Amy Sutherland

Date: SP2, 2014
Degree Program: Double Degree Law and Human Resource Management
Host University: Laval University 
Host Country: Canada

Why did you choose your host university?

Ultimately I wanted to experience a Canadian winter. The fact that it is French speaking made me want to go even more, as it made me step completely out of my comfort zone (I don’t speak French!). Quebec city also made travel during and after the semester very easy. 

Amy 1What was the university like?

The university was incredible, nothing like what we have in Australia. The campus was huge, with all kinds of facilities. The classes were quite good, although I found them incredibly easy in comparison with Australian standards. However, in saying that, Laval really caters to all kinds of nationalities and languages, which most likely made the English classes slightly easier for me, being a native English speaker (I know a lot of international students who did struggle with the occasional assessment). The assessments were somewhat similar to Australia, written work, exams, etc. However, one big difference for me was that all the exams were online, and for the most part, multiple choice. The Laval business school also places a huge emphasis on group work. This was one of the most useful aspects of the courses. I had the opportunity to interact and network with people from all over the world on a business level. 

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

It has certainly changed the way I think and approach life! Going on exchange has made me far more open minded. I don’t really think you can go on an exchange and not change how you think! I was exposed to so many different cultures, and I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world! 

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

Most international students chose to stay in residence, which is, without a doubt, the most affordable option, as well as being the most amazing experience! Accommodation was about $1500AUD for 4 months. In comparison, I had friends who lived off campus, paying up to $400CAD a week. Even if residence were more expensive, I wouldn’t recommend staying anywhere else. The atmosphere is amazing, and everyone is so friendly and social, always wanting to go out and have a good time, even in -35 degrees! There are 4 residences to choose from, depending on whether you want single sex or co-ed. I stayed in Pavillon Alphonse Marie Parent – THE BEST ONE. This was where most of the international students lived, and even those who lived in the other residences, would spend a large amount of time in our kitchen and common areas. 

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

I travelled both locally and internationally. During the semester Globe FSA organised trips to New York, Toronto and a ski trip to the local mountains. They also organised a trip to the Dominican Republic for Spring Break. I went on all of the trips, and would highly recommend doing them all! Amazing! After the semester, I travelled around the US with friends I had met at Laval. We spent a month having the most incredible time, and it’s an experience I would not have had but for going on exchange. After the US, I then headed to Europe for 2 and a half months, and then Thailand. I had decided long before my exchange that I was not going all the way over the other side of the world and not travelling! In total, I travelled for 9 months.

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

It did take a bit of adjusting to start with, but you just have to throw yourself into it without hesitation. I think the cold was the biggest adjustment to start with, but after a couple of weeks you adapt and end up loving it! Everyone who goes on exchange is in the same boat, and just wants to meet people and have a good time. Realistically, meeting people is not hard overseas, as long as you have an open mind!

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

For sure! Like I said above, I had the opportunity to interact and network with people from all over the world. That means different cultures, business practices and interests. Not many people have that kind of experience.

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

Just go. You cannot regret doing something like this. It is without a doubt the best decision I have ever made. Don’t worry too much about where to go, choose a country, and you will love it. 

Top Tips:

Save enough money so that you travel afterwards! A lot of people travelled around after the semester was over, and fortunately I had enough money to do that as well! Also don’t book a flight home until you’ve been there for a while. Guaranteed you will find people who want to travel, and that is something that should NOT be passed up! 

Areas of study and research

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