||Bachelor of Interior Architecture (DBIR)
Why did you choose your host university?
I’d heard from a friend who previously attended Ryerson that it was a good school, and probably the best on offer for Interior Design.
What was the university like?
There was a great sense of community, which is something I really treasured. Classes were fairly similar, class sizes were the same and the professors were on par with what we have at UniSA, what I did find different was their lack of tutors. For our studio class of 20 people, one professor could only assign us 10 minutes a week and there was no other input on projects unless from peers. Being in a course that relies so heavily on printed material, I found the library infuriatingly backwards. Once, in the whole semester did the printers work for me, the rest of the time I had to use the on campus printers (there are 3 on campus - clearly showing there’s a demand to make up for what the library lacks).
What did you gain from your exchange experience and has it changed the way you think or altered your approach to life?
Friendships and truly once in a lifetime experiences. What I enjoyed most was the travelling I was able to do. Being from Australia, we’re lucky to have such a beautiful country, but it’s just so far away from everything. Studying in Toronto allowed me to twice go to New York (once just for the weekend) as well as many other cities throughout Canada and the States. It has definitely added to my view of the world. I’ve been lucky to have travelled a lot young in life, having family in different countries, but actually going somewhere to live for such an extended period of time – it was life changing! So fantastic just to be in a different place, not just stay or work, but have friends, and a home and memories.
What accommodation options were available to you? How affordable was accommodation and would you recommend the same option to others?
Accommodation in Toronto is a lot more expensive than Adelaide, for some places your looking at Sydney pricing. I made the terrible decision of assuming I’d be living with an organized friend (who was also going on exchange from Adelaide), however they were so organized that they found a great place for themselves, which left me looking for a place on Saturday of Labor Day weekend, and needing to move out of our airbnb (where we stayed the first week) on Monday – it was hectic. I’d never lived out of home before an stupidly signed a dodgy lease with Toronto Suite Rentals (AVOID THEM!) I ended up paying through the roof for a shared bedroom and having to move out early (for my own safety and sanity) which cost me close to a thousand dollars - please avoid Toronto Suite Rentals, they will mess you about. A lot.
I ended up moving into Neill Wycik – student residence – on November 1st, after finally moving down from number 132 on the waiting list (Neill Wycik have a painfully manual application process, first come, first served sometime works, but sending your credit card details in an envelope half way around the world isn’t my idea of fun!)
As I was moved in late in the semester, I didn’t get a good selection of housemates, they were all pretty old and most didn’t actually even study. I did, however, have friends in Neill Wycik who had moved in at the start of the semester and had been housed with great, similar, young, housemates!
Describe your travel experiences; did you travel locally or to neighbouring countries?
America is on your doorstep. I went to Melbourne before I left and applied for a 5 year American visa, which is handy to have, and I saw a lot of the States (Boston, Buffalo, New York, Washington D.C, Vegas, LA) but I wish I’d spent more time in Canada! Montreal is a cultural phenomenon, it literally feels like Europe, and is definitely worth a visit (note: it gets even colder than Toronto). The is amazing skiing in Canada, more so on the west coast, but for beginners (me when I first got there) Ontario has some great places to learn.
If you plan to go to the US more than once, get a visa. Most likely you will want to go more than once, and they probably won’t be within 90 days of each other, so get year+ long visa – unless you want to hop over to Europe to reissue your visitor visa (going to Canada doesn’t qualify you for a reissue, it’s all the same continent!)
Describe how you adjusted to life in a different country and how you met new people.
As lame as they seem, go to the international student mixers. That’s how I made my best friends, from that, and then through them I made more. I didn’t feel like I had to adjust that much to the culture, it’s just another international city (Adelaide x100) but the weather - you’re in for a treat. Your first sight of snow, amazing. Your tenth day of walking to classes in it, not so much. -25C isn’t anywhere near as humorous as it sounds. -36C and you will not be going outside, I promise!
Can you see any benefits from this exchange to your future career?
I had a really great professor who I worked with on an exhibition for Nuit Blanche (you have to go!) with, so I feel like I’ve made some great professional connections overseas. It also gave me the confidence of putting myself out there more, through necessity, to make friends and contacts, which I've realised had made me more outgoing and confident now I’m home.
What advice would you give to a student who was hesitant or considering joining the exchange program?
You will not regret it. What you will regret is graduating without having had the opportunity to live in another country in such a care free way. Obviously you still care a lot about uni, but for the most part, there’s no job commitments, no parents, no responsibilities that you don’t want for yourself. Travel, live and be however you want to be. It’s the greatest thing I’ve ever done.
As much as you miss everyone back home, the more you speak to them the more homesick you’ll be. Constantly hearing how that birthday and that night out were will make you long to be there experiencing it first hand. I felt like this too, but when you really realise you’re in another country making memories your friends couldn’t even dream about, that’s what makes it so enjoyable. Coming home and being able to tell everyone about the time you ended up in a skate park at 5am, being wrapped in blankets and eating Montreal bagels, will be so much more rewarding than talking about what else happened at the party last weekend (which you already know about because you were on FaceTime the entire event)… just enjoy it!