Dominic Smith

Date: SP2, 2013
Degree Program: Bachelor of Arts (Indigenous Cultures and Australian Society)
Host University: Carleton University
Host Country: Canada

Why did you choose your host university?

Canada was a place I had never visited before and I knew it would be somewhere totally different to Adelaide, especially in regards to climate. After researching Ottawa and Carleton University, it seemed to match everything I wanted out of my exchange experience including, and most importantly, subjects I would not only enjoy but get full credits for back home. 

What was the university like?

Uni life was great, it was a massive campus which meant a lot of students, and classes were big but for me consisted only on seminars and workshops. Everyone seemed to attend all classes and tended to arrive early to class and never late. In regards to assessments, marking tended to be closer to the easier side, but the work load was a lot different to UniSA. A lot more smaller assignments that added up to bigger ones. And one major difference was a page limit or minimum not a word count. The Library was great, but when I was there it was under construction, which made it difficult at times. You have to pay for printing which was a bummer and their process for printing was a joke, so make sure you leave extra time for printing assignments, and yes they don’t do electronic hand ups, all hard copies in class. 

Student Dominic Smith - CanadaWhat did you gain from your exchange experience and has it changed the way you think or altered your approach to life?

I realised how big this world really is and how many different people and indeed languages and cultures are out there. I made so many friends from different countries which put me out of my comfort zone of English speaking people. It opened me out to the reality that it is a wise choice to speak more than one language in our modern world. I think I will be more open to making friends with everyone I meet, and I think I have learned how to get out of my comfort zone a lot more.

What accommodation options were available to you?  How affordable was accommodation and would you recommend the same option to others?

There were two options for accommodation that were available for me. On campus in dorms that the university would organise or off campus accommodation that I had to find for myself. I chose the dorms on campus, which in hindsight was a very good option.  Quite expensive, but you were right on campus so there was no travel time to and from uni. I lived in Leeds which meant I shared with 3 other guys but we all had our own private room with a double bed. This dorm was for students in third year and above which meant it was quieter than some of the other dorms. I also had a fully functional kitchen to use but decided to buy a dinning meal plan which made life very easy! I had other friends who lived off campus and they all said in hindsight they would have paid the extra to live on campus, as most of the fun was on campus!! 

Describe your travel experiences; did you travel locally or to neighbouring countries? 

There was an exchange group that was run by the university that took us to Neighbouring Montreal for a weekend, which meant it was very cheap as a group. And during the winter there is a Carleton ski club that has weekly Sunday trips up to Mont Tremblant in Quebec which I did a few times! After my semester finished I went into the US for 2 months, which is very easy as long as you have bought the VISA waiver. I went in and out of Canada a few times and having a Student VISA, which isn’t mandatory, did make coming and going a lot easier. 

Describe how you adjusted to life in a different country and how you met new people.

It took me awhile to adjust to the climate change, going from 40 degree in Adelaide to -30 in Ottawa did take its toll, but I was wise and bought a really good (expensive) jacket which worked wonders. Canadian culture is pretty similar to Australia, we both love sports and like to party. The only difference is they all, and I mean all, go crazy for ice hockey! Best idea to make friends with the locals is to go for the local NHL team, works wonders in small talk.

Meeting new people was relatively easy. There were over 100 or so exchange students all doing and going through the same thing, so as long as you put yourself out there you will make friends very easily as I did. I ended up travelling with 4 people I met from Carleton for a month in America, so it shows making friends you think might only last the exchange is an understatement.

Can you see any benefits from this exchange to your future career?

As I studied in the same field I do back home, I was able to learn about a whole different aspect of knowledge from a totally different angle and country. I feel having the extra knowledge will be extremely valuable in the future as it shows I was willing to put myself out there to gain a different edge than other students. 

What advice would you give to a student who was hesitant or considering joining the exchange program?

If you want to do it, go for it. I 'umm and ahh' for a while, but after listening and hearing from other people who did exchanges I knew it was for me. You won’t regret it; the amount of fun and friends on offer is crazy. Just save up enough money to enjoy yourself without skimping out on all the fun stuff. And also do your research, don’t just choose a uni you think has a cool name or logo, look into its uni life and what they offer outside of uni. In the end you’re there to experience not only a different uni but a different part of the world.

Top Tips:

Like I said before, make sure you save up for the exchange, money can go fast, as mine did, but I had an absolute blast spending it. And don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, I met people who tended to hold back and didn’t put in effort to get know people, and I could tell their expericne wasn’t as fulfilling as the people who made an effort. Study when you have to (after all you are still at uni) but party with friends when you can.                                  

Areas of study and research

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