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Killam Fellow Thomas Gareau Paquette on a “life-changing” exchange

Thomas Gareau Paquette at Gas Works Park, Seattle
Thomas Gareau Paquette at Gas Works Park, Seattle. Photo credit: Thomas Gareau-Paquette.

September 20, 2022

Life-changing is perhaps the best way to describe my time at the University of Washington. For someone who had never visited the west coast before, it was a perfect place to live my experience as a Killam Fellow. A typical day during my time here would start with a run or a walk on the Burke-Gilman Trail, which allowed me to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of the city and find some peace and quiet. Thanks to Fulbright’s Cultural Awareness Program, I also travelled to fantastic places around the state.

This student exchange was also about making friends from around the globe. The international community at the University of Washington is incredibly vibrant and diverse, and I was always amazed by the variety of cultural backgrounds and experiences everyone had to share. As someone whose native language is not English, I never felt like an outsider and always felt welcome to join different events and activities on campus.

In terms of campus life, there is always something to do and places to go. The University of Washington has a lot to offer, and I was always amazed by the number of events occurring daily. I often found myself wandering around campus, attending concerts or participating in various events hosted by different associations. For this sole reason, I would definitely recommend a student exchange at the University of Washington to anyone looking to have an unforgettable experience. Seattle is also incredibly dynamic, yet nature is never far away, generating a feeling of completion whether strolling to the University of Washington or its several on-campus museums.

Regarding my coursework, I was able to take exciting and diversified classes taught by people with a variety of backgrounds. The university offers a wide variety of courses, which allowed me to gain knowledge in areas I was already interested in while also exploring new topics that I had never studied before, such as American politics. I even had the opportunity to enroll in an Honors course in linguistics, which allowed me to discover a whole new field and understanding of language.

I also had access to excellent academic resources. Indeed, I often found myself in one of the multiple libraries the UW has to offer, surrounded by a variety of books and journals. Learning, however, didn’t stop when I left the classroom, and I found a lively intellectual atmosphere in Seattle. For instance, I had the opportunity to attend one of the UW Public Lectures given by the world-renowned journalist Masha Gessen amidst the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

I can say without hesitation that my time at the University of Washington was both academically and personally enriching. I will proudly carry my Husky Card in my wallet for the years to come as a reminder of the positive and enduring effects of my academic quarter at the UW. Finally, I want to express my gratitude to Fulbright Canada and the Canadian Studies Center at the University of Washington for their unwavering assistance before and during my exchange; their support made my time in Seattle genuinely unforgettable.

The Killam Fellowship Program allows undergraduate students from Canada and the United States to participate in a program of binational residential exchange. This program, administered by Fulbright Canada, is supported by an endowment from the American Killam Trusts, Global Affairs Canada, and the Foundation for Educational Exchange between Canada and the United States of America (Fulbright Canada). It is an integral part of the Foundation’s multidimensional strategy to foster mutual understanding between Canada and the United States of America. The Canadian Studies Center is a partner institution with the Killam Foundation enabling up to two full academic year fellowships annually for UW students.