University of Sussex. Photo: CC Hassocks5489.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Introduction: Why the move?

In September 2015, I moved across the pond to Great Britain from Ottawa to begin studying towards my LLB, or Bachelor of Laws degree, and ever since I’ve been asked the same question too many times to count—so, what brings you to England? If I had a dollar for every time someone has asked me this, I could probably pay off my entire tuition for the year. However, I guess I could answer one more time…

To get started, I’ll clarify something that often gets confused—I am not an exchange student. Rather, I have put my degree at the University of Ottawa on sabbatical. I am instead starting a whole new degree for three years. Although this may seem like an odd move, I have several reasons for packing my bags and flying off to England.

As with most people who study abroad, there is of course the adventure side of the story. And no, I’m not talking about Frosh week, although you would think doing it over again would be fun (it really isn’t). Who wouldn’t want to live in Europe for three years and experience a whole new continent in their early 20s? However, even more than that, there is also a practical and mental side to this tale.

Unlike in Canada and the U.S., a law degree in the United Kingdom is considered an undergraduate degree, meaning that I don’t have to go through four years of my undergraduate degree back at the U of O and then apply for three more years of law school. Makes sense, right? Skip the two remaining years I had left and then start my law degree immediately—it’s a no brainer!

Now for the more mental side of my degree choice. While studying Conflict Studies and Human Rights at the U of O, I decided to join the Reserve Force of the Canadian Army. I saw this combination as learning the theory of war in class and learning the practical side with the crimes committed during war, and the worst part is I would go home and end up playing Call of Duty with my roommate all evening.

It was non-stop war and death in both my program and the military that I was exposed to for two years, causing me to be drained mentally. After being diagnosed with a host of mental illnesses, some of which I still can’t pronounce, it was brought to my attention by my mother that I could move to England for a fresh start, as my cousin is also studying here.

I applied to the University of Sussex in early January 2015 and got accepted two weeks later. So after the year finished, I took a military posting in the 4th Canadian Division Training Centre Meaford for four months and moved to the UK the following September.

Although it’s been an adjustment, my time in the UK so far has been that of an adventure. From success to failures, from terror to happiness, the people I have met here and the events I have experienced have shaped my life dramatically.

I look forward not only to the coming months, but the coming years, whether it’s returning to the U of O or continuing my adventures elsewhere.


  • Spring 2022: Desiree Nikfardjam Fall 2021: Zofka Svec 2020-2021: Aisling Murphy 2019-2020: Ryan Pepper 2018-2019: Iain Sellers 2017-2018: Ryan Pepper