By Larry Heng
Brittney Colley-Bradshaw, a third-year retail management student, lays in the top bunk of her shared dorm room at a small French university—her ankles dangling off the foot of the bed, vigorously composing a series of Instagram photos from her day.
She scrolls through the preview of her photos: a French bakery taken from across the street, a glass of red wine by a candle and the back of a taxi driver’s head.
“It’s wild how we, as homo sapiens, can take such a wonderful world for granted,” she writes. “I came here as a girl with hopes and dreams, and here I am, a completely fulfilled woman, without a worry in the world.”
Colley-Bradshaw confidently publishes her post, officially marking her second day abroad.
She has been bombarding her group chat with her friends from back home in Toronto, talking non-stop about how incredible her life has become.
“Omg I’m at this cute little restaurant and they have ratatouille on the menu,” she writes using the free Burger King Wi-Fi. “Like, you know, that rat movie! I’m learning so much about the culture here it’s amazing.”
Her friends, already exhausted from keeping up with her constant messages, have decided to move to a separate group chat excluding their newly cultured friend.
“I can’t fucking do it,” said one friend, who asked to remain anonymous. “She sent us 30 messages yesterday about how the cats in Paris are different than Canadian ones. It was three a.m. here. She doesn’t understand time zones yet.”
“One of my biggest fears is letting my followers forget I went on exchange to Germany last year.”
Natalie Schlater, Ryerson’s exchange coordinator, says this type of behaviour is common amongst students who study abroad. Students who go on exchange are mainly looking to experience a different culture and meet new people, according to Schlater. They’ll hopefully learn the skills to properly manage their money and learn what it feels like to “really be alone.”
“It’s important for them to think about how their life is completely different from everyone who chooses to stay home,” she said in an Instagram DM.
Aspen Colorado-Smith, a fourth-year architectural science student, says his experiences have carried on past his exchange.
“I can’t go a single week without posting a Throwback Thursday,” he says. “One of my biggest fears is letting my followers forget I went on exchange to Germany last year.”
Colorado-Smith, who now exclusively drinks a kind of German beer none of his Canadian friends have ever heard of, says his time abroad opened him up to the depths of German culture.
“When I wasn’t out tearing up the streets of Munich, I would be in my dorm cracking a cold Weihenstephan Hefe Weissbier with the jungs,” he said. “That’s German for ‘boys.’”
At the end of his exchange, Colorado-Smith had a poor time adjusting back to Canadian partying, citing that his Toronto friends “just couldn’t keep up” with his newfound German approach to drinking.
This trip-of-a-lifetime is available to any student—for the small price of $25,000 and complete control of your cultural sensibility. This doesn’t include food or travel expenses, though, only the three bird courses students take but never show up for because they were too hungover.
Despite the hefty cost of exchange, Colley-Bradshaw found an alternative way to earn some money while abroad.
Colley-Bradshaw, who has subsequently spent about half of her spending money on croissants, has since booted up a YouTube channel that will document her time abroad.
The channel will include videos such as “How to find the perfect, skinny, cigarette-smoking French boy in 48 hours,” “I ate SNAIL MEAT? (PUKE ALERT!!!)” and other original content.