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International Exchange

Top 10- Fears and Cheers!

29 August 2019

It’s now just over a day until I embark on my journey to Vancouver- I have contemplated the parts I am most looking forward to as well as those I am definitely not. Here’s my top 10 fears and cheers for going abroad. Cheers last so it doesn’t get too depressing!

Fears (In no particular order):

Aston Villa

Ask any of my immediate family what means more to them than anything else in the world and 90% of them would say four words- Aston Villa Football Club. I’ve owned a season ticket for 15 years and this is the first since I was about 4 that I won’t be going to the games regularly. Luckily, I can get a pass to watch the games live on my laptop, even if it means waking at 4am!

Me and my brother Joe at the Championship Play-Off Final 2019

My Family

My family have supported me from day 1, they’ve always encouraged me to do what I love. They’re one of the major reasons I am writing this blog so obviously I am going to miss them. I’m hoping that being away from them at Uni has helped me get used to being homesick however if I suddenly wanted to come home I could jump on a train and be home within two hours- a bit different to a 10-hour flight!

My Boyfriend-

My biggest worry. Sam and I have been together for around ten months and the longest we have spent apart is two weeks, needless to say a few months feels like a lifetime! Thankfully he is coming to visit me for my birthday in October and I’ll see him for a weekend away in November. My life has changed so much since I met Sam and I’m honestly not sure how I will cope without him however we will find a way to make it work.

Me and Sam at Disneyland Paris in April 2019

My Friends-

Obviously leaving my friends from home is going to be a challenge I will miss grabbing lunch in between lectures; watching awful films at the cinema together and most of all, missing their final year at Cardiff.

Navigating A New City-

Most people who know me know that I can get pretty panicky in stressful situations like navigating in a new city- for example nearly making my brother miss a flight because I put us on the wrong train in Copenhagen! So, I am very nervous about having to find my way around a new city.


Exploring A New City-

Having never visited Canada I cannot wait to explore Vancouver; the city looks beautiful and the UBC campus looks even prettier than Cardiff. I can’t wait to experience a new place as I love nothing more than wandering around aimlessly and discovering random delights.

Meeting New Friends-

I have already been speaking to other exchange students via. Whatsapp and I’ve realised that we are all in this together. I don’t think you could find a friendlier bunch and I am so excited to meet all these lovely people in real life.

Exploring North America-

As mentioned earlier, I have a couple of trips away from Vancouver planned and hope to add many more. Already planned are trips to Las Vegas in November and New York at the end of my year abroad, both with my boyfriend.  I also hope to visit Seattle- only a (relatively!) short train ride from Vancouver.

Watching Different Sports-

I can’t wait to experience the thrill of watching sports I have never watched before. Obviously, I’m no stranger to a football match but I’m excited to watch sports like Hockey, Basketball and American Football live so I’ve purchased a UBC Thunderbirds Season Pass meaning I can watch all the live sport I want.


Embarrassingly, one of my reasons for applying for a year abroad at UBC was because I want to see a real-life Moose. They have been one of my favourite animals for a long time and yet I have never seen one in real life! I am visiting the Greater Vancouver Zoo with Sam for my birthday and honestly this is what I am most excited for.

My collection of Moose from various countries I have visited.


  1. Joe O'Reilly

    Get in! Mingsy in the England squad and a blog post on one day! #BestDayEver

  2. Sam Mordey-Jones

    It’s definitely going to be a long year without you, and I’m sure I speak for a lot of people when I say that! Already counting the days until I can come and explore Vancouver with you x

  3. Ffion Gilbert

    You’ll be fine 🙂 you’ll meet some lovely new people, and some lovely moose hahahaha you’re funny. Love you lots xxx

  4. Donya OReilly

    Chase your dreams, believe in yourself and most of all have fun!

  5. Paul O'Reilly

    Veey good. I know you said it is in no order, but it is really, isn’t it. I understand 100%. I put the Villa over your mom as well UTV – all hail Mings the Merciless… Dad xx

  6. Louisa bertulis

    Niamh, you go get those moose girl! I want to be living my best life vicariously through you, no pressure;) Very proud of you, remember It’s OKAY to be scared. Being scared means you’re about to do something really, really brave! xxx

    • Niamh O'Reilly

      Thank you Weez, it means a lot! Proud of you too! xx

  7. Linda

    You know we are here for you if needed. We are planning a visit to visit you so be ready. You will enjoy yourselves and learn many new things, especially how to drive on the correct side of the road! Please feel free to call me if needed no matter what time it is.

    • Niamh O'Reilly

      Thank you! Please do come and visit! I’d love to see you x

  8. Linda

    You know that we are here for you and will help you whenever needed. We are planning to visit you so you better be ready.

  9. Chrys MJ

    Good luck Niamh, love the blog. What a fantastic experience for you. Of course we will miss you but we will look after Sam for you so you enjoy yourself and we will celebrate with you when you come back.♥️ Love always Chrys and Stephen .Sam’s mam and dad xxx

    • Niamh O'Reilly

      Haha, thank you he will need it I expect! I can’t wait to see you at Christmas x

  10. Steve

    Who’s now gonna bring sense to the Rantings of your dad and brother at the Villa, I’ll miss you.

    • Niamh O'Reilly

      Hahaha, that will be up to you now, I’ll miss you loads, and Sara too x

  11. Sheila O'Reilly

    Our wonderful Grandaughter ..Niamh ….. so proud of you …. enjoy your time in Caanada and as Elvis once sang ‘Follow Your Dreams’ … me and Grandad will miss you so much …but thank goodness for modern technology ….. looking forward to reading your blogs after all ..think you take after me for talking so blogging should come easy xxxx hugs and kisses …Nan and Grandad xxxx

  12. Natasha

    Wow Niamh what another inspirational and thought provoking post!! It’s great that you are being so open with your fears and worries, it will help so many other students in the same boat! You are amazingly brave and I just know you are going to love every minute of this experience (not too much so you don’t come back though hehe) can’t wait to hear about the trip and see lots and lots of photos!!! Xx

    • Niamh O'Reilly

      Haha, thank you! I’m sure I’ll have a wonderful time but I’ll miss you loads xxx

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