Katherine Nicholls back home in Otago.
Swapping her Otago hoodie for an American Football shirt to kick a ball in a far-flung Canadian stadium is an experience Katherine Nicholls wouldn't swap for the world.
Katherine knows a thing or two about swapping worlds now, too.
She did just that as a participant in the Otago Global Student Exchange programme during the second semester of 2022 when she travelled to study at Western University in London, Ontario, Canada.
Katherine, a Bachelor of Arts and Science (neuroscience and psychology) undergraduate, says she had many amazing experiences, but particularly recalls her time playing American Flag Football in London, a town a two-hour drive from Toronto.
She rocked up to the stadium at Western to check out American Flag Football with some of her new friend crew of other international exchange students, she says.
The friends at first only wanted to try the outfits on, but soon found themselves on the field.
“It was quite an experience. I did it with other people on exchange which was really fun. We were a bunch of international students giving it a go and we did really well.”
Her team, Alumgin, comprising a mix of students from two Western halls of residence, Alumni House and Elgin Hall, placed fourth in a varsity-wide tournament of 13 or so teams, earning all-important bragging rights.
Katherine Nicholls at Western University's Medical Sciences building during the Canadian winter.
She describes the stadium experience at Western as “wild”.
Canadians proudly observe the tradition of tailgating, where people gather around their cars with picnics and barbecues at each American Football competition their college team plays in.
“You got free access to the home games of the American Football and they had a massive stadium, everyone came in their merch, and you had tailgating and all these barbeques going, and free food.”
Otago Global Student Exchange Programme
• Travel the world while you study towards your Otago degree on an Otago Global Student Exchange
• Study for one or two semesters at one of Otago's prestigious partner universities in more than 30 countries
• Travel grant/awards available
• Continue to receive your StudyLink L&A
• See Exchange information for Otago students for additional information and how to apply!
Katherine's choice of an exchange to Western University reflected her special interests, allowing her to take papers like one in exceptional child psychology, she says.
“The brain and behaviour are an interest of mine and that was also what lead me to choosing the uni I went to because they had a really good psychology department. The neuroscience department was also excellent over there.”
She says she likes to break up bouts of study with other recreation, so while on exchange she joined the Outdoors Club, volunteered for Motionball, and travelled all over Canada and beyond.
Otago student Katherine Nicholls (right) and Laura Peel sign “W” for Western University at an American Flag Football homecoming game in London, Canada.
Still in touch with the many new friends she made from around the globe, she plans to take them up on their couch surfing offers now she has the travel bug.
Katherine has just two words of advice for anyone thinking about taking part in the Otago Global Student Exchange Programme: “Do it.”