My Semester Abroad in Calgary

My room mate Mike and myself

My roommate Mike and Myself

Post by Simon Barton, year 2, BA Geography

In September 2017, I embarked on a semester abroad program for four months at the University of Calgary in the beautiful province of Alberta, Canada. After saying my goodbyes to friends and family, I departed from Manchester Airport at 9am on 4th September 2017 on a flight bound for Toronto, before catching a flight from Toronto to Calgary. After 13 hours of travelling, I reached my destination, the Hotel Alma situated on the university campus, this was my temporary base until  I collected the keys for my accommodation.

The Calgary Tower

The Calgary Tower

I collected my keys the next day, entering an apartment of four people. I met my flatmates, which included two international students from China and Japan respectively and a Canadian from Edmonton, a city situated further north than Calgary, which is the capital of Alberta. I familiarised myself with my home for the next four months, before catching the Calgary transit (the public transport system) to explore the city centre. During my orientation week, I took part in activities which included ice skating on the famous Olympic Oval, situated on the university campus, which hosted speed skating at the 1988 Winter Olympics held in Calgary and watching the annual Canadian football kick off match for the Dinos, the team which represents the university in various sports.

Banff

Banff

The rest of September saw me settle into university life by getting to grips with a different academic system and establishing relationships with Canadian students who were from Calgary and other Canadian provinces. A highlight of this month was a day visit to the popular tourist destination of Banff, situated within the Canadian Rockies. The trip was organised by the Global Friendship Group at the University, which aimed to help International Students immerse themselves in all Canada has to offer! The trip involved the unforgettable experience of taking the Banff Gondola (cable car) to the top of Sulphur Mountain to observe the stunning scenery of the area. I met many exchange students from all over the world during the trip, and became good friends during my semester abroad.

Banff view from top of Sulphur Mountain

Banff view from top of Sulphur Mountain

October brought snow! I woke up on the second day of the month to find the university blanketed with a white sheet. I couldn’t contain my excitement, I immediately proceeded to take pictures when walking to class, to the bemusement of onlookers. However, this month also meant midterms. Midterms, being an entirely new concept to me, these are exams taken in October of the first semester, assessing everything you have learned since the start of September. Despite being ill in October, catching flu which seemed to be sweeping its way through my halls of residence and led to my hospitalization on two occasions, I managed to get through the month with the help of the lecturers and Study Abroad Teams in Calgary and Liverpool. October and November certainly seemed to be the months with the highest workload, with midterms, group projects and individual essays.  I didn’t let this stop me managing my academic and social life to allow me  to immerse myself in Canadian culture whether it be watching Hockey on TV on a Saturday night or ice skating with exchange students and University of Calgary students.

Calgary Flames Hockey Match

Calgary Flames Hockey Match

December brought the end of the semester with final exams held just before the Christmas break.  Along with my roommate Mike and friends Tom and Jasper, I watched a live ice hockey match! Taking the transit to Stampede Park, home to the world-famous rodeo and festival known as the Calgary Stampede held every July, we walked to the Saddledome, the home of the Calgary Flames who are one of seven Canadian teams to compete in the National Hockey League (NHL).  Kitted out in my Calgary Flames jersey, a gift from my new friends Tom and Jasper, I cheered on the team in what was a derby match against the Vancouver Canucks.  Despite conceding an early goal, the Flames won the match 4-2 to the roar of the crowd.  Having had a great time in Banff in September, my friends and I decided to visit the area once again.  We drove along the Trans-Canadian highway to the town we had become so familiar with.  After a rest from our long journey, we grabbed a bite to eat and explored the town.  We then proceeded to Lake Louise, the famous lake named after Queen Victoria’s fourth daughter.  The lake was busy with tourists taking pictures, skating and having fun.  It was a fantastic  end to a day I will never forget.

View of Calgary from across the Bow River

View of Calgary from across the Bow River

I certainly wouldn’t hesitate twice to apply for a study abroad program.  I was very fortunate to have an amazing time in Canada.  The experience allowed me to gain an insight into a different academic system, building up new ways of working and learning about issues facing people living in Calgary and Canada.I made friends for life, meeting Canadian students from different backgrounds and exchange students from all over the world.  Although it can at first appear daunting and I was certainly nervous before I went, it is an unmissable experience.  Coming home, you can look back on an incredible past few months!  Grab every opportunity, go on apply for a Semester Abroad, Summer Abroad, Year in China or a Year 2 at XJTLU.

Bio:

Simon Barton is a current second year BA Geography student, he spent his first semester of year 2 at the University of Calgary, Canada.  Simon applied for a semester abroad via the University of Liverpool Study Abroad Team after attending the Study Abroad Fair held on November 2016.

More information on study abroad:

Further details regarding international opportunities available to students can be found online: https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/goabroad/.  Use the online Study Abroad search tool to find out the international opportunities available to your programme.   Deadline: 19th February 2018 for Semester Abroad, Year 2 @ XJLTU and Year in China Applications and the 15th March for the Summer programmes

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Shell Meets Bone – Review — Centre for Humanities and Social Sciences of Health, Medicine and Technology

Last Thursday, CHSSoHMT had the pleasure of hosting ‘Shell Meets Bone’ the collaborative project of biominerals expert Professor Maggie Cusack, from the University of Glasgow, and artist in residence Rachel Duckhouse. Rachel is an award winning visual artist based in Glasgow. She has undertaken several research based artist residencies in the UK and abroad. In […]

via Shell Meets Bone – Review — Centre for Humanities and Social Sciences of Health, Medicine and Technology

Learning Machine Learning Open Workgroup (LMLow) Hackathon

Following on from the successes of the first three sessions of LMLOW, we are proud to announce our first ever hackathon event! The event will be entirely hands-on and provide an opportunity for individuals to gain practical experience in utilising the two methodologies that we have covered so far: (1) Regression Trees and Gradient Boosting, and (2) Word2vec and text mining

The hackathon will focus on analysing a single data set: AirBnb reviews in London provided by Inside Airbnb. The data include geographically referenced reviews for airbnb lodgings and includes a mixture of numerical and text data. The data can be found here (search for London). 

Please come prepared having examined the data source and the potential questions that could be explored using the data. During the event, individuals will be split into small teams who will identify and explore research questions utilising the two methodologies, under the guidance of our team of experts. Participants will be required to bring their own laptop with relevant statistical software pre-installed (e.g. R/RStudio, Python, QGIS etc). There will be a prize for the team who completes the best project.
You can sign up for the event at this link.

New paper on the anticipation (causal) effects of Crossrail — Geographic Data Science Lab

How much more are home-buyers willing to pay for a house if they know it is close to a train station that is going to be upgraded? 2.4%, according to a recently published paper in the Journal of Transport Geography co-authored by GDSL’s Sam Comber and Dani Arribas-Bel, which presents a method for quantifying the…

Reblogged from Geographic Data Science Lab. To read more: New paper on the anticipation (causal) effects of Crossrail — Geographic Data Science Lab

Newbie at the EGU

PhD students, Postdocs and lecturers from the Department of Geography joined over 14,400 other scientists at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly in Vienna from 24 – 28 April 2017. The General Assembly is one of the largest annual meetings of earth, atmosphere and ocean scientists in the world and offers a range of sessions for you to get your fix of the latest science. Geomorphology, hydrology, atmosphere, climate, energy and earth science feature heavily in an extensive programme of orals, poster and PICO (Presenting Interactive Content) presentations alongside short courses and debates.

EGU

This was my first time attending EGU and my week began with efforts to decipher the programme and create a schedule for the week. Overwhelming at first, I was able to navigate the huge conference centre and attend sessions on coastal morphodynamics, marine renewable energy, and estuarine processes to name but a few. The presentations offered a great opportunity to soak up data, results and information from projects around the world. Watching my MSc work presented as part of a talk on tidal lagoons and barrages in the Mersey Estuary was a pretty cool highlight.

The poster sessions at EGU are a site to be seen – rows of hundreds of colourful, detailed posters all displaying many hours of work behind them. Several students in the department had posters and it was great to see how successful each of these were. I presented a poster on the spatial variability of extreme water levels in the Severn Estuary in a session on Natural Hazard impacts in coastal areas. Ben Phillips, a first year PhD student also presented a poster in this session on his MSc work which looks at the impact of wave overtopping on beach morphology. The poster acts as a useful visual aid when engaging in in-depth discussions about your work: thanks to those who stopped, asked questions and gave incredibly useful suggestions on my own poster (sorry again to the associate professor I addressed as a PhD student).

EGU Chris

It was also great to see friends and colleagues in action, giving talks and posters across a range of topics. Rachael Lem, a third year PhD student, presented her results on palaeoceanagraphic productivity changes in the Eastern Equatorial Atlantic to a packed room. Second year PhD students Chris Feeney and Kieran Newman presented posters on their research, and Siôn Regan presented in a PICO session. Xiaorong Li, presented a poster for work on her post doc about morphological change along the east coast of the UK. Dr Hugh Smith gave a highlighted session on predicting fire effects on water quality. Professor Janet Hooke presented work on the role of events, structures and morphology in ephemeral channels.

In addition to posters and presentations, a series of debates and short courses were also included in the schedule. Highlights here included debates on ‘How to make science great again’ and ‘Science communication in the age of Brexit and Trump’. High ranking panellists certainly drew the crowds to these sessions. These sessions encouraged young and established scientists to speak up for their discipline and gave advice on how to clearly communicate a message through stories, graphics and even poetry. Short courses on visualising your data to make it more appealing and understandable to a wider audience and tips to write a successful scientific paper were popular sessions which provided invaluable advice.

EGU Bldg

Overall, EGU 2017 was a great experience with lots of interesting science, new ideas and a great opportunity to get to know more people in the community. If you get a chance to attend the EGU General Assembly for the first time, here are some tips:

  • Spend the time deciphering the programme to fill your week with an interesting programme of sessions. I found the EGU app incredibly useful in helping me create a programme.
  • Don’t just search through the presentations and posters by just the disciplines related to your work. You might find some real gems if you go off piste. One of the best sessions I attended of the week was about how science communication can be strengthened when twinned with art, music, film and even board games!
  • Don’t rely on the free coffee and cookies for sustenance – it’s a scrum to get them during the breaks. Bring a flask and a packed lunches.
  • Ensure you find the time to explore Vienna and sample a local apfelstrudel and sachertorte. You will not regret it.

EGU pud

Thanks to ARCoES project for financial support to allow me to attend the conference.

Charlotte Lyddon

PLoS ONE paper using satellite images and machine learning to predict deprivation

Last week, PLoS ONE published our paper using satellite imagery and machine learning techniques to predict levels of Living Environment Deprivation. You can check it out here in open access, as the journal takes the P in PLoS (i.e. Public) very seriously. In a companion resource, we also published the data, the computational environment, and…

Reblogged from (see for full post): PLoS ONE paper using satellite images and machine learning to predict deprivation — Geographic Data Science Lab

Understanding Polish Migration to the UK

New blog post by Dr Kathy Burrell

In my academic research I have focused on Polish migration to the UK. I have done this largely through interviewing Polish migrants directly – in-depth interviews which allow time to talk about key experiences and feelings related to migrating from Poland to the UK. I have interviewed people who were refugees from the Second World…

Reblogged – follow this link to read the full post Understanding Polish Migration to the UK — Kathy Burrell