Belinda Rundell

Date: SP3, 2013
Degree Program: Bachelor of Tourism and Event Management
Host University: Brock University
Host Country: Canada

Why did you choose your host university?

I have always been interested in travelling around Canada and thought that teaming my studies with a trip overseas would be highly beneficial for both my savings and plans for the future. Brock University, situated 30 minutes from Niagara Falls, seemed like one of the friendliest places to study. I initially spoke with Anna Prandalos at The University of South Australia and she recommended that I attend Brock University due to their sporting programs, as I am highly interested in college sports. The online videos that Brock University post on their website for orientation days, move in days and weekends on campus seemed as though they also really care for the student’s campus and social lives.

Belinda RundellWhat was the university like?

To be honest, the workload was huge, many assessments, midterms and exams. However, in saying this, it was worthwhile. The moment I walked out of my last exam, took a deep breath and took it all in, that I had survived the hardest semester of my life, it all seemed worth it, I felt a sense of satisfaction.  Although the workload was very large, I still found time to meet new people, party, enjoy campus life, and travel to new and unknown places on my weekends, study breaks and before and after the semester.

What did you gain from your exchange experience and has it changed the way you think or altered your approach to life?

The exchange program allowed me to realise that there is life outside of Adelaide. A few months before leaving, and before I made the final decision to go on exchange, I was searching for jobs within Adelaide, just Adelaide. I was even too scared to search into ‘regional SA’. Now, upon returning, I am job searching all over not only Australia, but Ontario, Canada also. It helped me to realise that although lifestyles may be different in other countries, but there are both positives and negatives with living outside of your hometown. Although ‘home is where the heart is’, and that is Adelaide, I now see myself living and possibly moving back to Ontario, Canada. Ask me 6 months ago, and I would have called you crazy.

Belinda Rundell 2What accommodation options were available to you?  How affordable was accommodation and would you recommend the same option to others?

There was quite a few accommodation options available to us exchange students, almost too many! I chose to live on Campus because a) it was affordable, b) it was extremely close to the University’s front doors, and c) the process to rent a room in the village residence was a lot simpler than contacting an individual agent. Living in Village was very reasonable in economic terms and would highly recommend Village over living in a dorm on a floor, or a luxurious house (e.g. Quarry View). I had my own room – which is again HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Living out of home for the first time, and in a new and sometimes scary place, I felt that living in a room by myself was beneficial, I had my space, the ability to scatter my stuff wherever I wanted it, without judgement or arguments over the ‘invisible line’ down the centre of the room, like my other housemates seemed to have.

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

During the study break and a long weekend, some new found friends and I travelled to Montreal, Canada, and Nassau, The Bahamas. A once in a lifetime experience. It was very cold when I went on exchange, the middle of winter, so to be able to go to the Caribbean to defrost was absolutely incredible. It was easy to travel during the semester with new found friends as everyone is in the same ‘boat’ as you, they all want to go out and see our new homes/countries, so booking travel was not difficult at all, almost too easy.

Belinda Rundell 3Describe how you adjusted to life in a different country and how you met new people.

I found it relatively easy to adjust to my new life in a different country by meeting my partner. I got into a relationship when I was over on exchange and although it was incredibly difficult to say goodbye to him when I left Canada, I still do not regret it. He occupied my downtime, when I may have been feeling sad about not being in Australia with my family and old friends, and welcomed me into his home. I met other friends at pubs, on campus and in my classes.

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

My program directors have added me on LinkedIn since I left Brock University, and I do plan to keep in touch with them in the near future to discuss employment options/Masters Programs (if possible) over in St. Catharines and surrounding suburbs, cities and towns.

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

If you are in a relationship, break up. Do not let someone else hold you back from chasing your dream. Because I can guarantee, that a few months into the time when you should have been on exchange, you will regret it, and you will hold a grudge (sometimes subliminally) against your partner for ‘stopping you from going’, even if they may have been fully supporting you through it. It will open your eyes, help you meet people from all over the world, give you a sense of freedom and accomplishment and will look FABULOUS on your CV. Don’t hold back, and do not let anyone else hold you back either.

Top Tips:
It’s actually from a good friend of mine, before I left. She told me to ‘never hold back’ and to ‘always put yourself out there’. It is likely that there is only going to be one chance where you are going to live freely in such a setting, so make the most of it!

Areas of study and research

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