchange abroad offer. Today, despite my excessive collection of useless travel souvenirs to add to said scrapbook, I am more confident in the person I want to be and the things I want to accomplish. What started as an attempt to try something new and chalk up on edgy CV bullet points spiraled into sailing through the Croatian islands, snowboarding down Mont Blanc, picking lemons from the peaks of Cinque Terre, cliff-diving in Malta’s Blue Grotto, searching through peat for a monster in Loch Ness, crawling through Budapest’s underground caves; sipping vin rouge at the base of the Eiffel Tower and gluhwein at the Christmas Markt, seeing remnants of historical tragedy at the Sachenhausen concentration camp and of historical achievement at the Berber village of Ourika. The list goes on and on, and I could not be more grateful because there is nothing more rewarding on this earth than realizing all of its places and people, past and present. It’s overwhelming to think of the experience I’ve had this past year.

I don’t think I will ever stop traveling. Aside from the thrill of being on the move and having magnificent photos to share, there is something truly eye-opening and inspiring about traveling. I have had unspoiled, raw and wondrous moments in every place I have visited.

An extremely preservative-filled leftover cake has been deviously nibbled at and resealed for 16 months. I am that cake; reformed by new fresh fruit and sweet ice-cream toppings with every night visit to the fridge until nothing of it remains. I have been an enjoyable companion to hundreds (maybe) of new friends, colleagues and family. I have made you laugh, cry, and shudder, until you have devoured every last savory crumb of my adventures abroad. Though the journey ends here, out of the oven comes an entirely new cake, rock-hard (as I have no idea how to make cake) and ready to take a beating in fourth year engineering at UofT. Wahoo. Hey, I can only be so enthused by a 23-hour plane ride.

Thanks for reading!

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